As someone who openly writes about his mental health and mental illnesses and who is totally ‘out there’ and ‘public’ concerning these and how they impact my life. And as someone who has – as a result of this openness and some people’s extremely poor and uneducated attitude towards mental illness – experienced (and yes suffered) first-hand some of the prejudice and stigma attached to mental health and mental illness. I fully understand some folks preference to remain anonymous in their writings and blogging about their own mental health.
My own openness in this regard stems from:
my faith – not wishing to live a lie.
where I am in life – 52 years of age, long-term separated and thus single, unable to work due to mental and physical health issues,
The sincere belief that by being open and public I can have more of an influence in re-educating folk about mental health and mental illness. And thus do something to fight the unjust stigma which is often attached to these issues.
I am, I fully accept, in a very privileged position. I don’t have to worry about the reactions of work-colleagues. My children are all adult now and fully able to understand and the grasp the impact of such conditions. I have no partner to be concerned about. And as for folk within my church, I am blessed to be part of a very loving and caring church. And as for the few folk I encounter (in or outside of the church) who do react badly to mental health or mental illness, well these are few and far between and in my opinion need the exposure to the reality of living with poor mental health or mental illness.
But recognising the privileged position that I am in means that I also recognise the very real fears that others – who are not in a similar position – have concerning people knowing about their poor mental health or mental illnesses. So, as I said, I do fully understand and respect some folks need to remain anonymous as they speak out on these issues.
But it does concern me that some folk may not be as ‘anonymous’ as they may think that they are.
As the administrator of this Guild and also of my own personal blogs, I often receive a number of comments and emails on what has been posted or on what I have written.
And I can’t begin to tell you how many of those comments or emails – whilst showing and often being signed by the blogging name or pseudonym of the person making the comment or sending the email – still display that person’s real name or real email address.
Of course, within the mental health writers or bloggers’ community there is some safety, some security, in the fact that the person you are commenting or writing to also experiences the same or similar issues and risks that you do.
But can we, can you be safer? Especially in a day and age of ‘social correlation’ and where email service providers, social media sites, blogging programs are all under increased pressure to be more inter-connected, more open and more public with our data?
The answer is of course yes.
And the very first step that we need to take (if anonymity is important to you) is to create and use an email address which is specific to (and thus benefits from the anonymity of) the blogging name that you generally use.
Secondly we need to be careful as to the content of our blogs. Be extremely careful about providing or inadvertently using specifics within your posts – locations, ages, interests, affiliations to clubs and social organisations, the name of your college or school – if you are a younger blogger. Even the name of a team mascot can be used trace you to a specific school or college and trust me this information has been used by some. The truth is that all of these things can help someone discover who you really are and where you are if they are so minded.
Thirdly, be extremely careful about linking social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat to your main email address or your blogs. Set up blog specific and separate accounts/pages for these things.
Of course, in terms of the mental health and mental illness blogging community we are not talking about anything major or sinister here.
None of us (I hope and believe) are seeking world-wide domination or to incite the downfall of our governments LOL. And so this is not about illegal acts or deliberately trying to prevent committed researchers from ascertaining who we really are.
If we were, this post would contain such words as ‘Onion routing’ or ‘layered encryption routing’ and speak about software programs such as Tor and using public hotspots and internet cafés when on line.
And, trust me, I have no desire to feed into anyone’s anxiety or paranoia or into any conspiracy theories. But I do desire for all bloggers to be as safe and as anonymous as they desire and think that they are.
It is simply about taking basic precautions to protect the anonymity that you rightly desire and need.
Kind regards and God bless you.