“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait.”

Paulo Coelho

When planning another blog post, I was looking through my archive and came across a post from way back in 2015 where I talked about all the things which had contributed to changes in my blog and blogging career in general (you can read it here). On reading it, obviously a lot has changed since then and because the post had actually proven to be fairly popular, I started to think of an updated version, and the first game-changer that came to mind was Canva, and so, this post is in collaboration with the incredible online design and publishing tool that has really helped me to bring so much more to I’m NOT Disordered…

*There's also an FAQ with Canva on my Instagram: @aimes_wilson*

After two years volunteering as an Advertising Assistant for a support group for unemployed people, I found myself feeling a bit bored… Over the two years, I had secured numerous funding grants for the group from both a local Trust and from the Lottery’s Community Funding programme, I’d written press releases that were published, I’d created a website and started a Twitter account, and gotten the group invitations to events. 

So, I begun to feel that there wasn’t much more room to progress or to learn new things and these are two elements which I really enjoy having in all that I do – especially in my blogging – and which I find really important in keeping me motivated and excited.

Fortunately, the group was due their Annual General Meeting (AGM) and so at it, I explained my thoughts and feelings and that because I did really like everyone there, it was hard to make the decision to leave. So, the only way I could think of increasing my responsibilities was to put myself forward to become Chair of the group and thankfully, after the current Chair said he was happy to ‘hand over the reins,’ I was unanimously voted into the position. 

Ironically though, moving into a position that was less about communications and marketing left me missing that side of my previous role and so I began looking to do something in that industry, but in addition to being Chair. And on a search on Indeed, I came across the opportunity to be a Digital Marketing Intern for a reasonably new company (who no longer exist!) named Docere who specialised in recruitment in the education sector.

I was taught so much in the first two weeks (I actually wrote a blog post about it too, which you can read here) of the Internship though, that I was worried I was going to end up bored in that too. However, when I voiced my passion for learning new things and keeping busy, one of the Communications and Marketing staff I was working with explained that in this industry, things are   constantly changing so there’s always something new to learn about and master. 

So, in addition to learning how to post vacancies and do things that were specific and particular to that company, I was also shown Canva (which I hadn’t even heard of!) and I was taught how to use it to create graphics for the company’s social media accounts.

I think that one of the reasons why I really enjoyed learning and exploring this (Canva) digitally creative tool was because when I first created, I’m NOT Disordered in 2013 as a sectioned inpatient of a psychiatric hospital, I actually had no clue as to how to edit its design, layout, and general aesthetic/colour scheme etc. In fairness, this wasn’t hugely problematic because I didn’t exactly have high hopes or dream-like ambitious expectations for my blog. 

I didn’t envision it becoming as important as it now is. I didn’t think it would grant me all of the incredible experiences and opportunities it has resulted in. And I definitely didn’t imagine it lasting too long or being seen by more readers than those on my private Facebook account (which, initially, was the only place I shared the link to my posts because my one goal from the beginning was to update my family and friends with what I was going through). 

So, with very few serious, long-term hopes for I’m NOT Disordered; I asked the girl two bedrooms down from mine in the hospital if she could make it look a bit more special than the free, simple, and somewhat dull designs and layouts that were provided by Blogger.

After less than a year though, the girl was being discharged before I was ready to be, so I found myself almost forced into having to learn how to do everything for myself. I mean, firstly because it felt like practically, it wouldn’t work – me having to message her with the changes I want to make and then waiting until she was free to see the message and do the edits. 

Then, also, I was really starting to see my blog as being a little bit more than something to fill my free time with; it was starting to become very therapeutic in providing me with a real opportunity to rant and vent about the dramas on the ward and to have somewhere to process and release the difficult thoughts and feelings I was experiencing…

Going through that lengthy and interesting design journey for I’m NOT Disordered, I think is why, when I learnt about Canva in my Internship, I was really excited and put so much focus into everything I was being taught. Whilst I obviously was being told about it for their social media and website content, in the back of my mind, I was also thinking about ways in which I could utilise its functions for my blog and my own social media too! 

Now, despite being (in my not-so humble opinion) a fast learner though, I’m still – even seven years later! – discovering the huge variety of different functions and abilities the site holds… But I love that! I love that every time I go onto it with a new idea or a new intention or goal, I’m discovering more features and different methods and shortcuts to doing things. 

Like many things in my blogging career – including my actual blog itself – when I was first introduced to Canva, I didn’t imagine it would become as important as it now is because I tend to use it at least once on pretty much every single blog post! I feel like whilst it’s still obviously classed as a ‘blog,’ I also believe that I’m NOT Disordered has become a bit of a ‘brand’ too.

More recently, I’ve been using the template function (you can literally just type in a few keywords about the type of project or content you want to design for e.g. ‘Facebook Cover’ or ‘A4 Poster,’ and Canva provides all the correct sizing) on Canva to create/design slides for Instagram Reels/Stories. 

I’ve then been creating the individual slides to contain graphics and text about a new blog post to provide followers with more interesting content than just a square image for the title graphic (which I also design on Canva) on each of my blog posts. And, judging by the popularity and general feedback of the three I have created so far (which you can view here), it’s proven to be a good idea and is something I’m going to try to continue to do for future blog posts.

So, I love how creative Canva allows me to be and that it's a great way of maintaining a particular and consistent aesthetic or branding for all areas of whatever your communications and marketing needs are e.g. social media, merchandise for organisations, blogs… So, if you can take one thing away from this blog post, I hope it is that you create a free account on Canva and let your imagination and creativity run wild!

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