Mental Health Monday is a (sometimes) weekly discussion series I discovered through Wendy @ what the log had to say. To see more of these posts, check here.
I recently took a week off blogging as part of reading deprivation in general. Although the first two days were really rough, the forced reform of my habits showed me just how little time I was spending purely for myself. Everything I do seems to come with some sort of obligation, whether it’s blogging or even just the reading I do on my own time. Taking a week off brought me to question whether or not blogging is a benefit or a detriment to my mental health.
I’ve talked about this before, but the blogging community has made me feel less alone on so many occasions.
Back in 2017, when I first started blogging, I was completely isolated, not just from my friends but from people my age in general. Blogging helped me connect with other like-minded individuals, as well as learn more about other people’s perspectives. I started discovering amazing diverse authors that I probably never would’ve heard about otherwise. And I made some amazing friends who’ve encouraged and supported me over the years.
One of the best things about blogging for me comes from writing these posts about my mental health.
Depression isn’t something I really talk about in my everyday life, short of making darkly humorous remarks at work every now and then, or talking with my best friend. I’m pretty quiet about my mental health in real life, so to be able to talk openly about it on my blog is somewhat of a big deal.
Beyond just being honest about it, though, I am always amazed by the responses I get. Sure, I may not be a big blogger, but each comment I get—particularly on these types of posts—never ceases to inspire me. I have learned that I’m not the only one whose mental health gets in the way of their writing, that I’m not the only one who wonders if meds are really working, or if my jokes are possibly a little too much. I am not alone. Seeing real proof of that in someone else’s response to reading my words…that’s an irreplaceable feeling.
And yet, being involved in the online world means I’m constantly exposed to opportunities for comparing myself to others, which inevitably leads to self-judgement.
I am not that person with a flawless Instagram aesthetic; I pretty much just take pictures of books, whether it’s at home or at work. I’ve written at length about why Twitter doesn’t really work for me. Every time I see the follower count on the blogs I admire, I wonder how I will ever come close to that. Hell, who knows if I’ll ever surpass 100 followers at this point? Especially if I give in to my Depression Brain and quit blogging altogether.
If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s placing unrealistic expectations on myself and my work.
Despite the fact that I’ve been back blogging for less than six months, I expect myself to post five times a week. Even if I make that expectation, I expect myself to not only respond to every comment I get, but to also keep up with the endless stream of posts in my WordPress Reader, and comment at length on other people’s discussion posts (I’ve pretty much given up commenting on reviews or other types of posts—there just isn’t the time). I’m talking about this openly because I acknowledge that I do both less and more than other bloggers…but I beat myself up about it either way.
Quitting is not the solution.
After all, I tried that before. I completely scrapped The Story Salve and erased its existence from everything aside from my Scrivener doc. I let myself disappear, but that didn’t solve my constant self-deprecation over not living up to my own expectations. Giving up on the parts of blogging that I truly love will not erase my own self-loathing. Sometimes the only way out is through.
I do want to re-evaluate how I blog in the future.
My high expectations for publishing new posts is getting in the way of not only the rest of my life, but also my ability to really enjoy blog hopping. I hardly ever have enough time to catch up on my reader, and even when I do blog hop, I feel rushed by how behind I am at scheduling posts.
So I might be posting slightly less in the future, but I hope to be around the blogosphere more. I want to get back to reading what I love, and reflecting that love here on my blog. I want to get back to spreading love to other bloggers who work so hard for their blogs.
I don’t want to quit blogging just because it allows me to be too hard on myself. I want to use this as an opportunity to challenge myself, to learn from my mistakes and grow until I can hopefully stop beating myself up for my imperfections.