Anonymity

anonymous When it comes to blogging about mental illness, that’s something that I don’t want my name connected with. Sure, I’d like stigma surrounding the illness to be reduced but it still exists and I don’t want it to affect my chances of working at a decent company that would hire me if not for my bipolar disorder and history of depression and suicide attempts. I think of some mental health bloggers β€” Liz Spikol especially comes to mind β€” who are brave enough to post their struggles
with their real names and pictures for everyone to know and see. And I’m jealous.

Jealous that while Liz still probably suffers from MH stigma from idiots, she has the opportunity to be hailed as a hero in the MH community. I completely admire Liz because she’s been able to talk about her experience having through
hell and back, especially on ECT. Her name out there raises awareness about theses issues and her presence in the MH community brings comfort to many people who are struggling with similar issues.

Then there’s me, having to adopt the name Marissa Miller in the hopes that no one finds out who I am. (My real name is so unique that if it was Googled, all of my articles would pop up on the first page.)

If you’ve started reading this blog recently, you haven’t read some of the 600 posts here. Many of them are pretty personal.

  • Being Brave: “I have much to say / And there’s much I haven’t done / But what does it matter / When death’s got all the fun?”
  • Identification: “Now, if I have enough fearlessness to face death, why can I not have enough fearlessness to face life?”
  • Suicide and Baseball: “[T]he truth remains the same. Not just for me but for all suicidal people: We don’t really want to kill ourselves, we just want to end our pain.”
  • You can do this:Β  “I sat in my car this morning with the ignition turned on, ready to drive my car over the bridge into the Schuylkill River. I was ready to run home, make the stupid “goodbye world” post on this blog, text my husband “I love you. Goodbye” and then ram my car into a divider on I-76. It’s the worst suicidal thought I’ve had since I ended up in the hospital in October 2006.”

I wouldn’t hire me if I saw blog posts like that. Perhaps some people don’t get frustrated by the anonymity; I do. I don’t know if there will ever come a day when I can come clean about my identity and let the world know who this person is and what she really struggles with. God bless all of you who can put a real face to a name and still talk about deeply personal issues.

Current Mood Rating: 5.9

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8 Comments

  1. June 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Marissa,
    Thankfully I have a bland enough first name that I can use it and not worry about being found out. I started my blog anonymously because even within my family I feel there are some people who would jump on my vulnerability. I’ve only told a few people in real-life where to find my blog. Sometimes my anonymity frustrates me too, especially when I first started up and needed readers – I could have given my url out to everyone I knew but I felt like I’d be at their mercy later on.
    However, if I should happen to become ridiculously wealthy and famous some day, I think I’ll be open about it. πŸ˜‰ We can hope!

  2. June 4, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    You know… I’ve never really thought of that. I have been very open about my struggles because I know that it affects my family. Since my kids are in school, any change in their behavior is immediately going to be linked to changes at home. So, I figured it would be best to be up front and disclose what was going on with me, consequences be damned. I do care about what others think of me (especially in this small town), but at the same time, I don’t want to close myself off in the pit and people talk about me behind my back about that either.
    It’s a catch-22, especially since I’m a teacher (certification is lapsed). If I were to teach in the classroom again, would I disclose my mental health issues? Would I hope that parents would be willing to be open to share their struggle with me so I can help them and their kids? That is a HUGE topic of research that I want to delve into. Educators really don’t know what impact mental health has on not just themselves, but their students and their respective families.
    So, in a long-winded response (wink), I’d rather be an open book in some instances. But, there are some things that just need to stay private.

  3. June 4, 2008 at 9:14 pm

    I have been meaning to ask you Marissa, would it be alright for me to put a link to your blog on my blogroll? πŸ™‚

  4. June 5, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    I would not feel guilty about it. If you decide to reveal yourself, you will know when and if you are ready. It is a personal decision…yours along. I choose to remain anonymous because if my family read this, particularly my mother, it would create so many problems. She can’t even talk about that I’m not working. Always, remember though it is your decision and I hope that you can be happy about whatever that is and whenever it is.

  5. Greybeard said,

    June 5, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    I don’t see society making the kind of strides it would have to make for it to be safe for us to come clean. I like to think I don’t care, but I do. It’s pretty revealing when one (me) doesn’t care who knows I’m a recovering crack-head, which is at least on some level a character/moral issue, and yet I don’t want people to know about my more interesting mental health challenges, strictly because I don’t want to be judged or stereotyped.
    Maybe in a hundred years, or if we can somehow usher in the transition away from the psychiatric model in favor of a medical model.

  6. Scott Becker said,

    June 6, 2008 at 7:34 pm

    Marissa,
    You make a very good point! Depression and all mental health issues come with a very bad stigma – many people just think that we are not right or forgive me, but for lack of a better word “crazy”. We know that we are not, but this is the world, at least in 2008. Hopefully things will change, but they have not to this point. My blog which is similar to yours talks about my ups and downs of my suffering from chronic depression. After I post to my blog sometimes I just go back and delete some of the things that I have written because I feel uncomfortable sharing with the world. I try not to feel uncomfortable, but sometimes it’s just hard. What’s interesting is if I had almost anything else wrong with me, I am almost certain that I wouldn’t feel so embarrassed. One thing that does help me is knowing that by posting my thoughts and things that I have gone through maybe others will do the same and we can help each other. I am very glad to be alive in a time where we have the power of the internet. I think that it is our responsibility to share stuff like this even if using a pen name so that hopefully mental illness will loose it’s stigma. Thanks for a great post!

  7. Mary said,

    June 6, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    Hi Marissa: I am careful of what I write on my blog, My daughter often goes and reads it, but has not commented on it to me. She knows I suffer from severe depression, but doesn’t know about the sexual abuse, and I want to keep it that way,
    Thanks for a great post..hugss. Mary

  8. namegoeshere said,

    June 7, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    I blog anonymously, not for my own privacy, but for that of my kids and my father (and mother). Knowing that what I write is publicly available, the anonymity allows me to be much more open about things that are quite personal. If I put names, or even just my own, I would restrict what I say by quite a bit.
    There have been plenty of examples of people who have gotten themselves into trouble by being ignorant of the workings of the internet and posting personal stories that should have been kept private. I can’t make that choice for my father (or mother), and especially not for my Wife or Kids.


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