About this Project

I’ve been doing some online work regarding Bipolar Disorder for a while now. I dipped my feet into the water of tweeting to see how effective it would be. Needless to say, it has so far not been effective. Hashtags about Psychiatry, Bipolar, and Mental Health stigma do not get to the popular page unless you have a ton of followers. Therefore, I decided that I will be using a blog concurrently with this project.

The blog is going to be called Letters to My Psychiatrist. I have understood now that no matter what I want to write about my experience, my going off medications is going to make me lack credibility in the eyes of others. Peoples’ minds, whether they had a person they loved with mental illness or not, are going to go whatever way they want to go, so I should instead be addressing my own concerns to an imaginary psychiatrist I no longer have so I can acknowledge the multiplicity of discourse communities involved with mental illness without judgement – as to inspire a change of rhetoric in the conversation about mental illness.

I think by writing to an imaginary psychiatrist (a person who embodies all the psychiatrists I have ever had), I will be able to have my own credibility in not trying to change people’s minds by remaining a unbiased spectator. I will express what I’ve learned about the illness, what my own experiences were like with diagnosed, put on meds and taken off meds as well as my own frustrations today. I will link these pages to my Twitter account. I will also retweet two things per day about mental health stigma as well as post one status update per day. By being an active participant on my Twitter account, I will hopefully be able to draw people into reading the posts on my blog.

This project taught me that I still have a long way to go in coming to terms with the own stigma I suffer with mental health in order to use my stories to help others with mental illness. I’ve also learned that it’s okay that I’ve not had the best experience with being treated for mental illness and dropping out of that treatment. I have an experience that is helpful to individuals and irrergardless of whether it fits into the public discourse of psychiatry, it’s still a beneficial experience in it’s own right. However, my own experience with psychiatry and my own opinions are not seen as a relevant or important to the general populace due to the current acceptance of present psychiatric practices, so I didn’t really expect it to be majorly successful. I found that in the end, mental illness is still largely accepted by most societies around the world – making me realize that my own issue was with medication side effects, and that I had probably had a mixed message approach to this project.

The limits of the blog were my being off Twitter for a long time, only to get back on it later and forget everything about hashtags and rhetorical savviness. I have to agree with some of the members that you have to reply to other people’s posts in order to start a conversation with them. I think because I haven’t been on Twitter for so long, I was unable to be as effective in my distribution of tweets as other people. Despite putting tags on my tweets, I found that none of my tweets reached the popular page. I concluded that it must look like I was trying too hard in trying to promote my writing and get followers.

I don’t think I have made a huge impact through my project. I have gotten two followers who write about Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, so I think it is interesting that they have gotten the change to view my blog. I also think I’ve gotten more perspective with my own experience with mental illness. What I’ve learned is that my experience has not been as positive as I thought it would be – which means I have some things to mull over in further writing in order to make sense of it. However, I’ve had an exploration of my own experiences that is better able to make me contextualize it for myself and others should I be writing about mental illness in the future.

I am not optimistic about Twitter  as a social media platform only because the existing networks and people on Twitter that have a following are so already well-defined, and Twitter hashtags also tend to not have as much power anymore in attracting attention. I am a little concerned about those who will try to become digital activists in the future through Twitter because they will have to take a stance on an issue and find their own particular community in order to even be concerned for viral Kairos within the Twitter community. I think activists will have a harder time because they will have to learn the rules of different websites and will still likely face opposition from the new media unless they already have a public that gives them the resources to go viral. In that sense, Digital Activism is still a thing but it will have a hard time for outsiders to come in and change institutional norms when there is already institutional bias on Twitter.