The psychology behind sabotaging a mildly successful blog

There’s no other way to say it: I choked.

Depression Introspection, originally hosted on Typepad, was a mildly successful blog within its niche community. I updated the blog regularly and within a year, watched my stats rocket and was named one of PsychCentral’s Top 10 Depression blogs. I enjoyed researching and learning information then providing analysis for the world to see. I wasn’t the first (or second or third) mental health blog but I was part of the early game.

After claiming the #1 spot for PsychCentral’s Top 10 blogs of 2007, I freaked. I averaged 5,000 page views a day. For a nobody like me, I found that nothing to sneeze at.

Then the pressure was on. The pressure came from no one but myself.

I regularly received emails asking for advice or comments on older posts. But the pressure to keep and satisfy an audience became overwhelming. It was all self-created. I wanted to compete. And when the competition loomed large and appeared daunting, I cracked and walked away from it altogether. Updating the blog was no longer fun, I hated doing research, learning about mental health became a chore.

From 2006-2008, my entire life surrounded my mental health and learning about it. Within 2 years, I grew and changed. I no longer wanted to write about mental health on a daily basis. Nor did I want to put so much time and effort into generating content that earned me very little money. But I have a bit of a historian in me: I can sit back and appreciate the hard work I put into this blog. In an effort to preserve the content, I spent a good bit of time and energy into moving this blog from Typepad to WordPress. Even without updating this site new information, my old posts (especially on Lamictal) still get regular hits and comments. Simply that amazes me and makes me realize how valuable some of the information is within this blog.

With the exception of the Quotes of the Day, which are scheduled to update through March 2010, this blog is basically defunct. It’s up as a resource for people to browse through and glean some kind of knowledge on various psychotropics (however outdated the information may be). There is always the possibility I could update regularly again but I doubt it. Like I mentioned previously, I’ve grown beyond simply mental health writing and update a personal blog titled This Journey is My Own where I blog about various topics from introspection to politics to religion (mainly Christianity) to race relations/identity. I run quite the gamut than what I used to write here. And I purposely do not mix the content because I serve two different audiences with each.

So there you have it. I’ve since learned that I’d rather never succeed than watch myself hopelessly fail. Not that I was failing with my blog. Far from it—I was succeeding, succeeding beyond anything I could have ever imagined. And when I saw that I had to work to maintain that success (after having achieved it so effortlessly and carelessly), I choked, sputtered, and stalled.

And walked away.

I know a lot of people were sad to see the regular updates disappear. I fell off the blog scene and keep up with people mostly through Twitter. But I did what I had to do for me. To maintain my sanity. The joy and the love for writing the blog were gone. Once those things go, it’s time to end it, which is what I did.

My other blog has a regular audience of about maybe 5-10 people max. And that’s okay. Any more “success” and I think I’d choke.  Besides, I’m really just trying to write for “an audience of one” now.

So if you’re new to the site and visiting, feel free to take a look around, there’s some good information to be found. If you’ve been a regular reader, thanks for your loyalty in showing me that I’ve got what it takes to be mildly successful.

God bless,
Kass

Blog to check out: Postpartum Dads Project

A blog that I'd recommend, especially for both moms and dads of new children, is Postpartum Dads Project. I think the idea is very cool and long overdue. The goal is to be a resource and place of encouragement and education for fathers who have wives going through postpartum depression or are experiencing depression themselves. As the tagline says, "Because PPD is a WHOLE family thing." Katherine Stone over at Postpartum Progress has a small write-up about it.

The Boxer: Fighting Depression

John over at Storied Mind wrote a post on fighting depression that really hit home. It had a profound thought that I know but often overlook.

Fight it.

If I can step aside for just an instant from the full assault of the symptom, long enough to glance sideways at it, I can spot what’s happening and immediately see myself experiencing that particular bend of mind or feeling. Here it comes, here it is, I’m feeling miserable because I’m depressed. Or I’m tearing myself down with every other thought – I don’t have to do that so you in there, you shut up, I’m not listening anymore – you’re just a disease, and you will not get me to believe what you’re saying. Of I see obsessive thinking taking hold, sizzling my mind and gut with something, invariably, that I did wrong. I see that I’m replaying it over and over, and I have to step back and just say to myself, you’re obsessing, that’s another symptom, so stop!

boxingWhich reminds of a song (“The Boxer”) from one of my favorite Christian artists, Sara Groves:

When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding, kidding
Cause my ribs are bruised and it’s just round two

When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
Cause there’s a cut on my eye and it’s just round five

And I used to be quick I used to see it coming
I used to know how to move my feet
Now I can’t duck and I can’t land nothing
And I forgot how to bob and weave
Bob and weave

When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding
When you said this was a fight, you weren’t kidding, kidding, kidding
Cause this room’s in a spin and it’s just round ten

If you care at all take that towel from your neck
Cause I’ve reached down deep and there is nothing left
I’ve got nothing
I’ve got nothing
I’ve got nothing

Greater is he who is in me
Greater is he who is in me
Greater, greater
Greater, greater

Okay, okay

Bob and weave
Bob and weave
Bob and weave

And I can’t just know it I’ve got to feel it
And I can’t just feel it, I’ve got to believe it
And I can’t just believe it, I’ve got to live it

I need to put up a fight and I won’t be successful without God’s help. I can’t just *think* I have to fight and leave it as head knowledge, I have to put it into action. I have to — as John put it — “glance sideways at it” and watch those punches, see it coming, then — as Sara put it — “bob and weave” to dodge it before it knocks me down completely.

