Mia Freedman on mental health, Twitter and trolls
MIA Freedman was diagnosed with high-functioning anxiety six years ago, but believes she has lived with the mental illness her whole life.
The Mamamia founder said at the time anxiety was not spoken about as much as other mental illnesses.
"When I tentatively started mentioning it I realised there were so many people I knew who had anxiety," she said.
"There is a phrase that I live by in that there is someone out there with a wound in the identical shape of your words.
"That to me means by speaking about your vulnerability and struggles, you can really help someone going through the same thing."
Ms Freedman was in Toowoomba yesterday to talk about fame and mental health at Unleash the Beast.
The journalist and blogger said as someone with a mental illness it was important to work out what she had to do to manage her mental health.
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"I need to have routine, I need to exercise every morning and I need to get a lot of sleep and my medication," she said.
"Those are the four things I need, and they are non-negotiable for me.
"Once you know that, you have to work on your mental health, like people work on their wardrobe, or career, or skin, or finances. It takes ongoing management.
"The most important thing is to not feel stigmatised. The more people that are able to come out and talk about their experiences the better."
Ms Freedman has often been at the centre of attacks from online trolls from all political persuasions over her work and opinions.
"Of course it gets to you, anyone who says otherwise is lying," she said.
"We're at a point that whenever there is a pile on of outrage, not all cases but certainly ones I've been involved with, there is such a gap between my intention and how something has been perceived. In that gap is where the outrage lands.
"What we've lost in society is giving the people the benefit of the doubt and the space to make mistakes and learn from them. From every pile on I've experience I've learnt something.
"If we give people the benefit of the doubt to say they made that mistake and had a different intention, I think we'd be a better society for it."
She said this had led her to quitting Twitter and changing the way Mamamia reports on some news.
"We don't cover backlash stories any more, as backlash just means people on twitter are angry about something," she said.
"Not all opinions are created equal and some keyboard warrior screaming into the abbys, that's not a new story and nor should it be.
"In that whole commentary opinion space, I've exited that. I don't live in that world any more. I don't go on television any more, I don't write opinion any more.
"Now my focus is building a platform called Lady Startup to help women who want to start their own businesses. That is so rewarding, far more so than being on live TV to give my opinion in ten second grabs."
Ms Freedman said women also received much more personal attacks online above the standard death threat, including gendered comments based on looks, threats to children and other horrid images.
"What happened to I didn't like your TV show so I changed channel, now its I didn't like your show now you must die," she said.
"We've become so uncomfortable with opinions we don't agree with we can't tolerate they exist in the world."
She said if only people were able to navigate life online like they do with family members who have a different opinion.
"You never know what someone else is going through," she said.
"There are a lot of people with high functioning anxiety walking around in the world.
"If we could bear that in mind or extend kindness and benefit of the doubt to each other we would all be immeasurably better off."