“It takes more courage to try and fail than not to try and never succeed.”
So, I was writing a blog post about my new job (Head of Marketing and Communications for a brand new Company!) and had to go through my archives to ensure I wasn’t repeating myself when I came across a Mid-Year Review from 2020 (you can still read it here) and one from 2022 (which you can also still read, here). And seeing them, has obviously inspired me to create another review from January 2023 – June 2023, but – as is the norm with my blogging ethos – I wanted to create one that was a bit different and (hopefully) better! So, I’ve decided to really delve into the nitty-gritty of the blog posts published during the last six months; to talk about the process of creating them, the statistics of them, advice and additional thoughts around them, and I’ll be including some favourite photos and reels from the last six months of content on my Instagram account (which you can follow here) and my Twitter (which you can follow here). I really hope that it provides insight into all the passion and dedication that truly goes into I’m NOT Disordered…
As I mentioned at the start of this New Year’s post, it’s a time of the year that is really a key moment that a blogger very rarely misses/fails to mark with a piece of appropriately themed content. This typically means it’s incredibly challenging to be someone who wants their blog and its content to really stand out from the crowd and to have a special, attractive factor that no other blog offers or provides. My timing in so far as creating I’m NOT Disordered, was actually rather perfect because it was at a time when there were really only four well-known mental health blogs – none of which were written by a psychiatric hospital inpatient (as I was then). So almost instantly I had a niche without feeling as though I had to work very hard to do so! It actually makes me feel incredibly lucky now that I really do like to prioritise having a special quality to my content.
In order to retain that differential quality, it’s so important that when you’re creating content on an occasion that there’s a chance it’ll get lost amongst a ton of others (such as New Years), you find a unique angle to use. And I think this is where my creativity really comes into play… I’ve always been told I’m a creative person and that I’m skilled in creative writing etc. but – not being someone who is comfortable blowing their own trumpet – I’ve never truly recognised it; until I was able to see the connection between the content on my blog that I put the most creativity into and its resulting popularity.
Top Tip for Being Creative: If I’m seriously stuck for ideas (which happens very rarely!) I’m very encouraging of the idea of looking at other Blogger’s or Influencer’s content and taking inspiration from them. I think there’s far too much negativity, envy, and resentment between individuals in this industry and I think that rather than viewing another Blogger as a rival; it’s so much more positive and productive to take them – and their content – as influential. It can be a real starting off point to build upon their angles and ideas etc and to make them more apt for your own audience.
There have been so many moments in my blogging career that have felt so incredibly surreal, exciting, and – in some ways – intimidating; and having my blog for ten years was definitely one of these moments! I mean, when I created, I’m NOT Disordered in 2013, I did so to communicate with my family and friends whilst I was in a psychiatric hospital over 100 miles away; so, the longest I imagined it being active for was the length of the admission (which ended up being – in total – 2.5 years). And I think that’s pretty understandable because why would I still need to do that for communication if I was back at home?
I saw, however, the impact my blog was having on others too, I saw the reader count rise to illustrate it was helping more and more people, and I experienced the opportunities my blog was already affording me. As these aspects grew and continued to improve, I found myself feeling more and more passionate and dedicated to I’m NOT Disordered and everything that it meant. I think that it was because of this change in my attitude, feelings, and thought processes around my blog, that I continued to maintain it for all these years after my discharge from the psychiatric hospital. So, I’ve been able to watch as it steadily has become to be one of the largest and most important parts of my mental health recovery and really, my life in general. And so, it almost wrong to not do something a bit more special for the ten-year-anniversary of its creation, and when almost all my best friends came to the party? I couldn’t have been more happy or proud.
Advice For Planning a Celebration of a Blog Achievement or Milestone: If it’s meant to be a surprise, have at least one person ‘in the know’ so that you have support if things get stressful or if you want someone’s opinion when you’re confronted with multiple options for things that might vary from a colour scheme to having a vegetarian option on the menu! If it’s not a surprise, begin planning as soon as you have the idea for it to be able to get invitations out with plenty of notice to assure guest’s availability which might alter any of your plans e.g., seating arrangements, gift bags etc.
