Having just gone past the fifth anniversary of starting this blog, something happened here for the first time yesterday: I was trolled. Whilst I’ve always thought that could happen on social media, particularly Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook, unless you make your posts private, I’d never really considered that it might happen to me in the blogosphere. If I were writing controversial stuff maybe I could expect it, but apart from occasional jibes at Trump and Brexit my posts are, I think, uncontroversial to the point of complete blandness! So I wonder what prompted someone to attempt to post this comment on my recent reblog of Mental Health Matters:

I say ‘attempt’ as my blog is set up so that I have to approve any first time commenter, so it is entirely at my discretion what to do with this. I gave it some thought, and wondered whether I should just approve it in the interests of free speech. But I rejected that, as I wanted to make more of it. I have edited the screenshot to remove the identifiers, but as he/she/it (hereafter referred to as ‘it’) only identified itself by a set of letters that makes it difficult to follow up. I searched the WordPress Reader and found one blog with the same set of letters as its name: as it had no posts and just one follower it was a bit of a dead end, though. But opening up a blog in that way would give it access and the ability to comment on other WordPress blogs, so that may well be it. I wonder if any other mental health bloggers have also been visited by this charming individual?

The troll isn’t identifiable by country, but the way the comments are worded, with all the typos and errors, is redolent of the typical commenter who supports the likes of Britain First, is rabidly pro-Brexit and/or a Daily Mail reader so if I had to bet on it I’d go for the UK. Then again, a lot of my readership is from the US so that’s also a possibility. Beware, they move among you!

Now here’s a strange thing. Either the commenter was too stupid to realise it – or just didn’t care – but, as any blogger will know, comments when viewed in your Dashboard identify their email address. And someone with that exact same email address followed my blog yesterday. Go figure! I must be so ‘hillarious’ that it wanted to get repeat laughs. Or maybe it wanted to see what I’d say about them. Sorry, troll, but I’m not going to give you your 15 nanoseconds of fame by identifying you to the world. Nor will I be approving any comments you make in response to this, so save your knuckles the effort of dragging them across your keyboard.

Now to address the points it made. There is nothing fashionable about mental health, and a trope, by the way, is a figure of speech, such as a metaphor, and mental health definitely isn’t that! It’s good to know that for five years I’ve been tedious and wallowing in self-pity: somehow, that realisation had passed me by, as it had to everyone else who has ever commented on my posts. If such posts are so laughable to the point of annoying you, why read them? There can only be one answer to that: because you are an uneducated bully who likes to attack people you think are weaker than you. Sorry mate, that isn’t me. The reason I write about mental health issues and occasionally draw on my own experience is to highlight the need for much more support to be provided for sufferers. I worked in the field for 20 years, and came across many instances of how damaging such illnesses could be, not just to those who were ill but also to their friends and families. Too little is done about this, far too little. Mine is just one small voice: I have no influence on this other than to share my views in the hope that this becomes part of a groundswell of opinion to ‘encourage’ governments to devote much more resource to mental health treatments.

On the charge of being self-centred, I plead guilty. But then again, apart from blogs which post fiction or are themed to a particular topic, that charge could be levelled against a huge number of bloggers. We write about things that are familiar to us and that we believe to be important: there wouldn’t be much point in doing it otherwise. So maybe, troll, you haven’t quite yet grasped what blogging is all about. Come on, give it a go; I’m sure we’re all sufficiently tempted by the words you wrote to me to see more from you.

Feeling sorry for myself? I don’t in any way feel like that, thanks, and if you had taken the trouble to read what I’ve posted you’d have seen that I first wrote about my own illness a year after it was diagnosed, and four months after I was well enough to be back at work – so I was way past that stage by then. But you don’t want to know that, do you? Like all bullying trolls, you wouldn’t want facts to get in the way of your prejudices, would you?

I’ve said in several posts that one of the things that needs to be done is to provide education on mental health issues. This is both to help people recognise it in others to whom they are close, so that they can support them, and also for a wider audience, to enable them to understand how debilitating mental health problems can be. My troll could clearly benefit from this, if it had a sufficiently open mind to take it on. I hope that happens, but I’m not holding my breath.

The troll branded those of us who blog on this as ‘mentalists.’ Just for the record, this is what a mentalist is:

I’m now off to practise my mind reading and telepathic skills – all part of turning myself into a superhero! After all, I need to be strong and powerful, not self-centred and self-pitying in my me-me-me world, don’t I? I hope no one else who writes about mental health comes across this idiot, or anyone else like them. I’m way past the time where this comment could have been hurtful to me, but others might not be so fortunate. I really pity the person who made this comment: their ignorance is now displayed for all to see, and if anyone needs help it’s them, not me. I’m not going to change because of one negative, uncaring comment, and I hope that every other mental health blogger can ignore this type of thing and carry on doing what you do. I’d rather read your words than those of morons like this.


