The first time I ever wrote something personal online, my mum and I had a chat about whether it was a good idea or not. I had written a post about my smear test, my positive HPV results and my fears and anxieties about cervical cancer.
It was one of the first blog posts that I publicly shared to my own Facebook page, and the feedback was so loving and positive from friends, that I was absolutely on cloud-nine. I finally felt like I was making steps to carve a place for myself as a writer and blogger. I felt like I was helping other people who might not have known the risks and I believed that I had something important to share and express.
However, when my mum sat me down she shared that she was concerned that I was making myself vulnerable, that I was sharing too much about my own personal problems and that I might regret sharing that information with everyone I know one day.
She expressed concerns about social media and how people were ‘oversharing’ on the internet. which I will admit at the time, this is something that I completely dismissed. But now, looking back on this conversation- it’s something that I’ve been thinking about once again.
I had started my first ‘proper’ blog at around 17 years old and it became my safe haven to write, to share and to talk to people who were going through the same things as me. From OCD, bulimia, anorexia, anxiety, binging, purging, phobias, relationships, health scares… my blog had become basically an online diary.
I had never taken into account the fact that I didn’t actually know who was reading it, or where it could appear in the future…. all that I was concerned about was the fact that I loved what I was doing, I loved that I was able to write this stuff somewhere, and that people seemed to really respond to it. To have it questioned by someone I loved so much really hurt and I dismissed and ignored it.
The blog that I’m talking about ended up being hidden away from the internet anyway, but this conversation got me thinking about my current blog and the amount that I am once again posting online about my own life and personal experiences.
I have continued to write and share my life as it came, on that blog and on this one. I have before upset people with the fact that I wrote about them and their lives. I’ve once or twice actually fallen out with people because I didn’t know where the line was where it came to oversharing.
I have written about the ugly parts of my mental illness, my personality flaws, my failed relationships and my successes in life. It’s all here and it’s all available for anyone to read… and that, well that scares me a little bit when I look back on it.
It’s got me wondering whether I should really be writing all this stuff on here, when I’ve got my career to think of, when I’ve got family who might be upset to see that my anxiety is spiralling and, the other part of it is that I’ve closed the book on a lot of my previous problems.
I no longer suffer from bulimia or binge/purge. I no longer restrict my food. My eating disorder is a blurred memory at best. I still understand it, but I don’t live it anymore.
My OCD is much more under control that it’s ever been.
Sure, I’ll still ‘touch wood’ when people tempt fate or make me feel uncomfortable… and sure, my anxiety is still a little bitch (she’s never going away!) but it’s all parts of me that I feel like I’m not able to write the kind of posts that I used to, for fear of feeling a bit like a fraud!
My blog nowadays isn’t an online diary, it’s an online memory album, lifestyle blog, source of advice… and that’s ok. People change and the things that I once wrote about might be slightly different.
(I mean, they could also get REAL personal. My life is changing so much lately!)
I’m much more self-aware of what I’m posting and ultimately, I think that I know myself and my boundaries better than anyone else. I know now that talking about mental illness with a group of trusted people, is not the same as outing myself online. I understand that there are aspects of my life that are important to share and others that I can keep to myself or share with my parents, sister or Luke.
I write about mental health to this day, because when I was in the depths of my own struggles, it would have made me feel far better to not be so alone.
Although I’ve definitely turned a corner with it, it’s still something that I feel so passionately about and is probably something that I will continue to share for the foreseeable future.
But for now – who knows? I guess I just have to remember who might be reading anything that I write before I hit the share button!
What do you think?