When I first created, I’m NOT Disordered and started blogging in January 2013, I did so with the sole intention of writing about my mental health journey for my family and friends who were over 100 miles away from the psychiatric hospital I had been an inpatient in since the summer of 2012, in the pure, genuine hope that it would aid them in their understanding of what was going on, and therefore place them in a better position to connect/communicate with me. With this lack of thought toward the prospect of I’m NOT Disordered amounting to anything more – in terms of its meaning to me and its popularity – I didn’t really consider the importance of marking, with some sort of specific content, World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) that year.
The following year (2014) though, I was taking blogging a bit more seriously and had started to build a real following in terms of the size of the readership, and so I was more aware of creating content for others in so far as posts that others would care about too rather than just sticking to my own experiences. So, I produced my first WSPD blog post: World Suicide Prevention Day | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk) where I talked – in not a whole lot of detail – about the three suicide attempts I had made prior to that date (September 10th 2014). I had previously mentioned all three – the most recent one in particular because it took place whilst I was in the psychiatric hospital around ten months after I created I’m NOT Disordered (October 2013); which meant that I actually did an entire blog post about it here: The Admission For The OD | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk) – in other posts and received no horrible comments so I genuinely really didn’t expect any to come from talking about them again in this WSPD post.
Unfortunately, I was wrong, and so just two days later, I wrote another blog post (which you can read here: http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2014/09/the-end-of-im-not-disordered.html) announcing that I’d be deleting I’m NOT Disordered due to receiving a few nasty comments – the main one though, was on that WSPD post where someone left a comment wishing me ‘good luck with the next one!’ In the post terminating my blog, I talked about recognising that in talking about such personal and intimate parts of my life, I was opening myself up to such comments, but that at that time, I didn’t see the benefits I got from blogging as incredible and important enough to power me through these comments. And, in all honesty, it’s so strange to think that there was ever a point where this was true because I’m NOT Disordered now feels like a hugely defining aspect in/about my life; and it feels like that has been the case for so long! Like, to the point where its hard to accept that there was a time – no matter whether it was considered lengthy or not – when this wasn’t actually true.
Obviously, I started blogging again almost two months later (on October 29th and which you can read here: An Explanation | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk)) when I found myself almost automatically moving to blog about particular instances that I experienced and recognised this was really a sign that I missed it. So, whilst I did continue to create content that included talk about suicide – I actually didn’t do a specific post to mark WSPD again until 2019… In that blog post - “JUST BECAUSE YOU’VE SAID YOU FEEL SUICIDAL, IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO ACT ON IT” | HOW IT REALLY FEELS, MY ATTEMPTS, & THE STIGMA | SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY 2019 | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk) – I talked about my experiences of suicide attempts and the importance of recognising that telling someone – anyone – that you’re suicidal, does not mean you have to go on to act on these thoughts and feelings… No matter what anyone else leads you to think or encourages you to believe!
A year later, I found I still had the desire to create a WSPD post for 2020, and again, I came at it positively – something that certainly isn’t compulsory and is definitely difficult considering the topic – in listing the reasons why I’m thankful to a number of organisations, people, and my pets: MY LIFESAVERS | WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY 2020 | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk). Whilst showing gratitude for those who have saved your life may seem kind of regular and perhaps even an expectation, it was hugely challenging for me – and likely for many others who have been prevented from committing suicide by something – to actually even just recognise that my mental health recovery was finally at a point where I genuinely no longer resented all those lifesaving factors. I had stopped viewing them as spiteful with the belief that they were punishing me by saving my life and knowing that in doing so, I was only going to go on to struggle more. I had come round from the conviction that some of those people and organisations had just been ‘doing their job’ and finding an excuse to repeat the ‘we-have-a-duty-of-care’ party line rather than them actually caring about me and/or my life.
In 2021, I had started to write a Fiction book called When We Jump, and I used World Suicide Prevention Day that year as inspiration to blog about my thoughts and advice on keeping yourself safe and well whilst you’re reading about suicide. Unfortunately, that book is no longer in the works (but it’s definitely still something I would love to actually do one day!) but I’m grateful that it was something I had started because I think that it led me to a really good angle for my WSPD content that year (which you can read here: HOW TO READ ABOUT SUICIDE & STILL BE SAFE | I’M WRITING A FICTION BOOK – COVER RELEASE INCLUDED!!! | WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY 2021 | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk)).
