When we start a blog instead of simply keeping a private diary, it’s because we want to connect with others. When you start to blog, you join a community.
It comes as no surprise that many bloggers are drawn to online communities as a place to work through challenges — to heal and process, find others with similar experiences, and seek (or offer) support. There are lots of supportive communities around WordPress.com: women dealing with breast cancer, people managing diabetes, parents of children with unique needs, and many, many more. Throughout January, we’ll be zooming in on how bloggers use WordPress.com to support their health and wellness.
Today, on the heels of the Blog for Mental Health 2014 kick-off, we’re focusing on mental health. Read on for a look at the many ways WordPress.com bloggers use their sites to improve their own lives, and the lives of others who have been impacted by mental illness.
WordPress.com is home to a variety of collaborative and group blogs, a format especially suited for communities with shared life experiences who want to expand their reach.
We have come a long way in our fight against stigma and in our desire to educate people about what having a mental illness really means, but there is so much more yet to do. We will not rest until the last of the myths, misconceptions, and fears born of ignorance are replaced with truth, understanding, and acceptance.
Of course most of all, we want those struggling with mental illness to know they are not alone, that it is a fight which can be won, and that we are here to support you in your journey to wellness — and to lend support to anyone trying to understand what life with mental illness entails.
Co-founder Lulu began the “Blog for Mental Health” initiative on her personal blog in 2012 and moved it to Canvas of the Minds in 2013, where it quickly attracted a long list of participants — take a look at 2013′s participant blogroll. More bloggers are now making a 2014 commitment: to “blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others.”
More mental health-focused writers gather at the Mental Health Writer’s Guild site. Browse their member listings, which include hundreds of bloggers writing on everything from depression to PTSD to Schizophrenia. Members support one another, contribute writing to the Guild’s blog, and participate in blogging competitions and challenges. (Interested in becoming a member? Learn more.)
Of course, not all mental health-focused blogging is written; photography can be just as powerful and evocative, as the bloggers of Broken Light Collective know. Each day, they feature a new photo taken by a photographer struggling with mental illness — like this self-portrait by Kait, who copes with depression, anxiety, and disordered eating:
Each post features the photographer’s own story, along with a description of what the photo means to them. Broken Light Collective allows its bloggers to celebrate the triumphs and tragedies of their diagnoses through art — and in doing so, helps them support and inspire others.
Other bloggers choose to write solo. Although many quickly connect with kindred spirits, their blogs are places where they track their moods, write through painful periods of depression or anxiety, discuss the day-to-day challenges of mental health issues, or simply vent.
Some, like Sunny with a Chance of Armageddon’s Lulu, also blog on other sites — she’s one of the Canvas of the Minds co-founders, and maintains a separate site to focus on her own journey as a person with Bipolar Disorder.
Sara Sullivan also writes about life with Bipolar Disorder on her cleverly-named blog, bi[polar] curious. We also love her tagline, “Poppycock from the bipolar spectrum,” and her helpful list of resources for the newly-diagnosed.
On Laments and Lullabies, another Sara “[s]wims through the shark-infested waters of depression, anxiety, and adult ADHD.” A trained artist as well as a writer, her hand-drawn header instantly gives you a glimpse of her state of mind on the rougher days:
There are hundreds more, from Cat at A Tale Too Tragic to Tell, writing on his ups and downs dealing with depression, to The Disorderly Chickadee’s DeeDee, whose endocrine disorder has side effects mimicking a mood disorder.
Narrowing the focus
Many people use their blogs to chronicle treatment changes and rough patches, but there are also bloggers with a more specific focus who approach mental health blogging from a particular angle.
Sad Mum Happy Mum writes about her daily fight with depression, as many bloggers do, but with an eye to the particular challenges faced by parents with depression — the difficulty of caring for another person when it seems impossible to care for yourself.
On Malingering Normal and Ruminations on Madness, bloggers focus on the language we use to talk about mental illness and how society understands (and misunderstands) the mentally ill, as an important step in reducing the stigma too often attached to mental illness.
