With September 5th being Digital Detox Day, I thought now would be a great opportunity to share with you all my journey in the digital world, some advice on managing your mental health whilst online, and the suggestion of five non-digital activities you could engage in if you’re planning to Detox!
Having a blog (www.imnotdisordered.co.uk), I like to find other Bloggers to look up to as inspiration, and one I’ve followed for probably over eight years has been Zoe Sugg (Co-Founder of Digital Detox Day) of the blog and now brand; Zoella. I watched her blog and YouTube channel increase in popularity and subsequently afford her so many incredible opportunities. It inspired me to use my blog’s reader count (now over three quarters of a million!) to secure collaborations and partnerships with well known individuals and huge organizations.
I feel that Zoe’s media journey has really illustrated the potential impact you can have as a social media user. She’s shown that you can start a blog from your bed, and it can grow into something so much bigger than you could have ever imagined. So much bigger than you’d even intended. When I started, I’m NOT Disordered from my hospital bedroom, I wanted it to help tell my family and friends what I was going through in the psychiatric hospital over 100 miles away from them all. I didn’t plan for it to really go public and have strangers from literally all over the world read about my little life!
I also didn’t plan for blogging to become almost a career! I spent years going through multiple goals for careers; they varied from being a Lawyer to working in Childcare! I was so impulsive that I just picked a job which seemed relevant to my life at the time – I wanted to be a Lawyer to help others who’d been through abuse get justice for it, and I considered Childcare because thought that I wanted to have responsibility for someone other than myself. I never once imagined that I would ever feel that I’d been put on this earth to have a particular career… until I started blogging!
Initially, when I started, I’m NOT Disordered in 2013, there was very little publicity for Bloggers or Influencers on social media; and having a blog definitely couldn’t be deemed a job or career. Now, there’s Bloggers who can afford to do it full-time and there’s a smaller amount of stigma surrounding those who do that. I think some people don’t think of it as a worthwhile job; nor believe that it even should be one! Some people see it as a person just sitting at a computer all day, doing something that anyone could do – I mean, how many people have at least one social media account? And how many people have a blog nowadays?
If I’m honest, I think I might have been one of those people but in the seven years I’ve been blogging, I’ve learnt/realized that if you really want to make something of your blog, it takes a hell of a lot of time, dedication, passion, and effort! And a few years ago, I found a Blogger who I thought was the perfect example of how hard working you have to be; Victoria Magrath of inthefrow. She’s my absolute role model because no matter how successful she has become or how many opportunities she’s earned, she continues to throw her all into her work and dedicates herself to always wanting to better/perfect her content.
The effort and time it takes to build a popular and successful blog is one of my favourite things about having I’m NOT Disordered; it makes it a really good distraction when I’m struggling with thoughts to self-harm or even attempt suicide. Having to focus and put all my energy into writing a blog post or editing images for the blog, is also a brilliant alternative to concentrating on the hallucinations and what the voices are saying to me.
Using all of my attention makes blogging really therapeutic because I find myself putting my all into the content I produce, and sometimes this allows me the opportunity to process things that have happened where I may have a skewed or uncertain belief. My blog provides me with a place to say – or to write/type – all of these things and allows me a space to vent my frustrations and moan when I feel Services are inadequate. And having this, and having this space be so popular, gives me a certain level of power and influence. Of course, it’s not like being a Fashion Blogger and telling everyone to buy a really expensive jumped and it sells out. Being a Mental Health Blogger means it’s more about having an influence on a person’s thoughts, feelings, and decisions. You know, if I post something about an organization holding stigma against mental health, it has the potential to cause my readers to boycott it. Having that sort of influence is sometimes really scary and there’s a lot of pressure to paint a pretty picture of mental health recovery so that people aren’t dissuade from achieving it. But I also recognize it as an incredible blessing and honour.
There’s another side to the digital world though, it’s all about online bullying, trolling, body image pressures, triggering content, and the encouragement of unsafe behaviours. I realise that I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had only three spiteful comments on my blog in the entire seven years it has been live. I say ‘only’ and it makes it sound as though those three comments were insignificant and that I could easily dismiss them. That isn’t true. They actually had a huge impact on me and my blog because I lost all confidence in blogging and putting my life out there for the general public that I closed I’m NOT Disordered down for a little while. I overcame the crisis of confidence through the realization that I was lost without my blog. I worried that this made me superficial but blogging means so much more to me than doing it purely to make an excessive amount of money.
Unfortunately, online bullying can have a hugely catastrophic, life-changing impact on some people; with it being a huge cause for some people struggling with their mental health, self-harming, becoming suicidal, attempting suicide, or succeeding with an attempt. And I guess this fact is what has motivated me to come up with a few tips for managing your mental health whilst online…
FIVE TIPS FOR MANAGING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH WHILST ONLINE
1. Utilise your privacy settings
2. Have a safe and healthy motivation for being online
3. Search for virtual support groups with others with similar difficulties to your own
4. Prepare for backlash if you express your opinion on a controversial issue
5. Be cautious when uploading potentially triggering content and use a warning for others
And finally, for those who have decided to do a Digital Detox, here’s some alternative activities that don’t involve technology:
FIVE NON-DIGITAL ACTIVITIES
1. Read a book
2. Do an arts and crafts project
3. Do a puzzle e.g. Sudoku, Wordsearch, Jigsaw etc
4. Spend time with friends, family, and pets
5. Go for a run/jog/walk