Wednesday 8 January 2020

14 Great Posts from Last Year That Will Change Your Now

Each month Fran and I share the ten most viewed articles here at Gum on My Shoe. As we enter a new year and a new decade I thought I’d do something different and choose my personal favourites from everything we published during 2019. One way or another these articles changed my perspective or thinking. Maybe they will change yours.

1. Six Things I’d Quite Like to Do in 2019

Published: 1 January 2019

I’ll start at the very beginning (a very good place to start!) with the list of things I felt I’d like to do through the year. You can see how I got on here. It might appear as though I didn’t do very well but that’s partly because things turned out other – and a lot better – than I anticipated. I’ve made these lists for the past three years (see how I did in 2017 and 2018) but I’m taking a break. I want to hold myself open to what comes along in 2020 rather than keeping an eye on my expectations at the start of the year.

How about you? Are you a resolution or objectives sort of person? If so, how did you get on during 2019?

2. Announcing Our New Book, “No One is Too Far Away: Notes from a Transatlantic Friendship”

Published: 16 February 2019

This choice is bittersweet as our publisher Eliezer Tristan Publishing recently closed its doors and our second book No One is Too Far Away: Notes from a Transatlantic Friendship will shortly go out of print. It has been a lesson in trust for me and Fran. With no disrespect to the people involved we feel let down and are unlikely to place our work with start-up concerns in future. We intend to republish No One is Too Far Away: Notes from a Transatlantic Friendship so keep an eye out for that in the near future.

Our first book High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder remains in print.

3. Impostor Syndrome, Self-Doubt, and Legitimacy in the Mental Health Arena

Published: 23 February 2019

I agonised over this piece for a long time before finally getting my words together and posting it in the final week of February. The start of 2019 was a period of intense introspection triggered by self-doubt, insecurity, and feelings of inadequacy in many areas of my life. Much of what had seemed so positive and full of potential in 2018 fell apart leaving me seriously adrift in both my personal life and my work in the mental health arena.

Looking back at this piece I can see I was trying to express myself without revealing too much of what was going on below the surface: never an easy task. Nevertheless, it said something valid and represented a turning point in my recovery. The support and encouragement I received in response to its publication made a huge difference to me – I am forever grateful to those who were there for me through that time.

4. A Heap of “S” Words and an Aitch: Stigma, Suicide, Self-Harm – and Hope

With Aimee Wilson

Published: 20 March 2019

I’m including this one because it deals with several topics close to my heart and Fran’s: stigma, suicide, and suicidal thinking; also self-harm which I became more aware of last year. But there is also HOPE. It was written in collaboration with fellow mental health blogger Aimee Wilson, of I’m NOT Disordered. Aimee and I met in 2016 at a Time to Change session for Newcastle Mental Health Day.

5. Secrets of a Successful Blogging Workflow

Published: 24 April 2019

Fran and I began our blog in August 2013. Over the years I have refined my blogging workflow a good deal. There’s nothing especially fancy about it but it works for me, and in this article I share my approach in the hope it might be of use to other bloggers.

6. Mental Health Awareness Week Roundup

Published: 19 May 2019

I am cheating a little with this one because it points to some extraordinary content hosted here at Gum on My Shoe and elsewhere for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019, the theme of which was body image. Contributors include Aimee Wilson, Jen Evans, and Charlotte Underwood.

7. Six People I Admire in the Mental Health Community

Published: 1 June 2019

By June when I wrote this article I was feeling more confident in my personal life and in my role of mental health author and blogger. Focusing on the six people I included in this tribute piece helped refine my attitude to my own work.

One way or another each of the six people I’ve selected is making a difference by actively combating stigma and discrimination, by sharing personal stories, or by supporting people with lived experience, their friends and loved ones.

8. Weepy, Angry, Catatonic: Three Kinds of Depression and How You Can Help

By Julie A. Fast

Published: 26 June 2019

Fran and I have hosted some brilliant guest posts this year. (Click here for a full list.) I especially like this one by our dear friend Julie A. Fast because it opens up the dialogue around one specific aspect of mental illness – depression. Julie’s message is that not all depressions are the same. The different forms deserve to be recognised and find appropriate responses from those experiencing them, as well as those who care for them.

9. Four Things It’s Hard for a Mental Health Ally to Hear (And Why It’s Important to Listen)

Published: 24 July 2019

Something I’ve struggled with a lot over the past few years is finding my role within the mental health community as a “well one.” This came to a head at the end of 2018 and is explored in the “Impostor Syndrome, Self-Doubt, and Legitimacy” article I mentioned earlier.

In “Four Things It’s Hard for a Mental Health Ally to Hear” I shared four things that have been said to me over the years by people who have what I do not: lived experience of mental illness. It’s one of the most personal pieces I wrote last year. I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

10. The Efficacy of Electroshock: a Personal Story

By Andrew Turman

Published: 31 July 2019

When we published this guest in July author Andrew Turman had completed 128 sessions of electroshock (ECT). Five months later that number has reached 150. It is well worth reading to hear Andy’s take on what remains a controversial treatment.

In this day and age, it perplexes me as to why Electroconvulsive Therapy, or electroshock, still seems to get a bad rap. [...] I, for one, can attest to the efficacy of its use for not only depression, but also mania. Just last week, I underwent shock treatment three times to control my mania, upon which the use of very dangerous psychotropic medications do not seem to have any effect.

11. Three Things I Wish People Knew about Loving Someone with Mental Illness

Published: 25 September 2019

The starting point for this piece was the realisation that almost all the people I am closest to live with a mental health condition or have experienced mental health difficulties in recent years. Drawing on my experience as friend and ally I share three things I wish people were aware of about caring for someone who lives with mental illness.

12. Friends in Deed: An Interview with Bob Keyes

Published: 23 October 2019

Fran and I were honoured to be interviewed by award winning arts writer and storyteller Bob Keyes for a profile piece in the Maine Sunday Telegram. Here I share the background to the interview, with a bonus appearance from our friend Aimee Wilson and her bunny Pixie!

13. Caregivers Need Care Too

By Janet Coburn

Published: 13 November 2019

As I have mentioned, Fran and I love having guest bloggers. (If you are interested in writing for us check out the guest guidelines on our contact page.) In this article Janet Coburn, author of Bipolar Me, shares her perspective on the needs of caregivers with special reference to her husband of thirty-five years, Dan. As a caregiver I found the piece insightful and very welcome.

14. How to Be Honest without Losing Your Friends

Published: 23 November 2019

I’m writing this “Great Posts from Last Year” article in the bar at Hadrian’s Tipi so it feels appropriate to include this piece on honesty which features the venue in one of its scenarios:

“Over there — that’s where we had our first tiff!”

My friend Vikki and I were standing at the bar in Hadrian’s Tipi in Newcastle for the first time in about a year. I smiled. “Yeah. I was pretty grumpy that day!” She didn’t contradict me.

Emotional honesty is the foundation of any relationship, whether mental illness is a factor or not. In one of my favourite posts of the year I share three personal examples of working through disagreements and issues with friends. It’s not always easy but as I say in the article, if I can do it you can do it!


No comments:

Post a Comment