Writing is always hard for so many reasons. We even have a word for when you have trouble putting pen to paper: writer’s block. So what happens when you add in mental illness? Things just become infinitely harder. I’ve always been an advocate of pushing through writer’s block, with the notion that sometimes you just have to force yourself to get things done or they never will get done. But with an illness like anxiety, your brain sees this as a form of stress and creates a stress response. Most of the time this comes in the form or avoidance: procrastination, letting yourself get repeatedly distracted by little things, or just doing nothing at all. The stress and pressure to create piles up as the sense of satisfaction from creating decreases and then this leads to a spiral of depression, which leads to more avoidance, which leads to more depression. It becomes a whole cycle.
I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder back in high school, so a little more than 10 years ago now. I’ve been in and out of therapy since then and have struggled to manage my anxiety for years. It’s only recently that I got back on a medication that seems to be working, but that’s not going to erase my illness.
The issues with writing I described above are something I’ve been dealing with for years now, and now that I have a moderately successful blog, the pressure of creating and staying engaged is becoming an issue I have to learn how to manage. I wanted to write this short little introspective piece after a fairly tough couple of months writing wise. I know you all have noticed my content getting cut back or I announce something and then miss that deadline. My banner says “New reviews twice a week” but I barely ever make one these days. Some of it is work stress that takes up the majority of my energy during the day, but some of it is genuine anxiety.
Blogging with an anxiety disorder is tough. Being active regularly on any sort of social media is tough when it’s hard not to fall into the trap of tying part of your self-worth to the content you create and how you display that content to the outside world. It’s disheartening to see minimal engagement after a particularly tough piece of writing or seeing your viewership slip after missing a deadline.
I keep telling myself “you write for yourself and no one else. You do this for fun, it doesn’t need to be stressful” but it doesn’t change the fact that it is. Personal deadlines are set, I wind up missing them, and then comes the disappointment and the comparisons to other content creators. Why am I not good enough? Why can’t I make the same amount of content like them? What am I doing wrong? And ultimately, I know these are all questions I don’t need to be asking. My blog is my blog alone. My style is my style alone. I know what I can handle and pushing myself beyond my limits won’t necessarily achieve what I think it will.
However, with any craft, practice makes perfect. I’ve been slowly trying to come up with new ways to make writing a habit and stick to writing a little bit every day in hopes that I’ll be able to stick to my content goals for the week and some monthly writing events I have coming up. I know this may seem like a strange deviation to be writing about, but I felt it was necessary after the last couple months just to get this down into words and out there. Anxiety is tough. A large portion of the population struggles with it, but I think it can be so acutely tough to deal with when tied into creativity and content creation because they are such personal things.
In other words, I’ll be working slowly to bring back more reviews and content, but know that if something doesn’t go up during the week, it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’d also love to hear your experiences with anxiety and blogging in the comments below if you feel the need to share.
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