Sorry for my absence, my mental health has been shit.

25 May 2017

I purchased at the end of December 2016, yet here we are – May, nearly June, 2017 and I haven’t actually posted anything on it yet. My YouTube subscribers ( if you’re not one of them) may notice that, although I have manged to upload a grand total of 9 videos in 2017, given there have been 27 Sundays (my chosen upload day) thus far, I’ve not 100% been on that either.

So why not? I could write a series of blog posts on that but – long story short - my mental health has been in a terrible place, and I think blogging had a part in that. Not the biggest part, by any means, but for a start I think I saw so many people talking about having anxiety in the blogging world that the frequency of that, combined with my thought process not exactly being at its best performing, really let me think that I didn’t have an issue, that what I was experiencing was normal. I didn’t actually go to the doctor until April and I wish I had gone sooner, rather than tell myself that it was clearly normal to feel depressed or anxious and that I just needed to get on with it. If I had gone sooner I wouldn’t have let it get as bad as it did before I did something about it – and looking back now that I am in a better place I can see how bad it had gotten.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the open-ness regarding things like mental health in the blogging world is great but the more I retreated from real life (and the situation that was the biggest contributor to the deterioration of my mental health) the more I cocooned myself in the online world. And that meant I didn’t have any distance from it to realise that the online world was providing a safe place for people to discuss their issues and that in the grand scheme of things I did have issues that were beyond normal or okay, and that were outwith my own ability to control. Like a lot of dramatic storylines there was that big thing that happened that made me realise ‘okay, I need to seek help’ but I wish that hadn’t needed to happen.

The other part of it was that, as I spiralled into a horrible period of depression, I was retreating more and more into the blogging world and, being honest, when I was feeling like I didn’t have the energy nor inclination to wash my own hair for weeks at a time, looking at well-lit photos of tall, thin, glamorous bloggers in sunny locations frolicking in designer clothes didn’t actually make me feel all that great. But there was something addictive about it. The more rubbish I felt the more I looked at the blog posts of people not feeling rubbish – or at least, in my slightly deluded state, the people I was interpreting as being ‘perfect’ and ‘happy’.

Of course, as a blogger, I know I didn’t exactly post selfies of me wearing the same pyjamas I’d had on for days at a time without showering during the last couple of months. I know I have now mentioned that I was struggling with my mental health, but I didn’t photograph it and give that visual documentation the way that I would if I’d been feeling great about myself and had a gorgeous new pair of shoes I wanted to share. I know people share a snapshot, an image, of the best bit of their day in a blog post. And I know sometimes that’s not even a genuine part of their day – more and more bloggers are showcasing items on behalf of brands in full on ‘shoots’ where they pick a location, go with a professional photographer and take the photos purely to showcase the item. ‘OOTD’ posts may have started with mirror pictures of what the blogger was actually wearing to go do whatever it was they were doing that day, but that’s not the beast we’re dealing with anymore when we look at an outfit post. It’s not reality anymore, and even when it is, it’s an edited, well-lit, constructed reality.
But although part of me did realise that, the bottom line is I was not thinking straight. Literally. I’ve now started on a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy course and I’m not that far into it, but one of the main things the program has taught me in the first few weeks is just how warped my thinking was. And I say was as though it’s suddenly not anymore – and that’s not the case. I still have what the program calls ‘automatic thoughts’ in response to things, but I at least am now in a slightly better position where some of the time, not all but some, I can recognise these thoughts as being my automatic thoughts and not actually ‘real’ thoughts. (I’m sure there’s a whole lot more to it than that but I’m not a therapist, I’m a patient, and I’m not going to try and explain how it works or why it works – I just want to cross my fingers and pray that it does work.)

And this was the other way in which blogging was really not healthy for me during the past few months – the automatic thoughts it was triggering for me and then the feelings that came as a result of the thoughts and the actions that I took as a result of those feelings.

I felt awful about myself, I felt hopeless, I felt inadequate. I felt like my existence was pointless because I’d retreated so far from real life that online life was genuinely what I was seeing as my ‘main’ life, and I felt like I was never going to be successful with that because how the hell could I be when I was up against these perfect, model-like bloggers who got sent all the latest clothes and beauty products and lives in warm, sunny countries where it didn’t rain all the time so they could easily get out and do a photoshoot of them wearing their beautiful gifted clothing? How could I step up to the plate there? How could I keep up and how could I compete? Answer: I couldn’t.
And I still can’t. I still live in Scotland, where it’s grey and overcast a lot of the time which isn’t ideal for photos and thanks to my issues with food I’ve managed to pile on about three stone since January because I responded to feeling awful by trying to eat to make me feel better, then forcing myself to eat as a punishment for not being strong enough not to eat the first thing in the first place, so even if I did live in some perfectly lit place that was ideal for photos I can assure you I don’t particularly feel like taking any right now…

But a few things have changed. Firstly I feel so much more engaged with my offline life that I’m no longer seeing my online one as my main one (god, all these lives, how do I keep up with myself?!) Yes, it would be bloody lovely to amass a great following and be able to turn my YouTube and blog into my career, but I don’t feel like I’ve totally failed at life because that hasn’t happened anymore.
The other thing is that, by feeling less like I’ve failed at life every minute of every day, I’ve managed to regain some feeling of worth. Don’t get me wrong, I still have extremely low self-esteem, and I still feel like there are huge areas of my life I’m failing in, but it’s not the over-whelming sense of failure and pointlessness that it was. So I’ve started to feel again that my opinions have a worth, and that’s a nice feeling to have.

I’ve been feeling for a few weeks now that I’m interested in blogging again and that I was ready to start again with it. But I didn’t quite know how to start again, or what to do – should I just go straight in with a product review or should I be like ‘hello and welcome to my new blog’ and just pretend like the last few months hadn’t happened.

So in the end I decided to just go for the truth. It’s not glamorous, or aspirational, and it doesn’t come swathed in a £4000 Burberry trench coat, but, as much as I say I found being in the blogging world detrimental to my mental health, blogging has, in the past, made a hugely positive impact on my life. The majority of my friends now are ones I’ve made through blogging and I started a new job a few weeks ago, which I wouldn’t have gotten had I not been a blogger. Although I may never receive a PR package with Dior Bags, I have had some amazing opportunities thanks to my blog. And although I may never get free trips to New York, being part of the blogging community has let me discover a million NYC tips from other bloggers that I wouldn’t have known, and I’ve been able to document my holidays so that, even if in a few years time I don’t want to do YouTube anymore, I can always have those vlogs to watch back and relive my own favourite holidays.

So yes, there’s been some negatives and for me stepping away from the blogging scene was definitely the healthiest thing for me to do for where I was a few months ago, but thankfully I’m not there anymore and I’m in a place where I think I can be back here.

And it feels good to be back. 

Join the conversation!

  1. It feels good to have you back, lovely. I wish I had known, but I'm glad you're now in a place where the words are coming back.



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