the winter blog

Mental Health Blogging: Reflecting On My Reason

“Writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”

Charles Bukowski

It’s happened again, my lovelies. I have found myself in the midst of a massive creative slump. The well has been dry. I can’t execute ideas and trying to force myself to write or art journal have resulted in half-hearted, half-finished drivel.

I’m going to be honest, your girl is going through some things. I’m not really ready to talk about any of it yet, but the months to come look to be hard ones and I’m afraid that my creative fire is being squelched by my need to survive through tough stuff. It’s understandable and I’m trying to be kind to myself.

Tonight I was Twittering after trying to work on a fiction project and only writing a few sentences before abandoning it altogether. I had a nap and when I woke up, I had a message from a new follower. She said she had only been following me for 10 days and she had learned more about herself than in a lifetime. She said much more and it was a very beautiful, powerful message.

I helped her with my words. And then she helped me with hers. See, her words got me thinking about other women who have told me about the positive impact that I’ve had on their lives. I don’t say this to toot my own horn. Only to express what an absolute honor it is to be in a position to help even one person. It makes me emotional every time I think about it.

And those emotions are the inspiration for tonights post.

Mental Health Blogging Advice

I want to be honest, mental health blogging is not for the faint of heart. You’ll read a lot of advice on Google about what to do and what not to do. Some of it is valid, some even good. But the best advice comes from other bloggers. People who have been there; who have learned through trial and error.

There are times in the beginning where it feels like you are screaming into the ether. You only get a handful of views and you’re writing your heart out. It’s hard to put out good work and know that no one is reading it. It gets really discouraging.

Here are the the two best pieces of advice that I got from veteran bloggers when I first started:

  1. Remember that blogging is a slow burn. It’s about the long game. Those posts in the beginning that only got 10 or 15 views? They have thousands of views now. Your blog will grow slowly, but you have to be patient. Overnight success is extremely rare.
  2. Remember WHY you started; your why. Even more important that the long game, the piece of advice that I heard over and over again from every, single mental health blogger that I crossed paths with. This wisdom got me through many uncertain nights and a shit ton of Imposter Syndrome. My why.

There’s a lot of good advice I could relay to you about mental health blogging. Alas, this is not a mental health blogging advice post. Gotcha!

write, writer, type
mental health blogging

Why Do You Do It?

Anyway, this bout of creative impotence has been particularly painful in an exclusively ADHD way and after receiving that touching comment today, I started thinking about my why again. What is it that has driven me over these last couple of years?

I started The Winter Of My Discontent almost two years ago. It would be months before I would have a diagnosis, but I had a kerfuffle with the insurance company and the pharmacy and I ended having to go a full month without my antidepressants. I ended up being okay, after the discontinuation symptoms ran their course.

But it made me angry. Maybe they are, but I can’t see them being so cavalier about the dispensing of other life saving medications. I digress. I was pissed. Then I started thinking of other people that it was happening to or, worse, the people who didn’t have the access that I had. I wanted to save other people from having to deal with all the bullshit that comes with our unique struggles.

I started researching ways to help. How could I get involved in the legislative process? How could I do outreach? How could I break stigma and make a real difference? Every search I did said the same thing, “Tell your story.” And The Winter Of My Discontent was born…and promptly put to bed exactly 4 weeks later.

But, life wasn’t done with me and this beloved blog of mine just yet. A few months later, I got the courage to ask for a psychiatric evaluation and I got an official diagnosis. It changed everything.

I’ve written extensively about the fact that relief was the first emotion that I felt when I got my diagnosis. But my relief was quickly overtaken by pure, unadulterated rage. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many psychologists, psychiatrists, and general practitioners I saw for my extensive mental health issues from the age 8 until my diagnosis at 38. I won’t even attempt it. And every, single one of them missed it.

