We are so pleased to be able to bring you our latest blogger spotlight, this week we talked to Katie Houghton – blogger (post of the happy post) and all around wonderful person over at Mental Health Journey.
Make yourself a cup of tea, take a few minutes and have a read…
People Helping People – The Power of Blogging.
I am a big believer in people helping people. Being able to connect with others and having someone’s own story resonate with your own feelings. Especially when in a difficult time is so important and can be so powerful.
I remember the days before the internet. In a lot of respects – especially when looking at it from a childhood angle it was in a lot of ways easier, quieter somehow.
Children went outside more, actually knocked on the doors of their friends to see if they were in. And there was something magical about that that doesn’t really exist anymore. In a lot of ways I am glad I was part of one of the final generations who had that experience in my younger years.
A new world
The internet however also brought with it a lot of amazing things. A different way to connect. A way of connecting with others that wasn’t possible before.
I started self harming in my early teenage years, this started a very long hard battle through the world of mental illness in which I felt incredibly alone.
At the beginning I didn’t even know what I was doing, I didn’t know it had a name. I didn’t know what depression was and the information was not available and so I attempted to sail through it alone and unknowledgeable.
In the days of dial up internet and as it started to progress so did my mental health issues and eventually along came YouTube.
I remember using it to make videos during my struggle with anorexia and finding others who were also battling eating disorders. We used to make videos for each other which we would send back and forth in reply to the last persons video. That was the first time I felt less alone in the world of mental illness. I connected with those first few people going through similar when I thought that I was the only one in the world feeling how I did and that was a powerful thing.
Now years and years later there are so many blogging and vlogging communities based around mental illness that give people a voice to express themselves. It has become this source of information that I wonder if it had been around when I first started struggling whether things may have been different. If I would have been able to recognise what was going on with myself sooner and maybe stopped the prolonged period of loneliness that I had suffered inside my own mind.
Blogging is such a powerful tool but with being a mental health blogger myself I specifically believe that it is so incredibly powerful for those struggling with mental illness.
To not only be able to write and pour out your heart and inner feelings in a way that otherwise may be kept inside and hidden. Also to be able to gain some knowledge and comfort from other people’s knowledge and experience. There is so much to be said for that.
It has the power to help break down stigma and allow people’s voices to be heard.
As someone with long term mental health issues and who has had numerous hospital admissions and very nearly ended my own life. This connection with other people can be vital. One of the biggest parts of getting to a much better place in my life was off the back of a hospital admission where it was pretty much run around a lot of group therapy all day. I absolutely hated the thought of it, but actually it was one of the things that really turned my life around.
Because there is something very important and special about being able to connect with others who are going through similar things. To be able to speak and be listened to whilst hearing about others’ lives and being able to relate to that. It makes you feel less alone. In a lot of ways this is how I see blogging and vlogging communities and why so many get so much from it in many different ways.
I believe in kindness and people helping people.
I like to think that all my years of battling with mental illness have been for something and this is where my own website and blog came in.
I wanted to use my voice to raise awareness, to put the many experiences of many areas within mental health to good use. To tell my own story and give something back and so my “Happy Post” was born.
I already had an ETSY shop selling prints and other handmade goodies and I have always stuck “Happy Post” stickers on them. One day I decided that I could send free happy post to those struggling with their own mental health and so that’s what I did.
As part of my blog people can request Happy Post from my home page which is usually an a5 inspirational quote card which can be kept and framed along with a little handwritten note. I do this totally free with the aim to make someone feel less alone. To make someone smile if only for a minute and to make someone feel like that there is someone out there who cares.
Mental illness can be very isolating and I am a firm believer that sometimes with mental health issues, simple kindness and the smallest of things can sometimes make the biggest difference and that is why I send Happy Post!
I also have a section for my blogging and vlogging which I generally use to raise awareness on various mental health topics. To bring my own experiences in to those and give my own thoughts and feelings about things that I think are important to try and raise awareness and challenge stigma.
I also use it to document anything I have done in the media like my recent interview on the BBC2 Victoria Derbyshire show about the new self harm statistics in teenagers. This has enabled me to be able to further use my voice and my experiences to help others. It has been a way for people to contact me and allow me to help in other ways.
While people may sometimes have the misconception that blogging is for people that want to write about their feelings like an online diary. This is not true and blogs are used in so many different ways which is what makes them truly wonderful and each one is different. With each blogger using it how best suits them and that is just such a fantastic thing as it’s so diverse.
Connecting with people
I have had people contact me via my blog who have been feeling down and even suicidal and I have spoken to them, tried to signpost them to relevant outside help. This is such a wonderful thing as without that maybe these people wouldn’t have spoken to anyone at all.
It’s so important for people to help others, it’s so easy for us to become blinkered in our own worlds and turn a blind eye to those who need some help.
I am such a huge believer that we should all be kind, and all do our bit and blogging has actually made that possible on a larger scale for people to do in their own ways and by connecting with others.
You can see my own blog and request Happy Post for yourself or someone else, as well as see my blogs, vlogs and what I get up here at www.mentalhealthjourney.co.uk
I really hope to be able to build on my own blog and use the voice that it has given me to carry on talking, campaigning and hopefully do lots more around mental health issues as it’s something I almost feel like, it’s what I was made to do and having my blog has certainly helped that.
Just remember, everyone if fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.
You can catch up with Katie over on her blog, or follow her: