Whilst I’ve decided to mark Halloween this year, with a piece about one of the elements of being a Blogger that can range on a scale of scary to intimidating to terrifying and back again(!); I still really don’t want this to put people off from joining the industry. And this is something I really want to get across, because I have benefited from blogging in so many ways that it’s left me hopeful that in encouraging others to try blogging, I might enhance the chance of more people being rewarded with those same – or similar – benefits. I just hope that you can be reassured with me telling you that as scary as things have gotten, they have all been totally worth it to mean I have experienced all that I have as a result of I’m NOT Disordered. To help with this, I’ve tried to also include how I cope with and manage when I’m scared…
Having struggled with a mental illness to the point where I was so unsafe that I ended up on life support after a suicide attempt and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for over two years; a desire to hear someone say ‘that’s understandable’ for literally everything I talk about, is really important and significant to me. It means a lot to be validated because for so many years, I was told that the things I could hear and see weren’t actually there; and this has left me very doubtful of my own experiences. Like, there’s a footpath at the front of my home and not a road, and one day I saw a car opposite my house, and I was so afraid I was hallucinating vehicles now! But actually, a neighbour had just drove their car across the grass and path so as to not have to carry their shopping from their parking space, which was a short distance away.
With this in mind, I’d like to think that it’s totally understandable to say that the fact I’ve been blogging for almost ten years has really contributed to the fact that I’m starting to really struggle with finding inspiration and having ideas for new content. I mean, it’s to the point where I’ll have an idea and I could type the title or start the introduction then have a sense of déjà vu. Fortunately, I use the labels function on Blogger so I can easily just type a keyword into the search box and the content archive brings up any relevant/similar posts I’ve previously published. Sometimes, though, I do have a quick read through old ones to judge whether my idea now is different in any way and whether I can get away with it! Something that also helps with this is the gravity of the growth in the audience I’m NOT Disordered has, because it means that even if I posted something similar last year, chances are a lot of readers won’t have seen it.
One complication or a deciding factor in whether struggling to create new content is an experience you might have; is the topic your blog is centred around. Of course, I can only say this from my perspective and there might be bloggers from different industries who think this actually isn’t the case; but I’d imagine that fashion and beauty blogging could be less problematic for this difficulty because there’ll always be new brands, new products and their launch events, and fashion shows etc. However, I think that with mental health blogging, it’s more difficult and I found this especially true after being discharged from the psychiatric hospital I was an inpatient in when I first created, I’m NOT Disordered.
I had started to blog as a means of telling my loved ones what was happening because the hospital was over 100 miles away from home. And I think it’s fair to say that with it being a psychiatric hospital, it felt like there was always something to blog about! The ward I was on specialised in helping and supporting someone with a Personality Disorder diagnosis and with the most common ‘symptoms’ of this being having an unstable mood and experiencing uncontrollable and irrational anger, it meant that it was quite a volatile and dramatic environment. Witnessed the other girls (who I came to think of as family after two and a half years) self-harm and make suicide attempts, and I saw and heard the arguments that were both between inpatients and staff and between fellow inpatients. These experiences, coupled with the beginning of my Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and alterations to my medication, left me desperate to have a place to vent. A place to process my thoughts and feelings in a way that meant I was the one responsible for them evolving and changing and therefore I wasn’t reliant on the staff to be able to make that progress.
Considering the incredibly varied experiences on the psychiatric ward, I put blog posts together a lot more quickly and more regularly because it felt like there was something new to blog about every day! But inevitably, this meant that when my discharge was being discussed and then planned, I found myself wondering whether I’d still have something to blog about if I was considered as being in recovery. I was extremely sceptical that I’m NOT Disordered would continue beyond my hospital admission and for that reason – and with another reason being the horrible comments I had received – I did actually stop blogging upon my discharge in 2014 (from September 12th until October 29th).
After just over one month, I firstly came to the conclusion that the gravity of my sadness with missing blogging, was so much more powerful than any number of negative comments I could possibly receive. It was almost as though all the benefits I received from blogging were worth the risk of any challenges that could possibly come my way in doing so. Secondly, during that month or so, I had more than enough time to learn that recovery – despite what professionals might say – isn’t linear. It’s not like a psychiatric professional can just stamp a label on you reading ‘recovered’ and that’s the end of that – which is kind of ironic because they can stamp a diagnosis on you that will likely stay with you and follow you everywhere for the rest of your life.
With that notion of recovery, the main reason why this spurred me on to start blogging again, was that I worried there were others out there who were also under the false impression that recovery meant a complete and concrete end to your struggles; and I recognised that the realisation and shock of finding that isn’t what happens at all, could end up being massively destabilising and that has the potential to trigger a deterioration in your mental health. So, I hoped that in blogging about this, I might be able to spread and influence an awareness of it so that less people feel how I first felt when I struggled after my admission – like you’re a failure and with a complete reduction to any sense of hope for a healthy, happy, and safe future. And in doing this, I not only hoped that people would feel less alone in discovering recovery isn’t always smooth sailing, but also that professionals reading my blog might be inspired to be more honest and upfront about the actual, more accurate reality of recovery.
In resuming blogging, I was relieved and pleasantly surprised that I didn’t really struggle with ideas for new content and I think that might be partly to do with my mental health and the recognition that regardless of whether I was self-harming, feeling suicidal, or being admitted to hospital etc, I was always learning. My thoughts and feelings were always evolving and growing. They would become things which made a whole lot more sense and which were so much more understandable and therefore better easily managed with me being able to cope with them in a positive and safe way.
Another factor which I think has massively impacted my ability to create original content as the years have gone by, has been my love and passion around creativity. You know, when I was a lot younger, I used to write short stories and then I started drawing and decided to take Textiles and Media Studies as two of my optional subjects in High School. So, whilst I hate to ‘blow my own trumpet,’ I do recognise that I’m kind of naturally a creative person and I think this has really helped me to find ideas and inspiration to make things others might see as strange and definitely irrelevant to a mental health blog, applicable and appropriate to become content on I’m NOT Disordered.
Finally, I’ve put together two little resources which I hope will prove useful for this challenging aspect of being a Blogger:
Firstly, here's a little mindmap (designed by me via Canva) to inspire ideas when you’re feeling stuck with thinking of new blog content:
And secondly, here’s a quick guide (also created using Canva) to pitching ideas for collaborations: