SPOOKED

I got spooked. I made my blog private. Two days of wanting to be unseen and unexposed.

It isn’t often I get nervous about blogging. But honest blogging about my subjective experience of mental illness is like the discomfort of therapy, amplified.

In the therapy room chair I want to literally melt into the furniture. This week, it became that way with blogging, and with blogging, I am able to make choices as to whether my inner life becomes public fodder for people to pick at. There is a delete button, and there are privacy settings. There are no such privacy settings for psychological therapy.

I cannot ghost my location, as with Snapchat. I cannot become invisible, as I am sitting there in front of her, feeling scared and longing for privacy, but knowing I surrendered that privacy when I signed up for mental health treatment.

As a mental health blogger I compromise many things, and top of that list is privacy.

Blogging is about the unseen and the unsaid.

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The screen collapses and you are sat there, metaphorically naked. Literal nakedness is not permitted, as if therapy could get any more AWKWARD than doing it sans clothing.

I am public again. Blinking in the light. Maybe I miss the social media glare?

Maybe blogging is how I get my identity, and sharing so much is the mechanism by which I feel connected to other humans? Maybe you can’t wrestle the blogger out of the person?

This week I have done several things that are very important for my future. I didn’t want to blog about them. That wouldn’t be professional, and professional is who I want to be and what I aspire to be; so I’m trying to figure out how I can be authentic about my mental health, AND shape a positive future where I can make a successful impact in my chosen fields (which are mental health, and trauma, and the support of victims of abuse.)

Next week the local paper are doing a piece about my recent fundraising event and my mental health volunteering for local and national Mind. I have an important decision to make. Do I identify myself as a local mental health blogger? Or do I hide my blog away for a bit and pretend I’m a semi-normal person?

I’m a bit spooked to be honest.

I have permanently deleted Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Snapchat. All gone.

The blog was gone, now it’s back.

What to do?

This video below is about social media. I LOVE it- it’s so funny and so true. How can we possibly deal with people who turn their back on social media??

summerSHINES©

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GOODBYE TO ALL, ESP. YOU x

My creative inspiration (blogging-wise has dried up). Creativity is not a predictable resource. While some manage to max out creativity and produce creative output prolifically, almost as one of their personality traits, sometimes the well just dries up, the brain cells cease to fire, and the creativity shrivels like a air dried prune [with extra wrinkles].

I have blogged from February 2015 to now, but not all on the summer starts to shine blog. I have blogged prolifically and cathartically and therapeutically, and seen myself through a myriad of mental health variation in functioning levels, from crawling on the floor wanting to die level, to high functioning ‘I’m totally in control of my shit’¬†level.

I’m burned out, not of life in general, but¬†when it comes to¬†blogging and sharing and producing output for people to read and respond to. My goal was to get to 1000 followers by the end of this year,¬†and my follower list stands at a healthy 815 people, plus the Facebook peeps.

But does chasing likes and comments and shares really help with my therapeutic process of recovery/life with mental health conditions? Yes, and no, but the no is beginning, on balance, to become larger than the yes, which leads me to wonder why I am doing this.

I know from reading the blogs of other bloggers that many of us will reach a point of disillusionment at some stage. I know I’m not alone in feeling this, as many of my blog friends are at this point right now. Maybe it is partly the emotional contagion effect of that, making me reconsider what I devote my time and energy into and wonder whether changes may need to be made.

But I think I am an independent enough thinker to also feel secure that this disillusionment is mainly originating from deep within. It is maybe a reflection of the stage of life I am at, crucial internal mental transitions I am going through, and where I know I want to be headed in the future.

Summer starts to shine has taken me closer to where I want to be. More insightful, more self-aware, more practised at communicating my ideas to a diverse virtual audience, more authentic, more known about, less invisible. But in turn, summer starts to shine has left me more vulnerable, more exposed, more confused, more dominated by an inner state of unrest, and ultimately feeling like I am going round in most prettiest but also most useless of circles.

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I cannot blog just because there is an expectation that I will and always will, to please the people who enjoy reading this blog. Likewise I shouldn’t stop blogging because there are select¬†people who don’t approve or like what I¬†create here. Blogging is for an audience, but it has to have self-benefit for the author and give satisfaction, otherwise you are just working as an unpaid writer to entertain, amuse, or educate others.

Maybe this is the depressed mood talking. Maybe this is a phase. Maybe this is temporary and will pass, but right now, I think the best way summer can shine is to stop blogging.

There is nowhere I prefer to be than behind a keyboard, writing, expressing, communicating, but I want to make the move to professional writing. I want to write for a purpose that is more than ‘summer just messily splurges her thoughts, feelings and experiences on her blog stream-of-consciousness-then feels empty and unsatisfied’.

