“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Dr. Seuss

I actually began my first distance-learning course way back in 2014 when I was a sectioned inpatient of a specialist psychiatric hospital in Bradford. Since then, I have completed a whole range of courses online too and after having recently enrolled on another one (which I’ll talk about later in the post); I was inspired to write this blog post. So, I’ll be talking about all my thoughts on learning, the benefits you can experience when you’re learning online, some tips for both completing your course and managing your mental health whilst you learn, my education journey, my Wishlist on my three favourite online learning sites, and so much more…

My first real memory related to my education, was when one of my teachers in Middle School told my Mum that she thought that when I was older, I would end up being a Journalist. Whilst it’s my first memory of this topic, it is only now that I recognise its importance, at the time, I actually don’t recall seeing it as influential, thought-provoking, or interesting at all! Like, I didn’t think of or look into what I could do to make it happen. I didn’t take it as a guide to shape my education and decisions within/related to it. Ironic, because despite not caring about it; being a Journalist is actually a lot closer to what I do now than any of the career goals that I, myself, had thought of between Middle School and reaching the age of 22 (for those curious they were: Horse-Riding Instructor, Fashion Designer, Lawyer, Psychologist, and Visual Merchandising!)!

My next real memory was in High School – when I was around thirteen – and we reached the point where you had to choose three subjects to study in addition to the compulsory ones which were English Language, English Literature, Maths, Double Award (which just meant you received two grades/qualifications for that one subject) Science, and Religious Studies. One of my friends told me her Mum had pretty much dictated to her which subjects she had to choose. I felt so sad for her because she really wanted to do one subject in particular that was in the Art and Design department because she enjoyed it, and – what’s arguably more important than that – she was actually so talented with it too! And she very likely could have gone a lot further in a related career to that than she would in a job that required the subjects her Mum was telling her to take.

Seeing and hearing her difficult situation, made me so grateful for my Mum being the absolute opposite with me and I might not have had that thankfulness if I didn’t have my friend’s Mum to compare her to! My Mum told me that if I wanted to talk through anything I was uncertain of or having a hard time choosing between two subjects or something then she was completely there for me, but that ultimately; it was my decision as to what I wanted to study. So, because I was in the phase of wanting to be a Fashion Designer, I ended up choosing Media Studies and Art and Design: Textiles. Then, purely because I enjoyed it so much and – judging by the grades and marks I earned from the taster year of it – I was good at it; so, I chose History as my third subject.

A hugely monumental and influential thing occurred in my final year of High School, the abuse. When I reported things to the Police, I was advised not to disclose who my abuser had been because CPS hadn’t even let us take it to court so legally, he wasn’t guilty. Now, what gets me though, is that if I were to just say what my abuser’s position was and where he worked, all those who knew me at that time (2006 – 2007) would likely be able to guess exactly who I’m referring to. And the reason I find this really annoying and frustrating is because I just think, surely that says a lot about him and about our witnessed interactions. You know? Like, if he was totally innocent and had always acted professional with me, then surely no one would – or should – suspect him?! And where it becomes tricky is because basically, my abuser was in a position that had a huge impact on my education so it’s difficult not to mention him in a post like this, but I also can’t go into much detail because I’m not prepared to risk getting into trouble if something should come from my public disclosure… So, I’ll try my best to stay vague whilst also making things understandable!

From starting High School in around 2004/2005, I had next to no scoldings for any behaviour or attitude problems, and my grades were always passes. In 2006 though, I was attacked one morning on my way to the School bus and in a dazed haze, I still went to School and straightaway I told my Form Tutor who went and got my abuser (who I’d never really spoken to or had much to do with at that point!). After calling my Mum, seeing a Doctor, and talking to the Police, when I went back to School, I began having panic attacks when parts of the attack would flash through my mind. And so, my abuser suggested he give me a ‘pass’ so that when I was struggling in class, I could just show the pass and leave, but with the understanding that I would then go and find him and sit with him until I felt calmer and less upset. And that, was how he managed to hurt me in a less suspicious way because everyone was so used to be using the pass to sit with him, no one questioned things when it became the other way around and he was asking to see me. Plus, for two huge reasons, my attitude and behaviour changed in response to the abuse and the irony was how they both linked: one reason was because I was so angry at the teachers not noticing, and the other was because I hoped that by changing in these ways, it would encourage them to question why there’d been such a change! Either way you look at it though, they all pretty much failed me.  

