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  • Writer's pictureErin Brown

BLOG | Processes of Elimination

When I first started my blog, I was in my mid twenties. I'd been away from home for about five or so years by that stage, living in a flat in Sydney with a friend and another guy who liked eating all my food and putting the near empty boxes back in the fridge so I wouldn't know I had no food until after he'd gone to his mother's house for the weekend. I remember the day pretty clearly actually: sitting there, signing in before going off to make my shiny new site look pretty. I remember making mental notes as to what I'd write about. Wondering if anyone would actually care to read any of it when it was done.

Not long before I moved to Sydney, I'd actually had a bit of a nasty medical incident: something which still haunted me - more than I cared to admit, really - and made it hard to be away from home. Hard to be away from where I felt safe to be myself, even at my worst. And I remember sitting there that day in my flat wondering if that story - my story - would be worth imparting, in a way that maybe helped someone else who'd been through something even a little bit similar, to know they weren't alone.

As it went, after a trip overseas - my first to the US - I had to visit a neurologist when I got home due to some issues I'd had with my epilepsy while I was away. He examined my symptoms, and promptly told me that it was a problem with me, with my system. My attitude. He handed me a higher dose of my meds and sent me on my way.

Meanwhile, over the next eight months I found that I was starting to intermittently lose my eyesight. Then, randomly, the ability to walk properly. There had to be something else wrong, I thought. All the signs pointed to it. A brain tumor, maybe. A worse kind of epilepsy. Whatever it was, I was a scared kid who had no idea what was happening to her body or her brain. Moreover, I'd had a medical professional tell me that more than likely this was my fault, before handing me a higher dose again and invoicing me a ridiculous amount of money. I used to go home and lay awake at night sometimes wondering if my ceiling was the last thing I'd see if I died in my sleep.

One day, my eyes stopped functioning for a few hours straight. They fogged over like a pair of steamed up bathroom mirrors. A few hours after that, I discovered I couldn't stand up on my own. I'd stopped being able to tell the floor from the walls. Shortly thereafter I found myself in the hospital without the proper use of my head, or my legs, for a few days. When my bloods came back, the ED doctor told my parents that more than likely I'd overdosed. There was so much of this drug in my system that even a little bit of it caused me to have another OD two weeks later. That day, a friend who worked in the hospital found me on my knees in the carpark puking my guts out. If you read my blog, you'll know that I use a lot of words to say what I want to say. But I don't have any that come even close to describing how angry and frightened I was in that moment.

All of it happened because I'd never questioned my doctor. All I'd done was what he told me, taken what he'd given me. I'd never thought even for a second that maybe he was just an arrogant prick in a white coat who was too lazy to dig deeper. I'd just assumed that I was in the wrong, because at that time of my life, my default position was to think I was wrong about everything. My natural state was to believe that everybody else must be right, because there was no way I could be.

This was an attitude, for the record, that had nothing to do with my upbringing or anyone else. I was loved and I was hugged enough. My family are phenomenal, loving people. I just naturally thought so low of myself, that it seemed impossible I wasn't to blame for the whole thing. It was an attitude that pervaded almost every aspect of my life. Including my writing. I would not share it with anyone. No matter how good it seemed to me, I was convinced it would never be good enough for anyone else.

Then one day, years later, being silent just became too much. My world was bubbling with things I needed to say, regardless of whether anyone else read them, or cared about them. To move forward, I needed to speak up and use my writer's voice: not just pour it into the pages of a notebook. I needed to acknowledge that I wasn't the monster and the failure I had told myself I was for most of my life. I had to have the tough love talk with my own reflection in the mirror, and get the memo that that I needed to stop living like I deserved to be dead. Like I was a victim. Because I am anything but. I needed to acknowledge that I had value, skills and worth; something still to offer the world. Erin Brown required a wake up call in order to understand that giving up on herself was a slap in the face of every person who'd stuck with her, and a slap in the face of the girl who got up off the bitumen that day in a hospital parking bay, and kept going, when doing so was the last thing she wanted to do.

