Monday, March 09, 2009

MentalHealthCamp

On April 25th there is going to be a MentalHealthCamp in Vancouver, an "unconference about the intersection of the social media and mental health." This sounds like a very interesting event. I've been asked to participate and just hope I'll be worthy, just hope I'll have thoughts of value to contribute, especially since the amount I'm blogging nowadays has gone down. Maybe it will encourage me to become more faithful to my blog? I do know my blog has been important to me and I wouldn't think of giving it up.

One of the questions that will be addressed is: "How can blogging help decrease the stigma of mental health?" I started my blog partly to help reduce stigma. That's why I did not make it anonymous. After all, the more open we are about who we are - unashamedly making it known, the more likely people will start thinking of it as nothing to be ashamed of.

I'm not sorry that my writings, including my blog, articles and books, are not anonymous. I've never been sorry - except perhaps the odd time that I am ashamed of myself - usually because I'm in the midst of a depression. At times like that I don't feel as free to say what I think. I have to hide where I'm at to some extent. I want to encourage people; I want to inspire; I want to be supportive. When I'm deeply depressed I prefer to go to friends or write in my personal journal.

But as far as the question goes: Does blogging decrease the stigma? Perhaps only so far as it encourages readers with mental illness to know they're not alone. Perhaps these readers would be encouraged to be more open with the people they meet, knowing that their problems are relatively common.

I had hoped for readers without mental illness, though. I had hoped I could educate supporters through my blog. Yet most of the people who visit my blog are those who themselves have mental illness.

What do you think? Can blogging decrease stigma? And how?

7 comments:

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marja,
I'd read about that camp and it sounds like great fun!

Yes, I think that blogging reduces the stigma. Since I'd never met anyone with bipolar disorder before I started blogging, it was a real eye opener to meet such a range of great folks.

And what's particularly nice is to find that we have so much more in common than just a medical malady.

Susan

Paula Joy said...

I can give you my opinion as to why there are not many readers that do not suffer from a mental illness. Before I was diagnosed, I didn't look up mental health stuff on the net. After I was diagnosed is when I wanted to know more and when I needed support.

There are blogs out there about cancer, for example, that I don't read or have ever even looked for. BUT, if a day comes that I get cancer, you can make a bet on it that I will be searching them out and reading blogs of cancer sufferers/survivors on a regular basis. I go searching for what is relevent to me, and I think most others do the same.

Blogging has TOTALLY reduced the stigma for me!! I've realized it affects anybody of any age and any race. Marja, you taught me so much, right from your first comment on my blog - "there's nothing wrong with our character, but that it's a medical condition." I always remember that.

You are doing a great work, and I pray that God will continue to bless you.

marja said...

Hi Susan,

I often think of stigma as the way we are thought of by others. But by meeting others with the disorder and knowing we're not alone, we then won't be as affected by the stigma - what I mean is we don't absorb the stigma.

Uggh! Do I make sense here? Well, you know what I mean, don't you?

Wish you could come to the camp, Susan. Wouldn't that be neat?

marja

marja said...

Paula,

That's right, few people without bipolar disorder read our sites and that's kind of too bad,eh?

If we're going to educate, which is so much what I want to do, we need to go beyond blogging and publish in places that are read by the masses. Magazines, websites, books, newspapers.

Guess that's why I don't blog as much as I should. I want to educate people who don't read my blog as well. Hard to do everything.

Thanks for your encouragement, Paula.

Wendalyn Love said...

Marja,

I am not sure about whether or not our blogs take the stigma away from our illness, however, I am sure of one thing. We who experience this disorder are encouraged by one another. When I first discovered blogs by bipolar people I was encouraged and delighted to see that so many are productive, articulate and able to help one another. I do know this from my own blog. If just one person gets encouraged (and I have heard about one person with bipolar who was so encouraged) then it is all worth it! One person is a lot! One person counts! Thanks for your positive thoughts Marja.
Wendalyn

marja said...

Wendalyn: Absolutely! I know we can encourage each other through our blogs. For many of us that's the only way we meet others with bipolar disorder.

Vorpalblade said...

can anyone help me find the airfare from the UK?! Joking :) i would love to have the opportunity to go to someplace like that. I have it proves fruitful in many ways.