“When you start living the life of your dreams, there will always be obstacles, doubters, mistakes, and setbacks along the way. But with hard work, perseverance, and self-belief, there is no limit to what you can achieve.”
I feel like, there’s been a lot of instances – particularly recently – where I’ve made the comment “I can’t believe that this is happening…” and this blog post celebrating I’m NOT Disordered’s 10th Birthday, is definitely one of those occasions…
I guess that the most obvious place to start is by talking about the creation of the blog way back in 2013…
In the summer of 2012 – after three years in and out of both psychiatric and medical hospitals – a psychiatrist recommended I be admitted to a hospital specialising in my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. I had an assessment with one unit, and they conceded that they couldn’t accept my flight risk. On my second assessment with the hospital in Bradford (over 100 miles away from home) they were happy to admit me, but I refused to go after hearing of their very structured, intense, and rigid way of running things. The sound of a therapeutic timetable and wake-up/lights-off times, felt overwhelming and unappealing.
Not long after verbalising my reluctance to go to that hospital, I made a suicide attempt and after refusing to have the lifesaving antidote, I went into a coma and was put on life support. When I came round, my Community Mental Health Team decided to apply for funding, and I was admitted to the specialist hospital in Bradford just a few days later. Having read up on the ward, I discovered that the ‘average length of admission’ was said to be 12 – 18 months because the programme for the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) they provide usually takes 6 – 12 months to complete. And so, I packed a suitcase(!) and wasn’t at all surprised when, on January 6th, 2013, I found myself still an inpatient and in a difficult but productive 1:1 with my Key Nurse.
From my admission in July 2012, things had been hugely challenging; mainly because being detained under the 1983 Mental Health Act and in hospital meant that I was pretty much entirely robbed of all the means I used to self-harm or to attempt suicide. The difficulty in doing that, was that I was filled with the notion ‘what the heck do I do instead?’ But staff felt I was too unstable to start DBT, and so, I began taking psychiatric medication that meant by the beginning of 2013, I was feeling a lot stronger and full of the belief that I was on the right track. In my 1:1 with my Key Nurse, I agreed to write notes and letters about the abuse I experienced when I was younger for staff to read and learn more about what I’d been through so that they’d be better placed in helping and supporting me. And as I returned to my bedroom to find my laptop sat on my bed, I found myself filled with the desire to begin documenting – what I believed I was finally really embarking – my mental health recovery journey.
In all honesty, I put barely any thought or consideration into creating I’m NOT Disordered and starting to blog (something I would definitely not recommend for anyone who are debating joining the industry). In fact, I think the most effort I went into was to make the decision that creating a blog on Wordpress felt too difficult and challenging; so, I opted for Blogger, which seemed to be so much more straight forward and easily understandable. To be honest, I really didn’t appreciate that low sense of effort until recently. Now that the blogging industry is so popular and ‘trendy’ I recognise that having such little headache and stress over creating my blog was a bit of a blessing. Another area of blogging I find myself grateful for my own experience with is that nowadays it’s so important to have a stand-out quality to your blog; whether that be through design, name, genre, content… But back in 2013, there were about three well-known mental health blogs and none were by a current psychiatric hospital inpatient. I kind of automatically had a niche; I hadn’t had to desperately find one in the way so many newer Bloggers are needing to do in order to carve their own space in the digital world.
Another aspect of I’m NOT Disordered which came without much thought but has still proven to be a good move is its name! I mean, I didn’t exactly go brainstorming names and ideas and inspiration for them; but I did actually put a lot of thought into what I wanted ‘I’m NOT Disordered’ to mean, represent, symbolise, and stand for. The ‘I’m’ is to signify the importance of treating someone with a mental illness as a person and not a case number or patient. The ‘NOT’ is purposefully in capital letters to give a little nudge to it possibly sounding childish. The ‘Disordered’ is a reference to my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). And so, the entire title is a dig at how a lot of professionals and other service users can sometimes treat you as no more than your diagnosis. As though it’s the definition of you. As though it’s the only quality you have to offer.
