How to Deal with Blogging-Induced Anxiety

Not everyone deals with anxiety, but I certainly do. It wasn't until I was in college that I was diagnosed and it wasn't until weeks ago that I sought treatment from my doctor. I thought it would go away. Since I was a little girl I dreamed of being a published author. I was published in my early twenties and continued to write and publish. In 2010, I started writing my memoir--even though I was still in my twenties, I had a lot to say. As a pre-writing exercise I decided to start blogging. I'd read that nonfiction books (and memoir) were a lot easier to sell if you had a platform, so blogging fit perfectly into my writing plans. Throughout the time I spent blogging, I connected with thousands of readers who found my blog through a Google search or a friend. My blog started to become a full-time job and social media started to run my life. 

Three years later I found myself sitting in a therapists office because of my blog. I wasn't able to say no to my readers or fans without feeling incredible guilt and more than that--the crux of my visit to therapy--I'd attracted a solid group of "haters", if you will. Whether I was writing about sex (openly), religion, or politics, it was an open invitation for vitriolic comments. To some degree, I knew this would happen. I just didn't realize it would affect me so deeply. 


After months of absenteeism from my own blog and distancing myself from social media, I decided what I needed was a new blog. My old blog was self-sustaining in many ways and for months I'd wanted to expand to write about topics beyond my very narrow niche. My niche was fun to write about but I also needed some diversity. After brainstorming for almost a year, I created Farewell Winter. Farewell Winter was a symbolic name; I was literally leaving one of the darkest times I'd lived through and was ready to say good-bye. I struggle with depression and anxiety, so even though I don't expect to be entirely free of those disorders, I have been working with my doctor and therapist for a few years and feel better than ever. 

I decided this time around to start blogging with a pen name. I did put some social media profiles up that are linked to the "real" me, but I'm writing with fewer references to my personal life and my other blog. I selected a pen name and started blogging with the pen name. It feels freeing even if it is just something to trick myself (since I couldn't get past connecting my social media profiles). 

My hope is that, with minimal mentions to who I am in real life, cursory readers won't immediately identify my blog with me. I think as time goes on and my blog grows, this will be increasingly important for me to feel safe. 

Image via Pinterest

Tips to Decrease Blogging-Induced Anxiety 

  • Take a break: Whether it's an extended break or walking away from the screen for five minutes, sometimes all we need to regain perspective is a break. 
  • Use a pen name: If anxiety is eating you alive, yet you love to blog, consider using a pen name for blogging and/or social media. Just because you love blogging doesn't mean you have to put yourself through the stress of anxiety. 
  • Create Community Guidelines and stick to them: Whether it's on your blog or Facebook profile/page, create rules and guidelines for a healthy community. Make it explicitly clear what you expect from your readers who comment and encourage friendly debates. Key word being: friendly. Make sure you stick to them. If you need to delete a comment and/or ban someone, don't be afraid to post a comment saying something along the lines of: "This comment has been removed for violation of Community Guidelines." 
  • Ignore the hate: If you can help it, avoid reading emails or comments that make you anxious. If responding to emails starts becoming too taxing, consider hiring a student to read through your emails and sort them by priority. Create an email template for different emails and send them out as needed. 
  • Seek therapy: If all else fails, or if it's really getting to you, don't be ashamed of seeking therapy for internet trolls. Although it's a new phenomenon, the problem is only going to get worse. As much as I doubted it initially, my therapist actually understood why these trolls were triggering my anxiety. After just a few sessions of talk therapy, I felt better and my anxiety was replaced with creativity again. 

Lisa Kerr is an author of several short stories that have appeared in literary journals and the founder of My Cult Life. She currently blogs at Farewell Winter, an inspirational lifestyle blog. 

(This post was adapted from "Behind the Nom de Plume" which originally appeared on Lisa's blog, Farewell Winter.)