I think it was a productive way to theme my content because being a Blogger and working in Marketing and Communications, I’m more than conscious that on Awareness dates the digital world could, arguably, be classed as being oversaturated with content regarding the particular issue/diagnosis/challenge etc that the date is centred around. In recent years, I’ve actually seen a number of influential mental health persons on social media talk about their refusal to produce content purely because of their belief that these are topics which should be discussed and publicised all-year round. Because those who these things actually affect, aren’t just affected on this one day, week, or month. And so, whilst I tend to maintain the belief that maybe we should be grateful that at least we have these Awareness dates that are trying to eradicate the stigma and discrimination associated with the issues, I do recognise some people will feel overwhelmed by the amount of themed content on their timelines/trending track features, and social media feeds. And so, with those people in mind, I felt that blog post encouraging safe coping skills if you feel upset or triggered when reading content centred around suicide could be a really helpful resource.
Finally, for WSPD last year – 2022 – I published a blog post around the two main ways/actions that have led to me still being alive and this made me glad that I’ve talked about I’m NOT Disordered’s history with this Prevention Day because looking back at last year’s content (THE LARGEST ACTIONS THAT HAVE KEPT ME ALIVE | WORLD SUICIDE PREVENTION DAY 2022 | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk)) I realised there may have been some crossover in some of the bits I had been planning to write about in this post!
In recognising that I have already blogged about how reporting the abuse I experienced when I was younger and accepting help from mental health professionals and other healthcare services was monumental in helping me battle suicidal thoughts and feelings, I started brainstorming other actions that I felt were important and came up with this…
When I was younger, I used to write short stories all the time about ponies going on adventures (I used to take horse-riding lessons) and my Nana absolutely loved to read them. Which, looking back, meant that from an early age I recognised that my writing could change a person’s mood and that doing so, could change my mood at the thought that it was affecting others. When the abuse started when I was 15, I found that I struggled to continue writing in that way because for so many reasons I was silenced when it came to reporting the abuse and I was so afraid that I’d end up writing something that would provide a hint or clue to someone if they read it. As things continued though, I began keeping this tiny little diary where I wrote in that abbreviated way that has become a bit of a pet-hate for lots of people (including me – most of the time!), but which was quite a perfect way to be able to write what was happening, but without the worry that someone finding and reading it, would fully understand the abbreviations and acronyms.
In finding it somewhat therapeutic to be able to write out things that were happening to me that were truly life-changing yet which I had so many rationales for feeling that they weren’t something that I could actually tell someone. Without that diary, I felt assured that I could have exploded… I mean, it’s like – except in a really negative way – when a person falls pregnant, and they’re advised not to tell other people until they are so far along when there’s a higher chance, they won’t lose their baby. I mean, having a child is a massively defining moment in your life and not being able to talk about that and have that sort of verbal outlet, can very easily bring the notion that you can’t socialise properly because you’re holding in such a huge secret from everyone. Hiding something like that can leave you with the notion that you’re somewhat distant from everyone else because they don’t know something that might just be the most important thing in your life right now.
Whilst that diary was useful at the time, when the abuse ‘ended’ in 2007, I felt a level of regret that some of it was somewhat documented in that diary, but as much as I felt that way; there was a bigger part of me which thought it was a good idea to still keep the diary (and doing so proved helpful when I finally reported the abuse to the Police). I think that the notions of regret largely stemmed from the recognition that it meant that there was now a physical place in the world where the abuse was documented. It meant that I felt it made me struggle even more after the abuse; when I was filled with the desire to block the entire thing out and pretend nothing at all had happened! It was like it meant that I had even more than my memories to fight against now… And what made it worse was that it was my own fault for keeping the stupid diary!
Just over two years after the abuse, when I finally did explode and made my first suicide attempt, I found myself being sectioned under the 1983 Mental Health Act because I point-blank refused to tell all the extremely surprised people why I had made the attempt. In the psychiatric hospital though, I met another inpatient who had been abused too and she helped talk me into reporting my experience. One procedure in doing this, however, was having to work with the Police to provide a written statement and in the process of this, I had the realisation that these little words on this piece of paper with the Northumbria Police logo on the header and footer, had the potential to change so much. The fact that the way a sentence was phrased and the language and terminology that were used could aid in ending my abuser’s career and result in him being sentenced to time in prison, was a huge aspect that didn’t once leave my mind the entire time it took for the statement to be written.