2-Year Anniversary: The Long and Winding Road

I’m aware that my blog has taken a significantly dark turn.  This may alienate some of my readers who seek happier, brighter topics. I don’t think my posts have been negative; on the contrary, I think they’ve been positive. Positive and educational.

I’ve been exploring the topic of suicide recently because it’s a subject that’s quite near and dear to me, now more than ever before.

Continue reading “2-Year Anniversary: The Long and Winding Road”

All Things Must Pass

It’s not always going to be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away
— All Things Must Pass, The Beatles —

I haven’t had a desire to do much of anything lately but somehow I got the energy (and fortune) to figure out how to get my original blog design back. I prefer the format since it’s wider even if the beige gets kind of drab. I also reorganized the blog categories. I’ve become a bit of an organizational freak in the past couple of years. I’m a child of the Real Simple era, I suppose.

I have a whole post just kind of brewing in my mind and it has been for the past two weeks. I’m just taking a bit of a break and trying to figure out which direction I want to take this blog now. I’ve talked about suicide, thought about suicide, and attempted suicide but never remotely encountered anyone who’s actually done it. Now it’s hit my family, and I’m still figuring out what it means to me, my husband, and his family. We have a counseling session tomorrow night so I’m sure we’ll talk more about it then.

In the meantime, work at the ad agency has either been completed (pushed out the door) or is currently in the planning stages, which means I don’t need to go in tomorrow but am tentatively scheduled for Thursday. I have a lot of errands to run tomorrow and have been avoiding checking my e-mail like the plague. I’ll suck up the courage to look at it sometime soon.

 

Also, I gave my husband Bob Thompson guest author privileges. He’s currently deciding on whether to make a blog post on his grandfather’s suicide and its repercussions in the future. He might or might not. My husband’s not particularly fond of writing but it’s just a heads-up.

In the meantime, be well.

P.S. I’ve been on a Beatles trip lately so I’m probably going to be quoting apt Beatles lyrics for a lot of my future posts.

Furious Seasons's Spring Fundraiser

Since its September 2005 inception, Furious Seasons (www.furiousseasons.com) has been a resource for many people who may struggle with mental illness or know someone who deals with mental illness. Author Philip Dawdy has shed light on the dealings of pharmaceutical companies and provided keen insight on today’s psychiatric practices. His investigative journalism skills have helped educate thousands of people. As a result of his blog, I am aware of the negative effects that antipsychotics – namely Zyprexa and Seroquel — can have on people. Upon learning of his experience of Lamictal withdrawal and from the comments of others, I am much more aware of the potential side effects I may endure should I choose to taper off of the drug.

In keeping with the title of his blog, Dawdy has begun to host seasonal fundraisers to help maintain his site and support the extensive research he performs for the blog. His site is read by thousands on a regular basis and he needs all the support he can to keep his work going and the site functioning.

If you don’t read his site (and you should), please go to his blog (link above) and read some of his posts. After you’re done, I’m pretty sure you’ll realize what an asset he is for the mental health community.

Then, donate. It doesn’t matter how much — $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 — whatever you can give! He’s got a PayPal button on his site (just like I do, ahem) that you can click on to support his work. If you’re not comfortable with putting your credit card info on a Web site, he also accepts checks, money orders… whatever will clear in the bank.

By the way, Dawdy has helped me out in the past (yep, he too clicked on my PayPal button and helped me out when I needed it) and I intend to return the favor. A donation to his site helps this mental health patient — and many others — in return.

The Last Psychiatrist—and my thoughts—on suicide

"Your life is a publicly traded company.  You may have majority ownership, but you still are subject to a Board and to your shareholders.  If you want to kill yourself, everyone you have touched in any way gets to vote.  Good luck."

I stumbled upon this post from The Last Psychiatrist written about a month ago. Alone basically argues that suicidal people shouldn’t kill themselves because they have a responsibility—a duty—to stay alive for others. The comments mostly lean toward people having the free will to kill themselves should they choose to do so. Here’s an excerpt from one of the comments:

"You have a responsibility to improve the lives of those around you." Excuse me?! When did THAT become part of the constitution? NOBODY has the responsibility or even the capability to improve anyone else’s life! Hell, you’re a Doctor and you don’t take responsibility for improving anyone’s life!

