What I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Depression Blogger
I started writing about depression in 2017 on my blog, Mahevash Muses. Then in 2019, I got the opportunity to write about it here at HealthyPlace. The experience has been cathartic, and I wouldn't want to trade it for anything else (other than not being clinically depressed). That said, there are some things I wish I had known before I became a depression blogger.
Blogging About Depression Is Challenging
It's an understatement to say that blogging about depression is hard. It is challenging because it is difficult to confront and come to terms with one's struggles with depression. Talking about it on a public platform makes it doubly difficult for a number of reasons, such as:
- People judge relentlessly -- I've lost count of the number of times people have judged me for being depressed. Whether online or offline, the judgment has been harsh and unreal. From being "a privileged brat" to "not being strong enough," I've seen all kinds of namecalling. The only thing that has changed is that I've developed a thicker skin. Judgment still hurts, but it's easier for me to let go of it because I know that it comes from one of three places: ignorance and lack of empathy, internalized shame for being depressed, and the privilege of being undepressed.
- Strangers give unsolicited advice -- There are two kinds of annoying people in the world: those who judge and those who give advice you never asked for. Honestly, it's hard to tell which one is worse because both are extremely annoying. In my case, I've had people tell me things like "eliminate carbohydrates/meditate/do anything other than what you are doing" to get out of depression. These folks think depression is a lifestyle problem, so making lifestyle changes will eliminate it. While changes like these can be helpful, they do not wipe out depression. Plus, most people who like to give out advice don't even know my depression history (causes, what works, what doesn't work, etc.) If they really want to help, they should be informed, shouldn't they? Knowing that it's a "them" problem and not a "me" problem has made dealing with unsolicited advice easier.
- Some want to save me -- The advice kind love to make assumptions, but some days, I'd rather deal with them than the ones who want to take care of me. These folks are the neurotypical version of saviors; they think I'm so broken that they must swoop in and save me. For if they don't, who will help poor, broken me? It seems as if they get a kick out of being in a position to rescue someone from themselves. What they don't realize is that I can see right through them and don't need their sanctimony. Indeed, these fake allies are just as bad as those who pity me and talk behind my back.
- Employers are scared away -- It's 2021, and talking about depression still hurts one's job opportunities. It only takes a simple Google search for my "shady background" to be revealed. Yes, even with increased mental health awareness, knowing that a candidate has depression is a no-no for employers. Given that awareness today is typically focused on depression and anxiety, I shudder to think of the stigma that comes with other mental illnesses. If depressives are considered unreliable, what would someone with, say, borderline personality be considered?
But It Isn't All Bad
Most challenging situations come with a silver lining, and this one isn't any different. Blogging about depression has helped me find purpose in work and life. I've found my tribe in online mental health communities and learned who my true friends are. Most importantly, it has helped me accept, understand, and cope with depression. None of this would have been possible if I didn't become a depression blogger.
All things considered, I'm glad I chose this path. We can never have too many people talking about mental health struggles like depression. I sincerely hope my work can help you open up about your mental health struggles too. Remember, the first step to eradicating mental health stigma is to talk about it. Only when we collectively speak up can we dream of a world where conversations about depression at home and work will be completely normal.
Shaikh, M. (2021, March 24). What I Wish I Knew Before I Became a Depression Blogger, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, August 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/workandbipolarordepression/2021/3/what-i-wish-i-knew-before-i-became-a-depression-blogger
Author: Mahevash Shaikh
Thanks for persevering despite the negativity. You are right that the stigma will continue until we can discuss our experiences openly. Your blog offers hope.
Thank you for your kind words, Barb. Hopefully, things will be better by the end of this decade.