Watching The Wheels

I seem to have lost a month. How careless of me! As you may have spotted from the recent hiatus, I’ve been ill and just didn’t feel up to blogging. They told me the virus would take 6 weeks to get out of my system – and they were right!

Firstly, I’d like to thank all of you who have wished me well, both here and on Facebook. Good blogging friends are irreplaceable! Also, a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone who has visited my blog while I’ve been absent. I’ve been stunned by the levels of views, likes, comments and new follows even at a time where I haven’t given you anything new.

So, what have I been doing? The short answer is….not much, if I’m honest. In the early stages the viral infection caused me so much pain and soreness that I didn’t feel like doing anything. I then got into a routine of watching far more daytime TV than is good for anyone’s sanity! If the programmes don’t get to you the adverts will – what exactly does it mean to be ‘so moneysupermarket’ anyway, other than being a total moron behaving inappropriately? But mostly I’ve been a watcher of life and events as they have been unfolding: that poses risks to our sanity too!

We are living in strange, unsettling times. I wrote a piece some months ago about politicians’ need to tell lies to get what they want. Recent events, particularly in the US, have shown how spectacularly I underestimated their capacity for untruths. Or ‘alternative facts’ as we are now informed they should be called. And it seems I was wrong to hope that the Orange One would tone down his views after being elected. But he had record crowds for his inauguration, everyone loves his executive orders, the protests against his ‘it isn’t a Muslim ban’ are orchestrated by paid stooges, so all is going swimmingly well, isn’t it!

One thing I haven’t done during my absence is watch any so-called ‘reality TV,’ as these programmes bear no relation to any form of real life that I know or would want to be a part of. Even the names can be misleading: be honest, how many of the participants in the recent series of ‘Celebrity’ Big Brother had you heard of? It’s not as though anyone from a reality show has ever gone on to succeed at anything in real life, is it? Oh, wait……. It would appear that the American people have elected as their President (or POTUS45 as he is known) the former host of their version of the Apprentice. Please, UK, don’t even think about doing the equivalent of that here! The thought of Lord Sugar running this country fills me with almost as much dread as the thought of the Orange One on his mission to destroy the world in four years or less. And a quick aside: why do they call him POTUS45 yet they try to give the Superbowl a touch of class by listing it with Roman numerals, i.e. Superbowl LI? Shouldn’t they try to give their President some class too? POTUS VL has a certain ring to it, I think. But then again, no matter how hard you polish a turd it’s still a turd…. although he may have given some meaning to what I think it means to be ‘so moneysupermarket’ – see above for the definition!

There have been some good points in my recent absence, though, in respect of this blog. My post Mental Health Matters seems to have taken off like none of my posts has ever done before. I wrote it 4 months ago and it is still receiving ‘likes’ on an almost daily basis – over 90 now. I’m grateful to all of you for this, as it is an important issue. I now have over 500 followers for this blog, and more are joining every day – again, my thanks to you all! This has encouraged me to keep writing about the topic which seems to be attracting most of you – mental health – particularly since the UK Government’s recent announcement of more support for mental health treatments. A post on that will follow in the not too distant future. Spoiler alert: I’m not convinced by them!

My Facebook friends will have noticed that I have been sharing many more political posts recently. No one has unfriended me yet, but I suspect that some may have hit the ‘mute’ button! Taking time out to become an observer of life has filled me with many fears for our country – Brexit means being a poorer relation with a totally uncertain future – and for the world as a whole. Can any of us sleep soundly knowing that the nuclear codes are in the very small hands of a petulant, thin-skinned, childish, bullying tyrant who clearly hasn’t the slightest clue what his new job actually means? In my own small way I’m trying to do my bit against him – I’ve followed him on Twitter and have taken to retweeting his comments with my own added. I don’t know if this will work, but I’m hoping he blocks me as I could wear that as a badge of honour!

I chose the title for this piece from a song by a man who was sufficiently committed to stand up and protest for what he believed in. The anti-Trump protest movement in the US and around the world needs to keep doing the same, or we’ll be watching the wheels fall off, not go round:

I’m off to catch up on all your blogs – I’ve missed a lot in the past month or so! See you again soon.