Lately I have done more writing projects for organisations that I admire and respect, that have created more tangible and real positive outcomes. That is what writing is about for me. Making a difference. Changing and improving things. Raising standards. Influencing attitudes. Explaining things in a way that makes sense to the intended audience. I think I have tasted another type of writing, and blogging (stream-of-consciousness and spontaneously) just seems a tad lack lustre in comparison.

My hubby thoughtfully suggested I try a different way of blogging….planned posting, but it just doesn’t fit with my internally and instinctively as being the right thing for this blog. I have thought of¬†not only stopping writing new material, but deleting my blog entirely¬†and¬†abandoning the concept of mental health blogging completely. He says I shouldn’t, and what a waste that would be, but I just feel ambivalent right now.

I used to love blogging, and I definitely still LOVE writing- it’s my best thing, but I don’t love blogging on summer starts to shine quite¬†like I used to.

I question how much of this is depression/mood based and symptomatic of anhedonia (the clinical lack of pleasure in things that once gave masses of pleasure found in those people who are depressed). But I also like to listen to gut instincts, and my instincts tell me that blogging is wrong, and it is writing I should be doing.

I want to build up a body of written work that I am proud of. My blog posts that I knock out (in half an hour usually)¬†don’t give me the same sense of pride as a writer as the the serious and purposeful writing I do. I have a¬†notebook full of ideas, but blogging keeps me of the scent, and those projects get sidelined because I’ll feel a build up of pressure that I haven’t published anything on summer shines.

It is becoming an albatross, rather than a virtual vehicle for strengthening my once frail and broken wings.

My heart isn’t in this. My heart hurts. I feel alone and exposed and vulnerable. The things that used to matter don’t, and I’m noticing there are new things in my life that are coming along and mattering more.

Blogging so regularly has taught me a lot about writing, and even more about people, and how they may respond. None of these lessons, however painful to tolerate at times, are wasted.

I have to go within, and go with what fits for me. Maybe summer cannot shine if I continue to blog.

I¬†know I have decisions to make, but they are not decisions to be taken lightly. I have invested a huge amount of myself into this blog, so quitting is not something to be done lightly, without a certain degree of sadness, disappointment, and even mourning (if that isn’t too strong a word).

I am grieving for lots of things right now, things which I don’t want to go into publically. I am shutting down internally, closing for business, whether this is¬†temporary I’m not sure, but I’m definitely sure that the status quo isn’t quite working out.

I really value the blog friends I have made, and I want to stay in touch with you, off the blog, if you want to. My email address is summerstartstoshine@yahoo.com if you want to contact me that way. If I give up on blogging, please know I am not giving up on you. I am protecting me, but I still care about you xxx

Here is my personal list of the bloggers who I have really really¬†valued through my time as a blogger. This list is off-the-top-of-my-head, written in one go, as is all my blogging here, so please forgive me if you’ve not made it to this list. I have dissociative amnesia as a symptom of my trauma, so sometimes my memories are not all accessible, depending on my current dissociative state.¬†You are on this list because you are the bloggers that even if I stop blogging,¬†I won’t forget, for various reasons. In no particular order……

Buffy Devane, Gina (singledust), Alexis (untangled), Brenda, Athina (courage coaching), Raquel (recovery to wellness), Paul (paul e bailey’s world), Claire (red balloons) Rayne (journey toward healing)¬†Paul (mindfump), SDC (the river runners), Twinkle toes 79, Liz (my wellbeing and learning journey) Manuel (emotionsoflife2016),¬†Anaida, Karl (in a dark wood), Anna (the daily annagram), Liza (lizalizaskiesaregrey)¬†Esther, bethanyK (not my secret), beauty beyond bones, Ms SG41, Dweed (daisy on the willows) no face woman, she ra (motherhood made me do it), a broken blue sky, Barney (out of the bog and the myre) me time online, belleUnrue, anxious writer, Eddaz, manyofus1980, Sylvan (out of the dark), secret keeper, Anne J, Tenacity T. Emerging from the dark night, the original phoenix, Guernsey Jason, 1-wise woman,¬†mr daffy duck, Simon, Defavereux Fraser, Art (advanced research technology), Alex (journey to euphoria),¬†Daleom,¬†Helena, Lisa, Sarah, Zig¬†et al.

Goodbye to all

summerSHINES©

 

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THANK YOU!

This is my chance to big up my readers, yes YOU -the people who read Summer Starts to Shine.

I am dead proud to have just nudged over the 800 follower mark. blinks I find this hard to believe actually. Next month I will be celebrating my first blog birthday of shine, and I can hardly believe it! The time has gone so scarily quick and I have made so many forward strides in my personal development during my time as a mental health blogger.

I thought I’d compile a list tonight of the things I’ve learned via blogging.¬†My ability to do this however in any intelligence or¬†wisdom-infused way¬†is slightly compromised as my husband is watching a comedy show in the same room and is guffawing¬†with laughter at unpredictable intervals [which due to my PTSD SCARES THE FUCK out of me].¬†So think of this¬†as a list written by a very¬†fatigued blogger with PTSD in a state of mild generic¬†panic, because those are¬†the prevailing¬†conditions in which I am blogging this list¬†tonight nods

I have learned that……………

What I feel and choose to write about is both very unlike what other people feel, and also very much like what other people feel. What I share is common to many, but also intriguingly different and compelling to some, [usually those who have not had my upbringing and trauma and diagnosed mental health ishoos].

My emotionality is attractive to people. I am many things, and certainly never dull.¬†I always feel something, rarely nothing, and the more I share about the little things, I realise to others [as well as myself] that they are actually¬†the¬†BIG things. Being able to put your blogging microscope onto the small macro details and blow them up in stature¬†is educative, entertaining and absorbing, for me and you. When I write I shut the rest of the world out, even husbands watching annoying comedy that most def isn’t funny.

I can write about pleasure and pain, and people like reading about both. That’s because life is about both. A¬†blog that is exclusively pain-focused is tough to read and¬†follow, and a blog that is exclusively pleasure-oriented can be a little shallow and lack-lustre and fail to capture and hold your attention. If you want to write an engaging blog about mental health, pleasure¬†AND pain matter. There is a place for both, because as I said, life is about both. If you only share the good you are most likely presenting a social media airbrushed front concealing the true paradox that life is often both shiny and shit at exactly the same time. If you share only the bad and can never laugh at the absurdity of life and the lighter moments, you are missing out on one of life’s great releases- what makes life breathable.

The ability to laugh at the shit-ness and find the amusing angle on it is a definite asset. As I told a friend recently I laughed all the way though my mental health breakdown, even at the worst bits when I fell into crisis, because there was always something lighter, even if it was the tiniest thing.Those moments of relief are there for the taking. Sharing them with others intensifies the therapeutic effects- benefitting you as well as the reader of your blog-most-brilliant.

You have the ability to make me feel lots of things, in response to your feedback. Blogging is NOT the same as journaling. A journal does not reward you with reader stats (as you are the only reader), there are no ‘likes’ and no comments to read and feedback to be had. Journaling doesn’t help me like blogging does, because I like the interactive element of blogging. The feedback shapes and sculpts my shine. It fuels me to develop new blog ideas, to¬†understand different viewpoints that I may not have thought of myself, and it gives me ideas as to what people like bestest so I can deliver it. I blog for me, but I also blog as someone who fancies themselves as a writer too. Pleasing my virtual audience is present in my mind, as well as getting out what I need to get out for my own sanity. If I can write about something difficult, in a way that makes sense also to others, or that helps others or entertains, then brilliant! I will aim to do that to the best of my ability. Receiving compliments on my writing can brighten my day, and feedback¬†given that¬†I’ve stimulated a new breakthrough or¬†novel insight in someone is just FAB-such a privilege and a buzz!

I follow very few blogs myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m a selfish or crap¬†blogger. It just means I’m a no bullshitting one.¬†In my early blogging career¬†I did the whole WordPress thing. I did blog award acceptance¬†posts, I did link-backs. I re-blogged lots of people’s posts and commented all the time. I also followed every blogger that followed me, irrespective of whether their blog honestly interested me. It was a full-time job.¬†I soon realised that¬†didn’t sit with me, and I am happier interacting with less bloggers¬†and only following the blogs that really resonate and strike a chord with me. The more blogs I read the more my brain gets clogged up with other people’s¬†lives and thoughts and experiences and feelings, which confuses me and destroys my own personal clarity of thought. Being an empath, I pick up on subtle energies and emotions of others, so¬†if I find a blog repeatedly draining and triggering or failing to interest me¬†I don’t continue to follow. I am quite ruthless, (you could say mean?) but I believe I owe it to myself to protect my energy and limit my attentional demands. If I did the whole following, liking and commenting on every post written by every blogger who followed me, I know I’d get LOADS more followers and likes and comments, but they’d be empty ones, as they’d only be¬†attempts to trade blog popularity by exchanging positive strokes. That wouldn’t give me any¬†gratification. So I don’t play that bullshit blogger game. Instead, I¬†just write. I believe if¬†more bloggers did that and just wrote,¬†we’d easily find our virtual tribe. The number of connections between bloggers and likes and blog awards etc¬†would reduce, but the quality of those virtual connections would go up. Quality not quantity.

Anyway I think that’s enough blog philosophising for one night. I’m tired, and my bed is so warm and comfy, so that’s right where I’m headed.

Goodnight, and sweet dreams, and most important of all

THANK YOU!

