As this week is mental health week, I’m taking a leaf out of Lost Twenty Somethings book and I’m taking you behind the filters for a look into what’s behind the blog. This is going to be a whole world of tough for me to write, it’s also exacerbated by the fact that I am now into week two of my youngest not sleeping and my feelings of failure as a parent are overriding everything at the moment. Honestly though, I have felt a huge anxiety around my blogging for a long time for a number of reasons, so I’m going to put this out there now.
Every time I write a post there is a little bit of me in there, my thoughts, my feelings…my mistakes. I know that not everyone will enjoy what I write but I hope that at least one will – it doesn’t stop me from feeling either down hearted or elated when looking at my site stats, which is almost as unhealthy an obsession as me checking my Instagram follows. Am I relevant in this book world? Do I have anything new or interesting to say? Should I have said that? I didn’t really like that book, but I’m committed to a review! The things for me to be anxious about feels endless.
I’m going to go out on the biggest limb here and say that I am 40 in 6 months and do you know what, i’m out of touch. I feel scared of commenting on issues, that as a middle aged white woman I have no business commenting on and I am forever petrified of offending and being caught in a backlash. I like to think of myself as liberal and inclusive, in my muggle job I fight for victims of domestic abuse and work to protect the public, but honestly, YA twitter scares the life out of me. I was once offered “help” by an established blogger, who’s idea of helping was to rip apart my posts for (in their view) not understanding the issues which ultimately made me feel like shit – the upshot, I now for the most part just post reviews and tags. But I keep going because I love books and I love talking about the books I love. Books are my escape from an overwhelmingly stressful and upsetting day job, they are my safe space and I am protective of it, but I have little outlet for my love other than this blog and Instagram. My family humour me with my books, my friends I feel are bored with my book talk so I lock it up inside, until the children are in bed and get to talk to you about them, usually with a glass of wine and likely also toast.
The main manifestation of my anxiety is the replaying of interactions over and over, this is true of every facet of my life. Some interactions I feel so cringy about that I replay them for days and then at night I can’t sleep because they overwhelm me. “Why did I say that?” running repeat around my head, when really that person probably forgot the interaction as soon as it was over. Some nights I can be awake for hours as after I say something monumentally stupid (in my mind) my heart starts to race and I feel sick – I just can’t switch it off. I want to run away from group chats, delete comments, trash posts and then hide from the world. I want to help authors, but in a world where even Indie Small Presses want to know your follower count before bringing you on board, I feel like simply wanting to help isn’t good enough any more. The anxiety over low followers preventing me being wanted is so real to me, even though it is likely highly irrational on my part.
I know I’m not the best blogger, the best reviewer, the best photographer – and honestly I think the weight of maintaining this to that high a level would crush me – but I have to learn to accept that what I do is good enough for me and not worry that 2 days ago no-one looked at my blog or that only 20 people liked that IG post that I spent ages staging. I need to stop being sad that 10 people stopped following me on social media, because likely they were a bot following a # and I didn’t follow back. These are things that I know I must do, but oh my is it hard to take my own sage advice.
Maybe we all just need to tell each other that we are good enough. If I can’t take my advice for me then I will pass it on to others. I will comment on that blog post that I enjoyed reading rather than clicking off at the end, I will tell people what I liked about their IG photo, rather than just scrolling and hitting a like, and I will share a review that made me want to go out and buy a book. Because even if I can’t be kind to myself, I can do these little things that are good for the soul as they are good for others and maybe I will start to replay the positive interactions to keep that anxiety at bay. Maybe.
Thank you for reading x #mentalhealthawarenessweek