Thursday, May 31, 2007

Blogging to Heal

I must admit that ever since I started blogging about being bipolar, I feel better--for a number of reasons. First, it has allowed me to find a community of like-minded people.

It has also allowed me to share feelings that I've kept inside for so many years. There's a great book, Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions, by James Pennebaker, Ph.D. Many years ago I interviewed Dr. Pennebaker for a chapter called "Kvetching" (it's a Yiddish word that means whining) in The Mommy Guide because I felt that new moms needed the release of whining in order to be able to make the transition to motherhood.

I'm now feeling that those of us who have a chronic illness occasionally need to kvetch as well. Now I must admit that I have begun reading a lot of other blogs by people with illnesses --bipolar and non-bipolar ones alike--and a lot of people kvetch. So perhaps it truly is therapeutic. But I think it's more than just kvetching that helps. The following are some of the reviews on Opening Up from

"Dr. Pennebaker has demonstrated that expressing emotions appears to protect the body against damaging internal stresses and seems to have long-term health benefits."
--Daniel Goleman, in The New York Times

"This book is the very best that scientific psychology has to offer. Pennebaker has made remarkable discoveries that show how disclosing our deepest secrets can make us well...throws open new doors of understanding and offers new hope for gaining control of our lives."
--Daniel M. Wegner, author of White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts

You get the drift. The fact is that I think that blogging may be the ideal way of opening up. I'd like to know how you feel about blogging. Why did you start? What has the experience been like for you? What do you like best about blogging? Has it helped you heal?


"Dootz" said...

Susan, I started blogging in Jan 2006 because I thought the technology was cool and it was a quick and dirty way to get my writing "in print." After a couple months, I found that when I spent time editing posts a little more, I'd end up putting up a good one now and then and "connecting" with readers. Then it turned into writing slice-of-life essays and eventually into a self-published collection of essays. If there has been healing, it came in being intentional about "getting things down" rather than making things up. This recording of life and interacting with events in the past through the written word has been tremendously cathartic.


marja said...

Great topic, Susan. I started blogging because I like to kvetch about the evils of stigma and wanted a forum where I could have discussion with others about things like that - issues I feel strongly about.

I try not to kvetch too much, in case a publisher might look and see me as a basket case - not someone they'd want as an author.

But I believe in being open and honest, so I do say when I'm going through a hard time. After all, I AM bipolar, and it's to be expected that I will go through difficult moods. Neither do I want to come across like I've got it all together and that I'm healed - because bipolar IS a life-long disease.

I've found that I'm able to help others through talking openly about what I go through - those who want to learn about it and others who are bipolar.

It's through showing my own vulnerabilities that I can best support others who go through similar battles. We bloggers can be what Henri Nouwen refers to as "wounded healers".

It IS comforting and healing to express what I'm going through. But it's even more healing when I can wrap up a kvetching post on a positive note - an expression of hope. And in that way my kvetching will help others learn to be positive.