I think that the fact I can describe Day One of I’m NOT Disordered in such detail (I mean, it’s almost two pages on the Word document I’m drafting this on!) really illustrates the part of this section stating that I can remember starting to blog as though it were yesterday. But then, the part about it feeling like it was forever ago stems from the fact that I have so many amazing memories of incredible opportunities, huge achievements, and monumental moments from blogging… And I struggle to even recognise that I’ve experienced everything in ten years never mind any other amount of time!
Another reason for feeling as though I’ve been blogging forever, is because it has become such a huge part of me as a person, and this gives the obvious and understandable notion that it’s a massive part of my life in general. It’s kind of ironic, but I named my blog as a symbol of not being defined by my mental illness; and I feel as though it (I’m NOT Disordered) has become the defining piece of my identity! I mean, when I’m being introduced to people at events, it’s often: “… and this is Aimee Wilson, she’s a Blogger.” In fairness, I really don’t mind that – it’s a lovely change from what I used to be! There was one time when I was in a medical hospital and this Nurse was handing over updates of all the patients to the Nurses coming on duty and her words were: “this is Aimee, you’ve probably heard of her – she’s the sectioned one.” And so, to be known and defined as something so much more positive? Well, that means a great deal, and I think it actually really illustrates my mental health recovery too and it shows how much better I’m doing.
I’ve created some content slightly similar to this little point before, and I was always quite flippant about using words like ‘essential’ and ‘must-have’ because I recognised that they’re attention-grabbing and attractive for new readers. But I was also aware that labelling items in that way might make readers reluctant to start blogging. That the titles might make them feel completely incapable – for numerous reasons e.g., unable to afford such items, unsure of using them etc. – of being able to blog; and that is something I really hate the thought of. I mean, I’ve said before that I’m very against seeing other bloggers as competition and rivals; I’d much rather look at them as inspirational and influential. So that, coupled with the fact that blogging has had a hugely helpful impact on my mental health recovery, has left me really wanting to encourage more people to try blogging with the real hope that they’ll benefit from it in the ways which I have.
Also! Before I show you the items, on their links and prices I’ve added the ones which I actually own – please don’t think of doing that as ‘showing off’ in any way. I just put it to illustrate that they work for/help me and so I’d recommend them…
iPad 10.2”: £339.98 (my actual iPad)
Fringe Studio Daily Planner: £18.84
iPad Keyboard Case: £33.99 (my actual case)
Laptop Tray: £21.98
Portable Power Bank: £30.99
iPhone Charger Cable: £9.99 (my actual cables)
Belkin Surge Cube Plug: £14.99
Stationary Set: £10.99
Wooden Desk Organiser: £29.99
256GB Memory Stick: £24.49 (my actual stick)
Now, one item I really (jokingly) refer to as a ‘must-have’ for blogging is my book: Everything Disordered which is titled as ‘A Practical Guide to Blogging.’ It’s something I worked really hard on for over a year and I’ve used it as an opportunity to create a resource for aspiring bloggers that provides advice, tips, exercises, and examples that are all intended to encourage and promote blogging.
You can buy it on Amazon here
From the very beginning of this crazy journey, I have been so aware of my reader count… I mean, I remember when the number reached 100 whilst I was still in the psychiatric hospital. I was really close to the girl two doors down from my bedroom and she’d actually helped design the blog when I first started out because I had no idea about doing something like that.
So, each in our own room, we had both been constantly watching the reader count from when it reached about 90, which meant that when it reached those three digits; we both screamed! I raced out of my room, and she was coming out of hers and we just hugged and screamed and cried in the middle of the corridor. We were so excitable and loud that the staff came running out of their office and began making their way to us when they realised, we weren’t angry or sad – we weren’t at all angry or sad. I obviously can’t speak for her, but I felt so incredibly proud. And honoured. Honoured that so many people had taken just one minute out of their day to look at I’m NOT Disordered. That they’d cared enough about me and my mental health journey to want to see what I had to say about my experiences as an inpatient of a psychiatric hospital.