There are also bloggers who approach mental health issues from the other side: from the perspective of someone who is successfully managing their condition, like Erica at Thoughts of a Lunatic:
Yes, I am crazy. I have a past full of depression, addiction, self harm, abuse, suicide attempts, therapy and medication to prove it. Nowadays though, I use writing as my outlet … along with ocd cleaning, cooking, reality tv, eating, and enjoying being newly married.
The community and support I have found here is priceless, and has allowed me to be okay being myself.
A fun bonus from blogging? I met my husband!
We love seeing bloggers connect, support one another, and use online publishing as a way to help managing mental health issues. WordPress.com is proud to provide a home for them.
Jan 17th at 6:31 pm
There are some great blogs and bloggers mentioned here. Thanks for bringing attention to mental health.
Jan 17th at 6:48 pm
I think this campaign is awesome. I suffer from severe mental illness and I’m also a transguy and recently I finally got approval to start transitioning with testosterone, so I started a blog to capture all of it. However, what I’m finding is that I seem to be desperately trying to firmly convince people of who I am. Because of the trans and now the mental illness, I feel like I’m buried and that I’ll never get anyone to see me. It’s a lot different from what I thought it would be. But, I think I need it.
Jan 17th at 6:54 pm
What a wonderful post! Thanks for highlighting blogs in an area which is still so misunderstood, if not maligned.
Jan 17th at 7:17 pm
This is the very reason I started my blog! To blog about my mental illnesses and help erase the stigma. I have found the most incredible supper system here on WordPress! Thank you for posting this and check out my blog!
Jan 17th at 8:42 pm
Thank you so much for this post, for highlighting the amazingly supportive community here, and highlighting blogs for me to try. You could have been describing my journey, starting as a journal for myself in the hope it could also help others, and finding so many like minded people. Perhaps one day the stigma won’t exist, this is my wish.
Jan 17th at 8:51 pm
Thank you so much for posting this! This makes me so proud to be part of such a compassionate community of misfits. I mean that in a loving way.
Jan 17th at 8:51 pm
Such a great post, thank you WordPress! I have discovered such amazingly supportive people to share my journey with, I had no idea that this world existed, I wish I’d discovered WordPress years ago. Thank you for helping to reduce the stigma that 1 in 3 ofus can face
Jan 17th at 9:10 pm
I have bipolar 1 and have only recently begun writing about it. When I found so many other communities with great information and just personal experiences and stories…I didn’t feel so all alone.
Jan 17th at 10:46 pm
I’m new to wordpress and I am interested in mental health, having suffered myself and a son with Aspergers. I haven’t had chance to look at communities yet so I look forward to it x
Jan 18th at 1:46 am
Its such a coincidence that this post came out, as I just started my blog recently in order to document my anxiety and daily activities.
Jan 18th at 2:10 am
A good topic, michelle. It would be useful for some bloggers here to also explain, to the rest of the world, if they changed their blog title if /when they did pull themselves out of deep depression. Am thinking of a blog title that overtly points to depression/ mental health.
There is a blog where the blogger had an extra-marital affair in amongst a crumbling marriage of hers. She named her blog “the other woman.”. Well, the latest is that she is finally confronting her hubby and is in the throes of divorce proceedings. She writes well of her exhaustion, depression, etc. and wanting to break free from it. I suggested that she change the title of blog or otherwise she will always perceive herself as living the shadow of the “other”. She’s looking into alternate blog titles..
I hope for her.
Jan 18th at 2:24 am
Thanks for spotlighting this, WordPress! As someone living with bipolar II disorder, it’s really great to read essays from more people coming out of the shadows. Good job!
Jan 18th at 2:56 am
Thank you for including Canvas and what we’re doing with Blog For Mental Health, it was a lovely surprise and I appreciate you helping to spread the word about us, and about all the wonderful mental health bloggers.
One of the aims of BFMH this year that we’re trying to get across is that mental health truly is everyone’s concern — if you don’t have a diagnosed mental illness, you know someone who does, and more importantly, mental health is not just about mental illness, it’s something everyone deals with personally.
