When I Started Blogging…..

This blog post is breaking my personal commitment to say what I want, with as few words as possible

Catchy tittle, and I’m positive that I’m luring in a bunch of new followers. (sarcasm is my intent here)

When I started blogging on August 6, 2010 on blogger, I did so through the encouragement of my daughter. I blogged sporadically until May 4, 2011. My follower was my daughter. My content was about grief, the life-changes of my kids graduating from high school and moving on with their college years, and the difficulty of parenting a budding teenager who was a smooth talker, which forced me to think faster than he could.

After the death of my grandpa, brother, grandma, dad, and a 4-legged child in an 8-month time frame, I was receiving a thorough lesson about grief. To make it through, I made a mental note of things that made life worth living. In other words, I found a moment each day to be. To soak in my surroundings. Eventually, I found peace…well, for the most part. Instead of thinking about my loss, I celebrated their lives and how they enriched my life, and continue to do so.

Again, at the suggestion of my daughter, I switched to WordPress. My first post was June 6, 2011. It’s not there anymore because I have been archiving my posts as a snooze-fest-present to my kids for when they get old and can’t sleep. The theme of my new blog was to find something each day that made life worth living.

When I began on WordPress, it was 6 days after learning I had lung cancer, and the surgery to remove it. I was in more pain than I could tolerate, I was agitated by the pain medication, I was sure my lung was going to collapse, and I was in a huge pit of depression.

Depression wasn’t exactly new to me, but the depth of this episode, took my breath away. I wanted it to take my breath away.

So…when I started blogging on WordPress, I decided to find something worthy of breathing each day, and blog about it. Something beautiful or funny. It helped me work through the grief, I thought it could help me work through the shock, depression, and anxiety I was facing.

As I was archiving my older posts, I read articles which seemed forced. Not my genuine self. But I kept trying to be positive. All the while, I had anxiety eating away at my confidence.

Then I got rather furious regarding the media reporting the sensational stories of the untreated mentally ill who go on killing sprees. These people were the face of depression/mental illness.

Oh, how incorrect that is. The face of mental illness doesn’t look the same on every face. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all. We look normal, we try to act as normal as possible, and most are successful at hiding their illness. People who carry on with as normal a life as possible.

When my sister died a year and a half ago, I hit an even deeper — actually it was bottomless — pit. I finally decided to fight for my life instead of giving up. I wanted to give up, but something inside me wanted stability more.

So…..please, to anyone who thinks I lounge around all day, every day, feeling hopeless–because that is what I’m writing about–that isn’t the case. I have my weeks where I have to fight a little harder, but I have found things to laugh, to enjoy, to love. I think I need to write more about those things so that y’all know that I’m normal, and I’m not depressed every day of the year. I’m learning to manage my illness, and I’m not doing so bad.

My explanations flow through my written words far better than my spoken words. Mainly because I can edit. When I have to speak, I forget half of what I’m saying, and if someone doesn’t ask me to clarify, they are misled by some form of brain fart on my part.

I eventually found that I have stalkers followers on WordPress. 😀

Actually, I was a bit shocked when I received my first true follower not related to me, or a fellow blogger trying to get me to make money off my blog, by following their steps.

I lost my way and focused more on the negative part of my poor-pitiful story. Yes, I have been through a lot. Some people have been through more than I have. We live in spite of our disabilities.

I wanted to show the face of the majority of the mentally ill. I wanted to let others know they aren’t struggling alone, and that there isn’t anything to be ashamed of. I’m still convincing myself that I shouldn’t be ashamed.

But mostly, I have written many posts to one person. Well, two—one of them is myself.

The most beautiful thing that I have gained through this entire experience—the changes, the loss, the set backs—I have learned who I am and what I’m capable of. I’m not that bad. The main issue I have the most difficulty with, is feeling as if I’m letting someone down.

Even though I will have to live my life struggling to manage my illness, I know what to do. I will no longer fight the medications–even though I hate them–or the advice of my doctors. Their course work of How to Torture Your Patients 101 was for a reason. Some haven’t been a good fit for me, so I found another.

I would love to make mental health less stigmatized. I deeply wish that the help needed was affordable, and available to all who require it.

My voice may only be one, but I hope to one, it makes a difference. Either to a person living with another suffering from mental illness, or a sufferer who feels alone.

