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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Healthy Blogging

Question: My 15 year old brother has depression and anxiety.  He goes to therapy once a week and is on medication.  The reason why I am writing to you is that he always tells everybody about all of his moods.  He blogs about it and always says how he’s feeling on Facebook.  It’s really embarrassing for me, but he says that it makes him feel better.  I don’t want to stop him if it really is good for him, but how do I know that?
                                                                   -Joshua Landers, Kew Gardens, NY

Answer: Blogging and talking online about personal and general mental health issues has become increasingly common.  The reason why is because it provides an outlet for people to express their feelings and “get it off their chest”.  It is a valuable tool that has helped many people cope with otherwise overwhelming feelings and situations.  Additionally, finding like-minded people online often helps people deal with the stigma surrounding mental illness.
If your brother says that blogging and talking online is helping him; then it probably is.  The stigma surrounding mental illness is not limited to the person with the diagnosis but also often includes family and friends.  It sounds like at this point your brother is more comfortable with discussing mental illness than you are.  This is not surprising when you consider that he is receiving more support than you are.  I would recommend trying out a family support group in your area.  National Alliance onMental Illness (NAMI), Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), and many other local community and religious organizations have these groups that help family members cope with and support someone living with a mental illness.

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