Whilst I was in the hospital – about a year or so after creating my blog – one of the other inpatients asked me why I cared so much about the number of readers I had. And, knowing that girl at the time, it’s safe to say that she meant it in a way that would make me feel bad and that would call into question whether I had genuine investments, care, and passion in the industry or whether I was all about the superficial aspects. Her intentions kind of worked though; I mean, she did make me think a lot harder about what she was insinuating and that meant I struggled to answer her question. Fortunately, though, ten years is a fairly lengthy amount of time, and so I’ve had a while to continue thinking about this point and to come up with so many reasons and motivations that keep me excited by the number on the reader count…
Firstly, it’s not about thinking of my readers as a number themselves. I don’t think of them as a group of nameless, faceless strangers. Instead, I’m driven by thought of what I’m NOT Disordered’s content could mean and the impact it could have, on all of those people. And the higher that number, the more chance that my blog is having the desired affect and result that I’m really working towards. The top two messages I really hope people can take from reading my blog is that there can always be hope for recovery in mental illness, and that the digital world (and blogging in particular) has the potential to have an amazingly positive impact on the lives of those using it.
For such a long time when my mental health was at its most poorly, I felt incredibly unlucky that my suicide attempts didn’t work (although I came close to it twice when I was put on life support), and now; I feel so intensely grateful and fortunate to still be alive. And I hope that this is something which shines through my content – especially considering one of those instances of life support happened after creating the blog and so I was able to document it (the actual experience and my thoughts and feelings around it) when I made a full, medical recovery.
It’s interesting and helpful, I think, that readers can look back at that time in my life – the time when I was genuinely suicidal – and see what it has become now. How passionate I am about what I do with my life, how much I enjoy blogging and all of the opportunities and work that come my way and the success it has, and how happy I am with my bunny (Luna) and my friends and family. As well as those incredibly things, there’s also how helpful my Richmond Fellowship Recovery Workers are, how useful my medication is, and how much my DBT skills are benefiting me when I have the odd difficult moment. In all honesty, it genuinely scares me to think that I, personally, created a number of opportunities where there was a chance that none of this would have happened. Where my future and all the possibilities that would come with it, could have been completely taken away. So, I really, truly hope that my recovery can be some sort of inspiration or reassurance to others who are struggling with their mental health so that they can see that there is every bit of chance that things will turn around. And that the only thing that can really get in your way, is you.
Being grateful for the number of readers my blog has isn’t all about you guys though, some of my appreciation is – arguably – of a selfish nature. But, I’d like to think that a major quality of I’m NOT Disordered that attracts reader is the honesty and openness of the content. So, I won’t lie; I do also recognise and have gratitude for the fact that the more readers there is, the higher the possibility and chance of me securing some amazing, high-profile collaborations, as well as being offered some once-in-a-life-time, special opportunities. In the early days of me pitching ideas for working with other people or organisations, I failed to secure a lot… Until I started mentioning my reader count and other, more general, statistics.
Initially relying on that information to be given some really big monumental moments and achievements, made me feel kind of uncomfortable and reluctant. It had me worrying that me and my own skills weren’t good enough to qualify for such experiences and that made me feel terrible for using you guys as a quality that they found more appealing. But, over time, I learnt that my blog wouldn’t have the readership it has if I wasn’t doing something right! Like, I’m not stupid; I know that not every single person reading this will enjoy it or look at the entirety of my blog in a positive light; but come on! Over one million people?! In making this realisation, I found myself becoming more comfortable referring to the readership in pitches or when advertising and promoting my blog in a more general way e.g., in conversations etc. And, as the blogging industry has grown and my own ideas for I’m NOT Disordered have developed, I’ve also come to understand why organisations, brands, business, well-known individuals etc. find the statistics appealing and convincing. At the end of the day, there needs to be a clear benefit to agreeing to a collaboration – in the same way that I want to know how I would progress when it is someone pitching a collaboration to me.
So, with all of that in mind, the biggest readership milestones where I have actually hosted parties to celebrate them; have been reaching 100,000 and 1,000,000. For 100k, I hired a huge hall in a fancy Hotel in the nearest city centre (Newcastle), invited 100 people, had a buffet, private bar, and hired a musician! For one million, I wanted something a bit more intimate so that everyone there were someone who I actually knew and who meant a lot to me and my blog’s journey.