This recognition of the power of writing and then the feeling I got when the entire statement was finished and I was assured that finally, everyone knew at least the majority of what had happened to me; led me to see that writing could benefit my mental health. With that in mind, when – three years later – I found myself in a specialist psychiatric hospital over 100 miles away from home and having been on life support for a suicide attempt and I was continuing to struggle with the thoughts, feelings, and hallucinations, the urge to write came into my head… I thought it might be a good idea to begin writing notes for the mental health staff; particularly my Key Nurse and favourite – and still the greatest I have ever been treated by – Psychiatrist.
I found that writing these notes was really therapeutic and I would say that it was definitely a huge contributor to my mental health recovery because I enjoyed the notion that I was relieving my head of all these thoughts that were overwhelmingly taking up so much space in my mind. Their size and ferocity meant that I often felt as though there wasn’t enough room/space to facilitate me being able to have/experience my own, healthy, productive, and positive thoughts and feelings.
Of course, the other benefit to writing about all these areas and situations that were challenging my levels of safety and general mood/wellbeing, was that those staff who read the notes would also be aware of these things and that better enabled them to offer me help and support. I mean, how can someone help your or making anything better if they don’t really know or understand what is wrong in the first place?
I 100% believe that having a mental illness – no matter which one/what your diagnosis actually is – is a massively lonely position to be in. You know, mental health charities and organisations often use the statistic that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem (How common are mental health problems? - Mind) to illustrate just how common things are. However, this depends upon how you look at it; because you might also view it as evidence that the person with the mental health problems, is actually still really outnumbered! So how easily could it be to feel comforted and reassured that you aren’t alone being told that there are likely three times more people than you who actually might not have a clue as to what you’re going through? Well, really, even if you were surrounded by others with the exact same diagnosis as you, it wouldn’t automatically mean everyone understood you and your experiences/symptoms.
Being over 100 miles away from my family and friends when I was only 21, was so much more exacerbating of these feelings and notions of loneliness and isolation. And when we (inpatients) were regulated to our use of the communal landline, which was stationed at the end of one of the bedroom corridors and had no booth for any sense of confidentiality; it didn’t really scream a sense of family bonding or quality friendship time. Their entire situation and the forever changing ward rules about mobile phones, meant that in just the first few months of being there, I felt my relationships and friendships were beginning to dwindle and ebb away with the belief and almost conviction that none of the most important people in my life really knew what I was going through. And with that, I created I’m NOT Disordered and wrote my first blog post…
Whilst I originally – for a good eight or nine months, I think – didn’t imagine that this blog going far and only really envisioned it being for the sole purpose of better communicating with the few (around less than 200, I think) friends and family who were on my private Facebook account. I hoped that in doing so, I would feel a bit more understood and in my loved ones having that increased empathy, I’d feel even more better helped and supported by them. I’d felt that I’d truly be assured that they were offering their help and comfort from a place of actual, proper understanding and true comprehension as to the meaning of the things they said and did and with a real knowledge of why I was saying and doing everything I was.
The mental health diagnosis that the psychiatric hospital specialised in was Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and two of the nine possible symptoms (though the diagnostic criteria and title of the illness have both changed since then) were having unstable relationships and experiencing an uncontrollable and erratic anger. Those, coupled with a few of the other possible symptoms around massive mood changes and suicidal thoughts and feelings meant the ward was an incredibly volatile environment. When I woke up and stepped outside my bedroom for the first time that day, I felt like I was almost reluctantly edging my way out like a wild animal unsure if it’s safe enough to come out of their hiding spot!
When I did take my chances and spend time out on the ward getting to know the other girls and actually building some incredible friendships with a few of them, it almost automatically and predictably often ended up with my feeling the need to get straight on my laptop (as soon as we were allowed them, after our evening Reflection Meeting) and venting! Writing – or typing – all the thoughts and feelings I’d had to bottle up at risk of them causing further arguments and risky and dramatic scenarios. I mean, with literally every single girl having made at least one suicide attempt, it left me (and no doubt a lot of others – which was probably a huge reason for their admission to the hospital) with a concern that if I said something wrong it could be a motivation for her to become unsafe. People in my life have often talked about the notion of walking on egg shells around me… and from being in that hospital, I get that.