On April 20th, 2007, though, I had a massive screaming match with my abuser and as we walked into another corridor, his boss appeared out of nowhere and demanded to know why we were arguing and why I had said what he had heard: “think of your wife and children!” And when the whole story of the previous six months of hell I had been put through unravelled out of my mouth, I was promptly suspended and branded a “manipulative liar.” Part of the additional punishments was that I couldn’t sit my GCSE exams with the rest of my year group, and I was put in a separate room. This ended up being ideal though because it meant I had to have an Exam Invigilator in the room so when my abuser attempted to interrupt three of my exams, I had a witness that it had been him and, in the end, my exams were moved to a community building a little way down the road from the School. Now, to me, that speaks volumes – that it reached the point of him being so spiteful that I couldn’t even be in the same building!

So that was three exams. And then there was also an issue with my Textiles exam because we were meant to put together a display on a wall for the examiners to grade and my abuser said that I wasn’t allowed to go in and set mine up, so I had to rely on my Teacher to put it together. And I just had to pray that she wouldn’t do a terrible job because she’d been very negative towards me throughout the entire course! And finally, one of the questions in my Religious Studies exam was whether ‘bad people’ could be religious too and having once spoken to my abuser before the abuse, I knew he was religious, so I used the entire answer space to basically write about him (without naming him and his role etc)!

On results day, everyone was making big plans to meet with their friends and go to collect their results together and I was going to do that too, but on the morning of the day, I received a call from a Receptionist at School who said “I’ve been asked to pass along a message to say that you have to ring us when you’re at the school gates and someone will bring the results to you.” Immediately I asked if it was my abuser who’d asked her to let me my know and when she said ‘yes’, I promptly rang my Mum and eventually I was allowed to go inside with my friends. And I seriously could not believe it when I opened my results, hands shaking, and saw I had passed all nine subjects – and two of them were actually grade B (the pass grade is a C)!

Another additional punishment from when I spoke to my abuser’s boss was that I couldn’t complete my education at the School I’d been at for years. Unfortunately, all through High School, we were taught that it was GCSE’s, A Levels, University, and work. We were never told about BTEC courses, Colleges, online learning, or Apprenticeships, and that meant being told I couldn’t do my A Levels at that school any more saw me desperately looking for a new school because I had no idea that there even were any alternatives! And unfortunately, going into a more local School to study my A Levels, turned out to not be the best idea… I think this was mainly because I had thought that my reluctance and hatred of School was a direct result of the abuse; and so, I assumed that going to a new school – where I’d be safer – would allow me to really focus on my education because I’d feel comfortable being in School.

Frustratingly, even though I was technically less vulnerable and more secure in the new School; I found that the memories of the abuse and the thoughts and feelings I experienced because of what had happened to me, followed me to the new School. Ironically, it actually felt kind of worse because I thought that at least when I was at the old School it made perfect sense for me to be anxious and reluctant to attend it. At this new School though, I began to feel hopeless because it granted me the sad and lonely recognition that I genuinely couldn’t escape from what had been done to me.

Inspired by the abuse and all my thoughts around reporting it and him claiming to be innocent, I found myself feeling drawn to the idea of being a Lawyer so that I could help others to achieve justice. So, I decided to take Philosophy, Law, History, and English Language as my subjects for my A Levels and when the two years of studying those were coming to an end, I applied to study Law at University and received a conditional (I had to achieve particular grades to enrol) offer from Newcastle University. However, all my memories and thoughts around the abuse and the sensation that it really was going to be a very hard up-hill battle to move on from it and if I didn’t quite make it, it was going to follow me everywhere I went. These thoughts and worries meant that it was almost inevitable and – in my opinion – completely understandable for me to make my first suicide attempt ten days after I started hearing voices. I mean, I say ‘inevitable,’ but I didn’t plan my attempt – it just kind of happened; and it was only really during it that I actually realised it was the day I had three exams back-to-back at School! I think it’s safe to say that an outsider might consider that situation as a completely understandable situation to exacerbate things – especially when my mental health was already proving to be challenging!

After completing one exam, getting through half on the second, and only writing my name on the third one, I had lost all hope that I’d ever get into University and achieve my education and career goals and aspirations. Of course, this factor just added to everything and after the suicide attempt, when I finally ended up in A&E, I was sectioned under the 1983 Mental Health Act and immediately I knew I’d sealed my fate and had no hope of becoming a Lawyer… Well, not just that; I actually ended up feeling confident that I was going to make absolutely nothing of my life, that it had all been a complete waste and I’d gone through all I had for absolutely no reason. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. Not even a pinprick!

Finding myself to be right about University and having my offer completely revoked, when I started to feel better in the psychiatric hospital, I was an inpatient of for two weeks, I finally considered alternative careers and researched the different education paths and routes into those… First, I thought about going into the Fashion industry and enrolled on a College course, but when the Induction Day was looming, I lost any sense of confidence in having a future, mainly because the voices only seemed to be worsening. And so, a few months later, I made another suicide attempt and was sectioned again.

