I was reading Anonymously Autistic I found myself nodding furiously while reading her “I want to Encourage Everyone to Write”. At first, I believed that autism must also be a mental illness, so closely many of her posts have resonated with me. After I commented on a post I was grateful Anonymously set me straight. Unlike me, I’m sure many of you know that autism is not a mental illness. It is, in fact, a lifelong developmental condition.
I have since discovered, from blogs, that many chronic and permanent health issues have some similarities of experience. Not due to diagnosis or symptoms but because:
• How people not suffering from the condition respond to us, in the media or in personal interactions.
• How we feel and respond to our health issue, that can be devastating and all-consuming
This is why I’ve had two guests write about their experiences of chronic illness, Catherine with a rare skin disease and Ruth Cotton with MS and regular readers responded enthusiastically to the posts as well as drawing new readers to my blog.
I’m a contributor to The Mighty, as is Anonymously Autistic, which has umbrella coverage for issues associated with: parenting, autism, disability, mental illness, chronic illness and rare diseases.
In the “who we are” section of The Mighty it states:
“Billions of people are facing serious health conditions… It’s so easy to feel we are facing these challenges alone. The truth is, we are facing disability, disease, and mental illness together. But when we look online for help all we often find is medical information. We want a community, too.”
Our human experience, the social, the emotional, the spiritual, cannot be adequately addressed in any version of the DSM or any other medical text. (While at the same time not underestimating the importance of medical diagnosis and symptom management).
What I have realised from reading this particular article from Anonymously Autistic, is that I agree with her that (for those who feel in a position to do so) I want to encourage everyone to write. For me there are a number of benefits for those with mental illness writing about their experience:
• If it’s not covered by the media or doesn’t look how the media says it should look others don’t believe or “hear” our experiences. The more we write the more likely it will be picked up by media groups.
• Writing about our own condition can be:
o Cathartic for the self
o Reassuring for fellow mental health sufferers and others
o Informative for those who don’t experience the condition and therefore militate against stigma
So I agree with Anonymously Autistic: Express yourself, to yourself, with others, online, blogging, vlogging, tweeting. Get it out there!