Favourite Amazon Purchase of January 2023: 5 Pack 10ft iPhone Charging Lead: £7.19
Last but not the least important blog post for January 2023, was the one celebrating adding another furry baby to the family! When my last cat; Emmy, was put to sleep last year, I asked the Vet for advice on helping Luna (my bunny and Emmy’s best friend) to cope with the loss and her immediate response was; “get her a friend.” At the time, I instantly took that as to mean to get another cat and almost instinctively, I began wracking my brains to think of ways to overcome all the difficulties I would be faced with in introducing a kitten to a bunny (and vice versa!). Whilst Luna and I bonded quite well without Emmy, I felt some sort of distance that I was 100% certain I couldn’t remove or reduce in any way, and so – after a few months of just the two of us – I got Gracie; a brown mini-Lionhead bunny (which is the same breed as Luna, though she is black and white).
Now, the difficulty in publishing posts to announce the arrival of a new pet, is that if you read it back a while after having the pet, you might find that you’ve actually resolved some uncertainties or answered a few anxious questions you’d talked about in the post. And that’s been a big reason why I’ve often followed up on pet arrivals with a ‘one month with…’ or even a yearly update on the anniversary of their homecoming; but I haven’t done this for Gracie. I think that there’s no huge reason behind that – it wasn’t as though I made a conscious decision not to post something, it just turned out that way. In all honesty, it’s not something I had even really noticed until right now and initially it made me kind of sad and worried that it looked as though I don’t love her as much as the other pets because I have blogged about them more often. And a few years ago, a concern like that might have resulted in me writing a blog post purely with the motivation of proving that I love Gracie! Now, though? Well, now I have the confidence to recognise that so long as Gracie knows how much I love her; that’s all that really matters! A reason for this change in attitude, has been that I’ve really seen the importance of my blog posts never feeling forced in any way, never seeming to be mandatory, and me never feeling pressured into writing them. I want to write content that I want to write, and I want to write it in ways that mean I can be honest, passionate, and dedicated to the topic or instance the post is inspired by or directly referring to.
How I Begun Taking Ownership of I’m NOT Disordered’s Content: One of the most valuable lessons that I used to have regular lectures regarding, from the Crisis Team and other mental health professionals; was the importance of taking responsibility for your actions. They recognised that I was someone who would cope with something in an unsafe way, and then say I’d only done so because such-and-such had said this or because such-and-such had done that. I like to think that this behaviour and attitude is no longer a part of me and that if anything, it’s actually made me eager to promote others do this too! And one area of my life that this change has had been of huge benefit to, is in my blog. I hope that in taking responsibility for the content produced on I’m NOT Disordered, it really illustrates my passion, dedication, and determination to my blog and to providing helpful content for its incredible readers.
It’s weird to look back at February – and especially to this first blog post of the month – because I feel like it’s the epitome of a good illustration of how spontaneous and conflicting mental illness can be – I mean, I spent the beginning of February 2023 celebrating my life in turning 32… And the tail end of the month? Well, that was spent wishing my life was over as a psychiatric hospital inpatient, sectioned under the Mental Health Act! But I feel like pointing this out and recognising this, is really important in getting across the true dangers of suicide… There’s a saying about this that I find really helpful – ‘suicide doesn’t only end the chances of things getting worse, it also stops things from ever getting any better.’
There have been so many occasions where I’ve been offered amazing opportunities or have been engaging in these once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are a result of, I’m NOT Disordered’s success and popularity; and I’ve just felt so completely grateful for all those who have truly saved my life on a number of occasions. But then, there’s also been instances of bad news and upsetting situations where I’ve ended up resenting those same people and felt as though they’re to blame for the fact I’m now going through hardship. I’ve had times where I’ve actually genuinely thought ‘they’ve saved me because their job description has told them to, but they’re nowhere to be seen when there’s a ton of horrible things that I then have to deal with because they saved me!’
