On Being a Blogger with Depression

Living with depression and anxiety of course means vastly different things to different people.  

But, over time, it also means different things to those who live with it; each month, week, shit…….even each day, I can find myself mired in different manifestations of the same old thing.  It sucks for me and I’m sure it totally sucks for my family who have to soldier on while Mum’s head is spinning.

How ironic then, that without even digging down too deeply (and psychoanalysing myself even more than I already do!) I know with conviction that what’s feeding this recent influx of anxiety is the one thing that used to bring me so much joy and creative freedom.  This blog.

I’m writing this at 6.30am on a Saturday morning.  I awoke suddenly, minutes ago as if I never actually slept.  Kicked out of my precious and desperately needed slumber by one thought.  Blog related of course.  What.  The.  Fuck.

See, this blogging game is a serious hustle right now.  The thing is and (revelation!) I’ve just realised this right this second, I’ve been hustling for all of the wrong reasons and all of the wrong people.  Blogging in New Zealand has evolved massively over the past 18 months and it’s on the cusp of being a semi-lucrative little ‘hobby’.  Or perhaps more than a hobby.  Maybe even a ………. job?

When you have a ‘job’, there is someone paying your wages.  The Man, so to speak.  When a blogger, ie ME is working for The Man, guess what?  More often than not it means I’m not working, writing, creating for ME.  Or you for that matter.

This gives me the shits.  Oh and massive anxiety, by the way.

I feel like I’m actually buried in obligations to people and brands, the trouble is, I’m not sure if these obligations actually exist or whether I’m just creating mad-precedents and expectations of myself that are a bit OTT.  I remember a couple of years ago when one of my favourite bloggers Talia, who was totally on top of her game at the time – so I thought – announced that she was done with all of her commercial relationships and was just settling in to blog for herself again.  I remember thinking “Whaaaaat?”  But, Talia, someone sent you FREE stuff, isn’t your life complete now?

Bwahahaha.  Oh how I laugh now.

Because I get it.  And it’s totally doing my head in.

This little tour on the depression bus is almost entirely blogging related and I hate that something I love so much and am really, really proud of building is beginning to build me a little prison in my head.  I’m just not sure I can keep up with the online-Joneses anymore.  The pace this industry is moving is so fast and hectic that it’s entirely possible to lose yourself and everything you believe in in the process of ‘making it’, of getting ‘invited’, of receiving ALL the stuff, of being on ALL the lists.

I brainstormed the things I used to love blogging about – when I had the time – ie before the ‘obligations’ began to strangle me;

  • I love cooking, photographing and blogging recipes.  I was reminded of this yesterday as I finished a sponsored post involving baking.  I miss this.
  • I love just writing about LIFE.  I am reminded of this EVERY DAMN DAY when I don’t write at all.
  • I love crafting.  I used to knit, crochet, make rad antler necklaces out of FIMO.  I NEED more of this.
  • Wardrobe Wednesday.  That was fun.  It challenged me to actually get dressed up and shop my closet.  Does anyone still do this?
  • I love taking beautiful pictures
  • I used to love the blogging community.  I don’t anymore.  I miss you guys xx

These things may not be SEO friendly or currently kicking ass on Google Trends but they made me happy, and that’s got to count for something right?

I don’t know where this post leads, but I do know where I begin.  That’s with my family.  Secondly, the answer is right here in front of me, it’s in these words on this white page of pixels.  Words that are true and are me and that I felt compelled, rather than obligated to write.

 

 

The snot and the tears. Write on mummy bloggers, write on!

I wish I had a ‘publish’ button in my head as I write brilliantly in the shower, or when I’m breast feeding, washing the dishes or rocking the baby. I’m able to continue my mental blogging as I move through the day, from diapering to shopping at the vets for a cone-of-shame for the second hand dog {life is quite possibly peaking in the glamour stakes right now}. Yet as I move closer to the Mac I can physically feel the days saved internal blogging transcripts shrivel and die, shrinking away from the light of the computer screen and receding back into the depths of my addled brain, never to be seen again.
But truth be told, I’m still in love with this blog.  I think about it all the time, I jot down ideas (that mostly never come to fruition), I revise the media kit that I’ve never written, I ponder fanciful things like ‘editorial calendars’, I take a gazillion photos and file them away to accompany this post or that post.  One day you might get to read them.  Of course I plan on sitting down “this week” and scheduling all of these marvelous literary diatribes so next week’s looking real good on the blog!
But we know better really don’t we mummy bloggers? We know and expect that everyone will get sick at once, that trucks will need new tyres and excesses will need to be paid for said truck who was crashed into a house by said mummy blogger, the mortgage rates will need to be negotiated in a rising interest market by said mummy blogger/family financial planner, that there will be mufti days remembered as child #1 is walking out the door in uniform and there will be nights spent awake comforting #2 as he feigns sleep while being held only to roar into life the second he touches down in the cot.
You know these things as they are your stories too.  And that’s why we write them and why we read them, as maudlin as it may seem to others, day after day.  Years of connections and now friendships gleaned through a few minutes stolen at the computer and pressing publish or comment.
Thanks for reading my friends, but mostly, thanks for writing.

