I have had a tremendous pressure to quit writing this blog, to shut it down or make it private, to write in a journal instead... Some people have been kinder than others with their opinions, but the consensus about the blog is that it's damaging. Either it's damaging to my reputation (and it might be), it exposes me to the cruelty of others (and it has), or it allows me to stay mired in the negative feelings I'm feeling (and that's true too).
My answer is always the same. First, it is cathartic for me. Yes, I get stuck for a little longer in those negative places, but it also allows me to explore those feelings. Before I entered into the hospital, I was so numb that I didn't realize I had negative feelings. I didn't think it was strange that I felt nothing, that I tasted nothing, that I saw no beauty, that I didn't want to exist. Unpleasant as it is in my shoes sometimes, feeling is living. People have slowed down a bit and really ask how I am, instead of barreling beyond the niceties of "Hey, how are ya," and moving on to other things. That is worth something, even if they are pitying me because they read my story.
Second, I don't want to hide anymore. I pretended to be fine for SO LONG. I wore mask after mask to appease those around me. I wore a mask for my clients, courts and counsel to prove how strong I was. I wore a mask to my friends because they liked the me who wasn't this me. I wore a mask for my parents because I wanted them to be proud of me. I wore a mask for my husband because I was afraid he might leave me. I wore a mask for my children because I wanted to be the mother they deserved. I was only me when I was crying in dark rooms and I desperately didn't want that to be me. I have had countless people come to me and say they wish they had seen something and that they were so sorry they didn't know. That was the point, my sweet people who have expressed that. I didn't want anyone to know. I love that you love me enough to believe you might have missed something, but I had mastered hiding and I refuse to do it anymore. I want to be raw and honest about what I am experiencing. It IS real and it IS my life right now. Why paint a pretty picture that ultimately leaves me worse off for wishing my life was something that it isn't?
Last, and perhaps most importantly, it is helping others. Honestly, that was never my intention. My writing was for me and the publicizing of it was simply to avoid feeling like I was hiding my daemons. But so many people have come forward with support, not only for me, but for my writing. They call me brave, and while I feel so very far from brave, I recognize that they mean that there are so many others out there who deal with what I'm dealing with who don't feel safe or strong enough to be honest about it. Most recently, I had two family members express to me their struggles and how they could relate to me because I write the blog. One of them said that it made her feel better to know that someone she loved and respected was going through something that makes one feel so weak and alone. I have had complete strangers contact me and thank me for saying what they are thinking or feeling.
Perhaps most poignantly, I recently had a mother contact me and say that she'd been reading my blog with her teenager who struggles with some similar issues. She thanked me for writing and said, "There are many days I wonder what she is feeling and thinking and when you write something it gives me insight on her feelings, fears and just the feeling of being completely lost. What you write helps me be better to her." This communication came in over the last week, as I've been struggling with the pressure of those who care about me suggesting that I might be doing more damage than good. The message from this mom was proof that it's doing far more good than damage, even if there is some collateral damage on my end.
I will keep writing and I hope that my writing continues to evolve as I get better. I want to be better and when I am better, it will offer hope to those who are reading silently, too afraid to ask permission to read a private blog, too afraid to put their own truth where everyone can see it and too afraid that they're all alone. Those people now know that they're not alone and they have my support, even if I never know they are reading. The value in that is priceless to me and although my reputation and my privacy matter to me, this is helping me and so I will continue.