There’s been a bit of a hoo-hah going on over at Emma’s blog about whether depression is in fact a lifestyle choice. The majority believe (and I am included in this group) that depression is an illness and therefore no one chooses to be depressed, the minority (one person who seems hell bent on forcing his opinions down people’s throats) says that people think themselves into depression and therefore choose their state of mind.
I do not want to get into a debate about this. All I have to say on the matter is that I did not choose to suffer with depression and borderline personality disorder, in the same way I did not choose to have a cancerous tumour in my leg. If I had the choice I would erase things that have happened in my past that have contributed to my mental health issues. However, I accept full responsibility that part of the time I have a choice in how I deal with the depression. This involves taking meds, going to therapy, engaging in every day activities etc etc etc. However, sometimes due to the chemicals in my brain I don’t have any choice in dealing with the illness because the illness prevails. End of.
What this whole sorry little saga got my thinking about (and you can read the somewhat verging on obnoxious and abusive comments here and here) is the notion of an online therapeutic community. A group of people who would not know each other or have contact with each other if it were not for two common strands; blogging and mental health issues.
I started my blog as a way of expressing my emotions. I used to keep a hand written diary but writing in it annoys me because my brain works far faster than I can write and therefore my hand cannot keep up and it all turns into an illegible scrawl. It doesn’t help that my writing is atrocious to start with. Instead of going down the private online diary route I decided to share my thoughts with the world. At first this was because I thought there was too little information around on OTC/prescription drug misuse and I therefore thought I could add to this via my own experiences. Then people started to find my blog and left comments and in turn I read their blogs and left comments and I began to find compassion and support and empathy on a level which was unknown to me before.
What I find fantastic about the whole blogging scene is that it is totally on your terms. Unlike supporting a friend in real life you can choose how often to visit a blog and comment. Unlike in real life you can take time away from blogging and commenting and choose to restart when you feel like it and I thought, until I saw the correspondence on Em’s blog, that people were on the whole supportive and willing to help you through things.
I have made friends via this blog. Some of them I have spoken to on the phone, some I have emailed and some I only have contact with via each others’ blog. I have met someone in real life from this blog (heck I even had a relationship, albeit short lived, with that same person) and I have learnt that there are many people in the same situation as me.
If I didn’t have this blog as an outlet right now then I would feel extremely socially isolated. I have alienated a group of my friends because of the rape in February (a lot of them are standing up for him and not believing me, and the other portion don’t want to be involved until after the trial) and therefore I feel quite alone. I know I can type out how I am feeling though and people will give me words of encouragement and support. I don’t post expecting comments. I post for my benefit, but receiving comments makes me feel as if the effort I put in here, which has dwindled of late, is worthwhile.
In short I think the blogging community is highly therapeutic and supportive. I think that 99.99% of people who blog have good intentions and I feel angry at and upset for the 0.01% who have to belittle people and make them feel like a sham.
For goodness sake, enough of us receive a reaction like that in real life whether through family, friends or professionals. We keep blogs as a record of our feelings, an output for our emotions and to keep track of our lives. We do not try to twist people’s thoughts or feelings, or to change their viewpoints on issues, so why should other people do that to us?
For the majority of us we live in democratic countries where the freedom of speech is taken for granted. However, this does not mean that you have the right to say anything without thinking of the consequences. Everyone is entitled to their own viewpoint, you just don’t have to be as narrow minded as to think that your viewpoint is the only correct one in the world.
Rant over, I promise.