Reconnecting With My “Why” as a Mental Health Blogger

When my grandmother passed away in August 2018, I wrote a post about her for my old blog. In that post, I mentioned that I think she experienced anxiety. The way she wrote about interactions with others makes me think it may have been social anxiety to some extent.

I’ll never know first-hand what it was like to experience anxiety or depression in generations past. I can speculate that it was a lonely, confusing road.

It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I even learned there was condition known as social anxiety disorder. As for “depression,” it was a term I was vaguely aware of, but I assumed it was the kind of thing that happened to other people, and that I was far too resilient for such things.

I was probably depressed at the time.

I was definitely anxious.

I definitely suffered from low self-esteem and rock-bottom self-worth.

But I am so lucky.

I am so lucky to be a young(ish) adult(ish) in 2020, to be part of the movement away from bottling up feelings and keeping a stiff upper-lip. To be part of breaking down mental health stigma. To be going through my own recovery amidst mental health advocacy, eating disorder awareness, and basically a collective cry to stop beating ourselves up about EVERYTHING.

It’s only a start; voices are joining the chorus but for many, still, mental health is an obscure topic, and personal challenges are secret and shameful.

But even as I recognize how lucky I am, I hurt as I wonder… What about my grandmother? What about other family members who have also suffered from mental health challenges that went undiagnosed, unvalidated, and most importantly, untreated?

I’m generally a mental health optimist, but when I think about how many people have lost so much from untreated, and sometimes self-medicated, disorders… it’s hard.

At the end of my blog post about my grandmother, I wrote:

I will help tear down the walls of stigma and ignorance so that my children—your greatgrandchildren—have access to even more resources and support than I do now, and you ever did.

This was written before I felt the need to have an explicit “purpose” for my writing or for sharing my journey.

But when I came across it in my drafts a little while ago, it stuck with me. Just a little niggle in the back of my mind.

This week and last, I’ve been struggling a lot with what I’ve started calling “purpose anxiety.” I’ve been wrestling with the question of “why” I’m putting myself out there and whether it “matters.”

Today, finally, it hit me that I’ve had a “why” this whole time, without consciously realizing it.

That statement was my why, before I really knew it.

  • I’m writing for my grandmother.
  • I’m writing for my daughter and my son.
  • I’m writing for me.
  • And I’m writing for you.

Even though I may never know that “you” have read this. All I can hope is that some parts of my words impact some of the many people who need to feel less alone.

Is it too grandiose to hope that today’s voices can empower the voices of tomorrow?

I guess I don’t need a specific path plotted out. I don’t need to worry so much about how to make the perfect impact all the time. I can’t save the world with every post — and probably not with all my posts combined, either.

And that’s okay, in the end. This is a group effort, right?

I just need to show up and let my voice join the chorus of mental health and self-compassion advocates out there today who are saying:

  • It’s okay to not be okay.
  • Check on your friends.
  • Give yourself some grace.
  • You are not bad.
  • You deserve to heal.
  • Recovery is possible.
  • You are not alone.

I think that’s a pretty good “why.” 🙂

17 thoughts on “Reconnecting With My “Why” as a Mental Health Blogger

  1. I agree with this.

    I also have family who had mental illness in the past. My maternal grandmother suffered for years with “nerves” which was basically depression and anxiety. I do remember her (she died when I was sixteen), but I didn’t get diagnosed with anything until a couple of years after she died; I wonder what it would be like to talk to her now.

    I had a great-grandmother (on another branch of the family) who appears to have been hospitalised with severe depression at some point and was basically institutionalised for the rest of her life. It makes me glad to be living in a more enlightened age.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I relate to what you wrote very much. What would it have been to talk to these ancestors about their mental health? Would they have had the insight and vocabulary and ability/willingness to have that dialogue?

      I’ve read that depression and anxiety can have a hereditary component, but I haven’t looked into it much.

      Thanks your comment.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Yay for your compassionate voice! Yay for using ancestry love and memory as motivation for future improvements! We feel less alone when we read your words.

    We presume, in the past, pretty much every person had PTSD. Raging. We are fortunate to live in a day when mental health–even with stigma–is recognized, some resources are devoted to it, and there are treatment options in existence. We want to help you and others reduce stigma and improve treatment and help people feel less alone.

    We are tired. This journey is exhausting. Probably a lot of people feel that way. We will try to just narrow down to this moment of existence. There. We are a little hungry. Our muscles are sore. We feel a little sleepy. Our jaw is tight from clenching. Our emotions include gratitude, fear, determination, and resignation (in all its meanings: let it go, give up, give in, go with the flow).


    Liked by 3 people

    1. I appreciate your very real “realness” in this comment. There’s positivity, there’s pain. It’s all honest.

      I’m tired too… my mood has been quite low and anxious lately. It’s been hard to make sure I keep coming out of my shell. I’ve been slow in replying to comments. So I appreciate that you still do comment. 💙

      I will keep “flow” I mind.

      And I really hope things flow a little more easily for you very soon xoxo

      Liked by 3 people

      1. That’s the beauty of mindfulness: if we ever remember to be present and aware, we can almost always notice in what ways we are new in that moment.

        You can blow us off when needed. We are not keeping score. We are okay if you take care of Sadie and invest in our friendship when you have time, if that helps. We trust you’ll get there. 💕

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Thank you SO much for your consistent compassion and understanding. The best friendships are steeped in those loving virtues. xoxo

          I have started doing self-compassion and guided sleep meditations. I think I’d like to add mindfulness ones specifically.

          Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m guessing that back in the day, aside from people who were high class, avoidance just wasn’t an option. Exposure was going to happen whether people wanted it or not. I wonder if that was ever helpful, or if it always made things worse.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Beautiful pic of you and your daughter! My mom suffers from acute anxiety disorder and depression. I recently read (don’t remember where exactly), probably on one of the blogs I follow, “if trauma and mental disorders are passed down generationally, so is healing.” I’d like to believe that our road to healing is also being passed on to our children. Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You have expressed a very powerful “why”, and one that a lot of people seem to be able to relate to. It’s interesting to wonder about people with mental illness in previous generations and how they coped. Or, perhaps more accurately, how they tried to hide it. What an awful stigma which, thankfully, is being broken down by blogs like this and many others out there today. In generations past people suffering from these issues were often locked up in a room on the upper floor of the house, out of sight, and not spoken about outside the family. Today, mercifully, the stigma is breaking down and there are resources available for those who want or need to take advantage of them. We have had experiences, one of them tragic, with mental illness in our family, so this is something resonates deeply.

    It is reassuring to others to know that they aren’t alone and that they shouldn’t be ashamed. Society has come a long way, and still has some way to go. But we’re getting there.

    Your grandmother would be impressed by, and proud of, your writing. You have inherited her literary genes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for saying that xoxo I think I had more in common with Nanny than I could have known as a younger person.

      I really appreciate your thoughtful and supportive comments on my posts. I recognize how lucky I am to have a dad who is supportive and nonjudgmental in reading my blog — not everyone is so lucky. I am grateful. xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

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