During that admission (which, I think, lasted almost one month) I may another inpatient who encouraged me to finally report the abuse – around two years after it had finished – and in doing so, I was inspired to think about a career that might enable me to help children who have experienced some sort of abuse or trauma or who are struggling emotionally. I found myself looking into being a Play Therapist and enrolled in a local College to do a Childcare course, but they required a DBS and whilst I had no convictions, in the part where the Police can use their discretion to disclose anything else, they had written about the times I had ran away from hospital. One of the Tutors called me to talk it through, but I made the decision to just withdraw my application for the course rather than try to defend myself and feel obligated to have to explain things to her.

After that complete fail, my mental health journey led to me being referred to a Psychologist and with her contributing to my most stable period from 2009 – 2012, I found myself researching and looking into gaining a Psychology degree. I loved the thought of helping someone in the way my Psychologist was helping me – I was overwhelmed by the idea of saving someone else’s life. I felt like it was as though I was sort of ‘paying it forward’ and trying to make myself feel worthy of the help and support by utilising it to do the same for someone else. So, I enrolled in a local College and chose three subjects to study as a Access to Higher Education qualification which was the equivalent of A Levels in that it would be the step into being eligible to study a Psychology degree at University.

Unfortunately, my mental health deteriorated again, and I was admitted back into hospital – at the exact same time as I needed to start doing some revisions for upcoming exams! So, once again, I left College, and it wasn’t until I was sectioned and admitted to a specialist psychiatric hospital over 100 miles away from home in 2012 – that I turned my thoughts and attention to education again. And, this time, I had discovered a role in fashion and retail which I’d not heard of, yet when researching it, I realised it involved duties which I’d actually enjoyed doing when I’d worked at a few different charity stores. After talking about it with the Occupational Therapy staff in the hospital and recognising that actually gaining the qualifications and formal experience to be a Visual Merchandiser, was something that I, practically, really couldn’t do whilst being a sectioned inpatient! So, to help maintain my interest in the role and to gain more knowledge on it, the staff very kindly bought me some fashion books and activity items e.g. fashion drawing stencils and sketchbooks etc. They also helped me do a little photoshoot by taking photos of me in different outfits I’d put together so that, when I was finally discharged and able to enrol in an appropriate course, I would have a portfolio to evidence my taste and creativity in fashion.

But then – on January 6th, 2013 – I’m NOT Disordered was born! In the beginning of this journey though, I wasn’t doing it with any real intentions of making it into a career of any sort. It was really just something which I found to be very therapeutic and which I only imagined or envisioned it taking up my free time. Nothing more. And when I enrolled on my first Creative Writing Course at a College which was local to the hospital, it was purely with the hope that it would help me to improve my blog’s content and that it was an additional opportunity to do something productive and positive and it helped that I genuinely, actually really enjoyed it! By the time the course was over, I had discovered that the College that had facilitated it, actually also provided some really interesting and varied (in terms of their theme) distance learning courses. So, whilst in the psychiatric hospital, I also completed a Certificate in Understanding End of Life Care and a Certificate in Customer Service Knowledge.

After finally being discharged from the hospital – after two and a half years! – I spent the following four years adjusting to being in the community and having my own home with my pets, and really working on making a mark with I’m NOT Disordered. And, in making my blog into an actual career, I found myself building an interest in the communications and marketing industry; so – in 2017 – I was offered my first voluntary role in this sector and became an Advertising Assistant for a local support group helping people who were unemployed. In this role, a lot of the duties I carried out were a result of my own creation or ideas gained from researching things online, so – after two years in the position – I felt that I really wanted to improve my knowledge, but in a more formal way. So, I took on a 3-month Digital Marketing Internship for a company specialising in education recruitment and I’d say that my absolute favourite and most helpful (for my blogging and for my career experience in general) thing I learnt during the three months, was the existence and functions of Canva!!

ü  In a lot of online courses there is the ability to complete them at your own speed.

ü  You can do it from your own home or wherever you’re most comfortable.

ü  Greater variety of courses/topics/subjects.

ü  There is still the ability to ask the facilitator of the course questions and get their advice.

ü  Large chance of it being more easily accessible for those with different learning needs.

ü  The opportunity to find out all the course content and its modules to ensure it’s right for you.

ü  The ability to generally have more control over your learning.

ü  An absence of bullying, which can be such a notorious factor in attending Schools.

ü  No need to make any huge changes in re-enrolling and finding different providers if you move.