Then came the memories…all the times someone I loved and/or respected mistreated me for things that were a direct result of a REAL disorder. They told me I was lazy, flakey, ditzy, and willful; that I was doing it on purpose. They couldn’t reconcile my intelligence with my inability to do seemingly basic things, so I had to be doing it on purpose.

I thought about the friends that called me toxic in my deepest times of need. Washed over by my illnesses, they labeled me a bummer and rubbed it in my face. I thought of the harmful words, the name-calling, the bullying by people who said they loved me out of the side of their mouth. Pure. Fucking. Rage.

Yet again, my anger led me to start thinking, “Other people are there now. They are in their darkest times and people are abandoning them and they feel alone.” My anger bloomed into an idea for all of us.

questions, question mark, quiz

The Winter Of My Discontent: New and Improved

When I started mental health blogging, I had no other real focus other than “mental health blogging.” I ran out of steam and I wasn’t offering anything, other than my story because of that. That’s another important piece of blogging advice, even in mental health blogging…you always want to be answering a question or offering something more to your readers. They should leave better off having read what you wrote.

As I’m wont to do, I dove into research even before I got my diagnosis. My therapist told me her suspicions and ADHD was top of the list. I found ADHD Twitter and the rest is history. The understanding and validation that I found there changed me to my core. Once I had the official diagnoses, I dove into my other disorders (OCD, C-PTSD, Persistent Depressive Disorder, and Anxiety and Panic Disorder).

As I learned about myself, understood myself for the first time in my 38 years, I was writing about them and sharing it. For all those years, I couldn’t advocate for myself properly because I didn’t understand my disorders, so I couldn’t identify them in myself. I had skewed ideas of what they were; media representations.

The thing is, I’m a textbook case of all of them. As I learned, I was blown away. I had no idea that so much of my personality was just a bunch of coping mechanisms I had stitched together to battle a bunch of disorders I didn’t even know I had. I wanted to share this new knowledge in a relatable way; a way that people could understand and see themselves in.

As my why started develop from anger into something more tangible, three themes kept emerging.

I wanted to educate people with these disorder AND their loved ones. Much of my pain came from the fact that my loved ones didn’t know or understand me. I wanted to give the people in our lives a place to go to see what it can genuinely be like for us.

I wanted to advocate for people like me. People in pain. Misunderstood people. I was forgiving myself so much for so many things, loving myself more, because of this new knowledge. I needed to share that. I wanted to show that we are just normal people. I’m so normal, it’s sickening. We live a normal lives. We just battle things some other people don’t.

Lastly, I wanted to create community for people with brain disorders. I tend to focus on my own disorders while writing, only because I prefer to accentuate my writing with personal experience and I can’t do that with disorders that I don’t have. That said, I want everyone to find a sense of community at TWOMD.

So that was my tagline, “To educate, advocate, and create community for people with brain disorders.” But, as I started my journey, there came a deeper meaning behind my why. The real reason I started doing this.

I started to get messages, through the blog and social media. One of the first was from a mother. She had read an article that I wrote about ADHD and I discussed Executive Dysfunction. She told me that she had a young ADHDer and that, in reading what I wrote, she understood her daughter in a way she had never been able to before.

I cried that day. I thought of little Amber. I think about her a lot. She was so misunderstood and starved for acceptance. I just helped that little girl receive a little bit more understanding and acceptance in her life. That little bit can mean all the difference in the trajectory of her life. That was my why.

Throughout the last year, I have been contacted by so many women (many of whom I have befriended!) who told me that I helped them feel seen and understood or I taught them something about themselves. I even know a few ladies who realized through my posts that they too have ADHD and are in various stages of getting officially diagnosed.

Everyone one of those women are my reason. All of the people that I’ve touched that I don’t know about; parents, friends, kindred spirits. All the folks who haven’t found me yet, but who will need me in the future. They are why I do this.