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About April

I'll come back to this when I find out who I really am. I've been through some extremely rough patches but they have made me a better person. I blog if my brain is functioning first thing in the morning.
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26 Responses to When I Started Blogging…..

  1. aviets says:

    I’m with you 100% about changing the face of mental illness. And I think you’re doing a great job of chipping away at that negative representation slapped on the mentally ill by the media and chicken #%^$ politicians who prefer to blame mental illness rather than dealing with the all-powerful gun industry. Keep up the good work!

  2. Take away coffee, energy drinks, and alcohol, and pretty soon we’d see just how many “mentally ill” people there are in the world.

    • April says:

      You mean that those vices are a way to cope?

      • Partly, yes. I didn’t make my comment clear; I’m glad you asked for clarification.

        But for people who are functioning “normally,” isn’t relying on a stimulant to function a form of self-medicating? And would people who go to bars to drink socially… would some stay home and isolate if the alcohol wasn’t at the bar?

        I think that to be “sane” and “function normally” in our society requires at least a healthy dose of denial. I read Lincoln’s Melancholy a few years ago and it mentioned something called Depressive Realism. It notes that in many cases, people who are depressed are more realistic. Problem is, those depressive realists (like me) don’t necessarily have a balanced view and aren’t thinking of the positive things as much. But don’t quote me on that. 🙂 There’s research on the subject already so I won’t attempt to delve into that subject.

        My dad committed suicide when I was eight. I think when something like that happens, it’s hard to grow up with a shade of healthy denial. You’re kind of forced to be aware of the reality of things.

        I know I’m going off on tangents here but I’ll try to keep things coherent.

        I mean… we know there’s a lot of hypocrisy in the world a lot of really bad things happening and we know life is fragile. Who’s in charge? Politicians who we don’t trust, corporations who exploit the weaknesses of consumers, civilians die in wars, economic recessions hit and innocent people lose their jobs through no fault of their own, civilians die in wars and it seems to be accepted, “it’s war, that happens.” Of course when it happenes on our own soil (I speak from an American point of view), then it’s just too terrible to comprehend. 2000 some people died in the trade towers attack, but how many thousands have died in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars? 100? More civilians than “enemy combatants?” Almost as many US veterans commit suicide than died in those wars?

        I’m sorry… who’s mentally ill? I can’t keep track… the people who are functioning normally?

        Well, I’m making generalizations and maybe this line of speculation isn’t helpful. I’d like to note that I’m not trying to be negative or depressing, just trying to make a point.

        I’ll end this by touching on another of the issues you mentioned in your post:

        Then I got rather furious regarding the media reporting the sensational stories of the untreated mentally ill who go on killing sprees. These people were the face of depression/mental illness.

        Hollywood doesn’t really help either. How much of how society perceived people with mental illness comes from movies that have come out over the past four decades? I remember when I saw Patch Adams, the disappointment near the end. Now I loved Robin Williams and respect how he tried to help so many people; but what I remember from Patch Adams was near the end of the movie, a man with a mental illness came for help and he turned out to be a psychotic killer.

        I’ll be fair though. Here’s a quote from wikipedia on that:

        The film has several major departures from Adams’ real history. One is that the character of Carin is fictional, but is analogous to a real life friend of Adams (a man) who was murdered under similar circumstances.

        What’s your policy on length of comments, April?

        • April says:

          Oh my. I have no policy on length of comments, and I always enjoy a respectful conversation. Your comments have surely made me think.

          I’m going to have to read that book about Lincoln. I have seen it mentioned many places. I’m wondering if Depressive Realism is what I’m thinking a functioning depressive is. Probably not, but thanks for something more to read. I’m a firm believer in knowing as much as I can about anything I may have to deal with.

          As far as being a realist. I have to say that I’m a realist, however, I spent many years believing that depression, anxiety, or any form of mental illness can be “cured” by taking medication. It took me a long time to finally receive the treatment specific to my diagnosis until I realized that I’m never going to be “cured”. So, I suppose I was a realist unless I was dealing with the denial that I had anything wrong with me in the first place.

          I have also realized the same about my cancer “cure”. There is no such thing, and I believe it is cruel to lead people who are in remission to believe that the “fought cancer and won”. It doesn’t happen. Once a person has cancer….eventually, it will come back.