I’ve noticed that suicide is the taboo mental health topic even among the mentally ill. I’m going to go on a brief narcissist trip and mention that I received few comments on my last suicidal post. To be honest, I figured more people would have chided me for my distorted thinking. Makes me wonder to be quite honest. If I decided that I was going to commit suicide (which I’m not right now), would you support my decision or would you make a case for me to stay alive? What would you say?

Can I be even more narcissist and hope that I get at least 5 comments on this post? Thanks in advance.

Current mood rating: 6

Another one biting the dust…

Bipolar Wellness Writer has mentioned that she will discontinue writing her blog in a few weeks. (UPDATED—See bottom of this post.) Furious Seasons and Soulful Sepulcher have mentioned various mental health blogs that have authors who either are considering the possibility of discontinuing their blog (The Trouble with Spikol), have gone on hiatus (Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and Recovery), have discontinued blogging (Been Broken (gone for now)) , or have deleted their blog altogether (Psych Survivor).

I answered Philip Dawdy’s questions about the recent spate of mental health blogs that are ceasing regular updates
. But I’m beginning to form my own questions as well. The common theme that I’ve read among many of these blogs is that the authors feel "held back" or that they need to move on with their lives or pursue other interests. Is writing about mental health issues—not just about personal experiences but in general—a burden that many people feel they no longer enjoy? Sort of like a job in which the work seemed enjoyable at first but has become too much to bear and it’s time to "quit" and move on?

I appreciate all of the bloggers who have contributed to the mental health blogosphere. I guess my main question is why the bloggers of political, technology, and celebrity blogs don’t feel that their blogs are holding them back. Is it perhaps the fact that these sites are more likely to make money? Or maybe Big Pharma owns so much of the corner market on generating ad revenue that mainstream outlets are hesitant to publicize anything that would criticize them. Or maybe mental health blogs are so personal that people feel as though they can’t continue to dwell on the past. I don’t have any answers this time. However, those who search Google for blogs regarding various topics on mental health can find these (unfortunately, they’re not all blogs):

UPDATE: Susan Bernard at Bipolar Wellness Writer responded to my comment on her blog:

Dear Marissa,
All may not be lost. Ever since I’ve written this post, friends have been suggesting ways to continue blogging–but not feel "stuck." So, I may change my mind. I’m noodling a bunch of ideas!

Thanks for your comment! I’ll let you know.

Susan

She’s also made a recent post in which she’s weighing her options and may consider changing her mind. (Thanks to BPD in OKC for tipping me off to this.)

Response to "Mental Health Blogs Going Bye-Bye?"

From one of Furious Seasons’s latest posts:

Mental Health Blogs Going Bye-Bye?

As I noted earlier, there’s a spate of mental health blogs that are going on hiatus of some kind. Now, it’s my sad duty to report that Gianna Kali’s Bipolar Blast blog is going on an indefinite hiatus as well. You can read her post "Quitting?" for the details. Bottom line: all those years of very high doses of psych meds seem to have injured her body. I cannot even begin to send her enough good wishes. I cannot even begin to express my disgust with some of the bad doctors she ran into over the years.

Also, the Psych Survivor blog, written by a man I only know as Mark, was taken down a few weeks ago, and from what I gather he is in the hospital with heart problems. His was/is a good and strident voice on these issues we all care about and his work is missed.

All of this kind of makes me feel glum, since the two people above had been at the blogging game for well over a year and I sensed that they’d both be around long-term. These are people I care about and it sucks that they won’t be the presence they once were.

Why is it that mental health blogs are so difficult to do and keep going? Why is it so hard for them to find the substantial audiences they deserve? The Internet is crowded with blogs about politics, technology, gadgets, gossip and parenting and many of these seem to do quite well and have huge audiences and long lives, despite the fact that many of them are merely echoes of one another. Are readers of blogs that simple-minded that all they need is the latest news and opinion on Apple’s or Microsoft’s latest bit of software or Obama’s or Hillary’s latest gaffe?

You’d think in a country where 10 percent of the population is on anti-depressants and another 5 percent to 10 percent is likely on some other psych med that there would be a substantial audience for these issues (regardless of what one makes of the dominant mental health paradigm), especially given how wildly popular neuroscience is on the Net. It makes me wonder if we all–and here I include myself–have done something wrong in how we analyze these issues (are we too contrarian?) or if we all simply haven’t been crowded out of the big search engines (that’s how most people find mental health information online) because the Net is so over-populated with pharma sites and allied pro-pharma health websites. I can certainly say that the mainstream media–which usually loves writing about characters on the Net who push against life’s many intellectual tides–has given very little attention to sites like this one, despite the fact that sites like mine have been a very real service to many in the media.

Or maybe the mainstream approach to mental health care is right and the public is just trying to tell us something.

What do you think?

I’ll tell you what I think.

Continue reading “Response to "Mental Health Blogs Going Bye-Bye?"”