Tuesday, 2 September 2008

How Do We Decide What To Write About?

We all write our blogs for different reasons, although for many it is a way of relieving some of the stress and frustration that we suffer from our day to day existence. For some it is a diary of what they do, places they visit, and people they meet. One of the largest blogging communities is the medical profession; whether it is medical students talking about the trials and tribulations of their years of studying, junior doctors telling us about their lives now that they have qualified and are having to put all that learning into practice, or as they move into specialties and how they see things from a different perspective and the post-graduate exams they have to take to gain specialist qualifications. Then there are the older doctors; the GPs who tell us about life as a GP and the things that are going on that are affecting the way in which they provide care for their patients, and the Consultants who write about their experiences and how the NHS is no longer the organisation that it was.

The nursing community also has a number of regular bloggers. There are student nurses and those that are qualified, those who work in general medicine and those who work in mental health. There are the paramedics who tell us about what happens to those who man the ambulances that ferry the sick and injured to hospital.

Then there is another group of bloggers who are neither doctors, nor nurses, nor those in the ambulance service. They all tend to have medical blogs on their blogrolls, and are often seen to post comments on medical blogs. They have just as strong views about the NHS as those that work in it, and are constantly frustrated by the things that this government is doing to the NHS. This group of bloggers are patients.

Many of these blogging patients suffer some form of mental illness (though this does not apply to all), and they blog for the same reasons as anybody else. They, too, require something to help them get through the stresses and frustrations of everyday living, but for many of those who suffer from mental illness, it is also a real attempt at a therapeutic process. I, as regular readers will know, am one of those bloggers.

Depression has ruined my life. I have been told a number of times to keep a diary recording how I feel, what I am thinking, and every other aspect of my life. Several times I have started to do this but I have always fallen by the wayside after only a few days. Then earlier in the summer, when I should have been studying but couldn't summon up the enthusiasm for it, I started to read a few blogs. Nothing specific to start with, just general interest to see what people were writing about and the sort of things that caused them to start writing a blog in the first place. After a while I decided to limit the blogs that I read to those written by people living in the British Isles. Perhaps this was a bit insular, but it was mainly because the things that they were writing about were easier for me to relate to.

Then I decided to have a go myself. I wondered how to go about it; I did the obvious thing and Googled it. After a few minutes I realised that if I used Google Blogger I could be working at my own blog in a matter of minutes, so I chose my template, added a couple of widgets, and wrote my first post. I didn't tell anyone about it, it was one of those things that I started and wanted to see if I would continue with before I said anything to anyone. Anyway I was writing it anonymously and to tell people about it would mean that I had lost the anonymity that I had created for myself. This was going to be a means of me writing about whatever came into my mind, and if I didn't like it I could delete it, and no-one need know that I had written anything at all. There was one question that I pondered over though. If I wrote things and posted them on my blog they were no longer my private thoughts, they were there for other people to see. How did I feel about that? No problem, if I kept it anonymous, didn't use any names, then perhaps I could write things and if the unbelievable happened and somebody other than myself read them, they would undoubtedly have a very hard time trying to find out who I was. It wouldn't be impossible, but it wouldn't be easy.

The day I wrote my second post I found out that somebody had found my blog and read it. How did I know? Because they sent me a comment to the second post welcoming me to the blogosphere; that was the Witch Doctor and the mere fact that someone had read what I had written made me feel good. As I read more blogs I started to gain a little in confidence and started to leave comment on them when there were things that struck a chord with me. Then I started to write more posts myself. Usually one a day, very often because of something that was in the news, or something about the way that I was feeling and how it was affecting me. After a few more posts I had another comment. This time it was the Jobbing Doctor who thanked me for writing the post that he had commented on and that he was going to make a link to it in a post of his own. Two comments, and both from the medical profession. It just goes to show what really nice people they are. Then I found out that Dr Grumble had added the post to his shared items. Another nice doctor. Why was this government so intent in trying to turn the public against doctors?

More posts followed, the subject matter varied as things struck me as being worthy of being written about. How I felt missing my god-daughter's wedding, how difficult it was when you live on your own and you have something that makes it difficult for you to do things, my anger at the government's decision to stop students who were studying for an equal or lower degree to one they already held, and the catastrophic effect that this could have on those of us who study with the Open University. The comments started to come in more frequently and I found that there were people who seemed to be reading my blog on a regular basis.

Then I wrote a post that came from the heart. it was entitled 'How To Deal With Meeting A Person With Depression.' I put a lot of thought into this post, it was something that I feel passionately about. The fact that those with depression and other mental illnesses are treated with so much fear and discrimination is terrible, especially once you know how many people will suffer from depression during their lifetime. This post attracted comments from Nice Lady Doctor, and from as far afield as Australia (a medical student) and New Zealand (a patient with bipolar depression), and the Jobbing Doctor put it as one of his shared items.

I've continued to write posts to my blog. This has proved to be far more long-lasting than the attempts that I had made at keeping a diary, and it was certainly proving therapeutic. At the beginning of May I had started psychotherapy; this has been the subject of a couple of posts and for anyone who has read them they try to give an idea of how difficult it can be. The combination of psychotherapy and this blog have made a difference to me; I'm still depressed, but I have found out a lot about myself and found a way of expressing myself that helps to raise my mood.

The number of blogs that I read regularly has continued to grow, there are a couple of bloggers who now know who I am and we correspond outside of our blogs and this enables us to encourage each other without the need for anonymity. We'll probably never meet, but that doesn't matter, for we have forged a friendship that can easily be carried on at a distance and is not considered unusual because of differences in our ages, or the fact that we are disabled in some way.

Us bloggers are all different, we have different interests and different things that we care about, but we all find the time to let other people know that we do care about those things and that we do not want them to be changed or destroyed without us putting up a fight. We also let others know what life throws at us and how we deal with it in the hope that someone else might benefit from our experiences.

So that is how we decide what to write about. We write about life in all its various guises and we try to write about the wrongs that are committed by others. Simple, isn't it?

1 comment:

Jobbing Doctor said...

You seem to have a natural flair for writing, and I do follow you blog (using Google Reader).

An interesting post again, and not at all self-indulgent like some blogs are.

My mother spent two years as an in-patient with depression in the 1960s and this affected me deeply - especially when she had ECT (convulsive therapy). That is why I feel I can understand a little better what depression is about, despite (fortunately) never suffering from it.

Keep it up. It is clearly resonating with many people.