When I first started blogging there were three mental health blogs out there: one by a ex-service user, another by a mental health nurse, and one by a Police Officer with an interest in mental health. I was (to my knowledge) the only inpatient to be blogging. Looking back, I guess it makes sense that I was kind of floundering in my first year or so with I’m NOT Disordered; I had no one to look up to, no one to find inspiration in, no one to aspire to.
Some people believe that this is the wrong attitude – that you shouldn’t aspire to be like anyone but yourself. That you should do what you love for yourself and not because of anyone else. And I completely agree; but why not have a balance? Why not find a balance between aspiring to someone’s success in the industry you work in, and copying off everything that they do.
My first inspiration in the blogging world, was ‘Zoella’ – Zoe Sugg. Whilst she was a fashion and beauty blogger and I couldn’t really make any of her content fit into my own, she was hugely successful in the industry and it was this that inspired me to follow her journey via her YouTube channel. It was so… reassuring? To see a blogger, go from filming Primark hauls in her bedroom, to revealing her own beauty line and announcing a book tour.
Another inspiration for me (especially recently) is InTheFrow – Victoria McGrath. She’s also a fashion and beauty blogger but it is her hard work, passion and dedication that inspires me. She’s also gone from filming hauls in her bedroom to having her own flat in London and travelling the world with brands like Dior and Armani.
When I began following other bloggers I – admittedly - really struggled to differentiate between copying from them and finding inspiration in them. It was a huge difficultly because I’d found interest in beauty and fashion bloggers and so their achievements and opportunities weren’t relevant to my own. For a while I messaged a ton of companies to try and get free beauty products before I realised that it wasn’t appropriate to I’m NOT Disordered. It wasn’t the right content – it wasn’t the reason why people visited my blog – and around this time, my readers were growing a little quicker. I learnt that I had to translate these opportunities into ones relevant to my own blogging category. So I looked at how huge the brands were that bloggers were working with and looked to the mental health industry and which organisations receive the most press and do the largest amount of work.
Then there’s well-known individuals – bloggers (Zoella especially) work with other well known YouTubers and social media influencers with large followers. This, was easier to translate into mental health than the organisations were. It’s quite easy to look through Twitter and find networks of ex-service users, inpatients, ‘experts by experience’ and mental health activists who are willing – and sometimes, actively looking, – to collaborate with bloggers.
Having a role model is about trial and error; learning how they can be a healthy influence on your life and work without becoming a copy-cat.