Tuesday, January 27, 2015

honesty, advice & integrity whilst blogging

A little while ago I got into a somewhat heated discussion with a couple of other bloggers on Twitter about honesty vs not telling the truth: I was slated for not explicitly telling everyone my mental health history, and in their eyes because of that, I was completely not allowed to talk about it as such. To me, this was ridiculous. I think everyone should talk more about mental health, regardless if you have diagnosed issues or not - this is the only way stigmas will end..
However, these thoughts have stayed with me since then, and now that I've gradually started talking more about ways to look after your mental health on my blog, and felt it was about time to post this disclaimer, even though it's sad that I even have to. 

For starters, I am so very intensely wary about talking about mental health on my blog, incase I say the wrong thing. I am no professional, obviously. I want to give people links here for the Samaritans, the NHS, Childline and the Mental Health Foundation, Time to Change - more links to help pages at the end of this post. When I talk about mental health it is very different to mental illness: to me, mental health is just looking after your general wellbeing, your psychological state of mind, etc, and mental illness will be a condition diagnosed by a GP or other health practitioner.

I touched on the subject in some of my more personal posts and generally in my life, and on my blog, I have never hidden the fact I have suffered from depression in the past; I am quite open about it. If you ask me, I will tell. If I think I can offer advice on the situation as someone who suffered badly when younger, I will. If I think I can help someone from doing something silly, sad, dangerous, or that they might regret, of course I will help. 

Unfortunately, stigmas surrounding mental health do exist, and despite the excellent work of campaigns like Time to Change, people do perceive people with mental health problems as lazy, or crazy, or any number of awful things. I exist in this world (how existential), and have to live with how other people perceive me, which makes me hesitant to present my entire medical history (I know, how surprising..). I'm not putting it all out there online, for future employers, partners, or friends to find out, before I tell them in person.

However, just because I don't share every last detail of my illness, it doesn't mean that I don't care, it doesn't mean that I can't help other people, it doesn't make my opinion invalid, it doesn't mean I cannot offer advice, and most of all, it does not mean that I am being dishonest with you, as readers. This is not an either/or thing, it is not that black and white, there is a whole spectrum of emotions and situations in-between honesty and lying.

The other thing to address is that in a world where impressional people (at any age) are so present online, I am wary of glamourising the illness in any way - there are other internet personalities out there that do this, and I find it highly disturbing. 

Most importantly, I am not trying to shy away from the fact that I have some problems with depression, and if anybody asks me, personally, I will offer advice if I can. I am not ashamed of it. Not in the slightest, I think it has made me a much stronger person. What I'm not going to do, though, is parade about my figurative or physical scars, in a bizarre attempt to convince people of my authenticity.

To summarise; I'm going to talk more about mental health and how to look after your mental health in general, on unciaandtigris.com, but I'm not giving you my life story, I'm not going to tell you the 'gory details' - for lack of a better phrase - but this doesn't make me any less able to talk about it.

Some links that I could find, not an exhaustive list, but hopefully a place to learn more: Samaritansthe NHSChildlinethe Mental Health Foundation, Rethink, the NHS depression help-page, Depression AllianceAnxiety UK, beat, Bipolar UK, OCD UK, Royal Society of Psychiatrists


  1. I think whoever said that to you was being absolutely ridiculous! You do not have to give anyone a detailed history about any illness before you're allowed to talk about it! Why on earth should your mental illness be different? Not to mention like you said with so much stigma around, people generally don't dive into the ins and outs of their illness. I'm glad you've made the decision to talk more about it, but it should always be for you and not aggravate your illness.

    It's funny because I'm working on another post for my blog about mine. I'm fairly open about it, I've done talks with Time to Change telling people I don't know the ins and outs. But when I meet people it's not actually something I talk about unless it's brought up. Ah sorry for my tangent, I just can't believe anyone would say that to you, there isn't some sort of club of when you're okay to talk about it.

  2. I think this post is absolutely spot on and whoever said those things to you is being ridiculous. You are in no way obligated to give everybody the 'gory details' and that in no way makes you any less 'allowed' to talk about it!

    Huge props for making the decision to talk more about mental health, and even better for pointing people in the right direction to such wonderful organisations.

    Nadine Heather

  3. Good for you. How dare anyone comment on someone else's mental health and how much they should and shouldn't share. x

  4. It seems silly that you're looked down upon for not telling everyone something so personal to you...? I don't see it as not being honest - not being honest would be lying about things that didn't happen, or voicing opinions that you don't agree with. What you're doing is simply keeping private things private. I touch upon my experiences with a particularly bad relationship in the past, but it doesn't mean I have to spill the entire story to validate that I was in a bad relationship.

