When I was just 19 years old I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It took time to come to terms with my life changing diagnosis, so to help make sense of the journey I was embarking on, I started a blog.
In 2015, I created ‘100 Days of Mimi’. I fashioned my website as a mood diary and every day I wrote about how I was feeling to try and comprehend my illness. Having a blog meant I could share with family members or friends who also struggled to grasp what was going on in my head.
I challenged myself to write for 100 days. Some days I wrote somewhat brief and monotonous posts about how I was doing fine and hadn’t been up to very much - other days had lengthy, poetic posts describing the trauma of being mentally arrested by depression. However, everything I shared helped paint a coherent picture of an exhaustive and painful battle with bipolar disorder.
I didn’t expect my blog to capture anyone’s attention, so I was bewildered that my daily reader count was on the rise. I recall when I started getting 100 views a day after starting my blog and I just felt so grateful that people were captivated by my posts.
Eventually my blog garnered press interest, which was puzzling to me. Back in 2015, most of the blogs I read that had a buzz around them were fashion and lifestyle blogs, so I certainly didn’t believe that my blog was special enough to reach front-page news.
3 years later, I have a readership of hundreds of thousands of people and it kick-started my career in writing and work with the third sector. Blogging was invaluable to me because it saved my life. I cultivated a burgeoning community of people who would reach out to me to tell me that I helped change their life, because documenting my struggles inspired them to speak about what they too were going through.
I’ve come across people who have said they loved my work because it simply made them feel less alone in their battle. I’ve also met people who were so inspired by my blogging journey, that they started their own respective online journals.
I never usually discuss the positive reaction to my blog because I don’t want people to think I’m bragging or that I am beginning to get an ego because of the audience I accumulated – but my readers did more for me than I could ever do for them, and I will forever be grateful for them.
Having people read what I had to say, made me feel important for once in my life. This is something I felt even back when I only had a few people read my posts. I succeeded in finding purpose and gone were my feelings of isolation. I could not see my readers’ faces, but I could feel them – everyone with their own story, resonating in mine.
There’s so much strength in sharing publicly. I began to address my issues with self-stigma and become less guarded when talking about my mental health to a forum of people. My sense of courage and confidence flourished after creating ‘100 Days of Mimi’.
Even when I didn’t have a strong readership, blogging was instrumental to my recovery. I had my own mood diary that was encouraging me to identify my own symptoms and communicate with myself what was going on in my head; it was a free, therapeutic outlet.
Blogging became my version of talking to someone, even though at the beginning I was talking to nobody. Writing was my sanctuary, my personal rehab that helped bring me back to equilibrium. Taking the time every night to sit down and be at one with my thoughts was cathartic. If I took away the writing subject of mental health altogether - say I was blogging about my love of animals – I still believe it would’ve yielded positive results. Committing to blogging meant I was able to focus on a task for a specific amount of time and share what I wanted to talk about: the act of writing was peaceful in itself.
After meeting Gary and Dan last month, I found out that Men Tell Health also started out as a blog – and I was not surprised. You can tell from the affable demeanour of the organisation that it had grown from a personal place. Men Tell Health was also created to make sense of a personal journey to recovery, openly documenting and intimately describing mental health – just like my blog had.
Blogging can be so gratifying and helpful, and I encourage everyone to consider writing posts online. You could use blogging as a personal outlet, or you could use it just to talk about something that you are passionate about like cars or sports. Being creative is remedial, and writing is second nature to many of us.
My advice for those who want to start a blog is: don’t sweat the numbers. Don’t be disheartened if don’t see immediate engagement, the experience of blogging is rich in itself. Try not to dwell on providing excellent, award winning content all the time: this is your place - don’t sweat the small stuff. If blogging doesn’t interest you but you want to feel the benefits of writing about your feelings or writing about something you love, perhaps a diary could be a good place to start.
Spending alone time with what’s on your mind and communicating how you feel is so advantageous; writing and blogging can be a practical coping mechanism and a wonderful tool for your managing your mental health.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet Aymie and the rest of the team at Bipolar Scotland recently to take part in their On The Level podcast (the link is here). It's also great to see there are parallels in how Men Tell and Aymie both started. Has blogging helped your own mental health or have you found one that really speaks to how you feel? Let us know in the comments below.
If Aymie has inspired you to pick up a pen (or a keyboard) and start a diary or set-up a blog, then you can find more about it here.