Blogging and such that it is. What I really think

You know what?  I have this lovely friend, a freaking little ripper of a friend and she is the only person In Real Life that tells me nice things about my blog, mostly when we’re drunk but that’s neither here nor there.  She tells me I am a fab writer, that she LOOKS forward to reading my posts, that I don’t look like a dick when I get my kid to take outfit pictures.  She is truly a priceless gem.  Every blogger needs a friend like mine, for every one of those lonely months posts without comments, for all of those afternoons spent ignoring your kids while you tap, tap away and curse yourself because you FORGOT THE META TAGS!!

And all of the above may be true, I could be a good blogger when I grow up but how can you tell?  What’s the worth in one meaningless post about a Shi Tzu compared to another?  I don’t know the answer to that or why we even consume blogs in which people talk about Shi Tzu’s but there is no denying that this shit {see what I did there?} is here to stay and blogging is now a valued and valuable media in which a mummy blogger actually has a worth.  Not necessarily a monetary worth, though there are some very famous bloggers who make a living from actually telling the world that some days it’s just about too much trouble to roll over in the morning.  Truth is addictive, and actually being able to intimately view, follow, judge, and covet someone else’s truth is definitely worth something to all of us that have an RSS reader with numbers in the triple digits.

I worry about how frivolous this may seem to people, especially people I know, or once knew but let’s put things in perspective.  This post will maybe take me half an hour to write.  In this time I have created something, written something I can be proud of, or at the very least written some words and phrases cohesively which in some way utilises my college education.  I have not sat on the couch and played video games or watched 2 hours of mind numbing crappy Sunday night TV which I turned on as soon as Ethan went to bed so I could turn my brain off.  Writing is not wasting my time.  It is narcissistic to a degree, but this is my scrapbooking/quilt-making/sewing thingee.  This is my creative space.  You may not be able to snuggle under my blog while you sit on the couch and watch your crappy telly, but the intangibility of my creativity is not insignificant when compared to your granny square blanket.  I can crochet granny squares too, I just have a problem with finishing them.

My blog makes me happy.  Writing makes me happy.  Taking photos of EVERYTHING makes me happy.  Sometimes there is just fluff, but other times there are words being written that bloggers work hard on and agonise over.  There are truths being told every second that shock and hurt and humanise strangers in a way that other media is simply unable to convey.

I am a blogger and here is my new favourite nail polish.

{See how fluff and truth work perfectly together?}

China_glaze_Pelican_grey

The Great Interview Experiment

The Great Interview ExperimentI can’t even tell you how I found out about this little interwebs-game, but I did and I signed up and it was very interesting and fun.  The basic premise of the GIE is that I interview the person who signed up before me, and I am interviewed by the person who signed up after me, or something like that.

So, my interviewee-pal is a chap named ‘Jack’ who maintains his blog  wwwjackbenimble.blogspot.com.

Whoa.  I had been assigned a real deal, hard out blogger.  Someone who writes and blogs for the sheer love and joy of it, someone who is not a mommy-blogger, someone who writes really, really well and doesn’t just fill the gaps with pics of whatever their kid did that day (like me).  Suffice to say, Jack’s blog has been added to my google reader.

Here are my questions and Jack’s answers;

  • Your blog archive dates back to 1999, though your posts then seem somewhat…….blank.  Were you just inventing the interwebs back then or beginning your blogging journey?  What were you really doing online in 1999?

I started blogging in 2004. It was kind of an impulsive move on my part, can’t really say what made me do it. Prior to my blogging career I had participated on a bunch of message boards and various chat rooms. I started doing that sometime around 1994.

I know for certain that I was doing it on January 16, 1994 because it was the night before the Northridge earthquake. I saw Schindler’s List that night and was so bothered by it that when I got home I logged onto AOL and spent some time there trying to distract myself.

Anyhoo, years later I am a seasoned blogger with a ridiculous number of posts.

  • New Zealanders are beginning to share you view on over-parenting, those precious kids are being referred to here as “cotton-wool kids”.  How are you letting your kids get grubby and bruised and really experiencing the world?