The fact that I have these instances of negative and difficult thoughts and feelings, are a motivation for me to really document and celebrate achievements and reaching important and special milestones – in my life and in my blogging career. So, I’m really grateful to have this Birthday blog post that I could look back on and draw hope and inspiration from, whilst I was in the psychiatric hospital when I was sectioned just a few weeks later!
Advice On Birthday Blog Posts: One thing I will say about Birthday posts in general though, is that similarly to New Years posts, you are kind of limited on the number of angles you can use for your blog post… Typically, it’s about reflecting on the previous year or using the age/number in some way e.g., 32 memories, or 32 changes I want to make… Don’t be disheartened though, view it as being an opportunity to be even more creative and inventive and concentrate on the importance of getting across whatever message you want readers to take from the post.
Favourite Amazon Purchase of February 2023: Max Factor Foundation: £6.30
Whilst I was in the psychiatric hospital at the tail end of February, I had to make several big decisions, and one of them was around the release date of a huge project – a new Book/Guide – I was working on… I had originally intended for it to be complete and published by April 20th and I had announced that date, but being so unwell that I was sectioned meant that I really wasn’t in the ‘right’ mindset or had the real ability to work on the Guide. It was a difficult decision to recognise that April 20th was just no longer a practical publication date because I truly hate the idea of letting people down or failing in any way possible. I think that I’ve felt failed and dismissed on so many occasions with mental health professionals (and others) that I really know just how horrible that can feel, so I’m determined to prevent anyone feeling that same way as a result of my own behaviours, actions, thought processes, and attitude.
I eventually made the decision based on the recognition that if I tried to keep to the April deadline, I was 100% going to feel stressed trying to finish it on time, and then I’d end up feeling like a failure and a disappointment when I finally recognised that I needed longer to complete it. And having had that huge mental health relapse in February, it meant that I felt really cautious of everything controllable in my life – I was (and I still am) fully aware that after such a horrible time and admission, you can feel like you’re close to an edge for a long time afterwards. As though if the wind blows even the slightest of breezes at you the wrong way, you’ll be down and back to square one. The concern of this possibility is a hugely influential quality that left me making the very wise decision to postpone the release date to November 20th.
I ended up really enjoying writing this post of the title reveal because it filled me with hope and excitement – two feelings I felt I hadn’t experienced for forever. Even when I have experienced those emotions recently, I still get such a ‘high’ from achievements and milestones and getting to ‘announce’ important and meaningful things! The notion that there’s something so positive and enjoyable going on in my life, can help me to feel motivation for any time and effort I’ve needed – or still do need to – to put into it. It makes everything worthwhile and that leaves me feeling more passionate and determined to complete it.
Largest Tip to Writing a Reveal Post: Really harness your excitement and let it flow through the post so that you increase the chance of leaving readers feeling just as thrilled as you are – which, typically, is the aim or goal in writing reveal blog posts.
Favourite Amazon Purchase of March 2023: Benefit Badgal Bang Mascara Travel Size: £13.89
Since I created, I’m NOT Disordered, there have been so many occasions in my life where I’ve felt that it would be almost wrong to not create any kind of content on my blog about them; and being sectioned for the first time in years was one of these instances. This – feeling some sort of pressure (even if it is self-induced!) around your blog and its content – isn’t resolutely bad or completely good… And in this scenario, it was actually a good pressure because it encouraged me to write out all of my thoughts and feelings around the sectioning and the hospitalisation. And whilst writing about my mental health is something that I’ve always found helpful and therapeutic, I don’t always recognise when I should do it and utilise it as a coping mechanism; so, the pressure I put on myself worked to my advantage, really.
After publishing the post, I was then able to watch it begin to help others too when I received a number of personal messages on my social media accounts and in my email inbox. So many readers told me that it had instilled a sense of reassurance that they weren’t alone in trying to find their footing after their discharge from a psychiatric hospital admission. And others agreed that they had also found my suggestions/recommendations helpful to their own aftermath of the admission. Now, the thing with receiving these comments is that on the one hand they are truly magical and leave me feeling incredibly proud, inspired, and positive with the thought that my little blog has helped at least one person.
