Today I got a first since starting this blog — someone on Facebook who told me he was unfriending me because of what I write here.
I won’t tell you the person’s name, though I will say I used to work with him at another company. Since his anonymity is intact, I’ll share the rest of the letter:
Subject: why I’m unfriending you
“Bill, I’ve grown to find your OCD posts too painful and am going to unfriend you. You realize you are an obsessive poster, I hope? I wish you luck, but I think you need help and compassion, not exposure. I have a daughter who’s mentally ill, so I am particularly sensitive to watching people flay themselves alive. I wish you all the best, really.”
Fair enough. But I have a few things to say:
First, I totally understand this man’s need to unfriend me. I don’t take it personally and I can see where my more recent posts were probably hard to read.
Since his daughter is struggling, I can understand his raw nerves, especially when I write about the challenges of my own children.
He’s a good man and I wish him and his family the very best.
Now, am I an “obsessive poster” as he says? Sure I am, though I don’t think people realize that my daily posts run on a largely automated cycle. The idea is that there are three traffic cycles in a day on social networks. Some do their online reading first thing in the morning, others at lunch, others right before dinner and the rest do it between 8 and midnight. It’s a lot like when TV networks rebroadcast certain programming a few times a day.
There’s also a lot of content coming from me from two areas: This blog and the security articles I write for my day job.
I post those things, along with the occasional amusing things my kids say or what kind of music I might be enjoying at the moment.
People either like that stuff or they don’t, and they are always free to unfriend or unfollow.
Personally, I have a low tolerance for people who constantly go to Facebook to whine about their romantic dramas or tell us everything they cooked for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are also those who trash talk other people online, be it an ex-spouse or a friend of a friend. Those people make me sick.
But we’re all consumers, and one person’s treasure is another person’s trash.
For those who don’t know by now, here’s why I started this blog:
1.) I needed to write more as part of my own program of recovery. When you type out your feelings on paper or in a forum like this, it’s very freeing. You don’t keep stuff inside and you can move ahead more easily.
2.) I decided to go public with my struggles because:
A. I decided that for me, bringing my problems to light would make them smaller and weaker — and easier to manage. I was absolutely right.
B. I know most people suffer with their own issues and live in greater pain because it’s the sinister secret in their closet. I figured that if I came clean about my own frailties of character and more medically-based struggles, people who live that way would at least know that they don’t have to be alone, and that they can get to a better place.
Truth be told, I never expected this thing to grow as it has. Readership is increasing all the time, and I’ve received thousands of notes from people urging me to keep going.
Others ask me to cover very specific topics they are dealing with.
I always try to end a post — no matter how dark the subject — on a positive note, because for every bad experience I’ve learned there’s a way to grow and be a better person.
I don’t always pull it off, but I always try.
Also, I frequently ask you all to keep me honest.
After getting this message, I had lunch with a dear friend. My friend gave me advice on how I should make a point each week to put something upbeat in here. He also noted, correctly, that my posts have been on the darker side lately.
But I can’t structure the blog that way. The goal was never to make it “a little something for everyone.” It never will be.
It’s the ongoing story of my struggles — successes as well as failures — with mental illness and addiction.
It’s never going to please everyone.
Sometimes, it will piss people off.
You either follow my journey because you want to, or you don’t.
For the former, I hope you will keep the communication going and ask me about specific topics you’d like me to address. I’ll never have the opinion of a good medical professional, and you always need to seek them out. But I can tell you how something affected me and what I learned from it. Hopefully, that’s something useful.
For the latter, the unfriend button is at the bottom left of my Facebook profile. Use it and we can all move on.