I've said it before, and I'll say it again: when I started this site, I didn't know what direction I wanted it to go in. I didn't know that I would end up questioning, 6 months down the line, how I could make the site sustainable and how I could earn an income from writing about my experiences with mental health. I didn't know I'd end up wondering how I could collate approximately 150 blog posts, expand on them, and write a book.
I didn't even know that the intention would be to share my experiences in the hopes of it urging someone else not to give up, because if I can get through these things then anyone can.
Yet here we are. After 6 months, I've had several people come together to help me raise the money to switch to an annual plan - meaning I'm committed to publishing a blog post every weekday for the next year, be it my own words or a guest blogger's words. After 6 months, we've raised the money to create discrete self-care reminder cards that can be kept in a purse or wallet. After 6 months we've published well over 100 blog posts and caught the attention of influential people both in politics and in the media.
6 months on and I feel like we're starting to make our mark and make an impact in the world of mental health.
I use the word "we" intentionally. Yes, I know I'm the sole person manning the website, scheduling posts, and fielding emails. The thing is, there wouldn't be a website to man if it wasn't for the people across the world who are supporting the site. There wouldn't be posts to schedule without people asking questions or writing guest pieces. There wouldn't be emails to respond to without people spreading the word that there's a site like mine on the internet.
So for once I'm going to use the p-word. I'm proud, and I'm proud of us. Because together, we're creating change. I've watched people open up and speak out about their experiences publicly for the first time. I've learned about friends suffering from mental illness that I've known for years, but they've kept their struggles hidden remarkably well. I've watched this domino effect, and I know I couldn't have done it by myself.
This website has gone from something I set up on a whim, 3 days after my 19th birthday, to something I truly care about and will fight tooth and nail to defend and to keep running. I've cried over this site when I've been worried about whether or not I could scrape together the money to pay the hosting fees - and when I did, people came to help me work it out. People sent money that they earned to help me keep the site running because they believe that it is and can be something powerful.
Last night I ordered two more batches of self-care reminder cards, these ones are for people who struggle with panic attacks and with trauma flashbacks. Never before have these resources been available, and now they are thanks to the kindness of my readers and supporters.
I've changed in the last 6 months too. I've gone from believing that the site would never go anywhere other than my friendship circle. Little did I know I was greatly underestimating my friendship circle. Since starting this site I've published blog posts from people I've never had a full-length conversation with, and I've been asked to write for other peoples' websites that I'd either never heard of or only ever dreamed of writing for. I've become someone who wants to spend their life helping others.
I used to say I wasn't a people-person, that I was an animal person and you couldn't pay me to work in an environment where I had to interact with people on a daily basis. It turns out I was following an example being set for me by people I'd become infatuated with. Now I've completely left the animal world behind me, and I've fallen in love with the interactions I have with people.
Most of all I've finally let go of the need to guard everything I say online. I know there are people out there from my past who are still angry with me, for whatever reason, and feel the need to mock my efforts and make me out to be an awful person. I know there are people out there who will never deal with me because they heard the whispers being spread about me under the table before they actually spoke to me and heard what I had to say. I've accepted it all, and it's because to this day I have new people approaching me who are eager to work alongside me because they can see the life in my eyes when I talk about mental health. That life didn't exist 4 years ago. Heck, it didn't exist 1 year ago. There's one thing that's certain, though - that life exists now, and it is not going to be snuffed out again.
I'm amazed at everything that's happened in the last 6 months. Here's to another 6 months of surprises.