Some thoughts on mental health blogging

headMartha Brock, an activist and advocate here in North Carolina is doing a presentation on ‘Blogging as a Policy Advocacy Tool‘ at the 6th Annual NC One Community in Recovery Conference and asked me a few questions about my personal process to share with her audience. I got permission to share the interview with the readers here at Beyond Meds too.

This is the description of what she’ll be talking about:

Blogging as a Policy Advocacy Tool‘ – Martha Brock
North Carolina mental health advocates use the internet in many ways, but one often overlooked, but potentially effective way to affect policy and legislation is through blogging about issues online. The goal of this presentation is introduce advocates to blogging for strategic communication for their agency or organization.
Below are the questions she asked me and my answers:

1. I think you could make a great contribution by explaining to folks who are interested in blogging how you got started with your blog and what motivates you to keep at it. I see lots of examples where people start out to create a blog and discontinue it after just a few months to a year.

I’m a big believer in muse driven creativity. I don’t think people should force what is not there. If someone starts blogging and it fizzles out then it fizzles out. No shame in that. Give blogging a try if you have something to say (and see if there is someone who wants to listen). If you have a lot to say and an audience that responds it will continue. If it doesn’t it won’t. We need to trust ourselves and explore what moves us. It’s okay to have some false starts. At some point if we stick to what moves us we’ll find what it is we really want and need to be doing.

I suppose, that said, I might also make suggestions about what sort of mix is, nonetheless, necessary to find readers. It’s helpful to be part of a blogging community. To read and leave comments on other like-minded bloggers blogs. It’s also helpful to engage in social media and also find like-minded sorts to share your posts with. Honestly engaging other people’s work instead of just promoting yours works well too. This all has to be honest and organic. You can’t pretend to be interested in someone else’s work just to promote yours for example. So again, this either happens from your heart or it doesn’t. This is information for you to pay attention to.

2. Also, do you have a specific target audience for your writing–an audience that you keep in mind with writing? If so, how does that help or hurt you with your writing?

We all have an audience we’re writing for whether we’re aware of it or not. I attempt to cast a very wide net myself and hope to speak to a large cross-section of folks. I suppose the people I’m most conscious of writing for are folks who’ve encountered psychiatry and found it lacking. That does, indeed, seem to be a very large number of all sorts of different people from every walk of life as far as I can tell. I do not consider myself anti-psychiatry. I’m for whatever works. Nonetheless, people do like to put me in boxes of their own choosing.

3. You present what is a minority point of view in your Beyond Meds writing. How do you engage those who may comment in opposition to your blog? Do you encourage comments?

I no longer have comments enabled on the blog as it became far more than a full-time job to answer and moderate all the comments. I was working up to and more than 80 hours a week when I discontinued comments. This is a note I put on the blog concerning that:

Someone just inquired again about contacting me personally for private correspondence. I post on Facebook every now and then about how I’m not able to do that since people often ask. Today I’m putting it here on the blog as well.

I’m sorry, I continue to not be available for personal correspondence or phone calls. I don’t have consistent energy or reliable amounts of energy and it simply sets everyone up for disappointment. That said I most likely won’t return to such open correspondence ever.

I was working up to 80 hours a week when I answered all my email and comments on the blog a few years ago…that’s simply not sustainable as all my work is done voluntarily. The blogs readership has since grown considerably. So I’m sorry, it’s simply not possible to answer everyone’s inquiries.

I’ve learned to make healthy boundaries for myself. I wish that there was meaningful support for everyone out there and in fact that is why I do this work so that more people will become aware of what is going on. I do understand all too well what it’s like to feel like we don’t have enough support. I will continue to work to create a world where such support is available in the ways that I can.

I do now interact with readers on twitter and facebook where the flow of conversations can be more easily managed.

When people don’t like my work that’s fine. I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone who isn’t interested. What I write about is not for everyone and I’m okay with that. I try to let folks know that when they take issue with what I’m saying. I believe we all have our own paths. I’m completely okay with folks having different opinions and finding that different things work for them. The only problem is when people (from any perspective) try to force their perspective on someone else.

4. Do you feel comfortable with writing about your own health in your blog? Did that take time to achieve or have you been able to do that from the beginning?

I’ve always written what I felt called to write…I do have a sense of limits and boundaries. I respect that inner sense of knowing what my limits are. I’m sure I share more than what some people would feel comfortable sharing and less that what others might. I am aware that people often assume they know me based on the fact that I share a lot of information. The fact is I also do not share a lot information. My private life remains mine.

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