Meredith Arthur runs Beautiful Voyager, one of the top 10 anxiety sites with personal stories, guides, and a community for overthinkers. She is also the editor of Invisible Illness, a group blog appearing on Medium.com.
I asked Meredith to share her views on the connection between writing and illness, particularly anxiety-related illnesses and chronic illnesses (which themselves promote anxiety).
First of all, thank you so much for contributing to Beautiful Voyager, Lynette. I’ve loved having your work on the site (You Mean, I’m Vulnerable Too?) and am appreciative of your interest in my work!
I would describe the difference between Invisible Illness versus Beautiful Voyager in this way: Invisible Illness is a large, open space where many people write about all sorts of mental health topics. The scope is massive, ranging from PTSD to Eating Disorders to Mental Health Activism. And the formats are large in scope too: from haikus to long, deeply-researched scientific pieces. All voices are welcome.
Beautiful Voyager is a bit different. It is specifically for overthinkers, people pleasers, and perfectionists, and I curate the work much more carefully on the site. I want people who are affected by stress, anxiety and overthinking to have a welcoming environment to learn and share more about what they are experiencing. I am committed to paying writers to write guides such as How to Know if Your Child Has Anxiety and How to Deal with an Anxious Boss, and gathering personal stories on relevant topics, then formatting them to fit in the style of the site.
My choice to focus on persistent anxiety and other mental health conditions was for a purely selfish reason. When I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, I was frustrated by the lack of information online about what I was experiencing. I have created the site I wanted to exist because I needed it. I want to actually learn, which is why the site exists.
Although writing might not work for everyone, for many of us, it can be an important way to start making sense of the world while trying to articulate our internal experience. I found that when I started writing about migraines and anxiety, I was forced to put into words some of my assumptions and that by doing that, they changed. Writing is also another way to connect with others. Reading the responses to my writing has helped inform my thinking. There’s a popular description of this in the world of technology: “iterative design.” It means that you learn by seeing how others interact with your creation. I believe in this deeply for mental health writing.
Lynette’s addendum: See some of my favorite posts on Beautiful Voyager.
Visit the Beautiful Voyager’s online marketplace to browse anxiety-relieving products created by members of the Beautiful Voyager community.
Meredith Skrzypek Arthur has been working in tech since 2006, advising large media companies, emerging online marketplaces, and hyper-growth startups. Meredith created the content and community site Beautiful Voyager in 2015.
She writes stories about anxiety for The Mighty, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and is regularly interviewed on the subject. She lives in San Francisco with her husband Michael, her daughter Alice, and her dog June Bug.