So, blogging was a hugely positive outlet for so many reasons and despite how important it became whilst I was in the psychiatric hospital, I didn’t once think that it would become all that it is today – not just in terms of popularity but honestly? I didn’t think it would even still be going today! I mean, there was no real plan initially, but when my discharge from the hospital began being discussed and planned, I found myself starting to consider whether this should mean that I stop blogging since I had only started because I was in hospital… And so, being home/closer to home (because I had to go to a step-down placement for three months before complete freedom in the community), surely meant that all the benefits I gained from blogging were no longer even needed.
However, as I said earlier, when I did close the blog down in 2014, I found myself missing – not so much a place to vent as it was during hospital – a place to process my thoughts and feelings. I mean, I was so terrified that I’d say something to a professional that would wind up with me being put back in hospital and sectioned again… And blogging allowed me the opportunity to sort of… ‘say’ all these things without that concern; and this was a huge relief and released any pent-up emotions and thoughts that – if I hadn’t let them out in this way – had the potential to make me implode and have a hugely unsafe impact/consequence.
In addition to this relief, the ability to really think through (by talking/typing about them) any confusing or contradictory thoughts and feelings, gave me a better chance of coping more safely because I felt that I had an improved understanding as to why I was experiencing what I was, what it mean, and that also gave me the opportunity to have more time to recognise that I had a set of options for ways to cope. It wasn’t just one path leading to something unsafe.
Finally, I’ve also found that blogging has been a really huge outlet for the creativity I seem to almost naturally have within me. In addition to my short stories, when I was little, I remember sitting with my Nana and cutting bits out of catalogues and then, on a piece of paper, I’d draw a house and stick all the cut-out bits of furniture and toys in the rooms I wanted them in. As I got older, I began drawing and in my late teens and early twenties, I found a passion for fashion drawing in particular so I opted to take Textiles as one of my exam subjects. Unfortunately, my teacher was full of nothing but unconstructive criticism of my work and so I lost some confidence; but as the years have gone by, I’ve grown to find that I genuinely feel like I can really channel my creativity into my blog’s content now.
20 Helpful Mental Health Resources/Helplines:
(There’s actually also a Help Directory page on I’m NOT Disordered above or here: Help Directory | I'm NOT Disordered (imnotdisordered.co.uk), but here’s EVEN MORE additional/different resources I’ve discovered and which I believe have the potential to be useful!)
1. A Guide to Anxiety themed Digital Mental Health Tools: Digital Mental Health Tools Guide (futurecarecapital.org.uk)
2. Some useful downloadable resources from Mental Health UK: Downloadable resources - Mental Health UK (mentalhealth-uk.org)
3. Free mental health worksheets and handouts that are perfect for self-help: 50 Free Mental Health Worksheets & Handouts - mind remake project
4. Some enjoyable and educational mental health activities for children: 15 Mental Health Activities For Children - Connect Childcare
5. Online peer support community facilitated by Mind: Side by Side: our online community - Mind
6. A list of National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recommended contacts for help with your mental health: NIMH » Help for Mental Illnesses (nih.gov)
7. Mental health training programmes and courses that are both online and face-to-face: Mental health training online and face to face · MHFA England
8. The UK Government’s mental health part of their Education Hub: Mental health resources for children, students, parents, carers and school/college staff - The Education Hub (blog.gov.uk)
9. NHS tips to improving your mental wellbeing: Top tips to improve your mental wellbeing - Every Mind Matters - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
10. Information on the impact the Coronavirus Pandemic has had on mental health: How has coronavirus affected mental health? - BBC News
11. Mind’s advice on self-help with your mental health: Self-care for mental health problems - Mind
12. A Guide to Managing Your Mental Health from Harvard Business Review: A Guide to Managing Your Mental Health (hbr.org)
13. An NHS tool for learning more about feelings and symptoms: Feelings and symptoms - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
14. Mental Health Foundation’s guide to medication for your mental health: Medication for mental health problems
15. An ‘Easy Read’ version of information about the Mental Health Act 1983: Mental Health Act (easy read) - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
16. England and Wales mental health statistics from the Office of National Statistics: Mental health - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
17. A comprehensive mental health news article from Medical News Today: Mental health: Definition, common disorders, early signs, and more (medicalnewstoday.com)
18. Stress-relieving gadgets – particularly for the studying prior to exams: Testing stress-relieving gadgets | Dealing with Stress | Patient
19. An article and information on mental health according to/from the BBC: What is mental health? - BBC News
20. Help and support information for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAM): NAMI HelpLine | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness