Sometimes blogging seems to be about not hitting the publish button.

I frequently have ideas for posts related to mental health, make notes and write drafts, only to decide when it comes to it, not to publish. So I’ve made myself reflect on why.

Confidence is one issue; it goes without saying that you make yourself vulnerable blogging about this stuff. Couple that with the way anxiety saps your confidence anyway and, well, you’re already up against it before you’ve even started!

Then there is the matter of authenticity. A few weeks ago, a brief exchange with a friend on the topic got me thinking about how it relates to writing about mental health/illness. When I decided to write about my experiences I felt it was important to try to be authentic. It didn’t go through my mind in so many words, but that was the idea. I wanted to be honest. If I was going through a crap phase, I’d write about that. If things were going well, then I’d write about that. Despite those symptoms that are common to an anxiety disorder, dealing with mental illness is a very individual experience. To try and hide behind cliches would be both disingenuous and pointless.

All of this feeds into the question of how much to write about.

Over the winter there have been times where things were pants. Not as bad as in the past but I was aware I was slipping into some very unhelpful thought patterns. Those pesky cognitive distortions getting the upper hand again. I would try and write about them. But I would get so far only to then question why I was doing so. Partly it was the confidence thing. But also, no one wants to read about every time things are a bit shit. This is not a teenage diary. Rather, I see blogging as a kind of marginalia to day to day experience. Authenticity does not equate to an unfiltered mind dump; it is not about writing everything. It can be selective without sacrificing honesty.

The final factor (at least, of those I can think of right now) which can stop me from posting is striving for the perfect edit. I imagine this is a trap that many fall into, whether it is about grammar or putting a point across well. Given that life is a work in progress, and therefore so is blogging, I have to allow for the fact that a thought process does not need to have come to a tidy resolution in order for it to be written about. An unfinished thought, if that is as far as I have currently reached, is as authentic as a fully fledged idea.

So if you take a lack of confidence, perfectionism and the questions around the meaning of authenticity, it’s no surprise that many ideas never get anywhere near the blog. I think I am too hard on myself.

I’m going sit with these thoughts and see where they go next.


Stephen James

Minding the gaps


© Stephen James 2021

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