I read each and every one of your comments — even though I don’t always reply to each one. Your comments are very meaningful to me — I empathize with your stories of shared suffering and shared recovery. I truly love reading them — they make me feel far less alone!
One recent comment on my blog post called “The Post-Holiday Slump: The Presence Of An Absence“, became a bit “stickier” than most — and I found myself thinking about it quite a bit over the past 24 hours.
The blog post was about how January and February basically suck and feel super dreary in comparison to the brightness and happiness of the Christmas season. Putting away the tree and the lights creates a weird void in not only my living room (where the tree stood), but also in my gut.
The commenter pointed out my lack of positivity.
PERSPECTIVE AND PRESCRIPTION
From Reader547 (although I’ve added some paragraph breaks and emphasis for readability):
“While it is all too true that the lights come down and everything is put away in January, I feel the writer has no helpful perspective in her article on how people can think differently about it all! How about trying to view January as a “new start into the fresh and unknown future”?
Yes there are those of us who know that our future is going to be much of the same suffering with chronic illness and so on as before, but even I in that condition try to be hopeful of my future. I try to view the winter as a peaceful time when I can read interesting books that people gave me for Christmas, and get some creative sewing done. I look forward to each season – even the cold months as something special because I choose to find something special in it. It is a way of life that needs to be adopted by the writer and then shared with those who do find a slump in the after Christmas time period.
I realize that winter and snow present us with challenges but I also recognize it as an opportunity to wear the beautiful warm sweater I got from my daughter for Christmas, the time to enjoy the bounce of the dogs leaping in the snow, and the time to make wonderful warm meals for my family. There are things to enjoy if only we will look for them!!!”
Let me start by responding to the very last line: Reader547, I absolutely agree that there are things to enjoy — everywhere, and at any time. When life gets shitty, there’s always going to be that one person, or that one pet, or even that one podcast that gets you through the day and makes you smile (if only for a few moments).
On that point, we are on the same page — precisely.
Now, onto the greater issue here, and I’ll pose it in the form of a question: is it okay for me to blog about negative feelings on a mental health website? Moreover, is it okay to blog about those feelings without offering up tidy tips to help eject whatever demon is living in my (and perhaps your) head?
This is very meta, or even “ars bloggetica“, if you will. But it’s an important question.
Am I, as a mental health blogger, obligated to stay on the shiny side?
SHINY HAPPY EVERYTHING
I have a feeling that Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America (one of my favorite books, by the way) would give a big fat “no” to that question.
I would, too.
Life is messy. Mental health problems can make it even messier. My main goal as a blogger is to show other people that they’re not the only person who is drowning in all the messiness. They’re not the only person who is panicking at the grocery store. They’re not the only person who drives halfway to work, chickens out, calls off, drives home, takes a Xanax, and passes out on the couch.
I won’t argue that I didn’t have a very “helpful” perspective — in the conventional definition of “helpful”, at least.
But I prefer to be honest — even when my honesty isn’t very helpful.
If my life were filled with sunshine and rainbows, I’d probably be able to frame January as a “new start into the fresh and unknown future”, to quote Reader547. But truly, it’s not. I get jaded sometimes — especially in the winter months — and that’s okay.
It’s perfectly okay, and in my next post I’ll tell you why.
Photo: dito_13 (Flickr)