    For the individuals that do choose to share personal things about themselves - good for them. Still, it takes time, you know? I sure as hell didn't announce to the world that my ex and I broke up, right after we broke up. I didn't tell the majority of my friends until 4 or 6 months past, and when they asked why I just said he was holding me back and wasn't treating me right. While I didn't get into the little details, it doesn't mean I was being dishonest about it. Nobody is entitled to know anything about you, if you don't feel comfortable sharing it.

    becky ♡ star violet

  5. I think mental health is a very personal thing, and it's completely up to you how much you share or keep to yourself. You aren't lying by not sharing your health history, and I don't think many people would be completely open and honest to strangers. I think it's very much up to personal preference how you deal with this.
    For me mental health is something I struggle to talk about with my closest friends and family so I wouldn't feel comfortable with putting it on my blog, twitter or any other public forum!
    I think you are totally right, and pointing people in the direction of Samaritans or other helpful links can only be a positive thing!


  6. Danielle Fairhurst27 January 2015 at 18:33

    Brilliant post. I don't blog about my mental health issues at the moment but hope that someday, when I'm more comfortable with myself, I will - I'd really like to share my experiences with people so that anyone who is being "judged" or "frowned" upon will know that, in reality they're not the only ones going through whatever it may be. Keep up the fantastic blogging and writing about you want to write about x

  7. I absolutely agree with you! I think your stand point on this topic is the most realistic that I've heard in a while. Maybe if you want to divulge some of your past you can, but as most people would agree, it's not something people like to do to the big wide world, we'd rather divulge our information in private.

    I can't believe that someone would insinuate that you are unsuitable to give opinions, advice and such just because you don't want to give out the gory details. Yet I can imagine that if you were to give the gory details the same people would tell you that you are glamourising it and all that stuff.

    In my opinion, at this moment in time, it is sometimes more of a case of it doesn't matter how you talk about mental health, just that you talk about it.

    ~ K


  8. I was the same for a VERY long time. Sure, I was discussing my mental health but I kept my blog anonymous. There was no face to my blog because unfortunately, there IS a huge stigma still attached.

    You don't have to tell anybody anything, you don't need to justify what you do/don't write about. It's your blog and you can do what you want! Shame on them for accusing you of lying though - completely unnecessary. I am also glad that you feel like you can help/advise people though - I think it's really important to keep battling the stigma because if we don't, future generations will suffer in silence.

    Really great, insightful post though!

    P.S I'm an anorexia survivor and couldn't give a fuck who knows any more. I'm proud of what I've achieved and you should be too x

    Sam | Samantha Betteridge

  9. Fully respect this 1000%. I don't talk about mental health on my blog for a plethora of complicated reasons, but I fully understand it and want the stigma to be broken down. As long as people are supportive of it, I don't think we all need to go out there and start sharing all our experines - don't feel pressured to talk about anything you don't want to! x

    Jasmin Charlotte | UK Lifestyle Blog

  10. I am a new blogger and write mostly funny posts. It is my outlet because I honestly like to make people laugh. While planning this months blog posts I struggled with an inner debate to let my readers know a different side of me. I honestly do not care what other bloggers/strangers think about my past(like you I have struggled with depression for over a decade) but, I worry about my friends and family seeing it and seeing me only as someone with mental health problems. The past few years I have tried hard to build up a new persona. I didn't like that people saw me only as someone who is a Debbie downer. I lost a lot of friends that way. While mental health certainly has a stigma on it, it's just that. Many people are afraid to talk about their own experiences. Just because you don't always make it a point to talk about it, doesn't make you someone who has experienced it. Mental health is not a fad. It is not a competition. Knowing more and dealing with bigger issues won't make you an expert...nor will it make you more popular. Instead these other bloggers should praise you for being brave and telling your story. Everyone's story is different and a bloggers intentions should be to share and hopefully help others...not to seem like the almighty expert. Sorry for rambling...I am just miffed at the scenario you had to endure.

  11. Don't apologise, I am so glad to hear another persons take on it! It doesn't make me ashamed of my past, or anything like that, not in the slightest - but obviously I have to consider the repercussions of exposing myself. I hate to say it, but in these kind of situations, I put myself first! I love my blog, but I have to protect myself a bit, too, as well!

    Thank-you for taking the time to read and comment, I really appreciate it. (: xx

  12. Exactly, there is a whole host of reasons why someone might not want to talk about their exact experiences, but it doesn't make me less 'worthy' of a person, somehow! Glad you agree, Jasmin! (: xx

  13. Exactly, it's all about when YOU are ready, and no-one else's stupid set of self-imposed rules effect that.
    Thank-you for taking the time to read and comment, Danielle! x

  14. Thank-you, Jenny, I'm so glad you agree! (:


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