The more we can erase the “us versus them” illusion, the more we can get people to understand we are all in this together, the better it will be for all.
Thank you again for helping to bring light to this.
Jan 18th at 3:40 am
My blog, Moving Liquid, captures my journey of regaining mental and physical health by swimming. I’m grateful for WP because people are actually stopping by to read and sometimes they even comment. I love that.
Jan 18th at 4:00 am
Thank you for covering this topic! I had no idea there was such a large community here at WordPress. My blog delves quite a bit into the topic of mental illness, but from my perspective, which is having a parent who is mentall ill, and the turmoil of being raised by a mentally ill parent, and the lasting effects that has, particularly on my own journey through motherhood.
Jan 18th at 5:01 am
Pleased to see a focus on mental health, as an anxiety sufferer I am always happy to share my own experience as well as read about others struggles and successes in dealing with mental disorders.
Jan 18th at 7:21 am
It is amazing how bloggers who share some interest or point of view can form community with others whom they’ve never met and never expect to meet.
Jan 18th at 7:49 am
Loved this post as it brought together two things I’m passionate about: mental health and blogging. As a soon to be registered clinincal counsellor and blogger, I am going to check out these blogs as resources and for insight. It is so important that mental health issues be talked about and that for people to know they aren’t along in their struggles. I truly believe that when you share your story you give others permission to do the same. When you share your story through blogging you never know who will benefit from hearing your story and the community you will build. That is my favourite part of blogging – the people I have met and the connections formed!
Jan 18th at 9:44 am
I am so pleased to see this, and thank you for the links provided. I blog for my mental health, and I find it to be such good therapy, especially when those who have experienced mental health problems stand together, comment on each others blogs and uplift one another. I can quite honestly say that using my blog to let it all out, both the bad and the good, has really and truly been a life saver for me.
Jan 18th at 10:45 am
Although my blog is by no means exclusively about such things, I have found it very helpful to write about mental health issues on a number of occasions – for the support and friendship I’ve received from readers and also for practical assistance. I am very grateful to WordPress for supplying the tools that made all that possible.
Jan 18th at 11:08 am
I am always looking for information relating to the science and the spiritual concerning mental health issues, specifically suicide. My son died by suicide, a terminal result of depression. I am dedicated to helping give comfort the best I can by sharing my own experience and posting the research and various resources along the way. Therein lies my own peace pf mind.
Jan 18th at 11:08 am
I have a learning disability and huge esteem issues. I’ve been anon blogging for some months now and I’ve been looking for other people writing about the challenges they face- thanks for writing this. I’ll have a rummage!
Jan 18th at 11:17 am
Wonderful read. I myself are struggling to sleep tonight and great blog to read. I to am sharing the good bad and ugly sides of mental health. It’s a great platform to be able to share and let go. However I’m now trying to focus on more positive then my old negatives. Ill make sure to keep following your blog
Jan 18th at 11:29 am
i’m really inspired by Lulu and all others..! It feels so good to see people writing so beautifully!
Jan 18th at 12:39 pm
Thank you for this post. I need to read more about how others are dealing with their mental health issues. Now I have some blogs to follow!
Jan 18th at 1:42 pm
It can be a harrowing experience to write about oneself in the form of a blog: I once had a blog I had spent about two years putting together, and became scared about some of the content and deleted everything except the very message that I REALLY wanted deleted.
These blogs are our virtual, binary counterparts. They live because we live and their progress reflects our progress, and I don’t know any statistical data to support this, but I would imagine most people do better and have fewer problems with these digital support networks than without them … sort of a “Cognitive Network Behavioral Therapy” — I don’t know about you guys, but I fancy myself a writer, and my network of e-mail buddies — my friends and family have been supportive of my writing habit through the time I spend honing my craft on my computer, and let me tell you: e-mailing your work to your family and friends is a great way to avoid “writing in a vacuum”.