On the other hand, though, I’m saddened and upset because these comments and messages remind me of the reality of what it means that I’m not alone in going through mental illness and traumatic experiences. To think of anyone having even the remotest of familiarities and understanding of the thoughts, feelings, and events that I’ve gone through is – to be honest – heart-breaking. I wouldn’t wish these things on anyone, but after all these years of being a mental health blogger and receiving these comments, there’s really no denying this reality and there’s no place in this industry to be naïve or to be somewhat rude in not wanting to hear the experiences of others whilst putting posts about my own, out there into the world. Of course, there’s always a sense of control and choice in using the internet and recognising that we can be responsible for what we see or don’t see; if you go searching for something negative and look up potentially upsetting hashtags, then you’ll find negative, triggering content… And if you decide to only look for tips on recovery and positive stories of hope and determination, that’s what you’ll be shown.
Coping With Blog Pressures: I actually have a lot to say on this one and I’ve thought of so many different pressures I’ve experienced in being a Blogger, and ways in which I’ve coped with them; so, I’m going to make this into an entire blog post of its own! But, briefly, always remember that you are in control and that you are absolutely well within your rights to say no to something. You built your blog into all that it is, and it’s so important that you need to remain responsible for all that it stands for.
Favourite Amazon Purchase of April 2023: Lola Design Giraffe Organiser: £14.99
Now, in light of me forever striving to keep I’m NOT Disordered 100% open and honest; there was another blog post I published in April which I had actually pasted above, but as soon as I realised, I’d end up needing to talk more about it rather than just putting the link there, I kind of ‘chickened out!’ I was talking with one of my best-friend’s the other night about the different mental health professionals and treatment/therapy we’re both experiencing at the minute, and we both talked about the importance of recognising and respecting when a service user says something will make them feel worse… And for me, it’s about believing that appointments with the Step Up Team and having my first meeting with the Community Psychiatric Nurse I’ve apparently now been assigned, have the very real potential of tipping me over the edge. Like, I fully appreciate the almost stereotypical view that going through therapy and talking things through, is the best way to reach mental health recovery; but I no longer believe it to be 100% always true for absolutely everyone.
When I was discharged from the psychiatric hospital at the end of February, I was put under the care of the Crisis Team and then the Step Up Team (who are basically like the Crisis Team, but they aren’t 24/7) and it was finally decided that I needed to undergo Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). I had the realisation, however, that in the time between seeing these professionals and being asked all of these deep, personal questions that had me delving into my head so much more intensely, I was actually ok! Like, I felt safe – until I saw them and felt like everything had been raked up and brought to the surface to be raw and… alive. And it’s not about ignoring things or pretending nothing is wrong; it’s about recognising when it’s safe to concentrate on something difficult and when it’s healthier and more productive to go about things and talk about it if, and when, you want to talk about it, with who you want to talk about it to!
Canva Tip: So, this blog post featured a few graphics I created through Canva (which is my absolute favourite editing site and pretty much the only one I use to create media for I’m NOT Disordered!). Now, I say ‘tip’ as though I’m an expert! I actually had never heard of Canva until my Digital Marketing Internship a few years ago when they taught me how to use it to create graphics and memes for social media. But my tips for if you have a background graphic and want any text over it to stand out, click on the text, choose the ‘Effects’ feature above your graphic, and then select ‘Lift’ and drag the marker to the right – this will add the effect of the text lifting off of the page. Or! Select the ‘Elements’ feature and then add a circle or rectangle shape, put the text within it, and then click the ‘Transparency’ tool (which usually looks like some little squares with some lighter than others) and use the marker to change how vibrant the element is, this will provide a paler background to the text without it being a clunky text box!
