I’ve done three major blog make-overs, changing the format, layout, background image and fonts. I’ve added, edited, and deleted pages as I’ve learned what common questions people have. I’ve carefully grown my lists of topics to make it easier for people to find information in a particular area only. I’ve moved over to smart phone apps for most of my day to day blogging and photography. I’ve handed out a lot of business cards, and emailed a lot of links to relevant posts instead of having to type out all the same information over again for many different people. I’ve started to think seriously about writing a book about managing dissociation and mental health.
I’ve met a lot of other amazing bloggers and peer workers, and received some amazing feedback about the value of an online resource like this. I’m very proud of this blog, and I’m continuing to develop, refine, and improve it.
I am sometimes asked if writing this blog helps me. It’s an interesting question. I have certainly benefited in some very definable ways. The most obvious to me is in my writing. I now type quickly, mentally structure content quickly, and edit much, much more efficiently than previously. Setting myself a deadline of a post each day has streamlined my writing process and more than that, it has made me more mindful of my projects and how I’m spending my time. When I have an interesting conversation with someone about mental health I often catch myself starting to mentally write a blog post about it. Days that used to pass by in a haze of dissociation I can nail down to photos and blog entries. I notice things more.
Forcing myself to coherently explore feelings and ideas here on the blog has also been useful. It’s helped me to make the emotional more tangible, clarified my thinking on many topics, helped me to understand my own feelings and reasoning better. Some of the conversations and comments, particularly on facebook where they tend to be livelier, have been extremely interesting and useful. Feeling that I’m helping people, that I’m making progress on goals such as humanising and destigmatising people with poorly understood conditions such as DID has been sustaining. It’s also been a useful platform to explore or explain things to groups of people at once. As a peer worker there are certain questions I am very often asked, such as ‘How can I help someone after a trauma?‘ Writing these into this blog not only frees me from constantly reiterating the same information, it helps to get it out there for those who don’t ask but were hoping someone else might. The internet is an amazing tool to offer support for those who are silently searching for hope at 4am.
I’ve used this blog to broaden my own connections, and recently, to out myself publicly about multiplicity and bisexuality. The blog has been a very useful instrument in helping me achieve my goals of living openly. It’s also saved me a lot of awkward individual conversations with everyone I know, or the bluntness of outing yourself through a facebook status. I’ve made (and occasionally lost) friends through this blog, and I like that new friends can come here and learn about my life and passions.
Perhaps most importantly, this blog is one of the key ways I feel I have a voice. A few years ago I accepted labels like ‘mentally ill’ and ‘consumer’ without rancour. I have experienced some of the best and worst of the mental health system, I know what it feels like to have no power, no voice, no credibility. For far too much of my life, my opinion simply hasn’t mattered. Today, I hate the term mentally ill, and I refuse to be a ‘consumer’ anywhere that doesn’t treat me with respect. I’m tired of being on the bottom of the hierarchy. So I’ve left it behind and created a new life. In my world and my resources, it’s okay to be queer, okay to have a trauma history and some emotional vulnerabilities, okay to disagree without being attacked, and okay to be friends. The values behind the groups I facilitate, such as diversity and acceptance, are those I try to live by in all my life. This blog is my territory, where my values inform it, a place I can explain the reasoning behind all the arguments I lose in my life – that traumatised people are not a minority, that DID is not always iatrogenic, that those of us who struggle with suicide are not merely selfish. Conversations I’ve had where I’ve been dismissed, overruled, or intimidated by those with more social power but perhaps less experience or compassion don’t silence me any longer. I pick myself back up, from the crushing submission to authority or the instinctive rebellion against being belittled and dehumanised, and I gather up my thoughts and piece together the argument and the explanation I was trying to give, and I post it here. Where the other vulnerable people, who are also crushed at times by a ruthless culture or insensitive health system can find a different way of looking at their lives. That means a lot to me. There’s a phrase I keep coming across that captures the massive social and technological changes in our time; ‘We are the Media’. I like it.