Those little digital bits of oxygen in their responses keep the binary writer in you alive. Sometimes electronic validation can be good, and sometimes it can be misleading, but I think we hopeful closet writers have it made in that our art form is congruent with our written language. I don’t know about you, but I find opportunities galore to practice my craft … from jotting down notes on a pad to composing poetry or lyrics in the shower. (Then again, it — also — turns the whole universe — in this case, the whole Web — into critics.)
Jan 18th at 2:59 pm
Its is so helpful to know that others share similar experiences and to be inspired by the ways people heal and live within challenging circumstances. I also feel that by talking about mental illness, we bring understanding even to those who may not have a first hand experience.
My blog is about using mindfulness to manage/heal PTSD
Jan 18th at 3:13 pm
Thank you! Many of us blog to educate, entertain, and to sort out myriad feelings and flights of angst.
Jan 18th at 4:00 pm
A fantastic post and a reminder – as if we needed one – why WordPress is so amazing. I’ve been able to link up with so many other women who’ve done battle with breast cancer and are thankfully still here to tell the tale…and some of them now write about dealing with anxiety, depression and lack of self-worth that can come afterwards, when we’ve had the “chop”. Thanks to everyone for sharing their “mental” lives with us:)
Jan 18th at 6:13 pm
So proud to be a part of this.
Jan 18th at 6:30 pm
I have greatly benefited from blogging as a way to combine the Twelve-Step Recovery tools of writing, telephone (or communication) and meetings all in one convenient place. The connections I have made here have been immensely helpful in helping me deal with my own food addiction, helping others address their various addictions and disorders, and remain accountable for the secrets I might otherwise keep. Thanks, Michelle W. and thanks WordPress!
Jan 18th at 7:36 pm
Thanks for the links, i’m following all now (=
Jan 18th at 9:46 pm
I have recently joined WordPress and have enjoyed reading others’ work. The vulnerability and grit is awesome! It has inspired me to tell my stories. Thank you everyone!
Jan 18th at 10:39 pm
Interesting; I didn’t even know there was a Mental Health Writer’s Guild site. Thank you for this invaluable tip, as well as for sharing a real treasure-trove of riches on WordPress with regard to mental health-driven blogs. You better believe I’ll be staying up late tonight to tour many of the mentions here!
Jan 18th at 11:39 pm
Michelle, I really liked this post. I have never experienced Mental Health issues but I have seen it first hand. My mom Julie who died Nov. 3/12 from a heart attack in her sleep, had bi-polar. I also have other family members who experience Mental Health issues so this is something I am passionate about – supporting and advocating for those who do experience this on a daily basis. As for myself, I am a diabetic. I use my blog to discuss life, faith, and everything in between. I also use it to encourage and empower others in their own life and faith journey. I encourage others to check out and follow my blog. Thanks.
Jan 19th at 12:16 am
That is why I joined, to help remove the stigma against DID.
Jan 19th at 12:34 am
The more writing that happens to reduce stigma in mental-illness, the better off everyone is. Keep writing, everyone!
Jan 19th at 1:22 am
I am so glad that folk are taking on this touchy topic as blog material. Mental health is such a fragile thing that it can decline in any of us when circumstances become hostile. We should all be very kind and respectful to anyone with a mental health issue because it could happen to you or me!
Jan 19th at 3:59 am
You missed me! I just started publishing Crazy Good Parent. In addition to publishing my own writing and reviews, I’ve already had a bunch of really great contributors, including Sara of Laments and Lullabies. And I’ve featured a photographer from Broken Light Collective. Guest posts are always welcome! We’re at crazygoodparent.com.
Jan 19th at 4:06 am
Reblogged this on Sad Mum Happy Mum and commented:
A great summary of blogs that talk about mental health, including my very own Sad Mum Happy Mum…..so proud and excited that Sad Mum Happy Mum is making a name for it self and spreading the message about depression….
Jan 19th at 5:24 am
Thanks so much for this post! Sometimes you can feel so considerably alone when you start out trying to blog about a stigmatized issue.
Jan 19th at 2:48 pm
Its good to see the progress of mental health blogs. There will be a growing trend of mental health disorders in this century with the conflicts at political, religious and personal level never seeming to cease.The neurological disorders are also only going to increase with the life expectancy of the people increasing. So, its definitely a good sign to see these mental health related blogs increasing.
