The benefits of blogging

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When I first started this blog I had a few objectives in mind, but I had no idea how many positive repercussions there would be from writing it. I knew I wanted to raise awareness of mental health issues, to finally get writing and share it with people and to try and make sense of some of the experiences I’ve been through.

I achieved all of this and so much more. It has been a truly amazing experience akin to lying in a bath of pick ‘n’ mix sweets whilst Diet Coke flows out of the taps.

It wasn’t easy at the start.

For months I struggled with the fact I was writing under my real name. I had terrible anxiety every time I gave the link out to a new person and for while, I debated removing the blog and writing something less personal. I realised I was only comfortable sharing the link with people who I knew we’re guaranteed to support me.

I realised that the only way to get past this was to shove it somewhere that everyone could see it – Facebook. As the great literary and self-help goddess Susan Jeffers says, I needed to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ I knew I would never be able to achieve my goals of reaching out to people unless I got over that fear that someone I knew would read the blog.

It turned out that this was the best possible thing I could have done. Within 20 minutes of the first post appearing on the timeline, I had loads of ‘likes’. After an hour there were 21 likes and a big list of reassuring and positive comments. It did wonders for my confidence and it was lovely to see that so many of my friends took the time to come forward. One friend even manage to support my early posts from her travels to the middle of the Peruvian jungle. It turns out you can get an internet connection there!

What I didn’t expect was that I’d also get numerous private messages and emails, from friends I hadn’t seen for years or from people I’d met briefly and then lost contact with as our lives followed separate paths. It was so moving to get these messages thanking me for being open and sharing my experiences, letting me know that they too had struggled and I’d helped them to feel less alone. It brought people back into my life that connected with me and what I was trying to achieve and I got to know them on a whole other level.

Then there were the numerous lovely and supportive comments from other WordPress users and bloggers. I found out to my delight that the internet was not a dubious place full of nasty trolls determined to swoop and destroy my humble outpourings. Far from it. Worpress has turned out to be a wonderful supportive community of like-minded souls who are more than happy to take time out of their day to read, follow and comment on posts. I’ve found lots of similar people to talk with and some I’ve grown to really care about.

I picked up a couple of blogging awards too after kindly being nominated by one of my WordPress buddies.

Perhaps the most surprising outcome was that people who already knew what I’d been through were letting me know that they now understood me better as a result of the blog. It seemed that putting it in writing gave my experiences an extra level of accessibility and clarity which I somehow was not able to convey otherwise.

The best thing of all is that I’ve successfully inspired a few other people to write and publish their experiences. It has been one of the most amazing feelings to read a wonderful, open and honest piece by a previously private friend and be told that it happened because of me.

The whole blogging experience has done wonders for my confidence. Being able to reveal a less than perfect side of yourself and have that completely accepted is a revelation. I always felt like I had to hide the fact I get depressed and have anxiety, but not anymore. It’s a great feeling to know that I’m ok just the way I am. I feel like a new and improved version of myself with all the latest updates installed.

I’m looking forward to seeing where else the blog will take me. I had no idea how it would transform my life in little over a year, so it’s exciting to think of what might happen in the future. I can highly recommend starting one and if the public disclosure is a problem, start one under a pseudonym. Some of the best ones I’ve read were anonymous; this gives you the freedom to be completely honest and write about things you couldn’t ordinarily mention for fear of repercussions in real life. Either way it’s a win-win situation.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next post!

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