Welcoming our latest featured blogger, Catherine to AMC, to discuss the business of blogging and much more. Catherine, also known as Cathy, Cath, Cat or Kit is a wife and mother of three from the Illawarra who shares her musings on life, love, food and mental illness at Life Through the Haze.
How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
According to my blog statistics I first posted something in 2007. I guess back then I would have been thinking that I would write about life with three small children. A lot has changed since then and I really started writing in earnest in 2015. At first I started writing to keep family and friends updated with my recovery. Then I started to write for myself and that is where I find myself today.
Tell us a bit about your blog and what we can expect to see in the next 12 months?
Early last year I had a fairly dramatic and public physical and mental breakdown that had a huge impact on our family. Ultimately I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety, PTSD, Dissociative Amnesia, with a dose of Depersonalisation and Dissociation thrown in for good measure.
In addition to the significant mental health issues my brain and body also stopped talking and also had left side hemiparesis so I couldn’t walk properly or use my left arm. So in the early days my writings are primarily letting family and friends know how I was going and where I was up to with my recovery because getting out and about was very difficult.
This year as I mentioned my writing has more turned into an outlet for me where I get my thoughts out. Over the next 12 months I would like to develop this further. I have started writing every Thursday in a space on my blog called Soft Landings. I have weekly prompts for others should they want to join in, though this is really a space for me to work through lots of thoughts and feelings that have built up over the last 30 or so years. I hope to continue this next year.
In addition to the personal writing I am hoping to branch out into some review work and ideally develop my personal stories into a place where others can come and know they are not so alone. Mental health or complex physical health journeys can often feel very isolating and lonely and my aim is to help others know they aren’t alone.
Do you have a favourite place or dedicated space for blogging?
Not really. Have laptop will travel in a sense. Though my deck at home is probably my favourite spot at home. One day when the kids move out I plan to have a very pretty office space just for me!
What are your must have tools and resources when it comes to blogging?
My laptop, my journals (I have a notebook and my diary in my bag all the time), my phone and I have a good camera. Though I am a terrible photographer, that is something I would love to improve!
Have you ever experienced blogger’s block and what are your top tips for when it strikes?
All the time. My bloggers block comes a lot from having nearly teenage twins and a teenage son and wanting to protect their privacy. Because I mostly write about my personal stories I am very conscious always about what I say online and the impact that could have on my kids and family. So when that happens my tips would be:
- To go for a walk and let go of the pre-conceived ideas,
- I read back over journals and see if there is another idea that I could work with instead of that one,
- Bake a cake and blog about that instead!
- Sometimes I will just accept that it is perfectly ok to not write every day and that takes the pressure off.
What have been your blogging highlights and biggest challenges?
My biggest highlights have been when I have had my writing published by other bloggers with really large followings I guess that gave me a little boost. I also recently had something of mine published on The Mighty.
My challenges centre around the fact that while my story is mine to tell there are also other people in my life that me living my story out publicly could have impacts for. So trying to find that balance between telling my story in an open and vulnerable way which is the only way I really know how to be but at the same time protecting their privacy, this is a very fine tightrope to tread at times.
Who inspires you and what’s on your Worth Casing list when it comes to other bloggers?
Wow I really don’t know where to start with this list! You are on that list, Sammie from The Annoyed Thyroid, Sandra from What Lies Within, Shauna from ‘Round the Corner, Glennon Doyle Melton from Momastrey, Leanne from Deep Fried Fruit, Sarah from Sarahdippity.
Honestly I love anyone with a really great authentic life. I get inspired by seeing others achieve their goals and know that it is possible for all of us.
What advice would you give to anyone that is thinking about starting a blog of their own?
Be true to who you are, don’t try to create something that you think will be popular or that isn’t who you are because it will never feel right.
Is there something you would like to achieve through blogging and what are your favourite posts?
Clearly as a personal story teller mental health is really important to me, not just breaking down the stigma that we talk about it openly and understand that it is real, can have physical impacts and can be debilitating in exactly the same way that other chronic illnesses are.
Also the advocacy aspect of raising awareness for people to reach out and get help by ensuring there is help there when they need it. It is a huge thing to put your hand up recognizing you need help, another thing all together when you find out that there is no net to catch you once you have spoken up. So ensuring there is a safety net for everyone is very important to me.
Some of my favourite posts are:
- Rehabilitation as featured on Woogs World (I asked Kayte aka Mrs Woog to publish this on my behalf)
- Premmie Babies
If you weren’t in the business of blogging what would you be doing?
Wow, I am not sure. I once worked in advertising and brand design but that was in the years pre-social media so a very different world to today. I am also a trained high-school teacher though I think lion taming would be an easier prospect than teaching!
Probably finding a way to help others using the skills I have picked up over the years. I do a little bit of volunteer work helping a not-for-profit set their Social Media and Digital Strategies so maybe something there. Thankfully for now I am in a position where I can write and blog and not have to worry too much about the real world.
MORE WAYS TO CASE
Have you discovered Cath and Life Through the Haze? What are your biggest blog challenges right now?