Other reader milestones I’ve marked over the years – with the links to the blog posts about them – have been:
One of the most enjoyable and fun aspects – that I’ve experienced, and in my opinion, – with my mental health recovery, has been the irony! And this was largely experienced when I worked with two particular organisations… One being my work with Northumbria Police and the other one being with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW).
When my mental health first deteriorated in 2009, there was very little talk about mental health and that meant that the Police had no real recognition that their input was sometimes required in mental health crisis, and this meant they were definitely not willing to learn more about mental health to improve the help and support they were being required to provide. And their reluctance to have an education on the subject was probably one of the biggest reasons why they were so incredibly terrible in their responses around mental health crisis.
Back then, I found so many of the Officers to be rude, ignorant, judgmental, and just plain spiteful and nasty. In recent years, however, Northumbria Police have come to accept and acknowledge that their presence and assistance is going to be called upon in some mental health related situations where they might be thinking ‘that’s not in my job description’ or ‘this isn’t what I signed up for.’ And so, alongside CNTW, I helped facilitate mental health training for the new Police recruits and it left me feeling so reassured that people in crises similar to the ones I had experienced, will be treat so much better than I was. I mean, the CNTW staff and Police Mental Health Lead, would advise the recruits on the legal side of situations and provide education on which laws are most appropriate for each scenario they created. Then I would step in and explain how these things affect the person in crisis and I’d be able to get across how important it is that they listen to advice on their comments, behaviours, and attitudes because these things can be vital to the safety and outcome of the entire situation.
The largest ‘full circle’ recognition came in 2017, and I discussed some of it in this blog post: FROM CELLS TO CONFERENCES | MY MENTAL HEALTH RECOVERY WITH NORTHUMBRIA POLICE | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk)
My other ‘full circle’ kind of experience was in my collaborations and work with CNTW…
My experience started with them when I first became poorly with my mental health and I made my first suicide attempt, I was sectioned and – after having the life-saving medical treatment – admitted to a CNTW hospital for the first time. Having no previous experience with the Trust didn’t matter in terms of me having expectations of what it would be like in the hospital, because I’d heard so many horror stories about my local psychiatric hospital (which was also a CNTW site, but had no available beds). Those terrifying rumours were actually the reason why I hadn’t tried to get help as soon as I started to hear the auditory hallucinations ten days before making my suicide attempt, because I was terrified that I’d be sent to the hospital.
My first two or three admissions/suicide attempts, the staff treat me really well and showed concern, kindness, and validation. As soon as I disclosed the abuse I’d experienced when I was younger though, the ‘possible diagnosis’ on my discharge summary read ‘Borderline Personality Disorder’ and from that moment, their care, support, and help pretty much vanished! I remember asking my CNTW Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) whether this was going to be an actual diagnosis and she said “I don’t want to do that just yet because no one gets better from it. No services will help you once you get that label.” And that was the start of the end of my trust, respect, and appreciation for CNTW.
The number of times that I was referred to as an ‘attention-seeker’ and accused of faking my symptoms was so frequent that I ended up questioning my own validity! I mean, I had the thought ‘they’re the professionals; they know best. So, if that’s what they think… maybe they’re right...?’But of course they weren’t. And with them taking that attitude and having that response, I became more and more reluctant to ask them for help when I was in a crisis – or even just when I felt as though my mental health was heading that way. I felt completely alone, dismissed, and the absence of validation left me feeling even more unsafe.
Fortunately, though, there were inconsistencies in the staff… I think that the best illustration for there being some good staff and some poor, was when I made that third suicide attempt in July 2012. When I was in the coma, apparently my Mum had been telling the CNTW Psychiatric Liaison Team in the hospital that she wanted me to be taken to the specialist hospital I’d refused to go to. They said they would be sending me home, and when she asked what would happen if she said she didn’t want me there (which she obviously wouldn’t mean), their response was that they’d refer me to a homeless shelter! But, luckily, my new CPN and Psychologist were the good guys and they agreed with my Mum and had me admitted to the Personality Disorder hospital which, ultimately, helped save my life.