I am a big believer in teaching kids how to survive in the real world. That means that sometimes I let them fail at activities. When we play games I don’t always let them win. They need to learn how to deal with adversity and how to rely upon their own resourcefulness, ingenuity and intellect.  At the same time we try to be careful to make sure that their egos don’t get crushed in the process. It is a real balancing act.

It makes me crazy when I see parents totally cater to their children. One day those kids will be in a world of hurt because a situation will arise and no one will be there to rescue them.

Part of the process/theory we use is providing the kids with an allowance and providing opportunities for them to spend their own money to get things that they want. Again there is a bit of a balancing act going on, but I like them to understand that things aren’t free. Not to mention the benefits of teaching them how to use money responsibly.

  • Practitioners of the Jewish faith here in New Zealand are about as rare as a good taco, so can you hook me up with a good Latkes recipe?  I have tried to make them one time and they turned out not so bueno.  Thanks in advance.

There are a million different recipes for Latkes. I am a big fan of Joan Nathan. She is a well known author of cookbooks of Jewish foods. The New York Times just ran an article she wrote with some latke recipes that sound interesting.

I like making latkes and use a recipe that is similar to this one. I say similar because I am one of those people who uses the recipe as a sort of guide. I never make anything exactly the same way, there is always a special twist or two.

  • How much social media is enough?  FB, blogging, tumblr, posterous, twitter…….where does it end and what suffers as a result?  Your thoughts please

Social media is an interesting sort of animal. It is the kind of thing that can easily become a major time suck and I suspect addicting for some people. I suppose that I have sort of a low grade addiction. I truly can’t imagine giving up blogging, but that is because I love to write. It is a an expression and an outlet that I never grow tired of.  But I certainly don’t spend the same amount of time reading and commenting on other blogs as I once did.

I have two Facebook accounts that I use.There is one that is tied into my blog. Since I am semi anonymous I decided that it was easier to use one account strictly for the blog. I have a second account under my real name that I use with friends, family and business colleagues.

I got into Twitter a year ago. For a long time I was reluctant to add any other “extra curricular” activities to a fairly busy schedule. But a while back it became obvious that social media was going to be a big part of my business so I set about doing what I could to try and learn how to become proficient in it.

The question of when does it become too much is subjective. I suppose that if you become so involved that you lose your employment or find personal relationships suffering it is time to curtail or cut out some of your social media activities.

  • How does a Jewish family spend Christmas Day?

Christmas day is just another day of the year for us, albeit one in which we often find ourselves with lots of free time. There is an old joke that Christmas day is the time when all the Chinese restaurants are filled with Jewish families.

It is not unusual for families to go to the movies or to organize parties. In college they used to have dances they called “The Matza Ball” that we would hit.

In my family we did a lot of those things. But some years we would be invited by Christian friends to their homes. When that happened we’d go hang out and help them celebrate.

  • Have you participated in the Great Interview Experiment before?  If this is your first time, how did you find out about it?

I did this last year. I interviewed Marinka.

  • What do you love/hate about LA?

I am a native Angeleno, born and raised in Los Angeles. I love this city. It has everything that you could ever want in a city. There is art, museum, cultural events, incredible restaurants, great entertainment and of course spectacular weather.  How many cities can you name that provide the opportunity to surf and ski on the same day. It is close to the mountains and the desert. There is fresh fruit year round.

Going back to food, Los Angeles offers access to great ethnic cuisine. We probably have the best Mexican food in the country and in spite of the protestations from others we have great pizza. You can find a great steak with your eyes shut and there isn’t a city anywhere that offers more opportunities for great sushi.

And none of that covers great Indian food, some of the Ethiopian restaurants or the hundreds of others that are here.

On the other side of the coin I have seen the city grow and become a bit crowded. Not unlike many cities traffic has become problematic and the public transportation needs work.

As a kid the public school system was great. We received an excellent education and went to the best universities. There are many issues now that need to be addressed. You can still receive a very fine education but it has become harder.

In addition the housing market went crazy here. It has become harder to find affordable homes to purchase.Now that the bubble has burst there seems to have been a correction, but I wonder.

  • Have you considered moving your family anywhere else in the world to live?  If so where and why

I love L.A. and there really aren’t too many other places that I would consider living. All that being said I wouldn’t say that I am locked into living here forever. In 1995 I was on the verge of moving to Israel. Some times I am still surprised that it didn’t happen.

Within the states I’d consider living in a bunch of different places, preferably a warmer climate. I am a guy who can wear t-shirts and shorts year round. I don’t like the cold very much. Although I suppose that if the right opportunity came up I could find myself living virtually anywhere.