Hence, why I began to blog. I wrote about anything and everything, and said what I thought. Because I wanted nothing more than to Stop. Being. Scared. That was almost ten years ago. And that courage - hard won as it was, not to mention a long time coming - has led to a wealth of extraordinary and beautiful things, not to mention amazing opportunities.

But the biggest benefit I gained? It was the ability to say to another person that just because their opinion about me was their opinion, that didn't make them correct. And anybody that would refuse to recognise that fact - that treated me like my worth as a person, as writer, as an anything, depended entirely on their view of me - I had the right to wipe out of my life. Because - to quote a great lady - I know my value.

All of which brings me to the raison d'etre for this post. As of today, I'm deleting the comments section off my blog. This might seem like a longwinded explaination for such a simple thing - and to be honest there is every chance that you might not care less about what I'm doing - but still. I want my reasons to be clear. And I want to say something on behalf of all the other fantastic writers and reviewers - not to mention showrunners, writers rooms, actors, producers, directors and crews - who cop similar treatment, just for expressing themselves honestly. Not that they need me to speak for them at all. I write this only in support of them as much as myself.

Firstly, I want to acknowledge all of the wonderful people who have left positive, constructive and respectful comments on each of my reviews especially, to date. I don't just mean the people who praised or agreed with my work. I also want to thank the wonderful people who disagreed completely with my opinions, but still took the time to articulately and respectfully make rebuttal of my arguments. People like you challenge me to be a better writer, and to think differently about a story I love. Of all the people who I find hardest to close off when it comes to comments, it is you two groups of fans. I hope you will continue to provide your feedback on other forms of social media, because you are a credit to the story you love, and the people behind it.

Now. To the reason I write this piece. This one is for you, trolls. There are a few of you who come back every week and enjoy tearing my work to shreds, in depth, in the comments. I could name each of you, but if you have proven anything, it's that your petulant words have no place amongst the articulate minds of this or any fandom. You might like to tell yourself that me getting rid of this section is me not being able to take the heat - particularly yours - but be assured it's not. I won't stop writing because people don't like what I say. For the same reason I don't write purely in the hope I get lavished with praise for what I say. Don't get me wrong: it's nice, but in the end the only reason I write is because I can, and I must.

Instead, the reason I am deleting the comments section on this blog is because people like the aforementioned trolls are a stain and an online presence that deserves to be suffocated, not given oxygen. I can't eliminate the broader infection that you are - the internet is too vast - but I can remove this platform, from you.

You are of course mildly nicer as soon as I say anything that vaguely aligns with something your tiny minds might think, which is sad, because in this you demonstrate nothing more than a base inability to consider an opinion beyond your own. What a stagnant, shallow consciousness that must require. To be honest, I pity you more than anything else. Either way, you can take your garbage elsewhere.

As such, to you - the bullies and cowards who haunt this blog when you need to make yourself feel just a little bit more important about your place in the world - I say these three things.

1) As you can see, I have survived far worse than you. You are tiny, tiny bugs splattered on the windscreen of my life story. But that doesn't mean I have to put up with you being there.

2) If you don't like what I write, you don't have to read it. I mean, I could be wrong, but I'm assuming if you know how to post a comment online, you know how to not click a button or hyperlink. Either way, if you do click on it, remember it was your choice. You knew what you were doing. If you get pissed off with what you read, that's your problem. Not mine.

3) The internet doesn't forget. People are able to access everything you put online in seconds, from wherever they are in the world. So do yourself a favour and write stuff that won't make your friends, family, co-workers, boss, pets ashamed to have you in their lives. Because I can tell you that right now, as a fan of The 100 in particular, you are a cowardly shame to and a blight on the amazing fandom of this great show.

This is the last I plan ever to write on this topic. Because I want this blog to be a place that celebrates the diversity, beauty, cleverness, boldness and creativity of good people. To the rest of you, find a new soapbox. This one is closed for business.

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