Thursday, March 6, 2014

Give and Take

So, in my last entry I tried to tackle the way we handle information that comes to us over the internet. And I feel strongly that we have a responsibility to check the accuracy of anything that we choose to take from the internet. But what about what we choose to give to the internet?

I’m a writer. I have written—journals, poems, letters, extra credit assignments, and now blogs—as long as I can remember. Clearly, I didn’t intend most of that writing for publication. I would love to publish my poetry, which I’ve entered in contests. Alas, no luck there. The gatekeepers didn’t let my work through. Well, okay. I’m not trendy and I can live with that.

The joy of blogging, of course, comes from the lack of gatekeepers. No one gets to say if I publish a blog post or not. Simply sign up for a site, type away, click on Publish! It’s like magic.

Without someone else to say whether or not I publish something, though…without the gatekeepers, the responsibility for what I publish rests solely on me. Well, okay. I’m good with responsibility. Ah, but then we get into the questions of Why.

Why do I want to put my words on the internet? Two bright shiny reasons hover over my head: to entertain and to help others. Those are good, wholesome, kid-tested and mother-approved reasons for doing anything. We all need a laugh—especially parents. And helping others? Please! That’s the best reason ever. (There may be other reasons, too, but not for the purposes of this post.)

So I (try to) entertain you all by shamelessly plagiarizing my children’s wit and ruthlessly describing our mishaps as a family. But how do I go about “helping people”?

I can only offer what I have. I have this life of mine, the things I’ve observed, and the thoughts and feelings I’ve based on those. I write about my life, observations, thoughts, and feelings constantly—but what of that is worth sharing? What has value for others? Without those gatekeepers, without the agents, acquisitions editors, and publishers, how do I know what will mean something to others?

Figuring that out requires some confident self-assessment.

What if the main thing I have to offer has nothing to do with confidence? I don’t even know how to describe it. Everything I’ve learned comes from the opposite of confidence, from being ground down and worn out and—yes—humiliated by the inexorable forces that move life and what they’ve done to me.

That’s okay in the privacy of my own mind because I value what I’ve learned. The question remains: Does it have any value to anyone else?

Right now, I can’t answer that. I’m writing about depression and what it feels like because that’s what life is teaching me right now. I’m not publishing it because there’s no gatekeeper to tell me it has value to others.

But if life is my gatekeeper…

I keep thinking about the bloggers at Honest Mom and Renegade Mothering and The Feminist Breeder and Hyperbole and a Half. These women give me such a sense of release by being honest about their mental health struggles. They gave me the comfort of not being alone and reassurance that this, too, will pass. And that feeling of recognition and being recognized that we all love—that awesome high of a new book or a new friend. I found all that in their stories.

Maybe someone would find it in mine?

And I honestly do believe that we can only reach for mental health—or health, since a chemically imbalanced brain is a diseased organ—when mental illness (illness) loses its stigma. I believe that will happen when we can all speak freely about it.

So is this the point where I need to
A.      Put my money where my mouth is?
B.      Not jump on the trendy bandwagon?
C.      Forget those other-based lines of thought and do what is in my heart?

Well, if I put it that way…

Plus, I keep running across these amazing articles and TedTalks that blow my mind. Smart, brave people standing up and sharing their observations of life. Today it was this very early TedTalk on severe depression and ECT:


Back to the original question: I have decided. I will try to give to the internet—to you—what I have. Please feel welcome take whatever will help you.

Just remember to always use internet content responsibly.

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