Do you really know who I am?
Am I a logo on a blog or a tweet on a Twitter feed?
Do I sit starkly amongst the other anonymous accounts that you have collated over the years?
If, for example, you were attending the 2015 OCD Action Conference this weekend, would you be able to pick me out in a line-up?
I thought not, because I have chosen to remain anonymous.
Female writers over the centuries have done exactly the same thing. Two of my favourite novels were written by sisters who knew that if they were to reveal their true identities, no one would take them seriously because of their gender.
Have you heard of Currer and Ellis Bell? Possibly not. But I am certain that you will know them by their real names: Charlotte and Emily Bronte. Writing under pen names they produced ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’, two of the greatest novels of all time.
Charlotte Bronte might not have been able to voice her opinions as a woman, but there was no holding back her character Jane Eyre:
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”
I am not a bird either. I am wilful and independent, but I am trapped. My trap is called stigma. Unlike Jane, my net, the internet, has given me a voice.
This month, PSHE programmes on Mental Health have been released to all schools in the UK. Wonderful people such as Pooky Knightsmith, have worked tirelessly to ensure that teaching about Mental Health is made a priority in Education. Yet this teacher still blogs anonymously. Why? OCD is misunderstood and its impact underestimated. I have felt the thorns of stigma first hand.
So, in a brave move, I suggested recently to Olivia Bamber at OCD Action, that those of us who are blogging and tweeting anonymously, could write our usernames on our conference badges. We should wear our anonymity with pride! For if we can’t reveal our true selves at the conference, where on earth can we do it?