By 2014, I don’t feel arrogant by stating that I had achieved every goal that I had set myself. I had a well-paid job, a home, a relationship, good friends and three cats that had been with me for years. From an outsider’s perspective, things seemed set.
However, I was struggling both physically and mentally. I couldn’t cope with my workload, my family relationships were strained (and in some cases, non-existent), The Bloke had lost both his father and best friend to cancer within five months of each other, my beloved cat died, we had moved house twice in six months because we were duped by a charlatan landlady and I had been hospitalised for nearly a week after ignoring a kidney infection. I was comfort eating to try and make myself feel better, and I was bloated, lethargic and had gained even more weight than I had over the previous few years. I didn’t want to go anywhere, do anything or see anyone. I existed from day to day, praying for the weekends and the holidays.
I had started the blog the year before. Things had been tough, and as I had taken to writing angry words in notebook after notebook, only to then store them in a cupboard afterwards, The Bloke suggested that I start writing online. Admittedly, I knew nothing about blogging, but within the week of creating my very first account I was hooked, churning out post after post of nonsensical rubbish that had been floating around my mind for a long time (most of which I have now deleted). I gained new followers, and started to build a community. I was extremely paranoid about people within my real life discovering what I was writing, so I kept information about myself to a minimum, but I started to feel safe in the anonymity that the computer screen provided, and enjoyed the feedback and interaction that I received from people taking the time to leave comments on my posts.
However, it was in 2014 when things really started to change. I started to tell my closest friends about what I was writing, and allowed them to read it. Their positive feedback gave me the confidence to tell more people, and then I started sharing the odd post on my personal Facebook page. My readership and community started to grow substantially, and one of my posts went viral. Little did I know, it would change my life:
Blogging made me understand my own mental health, and helped me to realise that I wasn’t the only one who was feeling the way that I did at the time. After reading post after post about stress, anxiety and depression, I was able to find hundreds of similarities between my own thoughts and feelings, and theirs. Above all, it allowed me to accept that having those feelings was ok, and to own them in the way that I saw others do. Best therapy I’ve ever had.
It helped me to start letting things go and move on. After years of bottling up extreme (extreme being an understatement) levels of anger, I started to be able to look on the events of the past with a clearer mind after I had written it down. While it still isn’t easy at times, I’m generally much more calm in my daily life, and if I’ve had a bad day I will write it down and usually feel better by doing so. As a result, I now sleep better too.
It repaired relationships within my family members, some of whom I hadn’t spoken to for a long time. After reading a post about my pleasure at the fact that she hadn’t spent Christmas with us (and therefore, in my opinion, wasn’t there to ruin it) my sister was so upset that she contacted me. From there, we gradually thrashed out all the animosity that we had been holding for years, and started to move on. I attended her wedding at the end of 2014, and since then we’ve been able to go out as a family and enjoy each other’s company. I’m glad – I’m sure that I would have regretted being estranged from them in the future.
It gave people in my personal life a better understanding of what I was (and what I had been) going through, without having to sit and tell them in person, and my friends have been extremely supportive because of it. In one case in particular, I received an apology from someone who had been particularly vile to me at university years before – it turns out that she had read a post that I had written about a sociopathic ex that I was in a relationship with when she knew me, and this had given her a better understanding of how bad my situation was during those years. It was cathartic – I doubt we’ll ever speak again, but at least I was able to gain closure.
The blogging community, particularly the one that I became part of, boosted my confidence in my ability to write and helped me to develop my writing style. I don’t know of any blogger who doesn’t doubt the quality of their work, but the thousands of comments I have received has helped me to believe in the blog. When I attended the Annual Bloggers Bash in 2015, I met people that had been reading my words for a long time… and liked them. I even won both awards that I had been nominated for, and it was the single biggest validation that I was doing what I should be doing.
Some of my online friends have become friends in real life too – I’ve met some of them in person, we talk over the Facebook messenger call system, we send Christmas cards and I know a little about their lives and who they are. While you can never really know anyone absolutely, I like them and their daily contribution to my life is only positive.
It gave me the confidence to go out and meet new people. As the blog grew I started to be invited to events in the city. I sampled food and cocktails from restaurants that I would never have gone to, developed a relationship with a local beauty store and organised and attended beauty events; I was introduced to independent businesses and met new bloggers. As the classic ‘introvert trapped in an extroverts body,’ these events and interactions forced me to put myself forward and introduce myself, and my blog, to others. They also gave me a passion for experiencing new things and actually living my life rather than simply existing from day to day, which is something that I had lost many years before.
Blogging made me finally realise, at the age of 32, exactly what it was that I was supposed to be doing and helped to show me that there is more to life than doing what is expected. In the three years that I have been blogging, there has never been a point where I have become bored or irritated with it, I’ve had lots of new adventures and I’ve now started earning some money from it. If I could do this all day, every day, I would. This newly found confidence and quest to live a life was the biggest influence in taking the risk and deciding on a career change, and I quit a secure ten – year teaching job last year. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t have even considered it if the blog didn’t exist. It has also led to further opportunities in potential blogging workshops for business-women and entrepreneurs in the future, and I couldn’t be more excited…
What about you guys? How has blogging changed you and/or your life for the better?
You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.