The fact that CNTW had sent me there after conceding that they didn’t have the services and facilities to help me, was something that – as I entered into recovery – I became extremely grateful for. I recognised that it actually took something really admirable for them to have accepted their inadequacy and I felt truly honoured that they clearly believed I had the potential to recover or they wouldn’t have given me the opportunity to do so. It also gave me the notion that they thought I had the potential to do well in my future, and that I was deserving of that. And so, in reaching recovery and being discharged back into the community and into CNTW’s care in 2014, I felt keen to thank them for all of their faith in me and so I began to build some connections and joined their Involvement Bank (an initiative where service users and carers can be contacted if a department, ward etc in CNTW would like their perspective on something e.g., an upcoming project or campaign).
It's not just about me though! Similarly, to the Police engaging in training sessions, whilst I had been in the specialist hospital all those miles away from CNTW’s locality, the Trust had actually set up a whole ton of Personality Disorder services and were employing and training staff in helping and supporting service users with that diagnosis. Of course, simply doing these things doesn’t equal perfect improvement… I still hear bad feedback about their services from others, but I think even their most senior staff would agree that there’s always room for improvement in healthcare – especially where that healthcare is in mental health. Also, in fairness, those service users who I’ve heard complaining (usually about the teams used in crisis – the Crisis Resolution Home Treatment Team and the Psychiatric Liaison Team) are recent referrals, and I wonder if that means they have different expectations? As in, maybe if they’d experienced the Trust during the years I did, they might be reassured of its progress and have more faith – as I do – in the fact that CNTW have the ability and bravery to better themselves.
The most recent recognition of my ‘full circle’ notion with CNTW, was when I attended their Staff Excellence Awards earlier this year; and you can read about that here: THE IMPORTANCE OF RECOGNISING SKILLS, ASSETS, & QUALITIES | THE STAFF EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2022 | IN COLLABORATION WITH CUMBRIA, NORTHUMBERLAND, TYNE & WEAR NHS FOUNDATION TRUST | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk)
In 2018, I was told that I’m NOT Disordered had made it into the UK’s Top 10 Borderline Personality Disorder Blogs on FeedSpot (here’s the post from back then when I got the news: TOP 10 UK BLOGS ON BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk)), and over the last four years the list has developed and is now not only just a ‘Top 5,’ but it also has I’m NOT Disordered in the number 1 position! (For the rest of the current list: Top 5 UK Borderline Personality Disorder Blogs)
Before a few years into my blogging career, I was very reluctant and blowing my own horn and talking publicly (that counted even if it was just with one other person!) about any skills I possessed, talents I had mastered, or achievements I had accomplished. Regardless of having always had encouragement and positive feedback on my creativity and the things that I enjoyed doing as I grew up, my Art and Design teacher at High School managed to completely squash that into meaning absolutely nothing to me and any confidence I had previously had. She tore my work to pieces with her very unconstructive criticism and literally did all that she could on a practical level to ensure I didn’t achieve a good grade in the subject when it finally came to having a show wall of the pieces I’d made throughout a particular length of time as an examination of the GCSE qualification.
Feeling as though my efforts – no matter how much time and energy I put into them – were never good enough and that my creativity on a whole, was fairly inadequate; it felt as though someone has pressed this button that, when it was pressed, automatically switched off a person’s confidence, self-esteem, and self-judgment. I mean, when I finished the qualification (I got the ‘pass’ grade that I needed for going on to further education), it was like I didn’t even need the teacher’s voice reverberating off the inside of my head because my own thoughts and opinions were so low and debilitating that they completely rivalled hers! Which meant that it wasn’t until around eight years after that exam (which meant it was just over two years into my blogging career), that I found my confidence and feelings of self-worth improving.
The turning point? Reaching my first, really big milestone in the reader count of I’m NOT Disordered; 100,000! Now, having talked a bit about the importance of the reader count earlier in this post, but I didn’t really talk about the impact it’s had on my confidence in this respect. What I did say though, that is linked to this, was that I recognise that the higher the reader counts, the more likely I am to secure collaborations and opportunities. And so, in doing that, I found myself needing a great deal of confidence to be willing to talk about the size of my audience because I was well aware that in doing so, it could very easily – and understandably – seem as though I’m bragging.
