Friday, 12 May 2017

Being An "Over Sharer": Why I Won't Stop Blogging About Mental Health



"We need to talk about Mental Health"

How many times have you seen that phrase, or ones like it, used in the media lately?

How many times have you seen people say "It's good to talk about these things" - particularly in recent weeks when shows such as 13 Reasons Why have brought the topic of Mental Health back to the fore.

We're supposed to all understand that talking is good...that talking is necessary...that talking literally SAVES LIVES.

But as a blogger who devotes a good chunk of my online space to mental health topics, I have to say....not everybody is there yet.

In fact there is still a very large percentage of the population who believe these are problems not to be aired, that some things are distasteful to discuss, that writing one post about it is fine, brave even - to be applauded, but write any more than that one and you're "banging on about it", - you need to just get over it and move on now. Because it's better to keep it all swept as far under that rug as your proverbial broom will reach.

I've been blogging for 4 and a half years now, and during that time I have written about all sorts of lighthearted subjects - I've done the usual updates on how my babies are getting on, I've done posts about birthday parties and days out, I've done Christmas gift guides...all the usual suspects that you'd expect to find in a parenting blog.

I've also written about some topics that are perhaps not as common - at least not in the Family Blogger field.

I've written about my experiences with domestic abuse and bullying, my battle with anxiety and panic disorder, documented my therapy journey, my struggle with pre natal depression, and my experience of suicidal thoughts.

And when people I know in the real world discover my blog, they always ask me the same thing.

"Why do you share so much?"

I've had family members express their concern to my mother over things I've written on this blog, I know that people have used some of the things I've spoken about as gossip over their coffees and I've had people suggest that I should keep some things back. That I shouldn't be so willing to share my experiences when it comes to mental health and all that's associated with my journey.

When you publish a post about something so serious and "dark" in nature, you do have that moment of worry - You wonder if anybody out there will be able to relate. You worry about whether people are getting tired of you writing about things which are perceived as negative or sad. You're concerned about whether people think you're doing it "for attention."

And almost 100% of the time, you second guess yourself - question whether you really want to put yourself out there so much.

But I push past that feeling..."Feel the fear and press publish anyway" has become my motto where my blog is concerned.

But I know that there are a lot of people who would rather I didn't do that - who would rather I kept it all quiet, and talked only about " nice things."

I've  noticed lately that whenever I publish a post about mental health or any other "taboo" subject, my brand/PR emails go extremely quiet - usually for a week or so, usually until that post has fallen off my front page.

Coincidence? Hmmm...Somehow I doubt it.

Because the thing is - a mental health patient probably isn't someone who's the right fit to help you flog nappies, are they? A blogger who talks about suicidal thoughts and being battered by her ex probably isn't someone that's going to encourage people to try your new cereal.

Because people like us...people with anxiety, depression or any mental health problem...we're outcasts, right? There's a stigma attached to us. We're not the same as every other mum who's doing the shopping and deciding which brand of nappies and cereal to buy. So it's best to steer clear of us.

So why do I do it? Why do I continue to share so many of my darkest moments? Why do I continue to talk about it all, even when it makes others uncomfortable and even when it means that my offers of brand work dry up?

This blog is my job after all, my bread and butter, wouldn't it be better for me if I just stopped talking about these things...kept it all lighter? Stayed in the box marked "Marketable" like a good little girl?

Yeah...maybe it would.

But I absolutely f*cking won't.

Because here's where they're all wrong - people "like us" are EVERYWHERE. 

7 in every 10 women will experience a mental health problem in their lives.

And do you know what that means?

It means we ARE the mum you're marketing your nappies and your cereals at.

We ARE the woman who lives next door.

We ARE the lady you wave to on the school run everyday.

We are not a sub-section of society who needs to stay in the shadows, who its best not to mingle with, who need to keep it quiet and stop upsetting everybody with our tales of woe.

We DO need to talk about mental health. And we also need to stop putting those who do so in boxes labelled "trouble", "Attention seeker" and so on.