ü   A greater sense of dedication in having to find motivation yourself to complete your learning.

1.       Read through the entire available information on the course – and pay particular attention to the titles and contents of each module within the course.

2.       Check other websites for similar courses to compare prices, complexity, and contents – I have honestly found so many Creative Writing Courses that have actually ended up having the exact same Lesson Plans!

3.       Ensure that the course duration and typical time required to complete it e.g. the number of hours per week, is well-matched for your schedule and any other already-established, important commitments.

4.       Consider talking through your decision-making process with a friend, loved one, or any sort of professional who might be useful e.g. a Support Worker etc. Outsider perspective almost always means the other person finds details or issues you’ve missed or ask questions you hadn’t considered.

5.       If the course you’re considering is on a site like Future Learn where the website is the host or platform, but the course is actually facilitated or provided by a particular School, College, University, or company; then it’s worth researching that organisation and checking out any reviews both on that facilitator or the course specifically.

During both positions, I also began doing online learning through Future Learn who provide various courses that are actually facilitated or created by various Universities, Colleges, or companies. My education from beginning my Advertising Assistant role in 2017 to starting the Internship in 2019 really varied with courses that were around mental health as well as the communications and marketing qualifications. The courses during that time differed from Young People and Their Mental Health to a Certificate in Digital Wellbeing and altogether, I achieved 11 qualifications.

Then, just a few months after finishing the Internship (in the Summer of 2019), I was unanimously voted into the position of Chair of the support group and with that really only being one meeting per week, I decided to also apply to be a Digital Volunteer with a local Hospice (St Oswald’s) because I thought it would look good on my CV to have as much experience as possible in the communications and marketing industry. In addition to the two work placements, I discovered Centre of Excellence and began purchasing (their courses are all priced, but they often have discounts on that change their prices to £29, so I’d definitely recommend looking for or waiting for those discount events to come out!) a number of their courses. So, from 2019 until 2023 (I’ll chat through my education from 2023 until present day later in the post) I completed four courses on Centre of Excellence: Diploma in Feline Behaviour and Psychology, Diploma in Freelance Journalism, Fundraising Diploma, and a Diploma in First Aid for Mental Health. During that time, I also completed two courses with Future Learn: Certificate in Respecting Our Differences Online and Certificate in Credible Content Creation for Communications Professionals.

1.       In some courses, it might be useful or sometimes even necessary to do some additional reading or research and having more than one device could be really helpful.

2.       Invest in stationery items/products to aid you in organising any written work e.g. notes, revision materials, essay drafts etc.

3.       Utilise your phone’s alarm or timer function to enhance your time-keeping skills in ensuring that you either don’t keep putting your studying off, or don’t end up getting lost in it and spending too long when you have other commitments.

4.       If you’re struggling to remember information, a good trick with this is to read through the text, make notes, read your notes, and then put them away. Then, try to write them again and repeat this until your new notes completely match and are identical to the initial ones.

5.       Some online courses actually feature comment or forum sections or specific Facebook groups where you have the opportunity to connect with other students. Using these can mean you have the chance to share thoughts, ideas, and to seek advice from those in the same position as you.

ü  Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Diploma:


ü  Project Management Diploma:


ü  Social Media Marketing Diploma:


ü  Copywriting Diploma:


ü  Affiliate Marketing Diploma:


ü  Grow Your Instagram Following:


ü  Digital Marketing Strategy: Creating Objectives & Using Measurement Frameworks:


ü  Create A Social Media Marketing Campaign:


ü  Social Media Marketing: Social Media Channels:


ü  Digital Marketing Strategy: Situation Analysis


ü  Diploma in Social Media:


ü  Content Marketing:


ü  Social Media for Health & Care:


ü  Copywriting:


ü  Creative Writing:


ü  If you find yourself struggling to ‘switch off’ after studying, try some Mindfulness exercises or distracting activities to bring your focus and concentration to the present rather than going over and over what you’ve just read about or learnt.

ü  To avoid feeling stressed, plan to utilise a self-soothing activity such as taking a shower or having a bath, getting cosy in your pjs, ordering a takeaway etc. after every study session. Reward yourself for all the hard work, effort, dedication, and time you’ve just put into your course.

ü  If you’re feeling overwhelmed from your learning in any way, talking to friends and family can be a really helpful opportunity to vent any hectic thoughts brought on by your online learning.

ü  Where your course is done at your own leisure and you can dictate the day or time in which you study; you might need to find a balance between finding the motivation to be productive and to do your studying, but not to a point where you’re pushing yourself too hard and you end up resenting even just having enrolled on the course!

Blogger Template Created by pipdig