This article is probably one of the hardest pieces I’ve ever had to write… but here goes…
Next week hosts an important day for me and mine. World Mental Health Day.
The 10th October is dedicated to raising awareness about mental health all ower the world. There are campaigns, events, hashtags and people sharing stories all ower the show. So what has that got to do with an online blog about Cumbria…. A great deal actually.
Cumbria has the highest rate of suicide in the Country…. Every week one person in Cumbria dies of suicide and 2 years ago, I nearly became part of the stats.
As the self- proclaimed all seeing eyes and ears of Cumbria, and having a tag line ‘Tellin’ it like it is’ I’m making it my business to raise awareness not just about Mental Health, but specifically mental health in Cumbria. And to do what I set out to do with CumbrianLass….Tell it like it is.
Everyday next week I will be publishing an article with the theme of mental health running through each one. The good, the bad and the ugly.
So, I’m going to start with a combination of all three…. Here is the good the bad and the ugly about me and what led to mental health being so important to CumbrianLass.
Mental Health is in my blood. Literally. I have an official diagnosis of Bipolar Type II and Borderline Personality Disorder and I’m going to be brutally honest…. It’s feckin’ hard work.
If you’ve read my About Me post, you’ll know that CumbrianLass started as a bit of a laugh, and became a la’al platform for Cumbrian businesses to reach out to customers after the floods. As businesses got back on their feet I changed tactics and have pledged to support my fellow Cumbrians in making the most of what’s on their doorstep; seeking out the weird and wonderful, cheap and cheerful and downright spectacular events and activities in our county. And I will continue to do this for as long as you lovely lot will have me….
15 years ago when my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was most definitely not Cumbrianlass! I actually wanted to be an English teacher following in the footsteps of my favourite teacher who truly inspired me to write and be creative. So off I went to uni; after the first year, mental health took a hold and I had a nervous breakdown at 18. In true Cumbrian style I fought back and after 2 years of recovery I went back to uni to be a probation officer, I finally graduated in 2010 and got a job as a probation officer. After 6 months my head melted again and I lost my job. This pattern continued and I have fought and lost and fought and lost. 2 years ago, I had my biggest lost to date. I had a psychotic break whilst on holiday and I truly thought I wouldn’t ever be able to come back from it.
For those who don’t know much about bipolar, it’s basically a pattern of extreme ups and downs, as someone who is bipolar type II I have ups and down but at a lesser level than bipolar type I.
CumbrianLass was born through a mad idea whilst coming out of my psychotic break and I was experiencing mania (the ups)…. My friends and family are quite used to me and my mad ideas…. But this one seems to be made of stronger stuff.
For the last 2 years I have ran about the county trying to find good stuff, funny stuff and informative stuff to share with you all and I’ve had an absolute whale of time doing it.
One sunny day last summer, I flounced myself into the offices at Chunky Wombat and told them that I wanted to try and turn my blog into something more, I wanted to make it a career and a make a living from it and I genuinely expected them to laugh me out the door…. Thankfully they didn’t and offered to support me in my venture. 4 weeks ago my website www.cumbrianlass.com was launched.
But, CumbrianLass is not all about money and making a living. It’s about saving a life. My life.
After my psychotic break, I hit rock bottom. I didn’t want to live. I had lost everything, my job, my house and my friends. Again. I had lost everything. Again. As a 30something Cumbrian Lass who had lost everything for the countless time, what do you do?
You get up, you get out of bed, you get dressed and you keep fighting. And I’ll never forget the day that my fella physically had to pick me up, physically had to put me in the shower, physically had to dress me and physically carry me down the stairs and put me on the sofa. He put my laptop on my lap and said ‘do what you gotta do’
And I did.
But this time it was going to be different, I wasn’t going to fail again, I was going to make it work, I was going to live.
I made the decision that I wasn’t going to fight against my illness I was going to work with it.
So what did I know:
- I can’t do the normal 9-5.
- Managers don’t understand how to help people with mental health.
- Normal businesses can’t sustain unreliable people
- Bipolar can make me very creative
- I need something I can do from home
- I can’t do the same thing every day
- I need to be able to get out and about.
What kind of job could I possibly do…… I already had a facebook page, so why couldn’t I turn myself into a business. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last 2 years.
By blogging as CumbrianLass I work when I want, when I’m manic I can sit for hours writing on my laptop (and don’t think I’m not sat here at 4am!!) I can get out and about and meet new people, I only have myself to answer to and when I’m down in the depths of depression, my fella brings me my laptop to bed so that I can connect with the world and you guys. Perfect solution.
So here I am, and I’ll be honest I’m feeling pretty naked right now.
CumbrianLass is not a money- making scheme, I can tell you now, I haven’t made a penny so far, but I’m trying. 12 Months ago I was stood in the line at the Carlisle foodbank in disbelief that I was living I, Daniel Blake. But I kept going.
I launched my first advertising campaign 2 days ago as my first real shot at making a living from my blog.
I’ve nearly given up soooo many times. And there are three reasons why I haven’t. My mam, my dad and my fella. They have picked me up from the floor so many times I’ve lost count. My fella sits with me at 5am when I’m typing frantically because my head won’t shut down. He comes on visits with me to keep me company, he listens to me prattle on about my newest blog post ideas, he researches with me, the man is one of a kind. A true Cumbrian Kindred Spirit.
My mam and dad have been and cleaned my house when I couldn’t find the strength, my dad has done more DIY in my house over the last 2 years to make things just that little bit easier. My mam has listened to me cry at midnight when I’ve been so nervous about business meetings.
All three of them have supported me along the way.
Not all heroes wear capes.
CumbrianLass saved my life, you guys saved my life.
And if none of it works; what have I lost?
But let me tell you what I’ve gained. 11.5k friends, 600 insta friends, 500 twitter friends and a platform to try and make my beloved county a better place.
And for that. I will be forever grateful.