I talk about these topics because it's important to me, I talk about it because I believe that's the best way to encourage other people to do the same. I talk about it because I care.

And I won't stop because it makes you uncomfortable.

Not even if it loses me a brand deal.



*I'm writing this post in support of Mental Health Awareness Week - If you're struggling with mental health issues or would like more information, please visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk

 (This is NOT a sponsored or collaborative post)

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19 comments

  1. YES to this! You know how much I believe in talking only and honestly about things like this. I believe not only does it help us when we talk about it and sometimes give us that reassurance we need to know that we're not the only ones when it can sometimes feel like it. But it also gives the same to the person the other side reading the post who need to hear it and know they're not alone too and know they're not abnormal. The thing is, I think most of us go through things like this, some talk about and some don't. Like you said people 'like us' are everywhere. xx

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  2. Fantastic!!! It needs to be said, more and more, until such brands to wake up and listen. It can and it does happen to anyone, and for many women it has never happened before until becoming a Mother. That's when the marketing etc must be targeted as every type of Mother, and nobody should be left out. I have a feeling that now your emails will be flossed! Brilliant Hayley-keep going! Xxx

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  3. You are so right!! We do need to talk about these things so people know that they are not alone. What is the point in suffering in silence? I think it takes bravery to talk about some of the things that you do and you should be proud of what you write about. x

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  4. Absolutely! Keep talking. You never know when your words are going to be what makes the difference in the life of another person.

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  5. Without sharing there would be no caring! Great post. #ThatFridayLinky

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  6. Issues like this need to be talked about, not only for your won wellbeing but to help those who are hiding behind a fake smile as they are worried/ashamed to speak out.

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  7. I found the support I got after my PND post fantastic. I have found others like me to talk to now

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  8. I love this! I love that blogging gives people the voice to say I'm struggling, I need help but it is OK. There are so many 'taboo' topics that are now being spoken about and that can only be a positive thing. #ThatFridayLinky

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  9. Great post. I agree with all you have said. We need to keep talking about issues like mental health.

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  10. I couldn't agree more. People need to talk about their experiences. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLInky

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  11. Thank you for sharing your important message of support for everyone with mental health issues, the problems that are hidden and stigmatised. I recently wrote about my own mental health history but questioned whether I should share. In the end I decided to tell my story so that if just 1 person feels reassured then I have done something to be proud of.

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  12. Yes to all of this!! Fantastic post! Keep talking. You should be very proud that you are brave enough to. A lot of people aren't x

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  13. Totally agree 100% you never know when you might make a difference Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

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  14. I believe that mental and physical go together. The difference being one can't be seen and the other can. We should be talking about both. #ThatFridayLinky

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  15. Yes to this! It's all well and good for people to say sweep it under the carpet, but every day people die from mental health issues. And every day people ask about those very people 'but, why didn't they just tell somebody?'. Maybe they didn't seek help because no one they could relate to was talking about it. If sharing helps you and someone else, share share and share some more! x

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  16. And I think you are right to carry on! There are probably many women who suffer in silence. I am sure they are relieved to see that they are not the only ones and you might inspire them to ask for help! Plus it's always interesting to know about it!

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  17. I think it's great to write it: It helps you and it also helps others who are are experiencing similar things. X

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  18. AMAZING post lovely. I often thought that one of the reasons I rarely get brand work or are on PRs radar is because of my honesty in blogging about very similar subjects. We should keep quiet about mental health. But like you, I will never stop blogging about my mental health issues or my experiences of baby loss. In fact, the very opposite, I have recently decided to share autobiographical posts of my depression from diagnosis to today. And if it helps one person then I really don't care about anything else. Hayley, I love you and you're amazing. This post is testimony to how fab you are. Hugs Lucy xxxx

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  19. I don't think you over share at all. I think you've struck the perfect balance between mental health posts and all the other stuff. And from all the lovely comments I read on your posts, I think your readers would agree with me. You make them feel like they're not alone if they're in a similar situation :)

    Louise x

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