Hello, my lovelies! Thank you for being here because I have a super important, super exciting announcement to make. I am nominated for Blogger Of The Year at the MH Blog Awards this year! But there is a catch, I need your help! From now until June 4, you can go to the MH Blog Awards website and vote for Amber @ The Winter Of My Discontent for Blogger Of The Year!
It’s a true honor to be nominated with some of the best MH content creators on the web and I can’t wait to find out the results. As always, thank you so much to all of you who do and have supported me. You all mean the world to me and you just keep pushing me to be better and to keep fighting the good fight. It means everything, truly and I hope that I have earned your vote over these months.
Happy Birthday to The Winter Of My Discontent! The blog is turning 1!!
In March of 2020, I decided that I really wanted to start speaking out about my mental health. I wanted to see a change in the way we perceive and treat people with brain disorders and all the websites said the same thing: tell your story. For years I had been thinking about starting a blog but had no real aim or purpose, other than just to be writing. Suddenly, an idea was born.
A Little History
The plan was to launch The Winter Of My Discontent on May 1st, in celebration of mental health month. The truth is, I got excited and jumped the gun…I published the first 2 posts on the evening of April 30, 2020. That makes today the first anniversary of The Winter Of My Discontent!
The truth is, I had no idea what I was doing in April and May of 2020. I quickly became overwhelmed with the personal nature of the posts I was writing. I started having anxiety attacks. I knew nothing about marketing or how to find readers. I had small social media accounts set up, but I rarely used them. Though I posted regularly through the rest of May, I burned out quickly.
At the end of May, I had already decided to shelve the blog. Things weren’t going great with it. Readers were hard to find and I was exhausted and irritable from burnout in other areas of life. Honestly, I really wasn’t sure what my intentions were with it. I knew I didn’t want to give up on advocacy work. It really is a passion for me and I want to make a change in this world for people like me. I just couldn’t figure out how to find my groove in this new world of blogging with a purpose.
After my diagnosis in September, I felt a whirlwind of emotions. With anger and hope riding me, I decided it was time to start speaking out again. This time, I poured over research about how to make my blog better. I found the writing community on Twitter and a whole community of people with ADHD, many of whom blog, podcast, or advocate in many other ways.
The truth is, my diagnosis gave my writing a new focus. Suddenly, I was learning all this new information about my disorders. Back in May, all I knew was that there had been pain and suffering. I didn’t know why. I had no words to apply to intrusive thoughts or ADHD shutdown. As I started to learn about and understand my brain, I realized that there were so many people out there who didn’t know about themselves.
The idea for the first few posts on the new and improved The Winter Of My Discontent; I would write a separate post for each of my disorders. A 5-part series that I would call the My Mental Health series. I’m very proud to say that the series now has 14 installments. As I wrote, I learned that I wanted to share the knowledge with my readers. Once I got started, ideas started to spring forth in abundance…there is so much to share.
A Healing Journey
As my regular readers know, I’ve been on quite the journey for the past six months. Since December, I’ve been going to therapy 2-3 times a week. I’m doing EMDR therapy to work on trauma and I see an ADHD therapist who also specializes in grief. We’ve been trying to get my medications stabilized and we’re almost there. I’ve been growing and healing in ways that I never thought possible.
As much as therapy is playing a role in my journey to recovery, this blog has helped me heal just as much. Today I want to share with you some of the ways that The Winter Of My Discontent has (and still does) played a role in my recovery; how it has stitched up parts of me that I didn’t know needed it. It’s hard to quantify healing and what causes it, but I’ll do my best.
Living With Purpose
I lived many years of my life, in my late 20s and most of my 30s, living without a purpose. I just surviving, if you will. Alive, but not living. I searched for a purpose. In my heart, I always knew that I was here for a reason but, no matter how hard and long I searched, I could never quite find it. So, I just floated through on my mediocre existence. All the dreams I had in my teens and 20s seemed long past and I wasn’t really sure what direction to turn for fulfillment.
The Winter Of My Discontent has given me a purpose; given me a new dream. Not only am I writing with a purpose, but I’m living with purpose now. I truly believe that writing and advocating for ADHD and mental illness is why I’m here. I have big dreams of published books and public speaking; meeting and reaching out to new people all of the time. Writing for TWOMD has given me hope for the future that I haven’t felt in a long time.
Knowing And Understanding Myself
It cannot be understated how much I have learned in the last six months. For those of you who have your own blogs, you know that it is hard work. When I started blogging, I knew how to write. That was all. I have learned to build websites, write for SEO, engage with people on Twitter (though I’m still working on that), use Google products that I had never even heard of…the list goes on and on.
But all of that pales in comparison to what I’ve learned about myself. I started getting serious about writing it almost as soon as I got my diagnosis. They were brand new to me. I had already been researching and learning about ADHD, but the others were a mystery to me the day I received the news. I learned about them as I wrote about them. I would like to think that I would have done the research even if I hadn’t been writing about it, but I don’t know that I would have.
I’ve mentioned before, but it’s worth saying again, understanding and knowing my brain led to so much forgiveness and acceptance of myself. I love myself at a level that I have never been able to. I feel worth it.
