An Online Persona

I’ve added a blogroll to the sidebar, additional to the longer one here. I emailed some readers when I un-privatised my first post here – ie. when I started to blog at AtMoM properly – in April, asking that they not add it to any blogroll they may themselves have, as I was scared of the ramifications of any visibility. I’m not now. Sod it; I have nothing to hide. So, if you’d like to add it to your list, please do go ahead πŸ™‚ Don’t feel an obligation to do so, but the option is open to you.

Who Am I?

That said, of course I still want this blog to be a relatively in-the-background one. I look at the statistics of this – four or five hits today, I think – compared to a standard day on my ex-site, and I delight. In fact, (at least the last time I happened to check) the ex-blog is still getting high traffic, which is kind of bizarre. I’d grown uncomfortable with that sort of exposure, and feel much happier here than I had done there in ages.

When I opened this site on 1 January this year, I initially started writing it under my real (first) name. Then, when some shit hit some fans, I decided to use part (Vivid) of the Lovecraft quote in the header/my Twitter username as a loose disguise. The thing is, in starting anew, I wanted to be free of complete anonymity. Or, more accurately, of complete pseudonymity. I’m not going to be discussing some issues here that I once did, so don’t have a particular reason to retain the protection of my historically necessary privacy (said privacy was to protect others as well as myself). Why hide behind an assumed name any longer, should it not be functionally required? Why do so when it could actually become harmful to me?

You see, silly as it may sound, an online persona can become all-consuming – and in my case, it did. I wasn’t completely surprised that I frequently found myself in the dysphoric whirl of an identity crisis…who was I, really? Me, or this imaginary-yet-real woman I’d somehow created? She morphed from being ‘me’ merely under another name to being an entity almost entirely in her own right (indeed, the few people in my ‘real life’ that read her ramblings also began to refer to her as ‘her’ in conversation with me). A lot of ‘my’ life began to revolve around framing ‘her’s’. How would she do that, how might she allude to this? Frankly, I think that for a long time I was obsessed with her, and preoccupation of that intensity in any walk of life is very rarely healthy.

I think that (unconsciously, in my defence) she in some ways became an ideal – even a fantasy – for my entertainment. Whilst I don’t think I ever saw things like this at the time – I was rarely complimentary about ‘her’ or ‘me’ – perhaps she afforded my disillusioned psyche excitement in some form. Maybe I vicariously lived a more alluring life through her; she was in a twisted sense interesting, where my actual life consists, usually, of sofa-sitting space-staring, the banal of the banal. A thread of colour in a grey life. A personified delusion acceptable as ‘real’, simply because she wrote about things that actually happened to her – or, realistically, that happened to another in the same head.

Who Shall I Be Today?

“In a way, that’s good,” you might argue; “it means you separated yourself and her.” You’d be right to a point – but why should I want to live my life that way? No, I don’t live on a thrilling knife-edge everyday. Yes, I’m essentially quite boring. But I have a few things going for me – an intellect and a thirst for knowledge foremost amongst them – and ultimately I am me.

I’m not meant to be two people; whilst I’ve experienced dissociation, I don’t believe that I have multiple personalities – yet with the online pretence, it began to feel like I had. I was fine with that for a while, but I’m not any more. I simply want to be me – not her, not him, not it, not them: me. And I will be.

So, I have a mental illness – and..? A mental illness does not involve being a Ted Bundy or a Freddie Kreuger. I have done nothing wrong, and am not ashamed of what I have or of who I am.

So…fuck it. My name is Karen. Pleased to meet you.

Picture credits: see outgoing links.

16 comments on “An Online Persona

  1. Yay for you being you. I can relate to this duo-person/non-duo-person dilemma very much. My ‘other self’ seems to be sleeping at the moment, which is both a relief and mildly troubling. Confused? You bet…

    • It sounds odd to say I’m ‘glad’ that your alter ego is in hibernation, but I’m glad you’re getting a bit of peace at least. Either way, I’m glad you’re here πŸ™‚

      K xxx

  2. Karen,

    It’s great to “meet” the real you!

