Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bandit, single mum, survivor - too personal for Blogland?

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.



Katherine said...

I totally admire your honesty and strength in banding and your life story. we all have our own story as to how we got here.. Keep sharing what you wish to share with us... I love ya blog xxx

Outback Bandit said...

Hi V

I dont think it's that it's too personal for blogland. I think it's more about you choosing not to blog anonymously.

I think it's great you are brave enough to put your face on your blog, and not remain anonymous :)

Epiphany said...

I say the more honest we are about stuff like this the better.

Sam said...

You being so honest helps alot more people than if you weren't.

Heather said...

I totally wouldn't worry about it. If you are comfortable with it, that is all that matters!

Liz said...

Love it V! Its so true, writing about our experiences and day to day life, it is such a healing process. It really helps me to know that I can come and write about my depression on my blog. I just don't think it would be a great topic of convo with my friends.

I think its great you are so honest and you are right, so many people suffer from mental illness, its good that you are so open about it. And about your past....again, it all gives courage to see a strong woman blog about her tough life, honestly.

Justawallflower said...

I would think if it is to personal for someone else to read about those topics then she should find another blog to read. It is people like you, who are so selfless to share their experiences with others, that is such a help to others who suffer in silence.

Something About Kellie said...

I think that you are real. Real is scary for some trying to escape reality. I love that you are able to be proud of being a survivor because that's what you are.

I work in Mental Health and I truly believe that there are no sufferers only survivors. Its nothing to be ashamed of, it shouldn't be swept under the carpet.

Congratulations to you for being honest and true to yourself.

cmacraven said...

Brillant post - I think you're an inspiration!

Bonnie said...

Somehow I missed this post, but wanted to let you know how brave I think you are. You never know who you might help by telling your story.

The Candid Bandit said...

Great post!

I've always hidden behind a wall of shame/guilt/fear and secrecy until about 6 years ago when I started blogging. I needed (in order to heal some demons at the time) to be real.

You, my darling are being real. The first step of dealing with a problem is admitting the problem right? You've done that and your experiences may just help others.

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