Jan 19th at 2:54 pm
Reblogged this on Don't Label My Kid! and commented:
Much Needed! Help For Those Struggling With Mental Health- On-Line! WordPress is Leading the Way…
Jan 19th at 3:04 pm
Suffering from mental health at such a young age is difficult as it is hugely stigmatized. I used wordpress to describe my battle with depression.
Jan 19th at 4:03 pm
Thank goodness people are openly talking about mental health issues. There are still places where no one wants to discuss it and that doesn’t help anyone. When you have a family member with a mental health condition, you need support. Our extended family has now become involved.
Jan 19th at 4:11 pm
I recently started my blog to address meaning and purpose through my own lens of being a counselor and as a person. I like the idea of being able to encourage and bring education on various topics. Thanks and I will proudly post the blog for mental health widget!
Jan 20th at 1:16 am
This is wonderful. I am so glad that someone can find real SUPPORT via the use of technology / internet forums. Other popular sites (mmhumm FB) can actually put a damper on the way we are feeling about ourselves. After glancing through your friends perfect life* you may end up feeling depressed about your own. It is nice to know that there are other places were you can express yourself and gain support and understanding from others. Technology does not have to push us further apart and hinder our social skills. If used correctly it can actually open a wider network or people who understand us and lead to more vast and meaningful friendships.
Jan 20th at 4:21 am
I also write two blogs on mental health issues, one of which is autism. I love to meet new friends that share my quest to help others and be a friend to those who need an ear. I am honored to be surrounded by my fellow wordpressers that share my quest.
Thanks for the article and I look forward to reading the articles listed above.
Jan 20th at 5:59 am
Reblogged this on Depression Shorts and commented:
YouTube and WordPress have made it possible, even in our deepest, darkest moments as human beings, at times when we may not want to SEE anyone, to find thousands of people to relate to, communicate with, and help us through. And not only to receive help from thousands, but to give it to thousands as well!
Jan 20th at 1:45 pm
Good Post, I don’t feel alone anymore
Jan 20th at 6:41 pm
Thank you for including my blog in your article! It made for a very cheerful morning when I found out completely by accident by giving this a read. Thanks again, and keep up the good work!
Jan 20th at 10:14 pm
I’m new to blogging, but have been focusing on my battle with post natal depression. I feel like wordpress has introduced me to a whole new support network I never knew existed. THANK YOU!
Jan 20th at 11:31 pm
I’m recovering from a suicide attempt atm and I joined WordPress today and I’m really glad I did. I made a blog post on mental health and would really like people to know my story and hopefully help a few people!!
Jan 21st at 2:52 am
Reblogged this on SA Pop! Culture and commented:
Insightful piece on writing and blogging as a catharsis. With blogging being a crucial part of how culture is communicated in modern day, what role does it play in issues of mental health, especially for our college students?
Jan 21st at 3:58 am
Glad to see this community, really gives me the feeling that I’m not alone! Thanks
Jan 21st at 5:10 am
I saw a lot of familiar names in this post, all well deserved shout-outs. So glad to see this topic getting the recognition it deserves.
Jan 21st at 7:06 am
I’ve been asking myself and have been posting on my blog ‘Why do I keep blogging?’ for weeks lately. It’s actually been a tag on my blog for years. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety for years and am not brave enough to write about it just yet in explicit terms, but this post reminded me why I blog. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Jan 21st at 11:52 am
I welcome this initiative. We need an open space to free our minds.
Jan 21st at 2:18 pm
Reblogged this on My (damn) socks are pulled up! and commented:
I joined a bandwagon I didn’t even know was happening. This is great! Can’t wait to explore the other blogs.
