I Write to Fight Mental Health Stigma
I don’t know what I was expecting when I started this website at the end of July 2017.
I wanted it to be an outlet.
I wanted to publish meaningful, easy-to-read mental health content— and I was having a hard time finding that kind of content on the Internet.
I gave a presentation at a conference about 9 months ago.
I talked about the difference in treatment for the concepts “mental health” and “physical health.” At the time I was preparing for my talk, I plugged the two terms into Google to see what I would get.
“Physical health” produced straightforward, helpful information, along with smiling children running around, basking in their youth and peak physical condition.
But the results I got for “mental health” were different.
There was a lot of doom and gloom. There were the obligatory mentions of suicide and the crisis numbers to call. And this is for the term mental health, mind you—not mental illness.
The pictures that appeared for the “mental health” search term were nowhere near as pleasant as the cherubic faces I got when I searched for “physical health.”
The search term “mental health” is innocuous. We, as humans, give meaning to it. In other words, mental health is socially constructed.
What is considered mentally healthy in the United States may be far from it in another country.
And I think that is what I was aiming at when I started Nerve 10 over a year ago.
If we’ve socially constructed mental health into the Frankenstein-type monster we call “stigma,” then we can surely socially construct something else.
I didn’t really know what I was doing when I started this site; I just knew I felt I had an ethical responsibility to help carve a new path forward.
It started off slowly, as I suspect all new sites do.
But, over time, it began to pick up steam.
I learned that much of writing online—I was also feverishly writing on Medium at the time—is finding ways to enjoy the monotony.
Getting noticed online is all about writing something, releasing it into the world, and then getting started on the next post. If you don’t fall in love with the process, you’ll never make it.
And I suppose creating a mentally healthy life is similar. It’s all a process.
For me, there have been very bad days full of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms, and there have been days in which I’m proud to see how far I’ve come.
And Nerve 10 has come a long way in these 15 months. We have over 2,000 visitors a month now. I know that’s not great compared to other blogs in the “lifestyle” space, but I’m proud of it.
I’m also proud of myself for not listening to the naysayers who wrote and said that it was a bad idea to write about something as risky and negative as mental health.
Of course, that’s precisely why I had to write about it. I’m glad I’m stubborn like that.
There’s always been a part of me that wants to prove others wrong. It’s right next to the part that wants to prove my own nagging, anxious thoughts wrong as well.
It was those anxious thoughts that told me no one would ever want to sign up for e-mails about mental health. It blows my mind that I’ll have 1000 subscribers early next year.
I’m glad I did this.
I’ve met some wonderful people along the way. Yet, I was nervous to open up my blog to guest bloggers. My ego tried to scare me into tightly holding onto the reins.
It turns out, asking for guest submissions is likely the best thing I did for Nerve 10. I’m not sure I could have grown as quickly—or learned as much—without using this platform to promote others’ mental-health stories.
When it comes down to it, I think I knew, deep down, that it would expand in this way.
Because talking about mental health is a calling for me. I know it with every fiber of my being.
Sometimes, I just need to get my overactive mind out of the way so that it can fall in step with body, heart, and soul. It’s all connected. And we’re all connected by our mental health.
It’s something we all have. So let’s construct a new mental health narrative together. We can carve a new path. We can co-create a world in which mental health is not a shameful term.
I’m just one person with a story.
But together, anything is possible.