I was feeling a little lost with my blog last week; after getting the surprise of making it on the shortlist for the Bloggers Blog Awards I had a crisis of confidence. I am very used to being in the shadows, so making the shortlist was a complete shock to me and instead of being proud of myself and celebrating like a normal human, my inner demons anxiety and self doubt took over my brain.
My experience of mental illness is that it always likes to creep up and ruin the happiest moments with its “you’re not good enough” chat, and here it was again making me miserable instead of letting me enjoy this achievement. Though I tried to put it behind me everything I wrote and videos I edited just didn’t seem good enough so I gave myself a break from blogging and headed to Amsterdam with a bunch of friends. This break lasted longer than expected with my phone being stolen whilst I squeezed along the busy streets in the red light district.
An entire week without blogging set my head into more of a spin, worrying that people would think that I didn’t care anymore. I know that realistically there are millions of amazing blogs and YouTubers out there and my week away probably went entirely unnoticed, but all those tormenting self doubts kept rising to the surface making me think that I had let myself, my blog and my followers down by going MIA. I was once again paralysed by my anxiety unable to write, join in with chats or even Instagram.
On Wednesday night I was meant to be meeting a few of my best blogging babes for FriendsFest, but I almost didn’t make it to Monica’s apartment. Though I speak to Katy, AJ, Leanne and Charlie daily my illness told me I was no longer one of them. Thankfully I managed to shut the annoying head fucker up for long enough to drag my ass to Haggerston Park. As always with these girls, I had an amazing night and some of my confidence was restored.
The next day it was time to venture to Manchester for the Girl Gang Event, this was the first time I had been to a blogging meet-up solo in ages and I was beyond nervous. Reaching the top of the escalators at Euston I felt shaky and almost turned on my heels back home but instead I found myself at Pret in a bit of a daze buying breakfast. The guy behind the till complemented me on my tattoos, took 10% off my order and gave me a free coffee. The kindness of this stranger gave me the boost I needed to get on the train.
Sitting down watching the scenery fly past the window I once again felt anxiety rising within my stomach and negative thoughts swirling in my head. Just as I had decided that I was getting the next train back to London the man next to me struck up a conversation (despite me having my headphones on) and that chat did not finish until I he hopped off at Stockport. Once again a random act of kindness had turned my mood and I made a deal with myself that if I saw someone I recognised in the station I would stay.
Within 2 minutes I spotted Tore and Fiona, soon our group began to grow and I was surrounded by a full crew of lovely bloggers before even getting to the venue. Trotting through the soggy streets of Manchester chatting away, my anxiety had been replaced almost completely by excitement.
Getting to our curtained off area in Dive bar we were warmly greeted by the rest of the group and especially by Jemma (the Girl Gang creator) who had brought us together. With a talk by Pinkster Gin and some samples to break the ice, we all relaxed into the room and the chatting did not stop.
The hours flew by and as I said my goodbyes those mental illness demons had been vanquished and I had been reminded that blogging is a place I created for myself, it was born out of hard work and I did belong in that room or in any other part of the community I wanted to be in. The Girl Gang Event was one of those days that muted all the negativity and left me feeling positive and (hopefully) with a few new awesome pals, too.
It is odd that everyone mentioned in this post was a stranger to me before I started my blog almost two years ago yet they are such a big part of my life. Blogging helps me work through so many issues, challenges me, allows me express myself and has helped my confidence grow in ways that were unimaginable only a few years ago. My mental health is a constant underlying struggle, but having a place where I feel safe to open up and be myself has been the best therapy. Blogging has given me the confidence not only to put myself out there online but also in real life.
So, to summarise, I freaked out but I am back and ready to get my blog on!