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summerSHINES©

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SMILEY SADNESS

The truest sentence that I know, is that a smile can conceal great sadness.

Speaking from my own experience, I don’t only cry when I’m sad¬†and only¬†smile when I’m happy. It just isn’t that simple.

I have perfected the art of smiling sadness. I suppose you could say it’s a semi-conscious process. I have to put some effort into it, but the effort is instinctive and done by me¬†more or less on auto-pilot.

As a child I’d feel sad, but be told “don’t be sad, be happy” and the way I demonstrated to them that I’d ‘learned my lesson’ and conformed to what they expected, was to smile.

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A smile is the universal non-verbal sign for happiness, approval, social attunement.

So used to smiling when unhappy am I, (due to this parental indoctrination & brainwashing),¬†that I still now often automatically smile when I feel sad, even when I’m absolutely¬†alone. I don’t need any audience present to compel me to smile when unhappy,¬†I just do it. End of. And they lived happily ever after. etc.

I caught myself doing this¬†a few minutes ago when lying alone in my outdoorsy bed shed¬†(so called because it’s a shed in my garden, with a bed in it!- my sanctuary away from the world.¬†¬†And I thought, why the actual fuck¬†am I smiling?? I’m feeling bloody¬†AWFUL here. Vulnerable. Low. Empty. Frustrated. Needy. Insecure.¬†Why on earth¬†smile about it?! But then I reasoned, I am not smiling with unbridled enjoyment at my current state of¬†melancholic moodology. I am really just smiling to conceal exactly how sad I really feel, at a time when no fucker can see my face. How does that work? Why summer!? Why!?

I am so good at smiling when I’m unhappy that I spend a lot of my time doing just that-smiling whilst inwardly wilting and sinking and drowning and frowning. I like to think I’m not a fake person. I like to think I am authentic and share my emotions readily and openly and honestly with others- and verbally, I very much do. I am extremely honest and I usually always tell people how I’m really feeling, BUT, I can say all that crap feelingy stuff with a grateful smile¬†plastered all over¬†my face, and that totally does not resonate with what is going on underneath. I say the honest stuff, but in a¬†non-verbal way that communicates the polar opposite of that.

‘Incongruence’ is the posh word for it. My face is incongruent (mis-matched) with my mood.

People say they don’t find me too draining, because (paraphrasing) I’m a ‘cheerful sort of depressive’ and see the humour in my state of mental mis-wiring¬†.

I do actively like to be a non-draining friend to my friends. That’s important to me as I don’t want to drive my friends away, so I suppose I do try and put my best foot forward and not linger too long on the shit stuff, but actually physically smiling to myself when I’m totally alone and unwatched and inwardly feeling terrible IN A¬†GARDEN SHED no less,¬†is just¬†bonkers, isn’t it?

I find the line between sadness and smiles to be paper thin, as¬†is the line between happiness and it’s supposed opposite, pain.

Surges of happiness and euphoria and gratitude, [which to me are experienced particularly intensely due to my BPD], invariably invoke stabbings of pain and sadness- the sad yang to my happy yin.

What they should have taught me at home and at school though, is that life is far more than just discrete categorisations of happy and sad. A sense of one can be coloured and polluted by the sense of an other.

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You can cry happy tears, and/or you can smile the fuck out your sadness. I’ve had to learn all that over the last 36 years on this strange planet.

There¬†is usually some¬†sadness tucked behind my smile, and often a freeing sense of release (that brings accompanying¬†euphoric feelings) when I am acknowledging and sitting with my feelings of sadness, so the confused emotional mix is there, ready to make you smile when alone in garden sheds when you’re feeling shit.

Smiling when you’re sad might well be about (learned) social concealment of genuine emotion to enhance relationships with other humans- it might alternatively be a subconscious attempt to change your mood by manipulating your facial expressions. Smiling when you’re sad is (one of the) key skills of emotional regulation in DBT Skills, a psychological treatment for people with BPD,¬†as it physiologically tricks the brain into thinking we are happy and secure, when we’re actually in pain and feeling threatened. Facial expressions give feedback to the brain about what is happening in the outside environment, so maybe smiling when we feel shit is a good way of diffusing all that internal crap-ness. Or maybe, it is just that emotion is so damn complex that many conflicting emotions can simultaneously be firing off in your brain all at once so you can’t help but smile, no matter what might be happening to you psychologically.

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Whatever the reason, maybe next time I catch myself smiling when feeling sad in the shed, I’ll experiment with allowing my natural emotion to etch-a-sketch its way onto my face, and see what happens to my mood state¬†then.

I shall report back. But until then I shall end this post with a genuine smile, at my enjoyment of my mental health blogging, and how it can make sense of the senseless (or I might just cry about that too) :P

summerSHINES©