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photo by Brenda Anderson

I got an email today from someone I’ve just started to get to know on Twitter – she’s starting a business writing and editing (sound familiar?) and wanted to know why I haven’t blogged in so long.  So it’s time to come clean.  Below is my nutshell response to why I stopped.  It’s as honest as I’ve been in a very long time.

As a summary, I don’t go into detail here about what it feels like to lose my mental health, and what hard work it is to come back.  I want to write about that too, but not right now.  I hope this helps all of you who wondered why they didn’t see @wordspring around very much in2010.

My thanks to Lisa for asking me about blogging.  This probably wasn’t the answer you expected.

****
Thanks for the note!  Thanks as well for the question about my sadly neglected blog.  Blogging need not take very long, and it’s a wonderful way to show what you know.  In my case, it wasn’t lack of ideas or lack of time that stopped the posts.  A lot of people stop blogging when they run out of ideas, or when they don’t see it as a priority for their business.  Others barely get started because they are perfectionists, and feel that whatever they do won’t be good enough!  I think I blogged about that – you can help them get over it.

As a writer and editor, this is can be your best form of advertising, and so long as I was running my business, it was a central piece of my marketing.  It could be for you, as well.  I stopped because of a personal crisis, that saw me change direction 180 degrees.

As you can see, I was blogging very regularly through 2009, when I was newly 100% self-employed as a writer and social media consultant.  I kind of threw myself into the deep end of the pool and started swimming madly to stay afloat. Unfortunately, it turns out I’m not well suited to being a one-woman show.  I’m a great teacher, salesperson, motivator, explainer, and a crappy administrator.  So by the end of the year, I was falling apart trying to do everything myself, and too afraid of failure to bring anyone in on a potential trainwreck.  Self-fulfilling prophecy?  Yeah.  By the end of 2009 I had to stop what I was doing for my own mental and physical health, and to save what was left of my relationship with my boyfriend and children, as well.  So I stopped, cold turkey, for months.

I got a job that didn’t involve the Internet, and that helped people in a concrete way, selling walkers, wheelchairs, and so on.  It put a paycheque in my bank account every two weeks.  I didn’t look at my email, didn’t go into my office, and stopped attending the tweetups and the Social Media Club I’d helped to found the previous year.  I cancelled (or dropped) contracts.  I stopped answering my phone. I felt like I’d failed and gone into exile.  Only my family and my job got me through the day to day, and during some very dark times last spring, even that wasn’t enough, and I had to recognize that I was really, really sick!  And THAT’s why I stopped blogging.
Slowly, one piece at a time, I’m putting myself back together. Ii’ve gotten help for what turned out to be acute mental illness (there, I’ve said it!), and have great counsellors,  good meds, and wonderful friends and family.  We’ve made some changes at the family level, and I’m starting to write and edit again, balancing that with my medical supplies sales work.  I can check email and tweet, lol, and will probably start adding more activities as I am able to handle them.  That certainly includes blogging, because I have a ton of ideas.  Right now, it has taken a back seat to a contract I have (on deadline as we speak!) but it’s going to come back, too.
That’s my 5-minute story – with that out of the way, I’d love to meet for a coffee, talk about YOUR story, and get you excited about blogging.  Don’t worry, blogging is a lot of fun, so long as you are not having a nervous breakdown :-) .
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12 Responses to “What the H*ll Happened? My Journey Into Mental Illness”

  1. Raul says:

    It’s incredibly brave of you to do this, Catherine. And as the cofounder of Mental Health Camp and someone who works hard at trying to help de-stigmatize mental illness (since 2009, no less!) I am proud of you for speaking openly about mental health and look forward to your return to the social media scene with a bang!

  2. Dave Traynor says:

    Thanks for sharing Catherine. I’m glad that you’re at a point where you can talk about this. I’ve also been going through a bit of a hiatus from blogging, for some of the same reasons. I’m not ready to be as upfront as you, but I want you to know that you’re supported by those of us who have followed you – even when there hasn’t been much going on in the blogosphere. As Raul says above, we all need to work together “to help de-stigmatize mental illness.” Welcome back.

  3. Doug Brown says:

    We haven’t met Catherine, and honestly I came to your blog only because you commented on mine. But now that I’m here and have read your post, I want to say that I admire you for writing such an honest and personal post. Whatever benefits social media brings to our businesses, I could cheerfully tune it all out starting tomorrow. But then I would miss out on real stuff like this post. Best of luck in your journey.

  4. [...] Go here to read the rest: What the H*ll Happened? My Journey Into Mental Illness | WordSpring.ca [...]

  5. I thought of you, Raul, when I wrote the post. I’m so thankful for your work, both online and with Mental Health Camp.

    I’m hearing a lot more talk about destigmatizing mental illness this year than I’ve noticed before, and I don’t think it’s just the same symptom as buying a new car and then noticing all the other cars just like yours on the road. Whether it’s because I am in mid-life (and so are you, Dave!) or because I’m part of the 21st century overload, I know a great many people who have struggled quietly with mental illness. Often, when I open up a bit about it, a flood of story comes out of the other person: “I’m on Effexor too!” “My brother really struggles – he self-medicates with a great deal of marijuana.” “My dad took his own life.”

    We need to talk about this, and most of us are very afraid when we do. Fortunately, I have two wonderful work environments and am not afraid for my job. I have great friends, a family that loves me, and expert help too. So I can now open up.

    I’ll talk to you guys again soon. :-)

    C

  6. Thanks, Doug. I found yours today through Chris Burdge’s Daily News on Twitter. Discovery is one of the best aspects of social media! No doubt, both being in Victoria, we’ve shared a lineup at Thrifty Foods already. Thanks for dropping a line, and maybe we’ll meet.

  7. Yule Heibel says:

    Great post, Catherine… I completely agree that there’s too much stigmatizing of mental health issues. I wouldn’t want to say that it’s “normal,” but if we don’t tell stories about it (whether it’s affecting us or members of our family/ friends), then we condemn people who do experience it to wander in the wilderness without a map.

    By writing about your experience like this, you’re giving others a map – and that can be the first step to getting one’s life back.

    Let me know if you want to have coffee sometime

  8. Orion Carrier says:

    Catherine. What a breath of fresh air.

    And while I have always lived with a mental illness of my own, it is not the same as yours… and while that would increase the degree of understanding I have, until I read your post here, I still did not understand yours. So what a gift your sharing is.

    And I agree with Yule when she says it’s not “normal”, from the sense that I don’t think any of us would even experience “mental illness” in the same way if at all in an agrarian society with normal pressures, and with proper, full and non-toxic nutrition and environment. To the extent the word “normal” refers to current occurrence, however, I would have to say it is far more normal than most of us know. I know few people who are truly free of it in one way or another. Maybe it’s not so much even an illness as just part of the diversity of the human family and the human experience.

    Raul, thank you so much for the work that you do.

    Love, Orion

  9. Orion Carrier says:

    By the way, by “normalizing” the experience of mental illness above, I have in no way meant to “minimize” the experience of it! ;)

  10. Ric Raftis says:

    Hey Catherine,

    Great post. If more people were honest then the destigmatization issue probably wouldn’t be so huge. You know, if we take the skeletons out of the closet, people won’t bother looking in there to find them.

    All the best…

    Ric

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