In addition to talking more about the readership to secure opportunities, I also like to do it simply because I’m so proud. I recognise that there are so many blogs out there – the category of mental health blogging has particularly grown since I created, I’m NOT Disordered – and that means yours has to really have something special to be read when there’s such a huge choice of blogs out there now. And so, to be number 1 in the UK? Well, it leaves me with the notion that I’m finally doing something right. Something very right. And, after all that time being picked apart and torn to pieces by my Art and Design teacher, I probably appreciate milestones like this a lot more because I’ve seen what the opposite attitude and behaviour to this is like; and, how it affects me and my mental health.
Now, I’m all about being honest – especially on here; but I’m also incredibly aware that this might sound ungrateful… The one drawback that I’ve found to being number 1 – or probably to being of any place – on this list, though, is the pressure that comes with it. And I kind of think that anyone would either feel that or appreciate why I would. On the ‘off chance’ you don’t understand why I would feel this pressure; it’s because I hold a sense of motivation and determination to stay in that place. And that sounds kind of competitive but it’s not… It’s because I’m 100% certain that being number 1 is a huge indicator of my energy and effort being worthwhile and my content being of a high standard. And so, to lose that position – I would interpret that to mean – the quality of my blog had deteriorated and that – on the whole – meant that I was now failing.
Realising that if I’m NOT Disordered does drop down the list, I’m very grateful for the stability of my mental health and my strong ability to maintain my safety. I’m also focusing on the fact that being at any place on that list is a real honour because if a blogger further down the list came to me with a low self-worth and absence of confidence in voicing the notion of failure because they aren’t number 1, I wouldn’t support that thought process. I’d tell them that it’s a huge achievement to just be mentioned and that even then, it should be more important what you think of your own content and the feedback your readers might be giving you. So, it’s one of those instances similar to ‘why don’t you take your own advice?’ that I’ll be keeping in mind should my blog’s ranking change.
*Not to like, plug my book again (which you can buy here); but I actually went into a lot of detail about this tip (starting on page 209)!*
Sadly, I can’t remember the first time my Mum said this to me, but it was her who told me it and inspired me to use it in so many aspects of my blogging career/journey. Primarily, though, this tip is really useful for landing collaborations and gifts. I’ve found that it really works perfectly in boosting and working alongside my new-found confidence surrounding my blog and spurred on by the milestones in my reader count.
When I told my Mum that I was including this in the blog post, she said to make sure people know that it wasn’t about being greedy! And I totally agree; I mean, I’d like to think that isn’t how I use it either. Instead, I try to see it as motivation to initiate a conversation or email chain with ideas for opportunities and pitches for collaborations with organisations or well-regarded/well-known individuals.
It’s actually really helped me to develop the thought process that the worst thing that could happen from me using my initiative and confidence, is that someone says “no.” And really, how bad is that? I mean, in the grand scheme of everything – particularly the largest challenges in blogging – is a ‘no’ so terrible? To be honest, I’ve had to remind myself of that so many times because when I first started blogging, I obviously wasn’t amazing at it and so almost inevitably, I received a few negative responses and I felt so disappointed and let-down. In fact, I’m really mincing my words, because really? Well, I felt like an absolute failure! I didn’t – not for one minute – consider the possibility that I was just starting out in the industry and that I had a long way to go and a lot to learn before I could achieve and secure the opportunities and experiences I was dreaming of and wishing for.
I finally figured out that to be given a ‘yes’, I really needed to work my butt off to earn it – to earn the opportunities and experiences I was looking for and asking for – and that I’d then have to work even harder to actually achieve my dreams, goals, and aims. Making this recognition, meant that I threw my all into blogging and making I’m NOT Disordered into all that it is today. And what do you know, I began experiencing a ton of positive responses when I approached organisations suggesting collaborations and pitching ideas.