Jan 21st at 8:57 pm
Yes! I am so thrilled to read this. I am currently (working on) maintaining my own mental health, while speaking out about the familial and spousal issues I encountered because of my childhood and the dynamics in my family (due to severe mental health/addiction issues). I’ve received a lot of distaste from family member’s who happened across my original blog even though I made sure to use confidentiality and tact (no names etc). So I put some healthy distance between myself and the toxicity and started a new blog here. Thank you wordpress for being ahead of the game and supporting your users who are unafraid to take the mask off and change the stigma surrounding mental health!
Jan 22nd at 3:20 am
I enjoyed this post, it really hit the nail on the head. And as me being a blogger and a mental patient (Sometimes) It’s good to know we are not alone in this fight with ourselves.
Keep your pen busy!
Creative Writer – Alex Kennedy
Jan 22nd at 7:06 am
I’ve been keeping an online blog/journal for years to help deal with mental health issues and it really has helped. So glad I found your article and.lookingforward to checking out your links!
Jan 22nd at 6:12 pm
Bipolar Curious and I have been “blogging friends” for quite some time now. I believe we’re going on 2 years! It was awesome to read about them in your blog!!!! I never imagined I would connect with so many others with Bipolar Disorder when I started blogging all those years ago!
Jan 22nd at 8:25 pm
I would like to be involved with a canvas of the minds and be included in the blogroll but for some reason I can’t find info about how to do that. I’m certain it must be just me being a little bit loopy and missing something. If anyone has any advice could you point me in the right direction? Thanks in advance.
Jan 23rd at 9:30 am
Great read. I love to see so much support for mental illness here. You mention a few writers blogs but no musicians with mental illness blogs. I’d love to find some of these as I am a musician that has these issues.
Jan 23rd at 10:59 am
I’m glad to see people out there who enjoy being part of a community to either gain or provide help. It’s nice to see all the links too, thanks.
Jan 24th at 3:17 pm
This is so great that WordPress are assisting people who have mental health problems. In a British magazine called ONE IN FOUR issued by the mental health charity MIND there was an article in it about people who have mental health problems who blog to not only help themselves but others also, stating that it can be cathartic and therapeutic to do this. So I have started one as well, although early days. I did it for me, to write about all the stuff that has happened in my life since Day 1, and about my disorders. I have ADHD, depression, and lots of other disorders, such as Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD), so the internet is my lifeline, as I’m sure it is for a lot of other people who are in the same or similar position. There is far too much of a stigma against mental health, and I for one get sick and tired of people who are fortunate enough not to suffer through it telling me to ‘get a grip’ and ‘cheer up’.
Jan 25th at 2:50 pm
I love Blog for Mental Health! I run a collaborative blog called tabootab.com…wordpress is awesome for projects like this!
Jan 25th at 4:46 pm
Delighted to see this – have just found it! I suffer from severe anxiety, and have written several posts about it; I have also written posts in which I share my anger at the way too many people with mental health problems are both perceived and treated. I shall now try and link up with some others who write about such matters. Thanks, WP! Alienora
Jan 25th at 5:21 pm
Thank you so much for this post! It’s such a fresh faced look at a sensitive subject! I love it!!
Jan 25th at 5:58 pm
I just started my blog last night which has all (some right now, I’m getting there) of my writings which get me through Bipolar, depression, anxiety, PCOS, and helping my friend who has recently attempted suicide. I find writing to be my only outlet right now. I have songs, poems, and entries. I am keeping our anonymity as of now and slowly diverging the circumstances. These things are so difficult and I am hoping to help others going through this as well. I am NOT ashamed but I have to protect my fragile friend.
Jan 25th at 7:08 pm
I have personally suffered from and still continue to suffer from Depression/Generalized Anxiety Disorder & PTSD. Blog for Mental Health is great initiative, it has encouraged people like me who still have problems admitting mental issues to start opening up to help others by sharing our experiences. This initiative has inspired me to blog about my stuff which I never thought I would do. Thanks WP!
Jan 27th at 3:05 am
This is great news! (I’ve got more reading to do.)
Jan 27th at 6:52 pm
Thank you so much for the links. I’m new to blogging. My therapist says it may help. I suffer from bipolar depression , OCD and severe ADHD.
Jan 31st at 11:16 am
What a beautiful picture!