My Self-Confidence Is At An All-time High
I remember when I was about 23 or 24, my dad told me that he had never met a person with self-esteem as low as mine. He didn’t understand was that a lot of people with ADHD and brain disorders have low self-esteem. We’re used to being constantly criticized and put down. We’re called stupid, flighty, and lazy. We are told that we’re “too much.” It’s hard not to internalize that negative messaging. I was no different than the rest of my peers.
Even when we find a skill that we are confident in, we often get caught up in Imposter Syndrome which often keeps us from even trying to succeed. Our poor self-esteem tells us that we’re never going to be good at anything, successful at anything. Self-sabotage, every time. I have let fear and doubt hold me back for years and years. The blog has changed that for me.
I feel more confident in myself and my abilities than ever before. Imposter Syndrome still sneaks in from time to time, but I still fight through it. It has healed me by making me fight the voice that says I’m not good enough. It has taught me how to celebrate small wins, one milestone at a time. The feedback I have received from readers has been heartwarming and fuels me on my way. I feel more confident than ever in my ability and my purpose.
I’ve Finally Proven To Myself That I Have It In Me
I once heard someone say that the only consistency that ADHD people have is inconsistency and it couldn’t be more accurate for me. I’ve never been able to be consistent with much of anything, especially not things that I didn’t have to do. I’ve had the same job for 13 years and I’d say that’s pretty consistent, but only because I have to have the job. Since being off work, I’ve had no real routine to speak of.
Writing has kept me focused and kept me from stagnating. Looking back at my life, I squandered it away any other times that I have had extended amounts of time off. I would spend my days binge-watching television shows and laying in bed. Granted I’ve never been off for this long in my life, but I feel like I’ve used this time wisely. I’m constantly either writing, doing research, or marketing (shudder).
For 6 solid months, I have written 3-4 posts a week. I have made friends and supporters, one and the same. I have put in hard work and long hours and I haven’t let anything get in the way. I have pushed through mental health issues and imposter syndrome. I lost my beloved grandmother. I had COVID. I went through some deep writer’s block. Yet still, I made myself keep pushing through. I proved to myself that I can do this. I can be consistent and I can go after my dreams, one baby step at a time!
I’m HELPING People!!
This was the most important thing to me when I did those first Google searches on “how to be a mental health advocate.” When I looked back on the ways I had been treated and let down, by people that I loved and respected and by the system, I got so angry. When I thought of all the other people out there who had gone through the same, I got so unbelievably sad. I do this for them as much as I do it for myself.
Every time I receive a message from a person or a parent saying that I helped them in some way, I cry. It makes me so happy to know that they feel seen and heard; to know they are feeling the same relief that I felt when I first started meeting and learning about other people like me. Every parent who says, “I understand my child better,” makes me weep. To think of even one little child whose life is a little easier, who understands themselves a little earlier…I can’t explain the feeling in my soul. Helping people is what it’s all about; making a difference for people like us.
I’m Teaching People
For years, I was unable to advocate for myself because I had no real idea what was wrong with me. I had the pop-culture definition of ADHD and OCD, not the full picture by far. I didn’t even tell my therapists about a lot of my symptoms because I didn’t realize they were symptoms. I had been told for all of my life that they were character defects; deficits on my part. This was because I lacked knowledge. For years, I just called everything depression and that was that.
Another of my main points in starting The Winter Of My Discontent was to help people learn about these disorders. To help people recognize themselves in my words, in the hopes that they can find the right kind of help. They can speak up for themselves while receiving care and push for the treatments that help them. That said, I also wanted it to be a place where loved ones could come and learn too.
Just today, I received a message from a friend. I don’t think she’ll mind if I share it with you:
Dude. Let me diverge for one sec and tell you this: you have changed my life. In a good way. I’m so much more and more sympathetic towards NDs and ppl in general as you teach me about our weird brains.
You should know that you’re making the world better.
Stuff like this, man. This is how blogging is helping me heal.
I’ve Made Meaningful Connections
The people that I have met on this journey have been delightful, to say the least. On Fridays, I attend a Zoom “ADHD party,” something that was way out of my comfort zone. I’m still trying to learn to come out of my shell there, but I enjoy participating so much. I’ve made countless friends and supporters on Twitter. I have regular readers who check out every post. There are people, strangers to me before this, who really believe in what I do and push me to keep going.
During a global pandemic, I have met people from all over the world. We have talked and laughed; gotten to know each other a little at a time. In starting a podcast, Dorene and I have taken our already close-knit friendship to a whole new level…creative partners! All the while, living completely across the country from one another. Before the pandemic, I was just coming out of a years-long isolation period and life was getting lonely. The connections that I’ve made have helped me get through the loneliest of times.
To Conclude…Thank You
This is a really high-level view of how mental health blogging has helped me heal and kept me sane. The truth is, it’s hard to quantify how much it has actually helped me. It has kept me from ruminating on my pain and it has pushed me forward during this downtime. Writing has always been a healing activity for me, but I never knew how important it would be to share that healing and knowledge with other people. The past 6 months have been so powerful for me and it has really shown me what my life can be as long as I just keep going.
Thank you all for being here with me on this journey. Thank you for all of the kind words and encouragement. Thank you for sharing my work and taking the time out of your busy days to message me. You’ll never know how much it means to me. To be cheesy for a second…you are the fuel to my fire, the wind beneath my wings. In all seriousness, my sincerest thanks to all of you.
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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight! 💜💜