Blogging and Writing

Blogging During Mental Illness Flares

Mental Health @ Home - Blogging during illness flares - image of purple flame against black background

Many mental health bloggers and other bloggers living with chronic illness are used to having to adjust their blogging habits to compensate for changes in illness symptoms and intensity.  I can’t speak to what other bloggers experience and how they adapt, but I thought I’d write a bit about my own experience.

For me, blogging is most impacted by the cognitive effects of depression, like problems with concentration, memory, and connecting thoughts together clearly.  Since my illness is treatment-resistant, I deal with these effects to some extent all the time, but there is variation in intensity.

Over the last 6 weeks and a bit I’ve been particularly slow, primarily in a physical sense but also cognitively.  My writing output has dropped significantly.  Since I have most posts written and scheduled about 3 weeks in advance, the writing slowdown hasn’t been visible on your end (at least not yet).

What has slowed down the most had been the writing that is, at least potentially, for money.  I’ve written very little on, and haven’t made much progress on the books I’m working on.  And that’s totally fine, although I do wonder if I should make some adjustments in how I allocate my time.

What consumes the most time is reading other people’s blogs.  My reading is slow, and I get distracted and forget what I’ve read.  Sometimes I’ll stare at a post for a while trying to think of a comment, and then give up and move on.  I really like reading other blogs so this is a high priority for me, but it has been consuming a lot more time than usual.

I blog basically full-time – in terms of hours, not in terms of income.  I was working very little before, and I’m not well enough to work at all now.  That means I have plenty of time on my hands, and blogging is the most pleasant way to spend my time.  Will my slowed output catch up to my scheduling to the point that you see less frequent posting on my blog?  Maybe, although I’d probably cut back on my reading time before I changed my posting schedule.  I’m not overly attached to the daily posts; if that becomes unfeasible at some point, then cutting back is not a problem at all.  I’m definitely not the type to beat myself up over that kind of thing.

The one thing that’s predictable about chronic illness, though, is that it’s unpredictable.  So I’ll just take it as it comes, and try to be as flexible as I can, which I think is probably the most important thing for any chronic illness blogger.

Do you have to make adjustments in your blogging approach as a result of health issues?

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The Blogger’s Guide to Blogging isn’t about what the blogging gurus say you should do; it’s about relevant tips that the regular, personal blogger can use.

58 thoughts on “Blogging During Mental Illness Flares”

  1. Thanks for being so transparent. Writing is a lot of work and I admire how productive you are on your blog. With that being said, I would not fault you if the frequency of your posts drops, especially given the rut you’re in with your depression right now. Medium has been a disappointment since they changed the algorithm… So I get not focusing too much on that site. Take care of yourself first. You can’t do anything if you’re not taken care of. Positive vibes coming your way 🤗

  2. I like blogging very much and I wondered already how you manage to keep such a good blog up all the time! I’m in small admiration.

    I recognize what your wrote. When depression shows up, I notice that I can’t write or comprehend much. It takes me a great deal of effort to concentrate and to see some significance in what I am reading or writing. On other days it goes much easier. It is an enormous difference. The first is like walking through knie-high mud when it pours and the other is a walk in the park on a sunny day (with not too many people!)

    The activity that takes the most energy is reading other blogs, I can’t read longer posts, I don’t have the mental space, so I need to skip them. But I find many shorter posts that I can read.

    And commenting, that can be difficult, to type up what I mean and check for typos and so on. I comment when I can but still worry that I’ve typed up something utterly stupid. My inner critic, Donald, doesn’t need so much space in my head! I’m forced to relocate him again 🙄 as he doesn’t pays his rent at all!

      1. LOL! Ruthless! He keeps coming back, he’s not someone who needs just one word. I’ll put some boundaries down because too much is too much. He can play in the mud and I’ll go to the park.

  3. I enjoy your blog so much and will continue to be a fan through any slowdown or break. As for me, my slower periods happened before I was so heavily into this WP writing community. I had times I was too upset to write anything interesting so I’d just do “Wordless Wednesday” with a photo. Or I’d blab too much and then delete it. I’ve mentioned before that during certain years I have large gaps in posts. Some of that is due to having to delete my oversharing/ranting. I can lose a lot of perspective when depressed and think it’s fine to talk about very personal things.

  4. I really admire your transparency with your readers, and I think that scheduling blog posts in advance is a great idea. When my depressive symptoms worsen, I don’t read as much of other peoples’ posts, or I don’t do so well (I’ve commented on posts only to realize that I completely missed something the other person said in their post). I don’t schedule in advance (I should!), so my lack of output is pretty immediately noticeable.

