When we start a blog instead of simply keeping a private diary, it’s because we want to connect with others. When you start to blog, you join a community.
It comes as no surprise that many bloggers are drawn to online communities as a place to work through challenges — to heal and process, find others with similar experiences, and seek (or offer) support. There are lots of supportive communities around WordPress.com: women dealing with breast cancer, people managing diabetes, parents of children with unique needs, and many, many more. Throughout January, we’ll be zooming in on how bloggers use WordPress.com to support their health and wellness.
Today, on the heels of the Blog for Mental Health 2014 kick-off, we’re focusing on mental health. Read on for a look at the many ways WordPress.com bloggers use their sites to improve their own lives, and the lives of others who have been impacted by mental illness.
WordPress.com is home to a variety of collaborative and group blogs, a format especially suited for communities with shared life experiences who want to expand their reach.
On Canvas of the Minds, founded by bloggers Ruby and Lulu, an ever-growing group of authors writes about all aspects of living with mental health issues:
We have come a long way in our fight against stigma and in our desire to educate people about what having a mental illness really means, but there is so much more yet to do. We will not rest until the last of the myths, misconceptions, and fears born of ignorance are replaced with truth, understanding, and acceptance.
Of course most of all, we want those struggling with mental illness to know they are not alone, that it is a fight which can be won, and that we are here to support you in your journey to wellness — and to lend support to anyone trying to understand what life with mental illness entails.
Co-founder Lulu began the “Blog for Mental Health” initiative on her personal blog in 2012 and moved it to Canvas of the Minds in 2013, where it quickly attracted a long list of participants — take a look at 2013’s participant blogroll. More bloggers are now making a 2014 commitment: to “blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.”
More mental health-focused writers gather at the Mental Health Writer’s Guild site. Browse their member listings, which include hundreds of bloggers writing on everything from depression to PTSD to Schizophrenia. Members support one another, contribute writing to the Guild’s blog, and participate in blogging competitions and challenges. (Interested in becoming a member? Learn more.)
Of course, not all mental health-focused blogging is written; photography can be just as powerful and evocative, as the bloggers of Broken Light Collective know. Each day, they feature a new photo taken by a photographer struggling with mental illness — like this self-portrait by Kait, who copes with depression, anxiety, and disordered eating:
Each post features the photographer’s own story, along with a description of what the photo means to them. Broken Light Collective allows its bloggers to celebrate the triumphs and tragedies of their diagnoses through art — and in doing so, helps them support and inspire others.
Other bloggers choose to write solo. Although many quickly connect with kindred spirits, their blogs are places where they track their moods, write through painful periods of depression or anxiety, discuss the day-to-day challenges of mental health issues, or simply vent.
Some, like Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon’s Lulu, also blog on other sites — she’s one of the Canvas of the Minds co-founders, and maintains a separate site to focus on her own journey as a person with Bipolar Disorder.
Sara Sullivan also writes about life with Bipolar Disorder on her cleverly-named blog, bi[polar] curious. We also love her tagline, “Poppycock from the bipolar spectrum,” and her helpful list of resources for the newly-diagnosed.
On Laments and Lullabies, another Sara “[s]wims through the shark-infested waters of depression, anxiety, and adult ADHD.” A trained artist as well as a writer, her hand-drawn header instantly gives you a glimpse of her state of mind on the rougher days:
There are hundreds more, from Cat at A Tale Too Tragic to Tell, writing on his ups and downs dealing with depression, to The Disorderly Chickadee’s DeeDee, whose endocrine disorder has side effects mimicking a mood disorder.
Narrowing the focus
Many people use their blogs to chronicle treatment changes and rough patches, but there are also bloggers with a more specific focus who approach mental health blogging from a particular angle.
Sad Mum Happy Mum writes about her daily fight with depression, as many bloggers do, but with an eye to the particular challenges faced by parents with depression — the difficulty of caring for another person when it seems impossible to care for yourself.
On Malingering Normal and Ruminations on Madness, bloggers focus on the language we use to talk about mental illness and how society understands (and misunderstands) the mentally ill, as an important step in reducing the stigma too often attached to mental illness.
There are also bloggers who approach mental health issues from the other side: from the perspective of someone who is successfully managing their condition, like Erica at Thoughts of a Lunatic:
Yes, I am crazy. I have a past full of depression, addiction, self harm, abuse, suicide attempts, therapy and medication to prove it. Nowadays though, I use writing as my outlet … along with ocd cleaning, cooking, reality tv, eating, and enjoying being newly married.
The community and support I have found here is priceless, and has allowed me to be okay being myself.
A fun bonus from blogging? I met my husband!
We love seeing bloggers connect, support one another, and use online publishing as a way to help managing mental health issues. WordPress.com is proud to provide a home for them.