Then, after a year or so of that, I found that things started to become the other way around; charities, companies, and brands were actually starting to approach me and they were the ones initiating the possibility and thought of us working together. Ironically though, just like how I had to learn to cope with a ‘no’, I also had to put a lot of thought into how I reacted when this opposite turn of events (them approaching me) was happening. I mean, I was incredibly aware of the danger here; I knew that it could very easily (and completely understandable, really) influence for me to have an attitude that I’ve witnessed so many other Bloggers illustrate – a cockiness and an arrogance with a showing-off kind of attitude and behaviour. It always seems to come as a Blogger’s success and their blog’s popularity are on the up. It’s like they’ve forgotten where they started and deem themselves to be better than those who are still in that start position.
Fortunately, my upbringing and – I think – general attitude and approach to life, has really helped me to stray from that path and to (hopefully – I mean I’d like to think this is the case!) maintain a sense of being grounded. An awareness of how hard I’ve worked to get to this point of people approaching me. And in following my greatest blog influence (Victoria Magrath of inthefrow.com), I’ve been able to see how much it means to work hard for accomplishments and achievements, and to not see that as reaching the top. It can be such a good thought process and attitude to always believe that you can do better. To never feel like you’ve reached your peak and that it’s the end of you creating and manifesting bigger and better aspirations.
Now, something I will be honest about and admit to, is that in doing this – in always striving for more, of course it can become tiring. Of course, it’s sometimes draining and the thought might cross your mind that nothing will ever be ‘good enough’ to feel somewhat satisfied and content with things. To be honest, I did used to sometimes feel worn out. When my mental health was poorly and I began experiencing this tiredness with my blogging career, it was something I actually really struggled to cope with. Like, even in so far as feeling that I was becoming unsafe. And so, upon recognising that I hated the thought of not blogging because of this; I found it really important that I learn some coping mechanisms in order to keep blogging without it jeopardising my happiness and safety. In learning that, I’ve found that I now experience the exact opposite; I now thrive of this sensation of kind of competing against myself. I even find it motivating when I become tired with how much time and effort I’m putting into things! I mean, even to the point where I’ll be at an event all day, there’ll be travelling, early starts, late finishing, no time for food or toilet breaks, and people will be saying “are you not stressed?” and I’m like “yeah, but I love it!” And I think that this is something which really illustrates just how much I believe that in doing all of this – everything in the blogging industry – I have found a true purpose for my life.
This tip of utilising ‘shy bairns get nowt’ has also become useful with the occasions when I’ve given some public speeches and presentations, have contributed and spoken up in large meetings, and when I/I’m NOT Disordered has been in the media. Like so many people, I was terrified at the idea of speaking in front of lots of people or having an interview where I knew that my answers were going to become very public! And so, this ‘shy-bairns-get-nowt’ tip came in handy because instead of focusing on the gains, it helped me to look at it more as though concentrating on what wouldn’t happen if I didn’t just grit my teeth and stamp my fear right down to the back of my mind.
I knew that giving these speeches and being in the media would be such a good move for my blog’s status and position in the industry. And it wasn’t so much about wanting more readers, it was about wanting what that might mean… That publicising I’m NOT Disordered would increase the chance that the content I was creating could help someone and ultimately – aside from the therapeutic impact blogging has on me and my mental health – my greatest aim in everything I write or put together, is for it to benefit someone else in whatever way applicable depending upon the theme of the content. And ‘shy bairns get nowt’ encourages me to keep that in mind and to utilise it as a confidence booster in supporting me through these public speaking and media appearance opportunities.
For anyone who doesn’t understand or know the notion and premise behind this term (because I’ve already had someone be confused over it), this is a little list of some of the biggest, most important moments that have happened recently where I’ve felt so shocked and which have been so surreal and surprising that I’ve almost had to pinch myself to remind myself that it is, indeed, reality…
ü Planning and counting down to this Birthday
ü Becoming 1st place on the Top 5 UK Borderline Personality Disorder Blogs
ü Being featured on the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s bulletin that circulates amongst thousands of staff
ü The success of Blogmas (in case you missed it, here’s the re-cap with links and information on each of the daily posts: BLOGMAS 2022 | DAY TWENTY-FIVE: LESSONS LEARNT, BEHIND-THE-SCENES, & A RE-CAP! | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk))
ü Reaching over 1.1 million readers!
ü Working on the major announcement coming at the end of this post!
