So I was planning to come home from my holiday (yeah, I haven’t just dropped off the face of the earth this last couple of weeks – I’ve just been on a different part of the face of the earth!) and write about how lovely it has been to go abroad for the first time in four years, to have a proper relaxing break with my kids and wife, and to say how amazing it’s been to recharge my batteries… and I will get to that at some point in the coming week along with writing up the session where I gave my therapist the letter I had written her. But something happened last night when I was at the airport and about to fly home that sent me into a bit of a tailspin.
I was ten minutes from boarding my flight when I received a notification on my phone about my rubberbandsandchewinggum Instagram account that SOMEONE I KNOW IN REAL LIFE (a mum from preschool/school) had become a follower. My heart skipped a beat and then I panicked and then I literally started sweating…and I am not a sweaty person! Basically my brain was screaming ‘FUUCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!’
How on earth did this happen? Like really? All my privacy settings are set not to sync with any of my contacts on my personal email or phone. I don’t even list my mobile number on the accounts I set up with Instagram or WordPress. I use only my blog Gmail email to set up anything like this – not my actual name or anything. In theory there is absolutely no way that account should have been found other than by complete chance.
So I don’t know what’s happened. I went over all my settings with a fine-toothed comb a couple of months back when I wondered (got paranoid about) whether I was identifiable on one of those ‘you might like this’ suggestion type things but I asked a friend to try and locate me with my details ‘ie my phone, email, facebook etc’ and she couldn’t find me.
I guess it could be complete chance. This woman has an interest in similar things to me, from what I can tell on Facebook and having spoken in real life. She doesn’t deny she suffers from anxiety and depression and always ‘likes’ anything I post on Facebook that relates to MH awareness etc. I just feel like it’s a bit of an unlikely massive coincidence, you know? Like of all the pages in the world about mental health she discovers mine with no identifying info. GPS??? Does Instagram try and suggest pages you might like with people in the vicinity? I have no idea. I am not a techy person – I just write!
It all feels a bit, I dunno, Big Brother… I guess I am naïve and trust that these big social media things are private when you set yourself to be private but who knows. It’s too complicated!
My Instagram has this info:
Mental health blogger. Mum of two. LGBT. Procrastinator. Holding it together with rubber bands and chewing gum.
Which is basically the same as my Twitter account.
I guess that wouldn’t have been too defining had I not posted some Bitmoji on the Instagram page….but also used Bitmoji on my personal facebook as my profile pic….ugh. What a dummy! It looks like me! Obviously!
Until yesterday my Instagram had a link to my blog. I have since removed it- although given the name is the bloody same only with a dot com at the end it’s not exactly a stretch to find my blog is it? I temporarily made this blog private last night (thanks to those of you that emailed to find out why and to get permission to read it). In my panic I didn’t know what else to do knowing I was about to board a flight.
Just before I turned my phone off I bit the bullet and messaged the person who had followed me (but for some reason was her account was no longer showing as a follower despite the notification coming through) and said:
Am I imagining it or did you follow a mental healthy Instagram (my Instagram) earlier and then disappear? My phone’s having a wig out and then I had a panic that someone I know would access my blog through that account. Thought it better to be honest and ask than freak out – as am actually bonkers mental health wise x
She responded kindly and basically said she had been following things at random on her business account that had come up in her suggested pages and thought it looked cool and followed without even looking at it. And then said ‘I’m pretty bonkers too, so no judgement’. She then said she understood the panic and knows how important it is to have places like that (the blog) to go to that are your own. I received that reply when I got off my flight having been sweating it some more for the four hours back from the Canaries.
So. Where am I at today with all this?
Well clearly, as you are reading this the blog is no longer set to private. What I have decided is this: whilst I am not going to suddenly promote my blog on my personal Facebook page (can you even imagine?!! -hell no!) or let anyone else that I know know about this blog (literally my two best friends know about this page and even they don’t read it and respect my privacy and need for space to let this stuff out) I am not going to take the page down.
Well, even though this is blog talks about personal stuff….VERY personal stuff and is a window into my emotional world and my private thoughts. It is a side of me that only a very few ‘real life’ people ever get a glimpse of. I kind of feel like if I take down this blog or make it private because one person in the world that I actually know might find out that actually I am more vulnerable than I appear, that I struggle with my mental health, and that life is not always what I present to the outside world then….well…that’s a bit daft isn’t it? What’s really wrong with someone knowing the authentic version of me?
(breathing deeply into a brown paper bag here!)
Obviously, I am working on trusting this person, who I don’t know very well but seems nice enough, to keep my blog and anything written on it to herself. I mean why would it interest her to talk about me to anyone else in the playground? I am not that interesting.
There are, of course, parts of me that flood with shame and embarrassment and want to crawl in a hole and die at the thought of being exposed in this way. But I need to work on my feelings around shame and embarrassment. Man how much of my therapy is devoted to this pairing?!
I am not a bad person. I have feelings. Some of them are tricky. I have some shit coping mechanisms. But I am not a weirdo for having them (the feelings or the coping strategies). Lots of us with traumatic and neglectful childhoods feel like this and have unhealthy behaviours that we use to try and help us cope.
Yes. I am in therapy. So what? Frankly, it’d be more worrying if I wasn’t in therapy, given how I am, wouldn’t it?!
And lastly, the main reason I am not binning my blog is you guys. If so many of you have accepted me despite, and maybe because of, all my emotional wounds when you haven’t ever met me than surely someone who has did ought to extend some of the kindness, compassion, and care that you do (if they end up reading).
I don’t often talk directly to the followers of this blog other than in comments but I really have to say that this blog, and the people that choose to interact with me on it and through it, have been a huge support. I think we have a brilliant community. I cannot thank you enough for the kind, considered, thoughtful comments you post up. I have made some lovely friends through this page, too, and what started out as a random anonymous space for me to spill my emotional guts has become something so much more than that.
So, yeah, this is me, warts and all x
And now to get back to writing about therapy…soon be Monday…eek!!