If you don't know who Ruth is by now, can you even call yourself a blogger? Ruth burst onto the blogging scene six months ago and has since gone from strength to strength, amassing almost 10,000 Twitter followers and averaging just shy of three million monthly views on Pinterest. No-one can deny that Ruth is quickly and firmly establishing herself in the blogging community. I'm so happy to have Ruth here on Nic's Healthy Life today, talking about the effect that full-time blogging has had on her mental health.
------------When Nicola and I discussed doing a guest post, she made a few suggestions. Among them were my mental health story, and blogging. So, I thought – why not combine the two?
When I started my blog, it was because I had been receiving treatment for depression and anxiety. I had quit a job I hated, secretly expecting I’d have to return to something similar once I was back on my feet. But, that wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted to find something which felt meaningful.
I was starting to feel slightly better and thought I would try my hand at something I loved: writing. With enthusiasm, determination, but little expectation, I launched my blog.
The simple act of doing this stirred new emotions in me. Having spent eight miserable years working in retail, spending my time doing something I really enjoyed was incredible. I threw every hour into it, from sunrise to sunset. It was all I wanted to do. I couldn’t get enough.
But, it was an unsustainable level of commitment. Eventually, I realised I needed to slow down a little. I didn’t necessarily want to but after stumbling across blog posts about “blogger burnout”, I eased off a little. When I’m excited about an idea, I go back to full force but, for the most part, I now keep things balanced. I have a schedule which I stick to as closely as possible. While I may use less time, I have more structure.
Blogging gave me a newfound confidence because I am good at it, and I recognise that (most of the time). Not only that, but people responded so kindly to me that it caused me to stop and wonder if I’m really as bad as my mind has been telling me all this time. New friends came into my life, celebrating me for exactly who I was, and it really lifted my spirits.
Even just the fact I chose to write about my struggles with mental illness meant people reached out to me. My mission had been to let others know they weren’t alone, but the exact same thing was happening for me. Every time someone took a minute out of their day to let me know they were, or had been, in my situation, I didn’t feel so alien.
Although blogging has done huge favours for me mentally, it does bring its own strains. Aside from the aforementioned potential to burnout, a level of success is dependent on a social media presence. I love interacting with other bloggers, but I’m an introvert. A lot of socialising can be overwhelming, and I have to be really careful with this.
There have been occasions when I’ve ignored the signs and pushed myself to do it anyway. I thought it’s what I had to do. Yet, all it did was make me want to delete all my social media accounts and disappear off the internet. I know that’s not a rational response. So, now, I listen to myself. When I wake up and the thought of going on social media seems overwhelming, I’ll give myself a break and do other things.
Blogging, for me, has also brought about a lot of guilt. First and foremost because my boyfriend is supporting me while I try to make this into a form of income. He wants me to earn money from something I love, which is incredibly sweet of him. Nonetheless, I can’t always avoid the question of “should I give this up and do something else?”
The second reason I feel guilty is people often tell me I’ve achieved more in six months of blogging than they have in years. They mean it as a compliment, but then I find myself questioning if I’ve earnt this. On good days, I know I’ve worked hard to get the results I have. On the other days, I wonder how many people resent me for it, and think they'd be justified to do so. A couple of people have even told me they don’t think I deserve it, and that hurts.
I do my best to not let these feelings overshadow my love for blogging, and all that it has given me. It's taken away several of the negative thoughts I had about myself. When I started, I had very little confidence in myself - in who I was and what I was capable of. It's been that way for such a long time, I had almost forgotten a different way was possible. Blogging has reminded me of that.
A lot of people say they wish they’d started blogging sooner. I don’t. I think I started exactly when I was supposed to. It found me at the right time. Not every day is easy, but that's a fact of life. The truth is, alongside medication and counselling, blogging has been one of the most powerful tools in turning my situation around.
Ruth is a lifestyle blogger from Scotland who writes about mental health, blogging/social media tips and generally tries to spread a little sunshine online and make people feel good.
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