I made the decision to feature collaborations on I’m NOT Disordered for a number of reasons…
1. That it might help increase the publicity and reputation of the collaborator (who is usually someone or an organisation that I really believe deserve to be more well-known for a number/variety of reasons)
2. That it’s an opportunity to double the publicity of the content I create because the collaborator will be sharing our work together on social media too and that publicity can be a great influence on increasing the impact my content has on others
3. It’s a good excuse to be creative in putting together content that is relevant to both the mental health elements I usually blog about, as well as whatever issue or theme the collaborator is centred on, in order to make it applicable to their audience and not just mine
4. It also usually means I get to have an exciting or amazing experience with attending a collaborators event or conference, being gifted products, being able to give presentations and talks that might help others, one-off opportunities like walking Alpacas!
5. A sense of achievement. Experiencing so much influence and inspiration from blogs that are primarily featuring fashion and beauty mean that I view collaborations as really meaningful and have a sense of ‘ranking’ amongst different organisations who hold a particular standing in the world/industry
And so, without further ado, here are my favourite (for so many different reasons) ten collaboration pieces from the past ten years:
Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust: WHY MENTAL HEALTH IS TAKING A BEATING WITH THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC | IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CUMBRIA, NORTHUMBERLAND, TYNE & WEAR NHS FOUNDATION TRUST | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk)
This bit was actually really interesting and exciting for me to do! I mean, I loved looking back over the entire last ten years on I’m NOT Disordered because it gave me the opportunity to reflect on how far I – and my blog – have come over that time. It was also really cool to see my definition of ‘important’ change over the years; I would deem some of these old posts to be important in so far as I’m NOT Disordered’s journey and progress and others as turning points in my mental health and recovery.
Now, I don’t want to seem ungrateful – but judging by how often and how much I talk about how much the number of readers means to me, you won’t think that way! – but one of the hardest parts of my blogs audience growing to such an incredible height over the course of ten years, is that it means I have no real idea of how much about my life people know. Like, how do I know that someone reading this post right now, will know that I actually stopped blogging for a few months? And it’s not about caring that I feel the need to put more effort and time into posts in order to explain things from years ago so that recent readers understand some context. It’s purely about wanting people to appreciate how drastically things have changed over the years – for both me personally, and for I’m NOT Disordered.
Since the moment I produced my book: Everything Disordered (which I’ve already linked a few times and is also permanently linked in the image of my book on the left) in 2021 and saw both how popular it was, and how incredible an experience it was to create it; I’ve had this idea for another one. I couldn’t have been more amazed at the processes Everything Disordered went through and I absolutely loved how much creativity it drew from me. It was like I could be my true self and really indulge my creative side and allow it full reign in putting together an entire book that was actually also dubbed ‘A Practical Guide to Blogging.’
In creating Everything Disordered, I also really enjoyed being in complete control of something that is going to be so hugely monumental in my blogging journey. It’s no secret that I am a bit of a control freak, and I think that stems from the abuse in how it was a massive trauma for me and I couldn’t do all that much about it. I mean, even if I had been able to speak up earlier, I couldn’t change that it happened and that it happened against my will. And so, I really benefit from having a massive ‘say’ in things. It’s about responsibility too and wanting to be able to hold myself accountable for any successes or failures that come my way.
So, the thought behind this new book is that I’ve searched high and low online and in stores to find some sort of wellbeing journal or guide that is especially aimed at bloggers whose content is of any theme or falls within any industry. And so, similarly to when I discovered there were no well-known mental health blogs being written by psychiatric hospital inpatients, I felt the inclination, motivation, and passion to do it myself! Also, just like I’m NOT Disordered, the prospect that what I could do might be beneficial and helpful for some people, really instilled a sense of purpose and dedication in me to devote a ton of time and effort to make this idea and dream, a reality.
Naming the book and making some of the initial, basic decisions was fairly easy, quick, and straightforward; but taking things further than that? Well I’m putting a heck of a lot of thought and care into this and so my hope is that it’ll be published and available to buy on Amazon in April 2023! Keep an eye out for the cover reveal and the announcement of the book’s title – though I’ve left a lot of clues for it in here!