Today, that's very much me my dearest readers. My book blogging journey began more than 6 years ago. A lot can happen in 6+ years right? For me, my lifestyle is extremely different now than it was when I first got started. I've been through huge changes in my personal life. I've also had my relationship with reading, reviewing, and how I interact with the internet change significantly too.
It's all part of what makes me who I am, but for the past year I've been experiencing changes in my emotional and mental well-being that aren't okay.
The stress of juggling everything that I do has been making me anxious. Not normal anxious... OMG the world will end if I don't choose the right deodorant brand anxious. Seriously. It's so embarrassing admitting how out of hand and not okay it has become of late. I'm cringing at myself as I type this.
Like most people it's got a lot to do with the stresses of offline life but when I sat down and talked to my husband about seeking professional help he pointed out that he thinks blogging (and all the stressors that come along with it such as deadlines, social media, and so on) is causing it. At first I got defensive. I do this for fun. I do this for me. I do this so I have some identifier beyond 'so-and-so's mom/wife'. I do this because it makes me feel good. But after my initial defensiveness wore off I took some time to reflect on whether he might not be right, at least a little.
It's nobody's business what I'm doing in terms of getting some help but I've always been a very open person about my mental health struggles in the past and this is one of those times I feel like being open is good. If anyone reading this has a similar struggle I'm sure it's awesome to know you're not alone. One of the biggest obstacles I'm facing is how isolated I am, when everything makes you feel like Chicken Little the last thing you want to feel is like you're alone.
So what's going on is this... I've been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and I'm working with a therapist to come up with a long-term treatment plan. No idea what that will be yet but it was a HUGE step for me that I even admitted I needed help, let alone actually went through getting it. It's been very hard to say this in such a public place—because some of my anxiety is triggered by feeling judged by everyone around me both online and off. But I want to be brave, I want to overcome the stigma of mental illness and to be honest... when you suffer from more than one 'invisible illness' it's hard to get people to give a shit because you don't look or seem outwardly sick even on days when all of all of your symptoms are glaringly obvious behaviorally.
I'm not sure yet whether taking time off is going to be a recommendation from my therapist or not. But I have decided to schedule the month of April as 'offline' while I attempt to get my overall health and well being under control. What this actually means is complicated.
Avoiding the internet completely at this point in my life is impossible, so what I decided to do was cut back on the two areas most stressing me out: keeping track of tours/promo posts and trying to make blog specific social media work for me. There's a constant pressure (a lot of which is self imposed because I like being someone people trust and count on) to help every author I know out, to help strangers sell their books, to give everyone little pieces of me/my time in an effort to help them achieve their dreams. Obviously, I like helping others but I decided it's time to help myself first.
Social media presence is a whole other bag of cats. I've never been particularly good with it. Imagine the most socially awkward person you know offline trying to engage others by commenting, sharing, etc. That's totally me. I sometimes say the wrong thing, tag the wrong person for the right reason, misunderstand or misremember something, yeah... I'm constantly flubbing it up. A while back I offended someone for tagging them as a 'friend' in a giveaway and they called me out on it by pointing out I wasn't their friend just because I follow them on Instagram. It was humiliating that I had thought to include someone I admired only to have them publicly shame me. Yeah, I did the wrong thing but at the time I wasn't doing it with ill or selfish intent. Just me being socially awkward. Again.
Have you ever spent 45 minutes trying to reword a Facebook post so that it makes sense and doesn't sound awkward? That's not unusual for me. Feeling like I'm screaming in a crowded party where no one can hear me on social media has been a big source of anxiety. Social media is just too full of anxiety triggers for me right now. Too much snark, too much assuming, too much pressure to be a personality people notice.
In all honestly, it has taken me several sessions and edits to even get this post written. There is a lot of stigma and shame that comes along with mental illnesses. I've always been very open about the issues I worked through in my 20's including self-harm/anorexia, dysthymia, and double depression because I want those who have or are suffering from those conditions to know that it can get better. That if they ever need someone to reach out to who has experienced them, I am here. So this whole experience of being ashamed of what I'm going through is new to me. It's terrifying to me that someone might come along and read this post and write me off as less than human or unworthy and I'm even dreading the pity and sympathy that comes along with opening up. lol
All this comes back around to what I will still be trying to do around here. My plan is to continue writing reviews. I can't give up reading and reviewing comes along with that. When I'm feeling up to it I am also hoping to work on some graphics changes around here, cleaning up the blog design a bit. Updating my About Me page and stuff like that. For now, Weekend Reading is going to be on hiatus. I might randomly share a really good deal on FB or Twitter, maybe even at some Facebook parties because I do love events where I can meet new people who love the same reads, but for the most part you'll be seeing me on Instagram (yes, I see the irony) because of how low-pressure it is.
If you're still reading this, thanks! It's nice to know someone wondered what the hell was my deal with taking a whole month off. It might be slow getting back started going into May. I don't know yet and for once that's okay with me. Sometimes not knowing what's going to happen completely debilitates me. But this is one place I feel positive won't implode while I work my shit out. Thanks for being my loyal readers and giving me one place I can feel a little bit of confidence. I wish I could hug each and every one of you.