When not saying something can lead to regrets

I was having a little browse through the WordPress Discovery feature and came across a blog called The Death Project. Now, I’m not into misery memoirs or the like, but good quality writing about handling the shitty stuff in life can be inspirational. Uexpectedly, what struck a very personal chord with me were not her words, but the blog written by her boyfriend. In his post What to say or not to say, he talks about his thought process as whether (or not) to blog on the subject. His concern? That some of his circle might feel he was giving them a slap about how they’d behaved/responsed/handled this situation, whereas that was not his intention at all. He was hugely at pains to stress that if people had inadvertently got something wrong, he understood … because he’d done the same himself. But now that he knew different, he wanted to share that knowledge, so some small good could come out of this awful situation. By sharing that knowledge, maybe it would help someone else to react differently – and better – should they be so unlucky as to find themselves where he is now – loving someone with a terminal diagnosis.

For us human beings, we don’t handle this stuff well – death, disease, life-limitations that we can’t change. I know I haven’t in the past, even if I’ve subsequently learned to do a bit better with age and experience. And maybe it took for me to have my own challenging diagnosis to learn that lesson, whereas I could’ve learned it second-hand, if we weren’t so quick not to speak in case we cause upset or offence.

I had an opportunity to speak on this subject after my diagnosis, but was advised not to. That advice was correct, because no-one wanted to hear it, not even a crowd of people whose aim was to fundraise as an act of support to me. And yet … because I’m a natural carer, the one people come to when they want to be truly heard, I quickly suffered from what I called ‘telling fatigue’ whenever I shared the simple fact of my diagnosis. Too many people needed me to take care of how they felt about my getting cancer.

At the end of my treatment, a hugely supportive relationship I’d been in ended very suddenly and unexpectedly, and I suffered with a massive emotional crash. Without an outlet for my overwhelming emotions, I took anti-depressants which numbed the pain somewhat, but the still-present grief led me to flounder about, making multiple poor decisions. I can live with the me that my decisions created, but that doesn’t mean I don’t wish I’d made different choices.

If I’d been a blogger then, if I’d been able to share my thoughts, my feelings, my discoverings and my learnings, without having to ‘hold’ the feelings and worries of others, I wonder if I’d feel different now. Reading these blogs and seeing the succour and support both these individuals receive, it occurs to me that a blogging outlet during that time could have provided me with a healthier emotional outcome. For one of the amazing things about this blogging world is the number of people providing support and understanding to those who need it. Most of them from a shared perspective, either by being in the same boat at the same time, or because they’re paying forward the support they’ve already received.

I guess what I’m saying is that blogging – even if you do so anonymously – could improve your mental health. And that’s not something I ever expected.

 


© Debra Carey, 2018

8 comments

  1. A percipient posting Debs: thank you.

    It is my belief, underpinned by my working experience, that the extensive use of social media has made people generally less connected than even ten years ago. The paradox, I think, is that the more we share online the less personal, the less empathetic we become. We have also become afraid of the power of a simple touch: just a quick grasp of someone’s hand, or a touch to the arm or shoulder can often demonstrate more connection than grasping for the ‘right’ thing to say.

    The control that we can *really* exert over our lives is much more circumscribed than we think or hope and we are in denial about that.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah Alan, you speak as a listener yourself, and there’s no doubting that is absolutely the best way. Sadly, genuine and willing listeners are few and far between, with many putting a time-frame on listening of the “by now you should be …” variety. Once I was able to afford it, I paid for counselling and received support of the precise variety you describe.

    I’m not sure, though, if social media has made people less connected, or whether people were already less connected due to societal changes – moving away from family for work, property costs requiring more than one salary to support a mortgage, and the like. Has blogging simply filled the hole now we’re no longer able to sit down for a cuppa with the neighbours or your best mate from round the corner?

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  3. You wrote: “I’m not sure, though, if social media has made people less connected, or whether people were already less connected due to societal changes – moving away from family for work, property costs requiring more than one salary to support a mortgage, and the like.”

    Again a good point, but I wonder if that is not a very modern view – a reverse view perhaps from a modern solipsistic pov. My father’s generation left home for work and for war. I missed out on conscription by a couple of years, but a number of my older friends went away for two years. And (although one should not argue from the particular to the general) I left home to go to college, then to a job on the other side of the country (where I really was alone) and later

    In one of the poto university where I had to leave my wife at home because I could not afford to go home at weekends or even twice a term. We had only the telephone and letters, so those contacts were more precious, and it meant that I had to be proactive and find people to be friends with or sit in my room and mope!

    So I’m not sure that separation from the familiar and usual “support group” is per se a new cause of disconnection. What I think that I am groping towards is the idea that today’s social media contacts are often less meaningful, shallower, more disposable than in earlier times: there may be more frequent ‘contact’ but it is more superficial. “Don’t make eye contact – back away slowly” (guess who gave me that quote! 🙂 )

    In one of the oldest stories in the world a man asks “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And the implied answer is yes, you have a responsibility for those around you. And it is more than a quick LOL in a text, I think.

    Thank you so much Debs, for your original post and reply. I have enjoyed our exchange!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Alan, you’ve made me think about some of the presuppositions I’ve made. Thank you. As always, I’ve enjoyed this and I’m still ruminating on the subject. 🙂

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  4. I agree with you. Blogging is good for mental health. I’d be a nut case if I didn’t have this one place in which I can babble about whatever is on my radar. [Nothing serious, just daily nonsense.] What a wonderful world it would be if everyone got their acts together and wrote about their own lives, instead of merely absorbing FB haterade.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure it matters what one blogs about, I do think getting “stuff” off your chest is inherently good for one’s mental health. If by doing it to a bunch of like minded “strangers” one doesn’t have to deal with the fall-out of reactions from the nears-and-dears, so much the better eh?

      PS: love that word “haterade” … absolutely spot on. I’ll probably end up stealing it too 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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