Thank you for letting me do this. Thank you for trusting me with such an honorable charge. For letting me heal myself in public in the hopes that it helps those who come behind me. Thank you for letting me walk this path and cheering me on my way.

mental, therapy, counseling

To Wrap It Up

Recently, my mental health status has been used against me like a weapon, the blog held up as proof that I’m “crazy” and unfit. It’s me, admitting it in my own words. But I am neither crazy or unfit. I am strong and capable and I’m trying to help as many people as I can in any way that I can.

I have questioned whether I should put the website on private, put my Twitter on private, and lay low for a few months. Then I remembered my why. You all remind me every day why I’m here and I could not be more grateful for that. I’m walking a path that feels right to me for the first time in a long time and I don’t intend on straying from that anytime soon, not even under threat.

This ended up being a really long post and I hope you stuck with me. If you’re a new blogger, I extend the same advice that was given to me; find your why and cling to it. Take the positive feedback to heart. Know that you’re making a bigger impact than you can ever imagine by using your voice.

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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight! 

ADHD Beans

Still depressed, anxious, and traumatized. Still an ADHDer. Still kicking ass and taking names when it comes to busting stigma. Changing hearts and minds, one post at a time.

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  1. Thanks for blogging about real stuff, real feelings.
    As I was reading this post, I’m wondering if you have ever considered that you don’t have a disorder, but that maybe you are a Highly Sensitive Person/Dreamer and there are gifts and challenges that go with that personality type? Our society tends to see and understand the majority – those who are fast paced and compliant – and, those who don’t fit that box are considered ‘disordered’. BUT what if we could see these divergent thinkers from a young age as just that – creatives that don’t fit the mold?
    The gift of having the ability to be a changemaker has a flip side of a very active brain. Labeling helps understanding, but if it’s focused on how we’re broken, does that just reinforce the negative thought patterns we have about ourselves as well as how others see us?

    1. I just noticed that I had commented previously with similar comments. Sorry about that.

      I do hope to get a conversation going about how the lens of ‘different’ affects so much.

      1. Thanks for commenting. I absolutely agree with you to a point. While I do see ADHD as a disorder, I have considered that I am an HSP and I do think that it’s just a different type of thinking. That said, it profoundly affects my ability to take care of myself and my responsibilities (not just work related).

        While I am sort of forced to see the bad because it is very in your face, I also choose to see the good. The creativity, empathy, and dreaminess. I’ve always been a big thinker and I now know part of that is just how my brain works. But I’ve also spent months so depressed that I wanted to die. I’ve spent days at a time, drowning in intrusive and obsessive thoughts. I’ve gone through periods of time where I was having 12 hour panic attacks almost every day. Some of that may have been because of environment, but a lot of it is chemical.

        My labels have been helpful to me, personally, because once I knew the names of these things, I was able to educate myself and I found solidarity, understanding, and validation in the community that I found. Society isn’t changing for me anytime soon, so it helps to find the right medication and healthy coping mechanisms.

        I definitely don’t see myself as broken, though. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with me. I’m just a normal lady, loving a normal life, but I do have some extra issues that I have to deal with that “normal” people don’t. I do think my life would be a lot easier if Society were more accepting of divergence from the norm, but I would still struggle. And I definitely wish that more people took that attitude in childhood. My life would look a lot different without the childhood trauma of being different.

        Again, thank you for starting such a though provoking conversation. 💜

  2. Kris Jones Lee says:

    Amber, I’m so grateful to have stumbled across your blog. I so relate to the need to be kind to the young Kris, to be the mother to myself that I needed over 50 years ago…to soothe those deep hurts. I advocated for myself within the VA system, and finally got a referral to a local mental health provider who can actually prescribe what I need. We’ll all have slumps from time to time, but you have a little old lady here who will be rooting for you, praying for you, and cheering you on, no matter what. You rock and roll and Tony Bennett. ❤

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. It can be so hard to advocate for ourselves inside a broken system. I’m glad you’re getting the treatment that you need!

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