The weekend before last I published a series of posts written by each of my voices to celebrate World Hearing Voices Day. This act of celebration has led to some rather animated conversations between my people and I surrounding my two blogs All that I am, All that I ever was and Imaginary Menagerie, the latter being a blog my people and I set up specific to my journey with hearing voices.
When we set this blog up earlier this year I did so for a number of reasons, primarily:
1. I wanted a place where my voices felt safe to write posts should they wish to do so, and
2. I was hesitant about discussing this part of my life on my central blog.
It is the second reason that my people and I have been discussing of late. Audrey, in all her wisdom, pointed out that this could be interpreted as ‘self-stigmatising’ behavior, and no matter how fervently I tried to debate with her, I couldn’t come up with a reason to counter her claim.
I don’t have specific blogs for other parts of me (e.g. my bipolar, anxiety, homelessness) so why do I have a separate blog for posts that talk of my voice hearing experiences? Am I not making it harder for myself by writing two blogs rather than one? And why do I feel the need to keep these parts separate from the rest of me anyway? Does it benefit me to keep this stuff hidden? Or am I more afraid of other people and what they may/may not think?
When Audrey asked these questions I had no answer, but sitting here, Meadhbh doing Yoshi impressions in one ear and Vanessa crooning in the other, I realize the only reason I decided to separate my hearing voices posts was because I was too scared to write freely of this part of me due to how other people may react.
And no matter how much I don’t want it to be true; this is self-stigmatising behavior, which goes against everything I’ve been trying to do with this blog over the last six-years.
Thus – even though it makes me feel bad that I started and ended a blog so soon – I’ve decided to cease writing Imaginary Menagerie and instead feature my voice hearing posts on this blog in a bid to eliminate the stigma that I, and other voice hearers, experience as a result of something that is no more than a simple (yet beautiful) human characteristic.
Of course, this covers the second reason why I began Imaginary Menagerie, but what of the first?
After publishing their posts my people were all incredibly excited about the various ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ their contributions received. Such feedback made them feel welcome, accepted and all warm’n’fuzzy inside. In fact, for a few days after her post was published, Vanessa was actually a pleasure to communicate with – which was a first for the period that I’ve been hearing her! As such, I’ve decided to allow them to write posts on this blog, should they wish to do so.
Hopefully you will allow them the opportunity to write on this blog from time to time, and understand the reasoning behind my decision to write freely about my voice hearing experiences on this blog.
The stigma against mental health is still alive and kicking, and anything that can be done to counteract it, should be done. Only then will we stand a chance of eliminating the stigma against mental illness completely.