The other day someone commented that they were amazed at how much information about my life I give on this blog. The line that the person read that prompted them to say this was on my banner: "Babblings of my life as a bandit, a single mum and a survivor of mental illness and addiction". Yes, these are pretty honest words about who I am, but are they words that I shouldn't use in such a public arena?
Let's take a closer look...
So I'm a bandit. Could be considered very personal. Although I've told all my friends and family, its not something I go around TAFE shouting in the cafeteria "hey fellow students and teachers, I have a lap band, watch me shrink!". But being a lap band patient is not something I actively hide or am ashamed of.
I'm a single mum. Well it ain't the 1950s any more so I'm pretty sure that's something I should feel free and easy writing about in a blog. In fact "single mothers by choice" are becoming more and more common. As are same sex parents, mixed race parents, blended families, etc. The nuclear family with a mum and a dad and 2.5 children is probably the exception now, not the rule. As long as we love our kids and provide a happy, stable home, who is to judge the make up of any family?
I'm a survivor of mental illness. OK, yes, this is probably where things start to get really personal and for many, they would not like strangers to either know that they suffer from depression and/or anxiety in the first place, let alone want anyone to read details about their condition. Its a choice and I respect either position - to keep it private or to feel comfortable about sharing it, whether using a pseudonym or not. Personally, as anyone who has read any of my blog will know, I am comfortable sharing online my experiences about what I have gone through as a sufferer of chronic major depression and debilitating anxiety. In fact, I now realise blogging about it has become an important part of my healing process.
Whether we choose to keep it private or not, mental illness is not something to be ashamed of. Sufferers should not be discriminated against or judged for what they go through or how they handle their condition. Mental illness is so common and so widespread these days that I feel it is so important that it comes from out of the shadows. The stigma and shame that is still so often attached to anyone who is inflicted with this curse should be banished to the past.
Suffering alone and in silence can be deadly.
For me, and I imagine (I don't want to speak for others) for so many other bloggers out there, feeling free to write about our darkest moments or our triumphs in recovery is so crucial in helping us to survive.
This week I have read a number of blogs where the writer has reached out a cyber hand asking for help through tough times. I think it is so important that, even though these wonderful people may not have the support they need in the real world, they are able to express how they feel on their blogs and have a network of fellow bloggers who follow their journey with caring words of support, understanding and a virtual shoulder to cry on.
I am a survivor of addiction. Hmmm, another very personal point and one that can cause a great deal of negative judgement. Drug and alcohol addiction is a disease that has been around for as long as the substances have been used and is common now more so than ever. I'm not proud of the fact that my drug and alcohol use saw me hit rock bottom three years ago, but I'm extremely proud of the fact I've now been sober for well over two years.
Although I don't regret my past, I would never want anyone to go through what I have to be here today, alive and healthy, instead of dead or in jail. I hope that anyone who may be in a similar situation as I was, and reads any of my posts that talk about my struggles with addiction or my mental battles in recovery, might learn from my mistakes and experience. Or that they might take comfort knowing that they are not alone and that it is possible to rise up from the depths of rock bottom, where you think the drugs and alcohol will never loosen their grip on your life, to once again become a functioning, healthy and responsible adult who is no longer a slave to their vices.
So is being a bandit, a single mum and a survivor too personal for Blogland? For me personally, no it is not.