    As a long-term follower of yours, I was of course saddened to see the demise of your alter-ego–however, this post eloquently details why that was necessary, and I’m glad you’re feeling so positive that you are able to take this step. I wish you well and look forward to continuing to follow your journey.

    Robert =]

    • Thank you, Robert – I appreciate your continued support! It feels sort of like a relief to throw off the faΓ§ade, even if there is still an element of anonymity πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Karen:) Loved this post my friend. I’m glad you’ve taken this step. I totally get it. I think there is something about online relationships and personas that is just bizarre. It is so easy to create a fantastical figure especially if you are never going to meet the people you are communicating with in the real world. I know in your other place annonymity was vital as you’ve stated but I think this just shows that it played its role for a time in your life and now things have moved on.
    I wish you well in being yourself. This is something I struggle with daily. I’ve become lost trying to be the person everyone else wants me to be. Its so confusing and cowardly. I’ll end my waffle with a quote by Neale Donald Walsch
    “The deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation. You are not discovering yourself, but creating yourself anew.Seek, therefore, not to find out who you are, seek to determine who you want to be.”

    • Thanks Ash πŸ™‚ There is indeed something inherently bizarre about it – I mean, I’ve made genuine friends online, but they’re people who know my real identity. I’m not sure it would work at all if I had cloaked myself as my ex-alter ego!

      I can relate to being the person people want you to be too. I’ve mostly managed to adopt a “sod it” attitude these days, but that’s largely because I’ve got a really supportive and understanding group around me. For years I played to others’ tunes. There are times when I still do – I think some element of it’s inevitable. I wish I had some advice on how to overcome it, but I think I just got lucky really. It’s hard, I know 😦

      Loved the quote. “A process of creation.” Very well put – thank you for sharing that. It’s not one I’d heard before!


      K ❀ xxx

  4. I agree with Ash, great post Karen- and as Phil says yay for being just you!! Your previous incarnation was great, I loved “her”, but you know when it’s time to move on and it seems to have been a really positive step for you.

    Lovely quote Ash by the way :o)

    Best wishes all

    • Thanks Kate πŸ™‚ It has been positive – I thought I’d be much more…I don’t know, in mourning or something, for my ex-alter ego, but I haven’t felt anything like that (at least not consciously – my therapist reckoned that maybe there was some evidence that it troubled me on a deeper level. All that psychodynamic stuff, you know…). As I said in the post, I feel more comfortable here than I had there for some time πŸ™‚


      K xxx

  5. Pleased to meet you Karen πŸ™‚

    What a brilliant post, it’s good that you’re you, you’re right, you shouldn’t be ashamed. I’m so glad that you’ve let us get to know you πŸ™‚

    Hugs, Alice x x x

    • It’s been my pleasure, Alice πŸ™‚ It’s an honour to continue to share things with you and I really appreciate your support.

      (((big hugs)))

      K ❀ xxx

  6. ” whilst I’ve experienced dissociation, I don’t believe that I have multiple personalities – yet with the online pretence, it began to feel like I had.”

    This kind-of statement really trivialises the suffering of those of us with DID, having an anonymous online persona is nothing at all like having DID/MPD. I had hoped my own blog was making it clear just what a challenge life can be for those of us with DID. I had hoped I had helped the Madosphere understand the difference between the myths and realities of DID, I clearly have a lot more work to do if my own contemporaries are still making these kind of clumsy comments.

    But then maybe I wouldn’t know as I have chosen to blog and tweet about my mental illness without the cover of anonymity from the very beginning.

    • Firstly, since I don’t read your blog, I am unsure as to how you, specifically, would have been able to help me “understand” DID.

