Maybe these reasons are obvious, but when I get the question “why do you say so much, for so many to see?” I suddenly find the words to answer don’t form. At least until I work out what to say, I can just throw this blog post at them and run away.
So, why do we blog, why do we express our deepest and most visceral emotions and experiences for all to see?
To throw it out there, into the world
Speaking to my short-term therapist/support-person (I have no idea what her job is, but she was great the times I saw her) she tapped into my natural and preferred modes of expression. Writing being one of them, spurred the suggestion of writing everything down. And then, instead of keeping it close to reread or cry over, to go down the the river to throw the pages into it; carrying them away, out into the ocean. One of my old colleagues, inspired by this concept, mentioned the idea of folding the pages into paper cranes and launching them into the air on a windy day, watching those dark words soar away. Throwing your words out into the swirling ocean of the internet is different – you can revisit your writing as much as you want, you’re open to judgement and criticism of both writing style and content.
However, you’re also still releasing those words, lifting them out of your chest and off of your shoulders, and allowing them to exist in a different space than your already crowded mind.
You’re also connecting with others through this release of emotion through your words, photography, art. Talking about these things in real life is fucking hard. There’s some things you just can’t bring yourself to say to your partner, to your colleagues, your family. There’s no right moments, no easy ways, to express the worst of what you’re thinking. And often, in the depths of depression, you might have eve convinced yourself you have nobody to talk to – break-ups, friendships breaking apart, crumbling familial connections. Seeking professional help can often be a step we don’t think we need, or want, at a particular moment.
Blogging is sharing, it creates connection and discussion between strangers, friends, acquaintances. It helps you connect with yourself in rereading your own words, or seeing your situation and it’s solutions so much more clearly within somebody else’s words.
Letting others know they are not alone
People connect with works of ‘the personal tragedy’ through a need to seek companionship in struggle, through the ability to understand our own circumstances by analysing and (often subconsciously) problem-solving other people’s. We gain insight and guidance from each other even when we’re not actively trying to give some in our posts. It is comforting to know that what we’re going through is not weird and we are not alone in our suffering or confusion.
I am here. I matter. Sometimes I just need to remind myself of that, and sometimes I need others to remind me, too.
To build a career
I’m pretty sure I’m never going to make a ton of money from the way I write, how often I write, and just generally my terrible attempts at consistently writing. But writing is what I want to do, and this is where I want to start. Maybe I’ll continue in this vein, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll develop into writing solely about my life, journalling away. Maybe it’ll transfer into fiction and my protagonist (or antagonist) has some eerily similar qualities or issues as me. I don’t know. I don’t mind that I don’t know. But yes, some people are building a career out of blogging about their depression. And if their writing helps someone out there, or helps them themselves grow as a person, then alright. Good for them. There’s a fine line between exploitation and romanticization of illness and tragedy, and expression. I hope (and think) that there’s a very small pool of writers out there bringing that kind of negativity into the space of self-expression.
The positive in the negative
Naomi, speaking to me about her lifestyle blog, which features some honest but still upbeat posts about her recent depression, mentioned that she noticed a need for positive posts about mental health struggles amongst the scary internet articles and serious, hard hitting writings.
And that also made me think – yeah sometimes it’s therapeutic to cry over somebody else’s struggles because their darkness reminds you or yourself, but you ALSO need those ‘hey you’re going to be okay’ articles or funny blog posts about the ridiculous situations you’ve got yourself into because you might not be acting rationally.
I think for me, the fact that I’m writing at all means that I’m not dead. Of course, I still have dark thoughts. I’m suspicious of meds. I struggle to stay in touch with my loved ones. I often express myself irrationally.
But, I’m definitely at a different and brighter place than I was. I wasn’t successful in taking my life. I don’t have a stockpile of pills anymore. I’m actually able to enjoy my food. That, in itself, is positive.
Why do you blog about the personal? Why are you sharing?