I follow a lot of bloggers on Twitter. A fair amount of these bloggers specialise in talking about mental health. Now, I have nothing against this and I strongly believe that you can post whatever you want on your blog and social media (with obvious exceptions: homophobia, racism, anything derogatory and harmful about other people etc). Having an open dialogue about mental health is incredibly beneficial to society and, above all, I admire people who have the courage to share their experiences online. I am not attacking or critiquing anyone who posts about their mental health (I think you’re wonderfully brave). Having said that, as someone who actively avoids sharing their experiences, I want to explain why I choose to do so.
Over the past few years, I have made a conscious effort not to tweet anything too personal. Some of my friends, however, frequently post about their mental health online – and there is nothing wrong about this. I fully understand how social media, especially Twitter, is an outlet for people to express their frustrations about what they are going through and in some cases, I can see how online can be the only place people feel comfortable doing so.
As ridiculous as it sounds, sometimes I feel that because I don’t tweet about my problems, I feel like my friends assume they don’t exist. Can I really blame them though?! It’s so hard to confront someone and honestly communicate what you are going through in person so I get why people primarily use the internet for it. What’s even worse is that when I try to open up to some of my friends face-to-face, because it is the first time that they’ve heard of my problems, they assume they’re not that serious. Once, I stated to my friend “I have *name of disorder*” and they replied, “well, at least you don’t have it as bad as some people”. I had told them literally nothing else about it. I was merely trying to start the conversation. Unsurprisingly, this experience makes me never want to talk about anything ever again.
I am going to end up saying this over and over again: there is nothing wrong with talking about mental health. I can not stress enough that I am not trying to cut the conversation on mental health and encourage others not to speak up. I am merely trying to explain why I find it hard. It’s all personal preference. I never intend to mention mental health on my blog or tweet about it. Here is why:
FOR ME, IT IS TOO UNCOMFORTABLE – Frankly, I struggle to talk about my mental health with my family and friends (even a doctor) so the idea of sharing my struggles online is terrifying. I know some people benefit from talking to strangers or use the internet to find others in similar situations but for me, personally, I don’t find any comfort in doing so.
IT’S RECORDED – Once I put what I am going through out there, anyone who stumbles across it, knows about it. There is a record of my deepest, personal experiences and feelings. It’s not that I am trying to hide my issues, I just don’t see what I gain from having people who I am not close to and don’t interact with knowing about my life. Knowing that someone could stalk me online (my URL is my name so it’s a possibility) and then they know the most painful details of my life is not something I want to happen.
FEAR OF BEING DEFINED – This is a common fear that people with mental illness have. I fear that once I talk about it, people will only see me for what I am going through. Everyone is different but for me, the only people I want to know are myself, maybe a doctor and possibly the 1-3 people that I can unconditionally trust.
IT’S IRRELEVANT TO MY FASHION BLOG – Okay, mental illness itself is not irrelevant but in my eyes, there is no need for me to talk about it here on my fashion blog. In theory, you’re here to see the outfits not to hear about my life. The audiences I want to look at this blog are people who are interested in my fashion and my travels, not my mental health. It’s different for everybody. Some people want to share fashion & mental health and no one is saying that you can’t do both. However, on this blog, all I want to do is post fashion and travel content.
IT’S HARD TO EXPLAIN – When I have written posts where I could talk about my mental health, I have ended up writing paragraphs just by trying to explain myself. Trying to put everything into words is exhausting and draining. I can’t just drop it in a sentence and breeze over it. I need to explain exactly what I mean. It dominates the blog post and when I reread I ask myself “why does anyone need to know?”. Needless to say, I delete the paragraphs and move on.
I JUST DON’T WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW – Okay, this should probably have been my main point but I suppose it all boils down to this. I am someone who will never be comfortable talking about it. Hence, I will never share it unless I truly feel that I need to. Frankly, I don’t see that happening any time soon. I do sometimes wonder if not wanting to talk about it adds to the stigma around mental health and I suppose it does, however, if anything, my approach is a consequence of the stigma. At the end of the day, even if we lived in a perfect world where people don’t feel ashamed of what they’re going through, I probably still wouldn’t want to share.
If you can talk about your mental health online, you’re brave and I am glad you have found somewhere where you feel comfortable sharing. I don’t feel the need to share online but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. For me, it’s a matter of personal preference. If you want to share: do. If you don’t want to share, don’t. To reiterate one last time, I think talking about mental health is a glorious thing and I am so glad we are gradually becoming more accommodating towards the subject – even if progress is slow.
There is a point to sharing all of this and that is: don’t take everything at face value. If someone isn’t talking about their mental health online, it doesn’t mean they’re not struggling. By writing this post, I am not looking for sympathy. I merely wanted to explain that I am not ignoring mental health but I do purposefully leave it out of my social media. For some reason, I feel like I am at fault for not wanting to share and almost as if I am holding back progress on an open dialogue about mental health issues.
If like me, you don’t like talking about your mental health, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a therapist and if you can’t afford that, you may be surprised what good can come from talking to your best friend.
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Photos by @karyaschanilec.photography