          I did neglect Hollywood in my frustration of how mental illness is portrayed. I cringe when I hear poor jokes. On the other hand, to deal with bipolar, I find humor in some of the situations I find myself in.

          I think we are on the same page about who is sane and who isn’t. The point that I wanted to make is that millions suffer in silence. It isn’t a disease to sensationalize or to portray as if it were infectious.

          More to the point, many, many people are going to work today, raising a child, teaching a class, practicing medicine……they are living the life of managed depression (hopefully). In my opinion, it is those who are untreated who received the media sensation. As for Hollywood….they need some new material.

        • April says:

          …I walked away from my comment because I had an appointment. I felt like I left my comment as if I believed that many people can function with a mental illness. I can’t say the same for a psychotic diagnosis. To be honest, I don’t know much about psychoses.

          I also know that there are some mental illnesses that are hard to manage, and quite a bit of it has to do with patient compliance.

          However, we may have something that causes us to look at life with a different perspective, but it doesn’t mean we are brainless.

  3. mewhoami says:

    I for one don’t imagine you as someone who lounges around all day. Your many posts of outings, family issues and pet adventures lean towards a person who is normally very active in their every day life. We all get down every once in a while and have a lounge day. I would sure hope that no one would categorize me solely based on those rare days. 🙂 As far as putting a face to depression, you have certainly done that. Not everyone who suffers from depression or a mental illness is going to go on a shooting rampage. Most of them are just ‘average joes’ living a ‘normal’ life just like the rest of us.

    • April says:

      I’ve taught you well, young weedhopper. 😀

      Most of the outings, I’m forced to make sometimes. I will also admit that there was a time I didn’t, and still don’t leave the house. With the help I have received, I know that now it’s a choice when I don’t want to go anywhere. Before? I felt nothing, I thought about nothing except escape. Things are much better these days.

  4. I may not qualify as the masses, but I am one, and you have made a difference with me.

  5. It was interesting to read that as you looked back, earlier articles seemed “forced” in an effort to put forth positivity-even when you weren’t feeling it. Your willingness to press forward sharing the good and the not so good keeps us all admiring you and looking forward to your next post.

  6. I wish I could discuss this with you more but I think it’s time for me to attempt another break.

    You express yourself pretty well, April, and I think your blog audience will grow over time, in my humble opinion.

    Have you been over to A Canvas of the Minds yet?

  7. suzjones says:

    If every person was only one person then together they can change things.
    I’ve got your back girl. I’m so glad to know you’ve got mine. So let’s go get ’em right?? (once I change out of my pj’s of course 😉 ).

  8. Gallivanta says:

    Aren’t daughters great? Guess who got me started on blogging…yep, my daughter. 🙂 And you make a good point about not wanting people to think you lounge around all day feeling hopeless. Blogs are how we express ourselves; they tell some of our story but not all of it. To do that we would be at our blogs non-stop, forever.

  9. Glynis Jolly says:

    I didn’t start reading your posts until last fall so I can’t comment on what you wrote before then because I’m too lazy to go into your archives. 😛 Nonetheless, during this last 12 months, I have seen you change becoming more balanced as the months go by. Your “project” here at WordPess is serving you well, from what I’ve been reading here. 😀

    • April says:

      I don’t mind that you didn’t go through my old posts. I was almost too lazy to archive them.

      I have a lot of good days, but write about what I feel are dark subjects on my mind. Mostly, that’s not all of who I am. I do have a lighter side. 😀

  10. reocochran says:

    I am so glad you summarized your uphill battles in life, mental illness and journey through so many bad occurrences in such a short span of time, April. I had only a small understanding of the amounts of pain that you must have suffered. Then, lung cancer, so unfair! You don’t even smoke! I am glad to have you as one of my fellow blogging friends. Please forgive me, if sometimes I falter or say the ‘wrong’ thing. My heart means well, but my foot goes in my mouth, at times… Thanks for sharing and I feel blessed ‘knowing’ you, April! Keep up the goals and fights, too! I wish to see less of a stigma against mental illness, my son suffers from depression and I have lost probably five close people and family friends from suicide. So, I have some understanding, but no real ‘experience.’ Hugs, Robin

    • April says:

      You never say the wrong thing, Robin. You are always encouraging and inspiring. Depression is hard for many to understand, even the people suffering. My hope is that if more of us talk about it, there will be less people who give up hope and see suicide as the only way out. I’m so sorry for your losses.

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