#HEREFORTHEKITTENS | SERIES INTRO: MANAGING MY MENTAL HEALTH IN MAKING THE DECISION TO GET A KITTEN & ALL THE PREPARATION FOR HER!!! | IN COLLABORATION WITH CATS PROTECTION & FEATURING AN ETSY DISCOUNT CODE!!! | AD | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk)
My most favourite and amazing thing to have happened in the last six months, has very obviously and definitely, been getting my little kitten; Ruby. I had actually talked about getting a kitten for quite a while before adding her to the home on May 27th because for about a month or two before that, I had noticed that my two mini-Lionhead bunnies; Luna and Gracie, were spending the majority of their time together. In another room to whichever I was in. They’d either be cuddled up together or washing each other and nine times out of ten, I was just sat on my tod in the front room; blogging and watching Netflix!
When we lost my last cat; Emmy, the Vet recommended getting Luna a new friend and at that time, I was struggling, but I could see that Luna really really really needed a companion; and I figured that introducing her to another bunny would be easier than to another cat; so that’s why I got Gracie. I obviously definitely don’t regret getting a bunny instead of a cat – because Gracie has genuinely done Luna the world of good – but I hadn’t realised how lonely I would end up feeling by giving Luna a much more similar companion who she could very easily and quickly bond with. And, in fairness, even when I began realising how lonely I was, I still misjudged the harshness of it and didn’t realise quite how hard it was, until I actually brought Ruby home!
When I first started to realise the loneliness was quite intense, I voiced my thoughts on getting a kitten to a number of people and precisely no one agreed it was a good idea – to the point that when I was under the care of the Crisis Team and put the deposit down on Ruby, I swore them to secrecy about her! Sadly, as they have done with many things, the Crisis Team didn’t respect me and told my Mum about Ruby. However, as the time got closer and closer to her being old enough to come home, I found myself more determined to stay alive and more convinced that getting her would help me to stay alive; I finally started feeling confident enough to talk more about her.
The other important component to this blog post was the fact it was in collaboration with Cats Protection – something which I massively loved. In all honesty, one of the large, saddest elements in losing Emmy and getting Gracie was the recognition that I wouldn’t be able to collaborate with Cats Protection again (having already worked with them a number of times). I like to think that I’m a very passionate and dedicated person who appreciates loyalty and support, and so I like to show loyalty to others – especially the organisations and individuals I work with in producing some of I’m NOT Disordered’s content. Also – it might be clear already too – I’m really passionate about animals and love to illustrate how beneficial pets can be for your mental health; so working with Cats Protection and getting to know the lovely Media Team there, has me very devoted to working with them in any way that has even the smallest possibility of helping their cause.
Coping With Loneliness:
1. Search groups, pages, and hashtags on social media to connect with like-minded people
2. Contact helplines for help and support where the loneliness is affecting your mental health
3. Find a way to vent by yourself – whether that means writing or screaming into a pillow
4. Carefully consider getting a pet (I mean, how could I not say or recommend that?!)
5. Keep distracted with activities and hobbies that can leave you feeling grateful for alone time
Favourite Amazon Purchase of May 2023: iPhone 12 Case: £8.49
Favourite Amazon Purchase of June 2023: MILAN Pen: £8.40
#HEREFORTHEKITTENS | THE SERIES FINALE! | WEEK FOUR: MY TIPS FOR LIFE WITH A KITTEN, FAVOURITE PHOTO, & MORE! | IN COLLABORATION WITH CATS PROTECTION & FEATURING AN ETSY DISCOUNT CODE | AD | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk)
Having experienced that mental health relapse in February, it feels like it has been a long time since I’ve had any sense of achievement – especially around anything regarding my blog. I mean, I’m always incredibly appreciative of gaining so many new readers per day and that’s always really special for me because I believe it symbolises an increase in the chance, I have of helping someone else – and that, after all, is one of my biggest motivations in blogging.
But, in completing five blog posts across the first month of having Ruby? Well, that felt like a huge milestone for this year, and a real turning point for my mental health too – to recognise that I’m still capable of producing content like that – in terms of its quality, the ability and qualification to collaborate with such a huge charity, the popularity of the content, and the general and varied success of it… And so, it’s the perfect end to my mid-year review!