  5. Blogging can be erratic for me. You did ask? Right? Im feeling a bit selfish as of now, I am feeling well. When will the floor drop? I actually felt despair thinking of the world’s confusion at the moment. Felt a bit jealous of those who no longer have to navigate the noise. Maybe I should go read Plath’s “The Bell Jar”? On second thought, I will try a fire, cup of hot tea, read some more blogs (hoping for positive posts), and disappear into my dreams. Be well Ashley. I enjoy your posts. 💓💓💓

  6. I really relate to this. As a somewhat (very) new blogger, I try and blog daily but have found I have very bad concentration at times. I usually have 3/4 drafts save that I write when I feel capable, like a stockpile, so I can still post on time. Where I struggle is reading other people’s blog and particularly commenting, like yourself. I’m pushing myself to do it though! (hence this comment)

  7. Thanks! :), this reminds me of how my anxiety/rumination habits come and go, as circumstances change. It makes it hard to be consistent with either writing or reading.

    My reading is also slow when anxiety is strong, so yes, reading has to go before writing, especially as writing is the thing that helps me the most. It’s important to not feel ‘selfish’ that you’re not reading other people’s blogs :).

    Have you tried writing poems? I can’t remember if I’ve read any on your blog or not! Anyway, they offer much more freedom and less need to think about ‘rules’ of writing, so I find those much easier to write when feeling bad. And much more expressive/effective in helping me feel better.

    1. I know quite a few people who find poetry to be a great way to express themselves, but p;oetry has never been my thing. Nor has writing fiction. Perhaps it’s because I’m a pretty left-brain kind of person, and prose fits more with how I think.

      1. Interesting. Yeah I’ve always hated most poetry–– the ‘traditional’ kind using metaphors where it’s basically a riddle. I like to learn a concrete thing out of reading :D.

        I feel split between left/right brain stuff, I love to combine skills of both! I guess if I had to choose it’d be right-brain, though I would’ve always said left for most of my life. Partly a case of misidentification.

  8. Also–– I admire your organisation to be able to write 3 weeks in advance–– that’s simply incredible! Haha. It makes me uncomfortable just to have things sitting in drafts, as though i’m holding back from getting my feelings out. Although that’s maybe an aspect more related to poems. I also get tempted to delete things in drafts whilst in a different mood.

    1. I’ve been doing the writing in advance thing pretty much since I started the blog, and it’s worked well so I’ve maintained it. Usually once I’ve moved a draft to the scheduled folder I won’t look at the post again other than a quick once-over right before it’s published.

      1. Cool :), that sounds like a great system!

        I think my post-as-I-write method also protects me against OCD/overthinking stuff too :). I would definitely make it into a chore if I gave it the chance!

  9. I think it’s great of you to write this because so many of us feel this way and it almost adds another layer of guilt. When I was going through mania in the autumn, I could do 3 a day, off the top of my head, but as things settled down and I’ve had other things to deal with in real life, I can’t keep that pace up but somehow feel I’m betraying an audience. Yeah, it’s all in my head and it’s comforting to know others who hear the voices also thing about their blogging output.

  10. I’m sorry that your depression is impacting on your writing.

    I have the reverse problem. I just try to record my negative thoughts as a “safety valve” to get them out of my head, which means I blog more when more depressed than less depressed. I don’t really blog much about other things; other content comes in passing when it intersects with my depression or other issues.

  11. When I’m horribly depressed I normally either write about that, or just share art and poetry. I guess you could say my reservoir of art and poetry is my way of scheduling posts ahead of time if I have writer’s block or just can’t bring myself to function well.

  12. Thank you so much for this. I take it day by day, when anxiety and panic attacks are bad i don’t really feel like writing but I like the idea of having some scheduled posts tho. 💙

  13. Expectations (ours, perceived) can become a monster for us. We are perfectionist with constant internal dialogues. We score very low in common humanity (yes, there is a quiz). Sometimes relating to others is liberating, while sometimes it’s isolating—usually the latter. Being alone can be a prescription or the illness. Or both. We don’t try to be cryptic. Life is confusing. It’s so much easier when it’s simple. Feeling terrible is simple for us and is default. Rambling. Sorry. Love you 💕

  14. I really admire your transparency, Ashley.

    To answer your question, it helps to work ahead and have posts well in advance. I have a bunch of posts that I’ve drafted, which was helpful for a time like late November and most of December (when I was just endlessly sick)–a time that I didn’t feel up to creating much new content.

  15. I really admire your productivity really. When I’m depressed, I often lack the energy to write or read other blogs. Which is a shame because I enjoy reading blogs!

    I’ve definitely experienced plenty of moments when I can’t think well enough to leave a thoughtful comment, or can’t formulate an opinion so I hit “Like” and move on.

    If you had to slow down or take a break, I would definitely be supportive of whatever helps you! You are more than words on a screen, my friend!

  16. If i am having a flare up I am very well advised to not post at all however with a lot of mental illnesses that may not be true as during times of flares is exactly the times when support is needed.

  17. I have only recently started blogging again. I had to give up my original blog due to mental health symptoms, and problems I experienced with concentration, memory, focus and motivation. Back then, I did put a lot of pressure on myself to post almost daily. This time round I have decided to post for myself – whenever I feel well enough. I think the key is to be kind to ourselves.

  18. My blog is fairly new…but I’ve had crafty focused ones in the past. I’m finding that it’s hard to get started some days since I’m cycling through a depression, but once I get into it, I find myself being more relaxed. It’s a good outlet for me. 😀

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