      Secondly, some of my closest friends in the blogging arena are individuals with, and who write about, DID – these are people who have enabled me to learn and understand some of what the disorder can do to a person. Despite the fact that you write to educate, that you are on a crusade to help people understand, that you “have a lot more work to do” owing to my “clumsy” remark (even though I’m unfamiliar with your work!)…some other people actually write on this subject, and many with the same aims. I doubt this would have pissed off the people I know with DID, but they’re more than welcome to say so if not, and I’ll gladly accept a consensus.

      Thirdly, whilst it’s great – genuinely – that you write and have always written non-anonymously, please don’t forget that many people, through circumstances outside of their control, have no choice but pseudononymise their material.

      I could bother explaining exactly what I meant in further detail, but I sense that you’ve already made up your mind about me, and that it would be a waste of both my time and yours. I’m sorry too that I offended you, but I don’t believe what I said “trivialises” DID or perpetuates “myths” about DID. Whatever the case, I fully understand that this ‘illness’ is a serious clinical condition caused by severe and enduring early life abuse that must be highly difficult to live with, and I’m sorry that you have to.

      My best to you


  7. Take heart my dear Viv, you did not trivialize DID and I can say that since I have it. I understood your comment about personas perfectly.

    Even as someone with DID my online persona can be its own entity sometimes. I welcome the anonymity because it isn’t safe for me to be ME. I think it’s lovely that you’ve come to a point in life where you can be Karen more openly and I’m so pleased for you.

    The way I see it, you experience dissociative symptoms on the continuim but DID is not one of them. That doesn’t mean you don’t empathize and no one advocates for understanding more than you…well, you and Meryl Streep maybe. πŸ˜‰

    • i agree with cimmerianink, i have did and really got what u meant karen. i thought this was a good post and explained things well. in fact i have deliberately avoided writing a blog even though i might enjoy it because i know i’m at risk of another persona being added to my collection…i know it wouldn’t be a real alter if i did this but like cimmerianink said it could be come it’s own entity. i’m surprised that zoe cant recognise that potential.
      i am new to this blog but will be subscribing, well done on a good job karen, i like your style. πŸ™‚

      • Thank you, Sarah! I appreciate your kind words and your taking the time to comment πŸ™‚

        I can completely understand why you’ve avoided writing a blog…but whilst it can be overwhelming, it can also be extremely therapeutic. A private diary might well serve the same purpose, without danger of ‘being’ someone other than ‘you’. Not that I’m recommending you do it as such, because obviously (I mean…obviously!) you know what’s best for you, but just putting it out there πŸ™‚

        Anyway, time to stop rambling. I’m really glad you’re reading and look forward to talking more to you πŸ™‚

        My best

        Karen x

    • Aww, thank you CI – I feel particularly warmed by your saying that I’m an advocate for understanding. I’d like to think that I am, but it’s really nice to hear it externally acknowledged πŸ™‚

      As far as that goes, I actually do write and speak quite a bit about mental health under my real name, and have done since I first entered the ‘system’ (circa four years ago now). Not just professionally, but in attempts to normalise mental illness and traumatic ‘disorders’ to friends and acquaintances…to anyone that will listen, really. I made a lengthy – and horribly candid – video about it all a few years back, talking about self-harm and psychosis, amongst other things, and crying in front of the camera about my (ex-)therapist being a dick. So in that sense I, like Zoe, “have chosen” to speak up “without the cover of anonymity”.

      However, as you know yourself, when you’re discussing certain issues and circumstances, you have no choice but to create another identity for yourself regardless of what you’d prefer to do. The non-anonymous blogger opens him or herself up to potential observation from real life people, from authorities, perhaps even from predators – and in the circumstances under which you (and formerly I) write (wrote), that is at best likely to cause significant discomfort, and at worst may be actively dangerous. Maybe it’s not the same for everyone writing about similar concerns, but I’d suspect it is for most.

      Maybe I’m mad (well..!) to be moving to a semi-anonymous position, but we’ll see πŸ˜‰ Whatever the case, it’s brilliant to have so much support.

      Anyway, I should stop blathering on. I think you’re wonderful and brave and you’re a good friend to me.

      (((big but gentle hugs)))

      Karen ❀ xxx

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