"A Storied Mind: Recover Life from Depression"is a timeless blog by John Folk-Williams.
The keyword in this title is 'RECOVERING'.
'Recovery' is what John Folk-Williams is all about. Every title points to recovery from depression, every idea shared assumes recovery is possible. If you haven't accessed his website yet, you really must. Do any of these titles tweak your interest?
On one of those 'dark nights' I referred to last week I came across this website "Storied Mind" by John Folk-Williams. What I read there was enlightening and practical. But what impressed me the most was John's perseverance with his illness in the face of frequent failures and frequent recurrences of depressive episodes. He had as much reason to quit as anyone but he didn't.
Not only did I admire his personal approach to his illness but also his approach as a writer. Many blogs about depression, even some of the really good ones, disappear after awhile. It is understandable.
Depression can steal our resolve and make us give up.
But John did not let it steal his resolve and he kept on writing. The result is a valuable arsenal of information that will encourage and equip anyone who is determined to tackle this illness and lead as healthy a life as they can despite the set-backs.
And so I have interviewed this favourite writer. He writes well, with heart, and with practical solutions and poignant observations. I hope you enjoy reading this testimony of his writing endurance.
1. What inspired you to start blogging about mental illness?
I had always kept journals and thought blogging could help me reach people with this sort of brief writing.
2. What were your original goals? Has the blog accomplished those goals? Have your goals changed?
I started with a vague idea of learning more about writing and possibly making some money from a medium that was still relatively new in 2007. I also wanted to start a small community of people who could share experiences about living with depression. It became clear after a while that this writing and the dialogue with other mental health bloggers were important sources of healing for me as well. For years the blog had a very small but devoted audience and was a major part of my recovery from depression. Only in the past few years after I published a couple of ebooks based on the blog posts and became established with the search engines did I start earning a little money. I would say that I have achieved my goals to a greater extent than I thought possible.
5. Has your current content changed a lot from your original content? What do you think your strengths are as a mental health journalist? What makes your blog unique from other blogs of the same kind?
What has always set my blog apart from others is my ability to write from my own experience in ways other people seem to connect with. I’ve mixed some journalism in with the personal essays, but even there I’m trying to make sense of things; mostly books and movies or new approaches to therapy in terms of my own life experience. I have never been very interested in covering mental health as a journalist would, that’s not me.
8. Do you have some favourite mental health blogs/websites that you frequent and/or admire? Would you care to elaborate?
I’ve learned so much from Therese Borchard. She remains one of the best mental health bloggers, and her videos are often amazing. The writer who called herself “merely me” was another inspiration, and I’m sorry that she is no longer writing online. Many others have helped me especially Soulful Sepulcher and Evan Hadkins.
9. How do you know that people benefit from your writing?
The comments on the blog and often emails helped me build mutually helpful relationships with dozens of people. In the early years of my blog, comments were mostly a dialogue between me and the commenters. Now that I have pulled back from active writing, the commenting community is talking among themselves, much like a forum. I’ve heard from many people about how much my writing has helped them, and I’ve won a variety of awards from folks I respect.
10. What do you consider your strengths as a writer? Or what makes you stand out among the rest?
I would say my honesty, my care with getting the words to match my experience and the fact that I have offered some insight on the problems of dealing with a depressed spouse. My posts about relationships have been the mostly widely read and commented on.
11. Do you have any formal training as a writer? If yes, what kind and where?
I’ve always been primarily interested in writing since boyhood, took some courses in college, wrote all kinds of things in the past, including poetry, fiction and nonfiction. I often read about writing technique but don’t like the rulebased approaches.
12. Have you ever worked as a fulltime journalist aside from your blog? If yes, where?
No, neverwanted to. I have written for other sites, such as Health Central, as a paid blogger, and MentalHelp.Net. Never full time.
13. If you were to advise someone who is thinking of starting a blog about mental illness, what would you say?
Write about your own experience, question what you think you know, don’t preach or imagine you have definitive answers and pay attention to the mysteries of SEO.
14. How have you benefited personally from your own blog writing experience?
Writing 'Storied Mind' was a major step in my own healing, and it introduced me to some of the most wonderful people in the online mental health community.
Thanks so much to John Folk-Williams for taking the time to respond to my questions!
How about you? Have you read 'Storied Mind' yet?
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There is HOPE for depression!
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