Warning: Very personal post coming up so if y’all not into that sorta thing then clear off. The other day (haha I say the other day but it was literally a month ago now) I had a bit of a rant / vent on Twitter. I mentioned that although I love lifestyle blogging and writing about a whole bunch of different topics, I feel sad sometimes that I’m not known solely as a “book blogger” anymore. For those who might be newer readers and followers of mine, my blog started as a book blog and only after a year or so did I venture into other topics. I was constantly reading, reviewing and in contact with authors and publsihers. It was wonderful. And although I still am to some extent (aside from my blog touring business which literally revolves around books), I can’t help but feel a bit distant from the book blogging community now.
So today I wanted to talk about my blogging story. The reason me and Jenny in Neverland are even here and how books really did save me at a time when I didn’t know what else to do. Like I said, this is a very personal post – some of you may be familiar with this story if you’ve followed me since the beginning but for those that aren’t, here is why I owe everything and I mean everything to books and book blogging.
I started blogging in March / April 2013. I know, I can’t believe it’s been so long either and perhaps that’s another reason why this makes me sad, because it feels like only yesterday. I had already been diagnosed with anxiety by then and already I was struggling with this new reality I had to face daily. My life had been turned quite literally on its head but maybe my anxiety diagnosis was a blessing in disguise? Who knows.
I had started a college course to become a teaching assistant in a primary school which also involved a voluntary placement too. I had quit my previous job to do this – believing that it was something that was 100% for me. Something that I would enjoy and feel safe and comfortable doing. Something that would help my anxiety, not hinder it. I was very, very wrong. As we so often are when we try to predict the future. About 5 months into my course and placement and I couldn’t hack it.
The actual college side wasn’t fulfilling me. The work was boring and too simple and it wasn’t challenging me in the way I thought it would and I wasn’t enjoying it. I was so excited about going back to college and to start learning again that this was devastating for me. I didn’t like my teacher either and she wasn’t sympathetic towards my mental health. My placement however, kept getting worse and worse. I didn’t know how to handle the kids and gradually and gradually I was resenting them more and more.
What on earth was I thinking, working with kids?! The day that was the last straw for me was when I had an argument with one of the teachers because his classroom was way too hot. My anxiety focuses a lot on heat – I hate being too hot and it sends my anxiety sky rocketing. This classroom was sweltering. I couldn’t think so I walked out because he wasn’t listening to me. I brought it up with the head of teaching assistants and she looked into and like me, she agreed that it was way too hot and that I should sit out the rest of the lessons from that mans classroom.
As well as that, my confidence was nowhere. I felt I had no authority over bloody 9 year olds because I didn’t trust myself and I couldn’t handle it. So I left. I lost over 700 quid in tuition fees in the process but I had to get out of there. I was gutted – after such a promising start I was back to where I was.
After a while if doing absolutely nothing – and I mean nothing – I was feeling low and down and completely helpless. I didn’t know what to do. But I poodled along just surviving. At this point, I was still a fiercly passionate book lover – as I always have been. I was reading a book and decided to search for reviews of it to see what other people thought. I still remember what book it was – The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson. Then I found a book blog. I read the review and had a look around and loved it – I didn’t know book blogging was even a thing! I spent hours finding other blogs and reading them and searching through them when I thought that this was something I could do. I love books just as much as these people. I can write reviews of them. I contacted the owner of the first ever blog I found and she ever so kindly helped me set one up. I am forever grateful to her.
From that moment on, I had something to work for. Although it was unpaid and I had virtually zero followers, I was starting on this new, exciting adventure. My passion for reading grew and grew. I enjoyed writing my book reviews so much and the occasional comment I got made me ecstatic. I was new to Twitter, too and I barely knew anyone. But meeting more and more people and finding more book lovers helped me find a sort of clarity. I remember the first time an author replied to one of my tweets too – it was again, Dorothy Koomson and I remember screaming to my mum and screen-shotting the tweet to save.
From then on, amidst all my mental health problems, worries and difficulties, not to mention relationship break-ups, friendship break ups, money troubles, arguments and family tragedy, my little blog was always there, always growing. I continued to work on it (albeit with a couple of blogging breaks down the line) and transform it into what it is today. I question whether had I not developed any form of anxiety, would I be here with Jenny in Neverland? Probably not. Would I have been given the opportunities I’ve had through blogging? Nope. And would I have met so many lovely people, friends and authors along the way? Definitely not.
So although Jenny in Neverland is 3 and a half years older and hopefully wiser, I will never, ever forget what got me here and what helped bring me out of that, what was looking to be, very, very deep and dark hole. Books. Writing. Words. Stories. The simplest and most time-less past-time. And to any authors reading this, I hope this can be a reminder for your down days that your words matter. Every last one of them. They can change lives. They can change the world. They changed my world. And don’t forget that.
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Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.
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A wonderful and honest post. It takes guts to share our stories and even more to leave a choice that seemed safe and try something new. I’m so grateful to have met you. We shouldn’t know each other. We’re an ocean away! But that’s what social media does. It connects people in amazing ways. There have been days when I’ve been frustrated, have debated no longer writing (it happens to all of us!). Then I’ll see you on Twitter and remember how amazingly supportive you’ve been. Happy Blogoversary! I hope I’m commenting on your site after three more years have passed. 🙂 Hugs!
Thank you so much for a wonderful comment Stephanie! You’re absolutely right, we shouldn’t know each other. But it’s amazing that we do! Love a Happy Ending was a huge deal for me at the beginning, it made me work harder so I’ll always be grateful to all the authors who supported me on that little venture! xx
Thank you again for sharing your story, Jenny. My blog has also become something far greater than I anticipated (I had no idea about blogging when I set it up – I was advised to do so by my publishers). It remains my space to vent, to talk, to meet people, to get by on those days when mothering overwhelms me, when being a wife is a huge struggle, and when my writing is not progressing as well as I would like. We keep on going, and we keep on telling our stories. It is all we can do. 🙂
You’re welcome thank you for sharing yours! It’s amazing what blogging can become and I’m so glad you’ve found an outlet that helps when everything else is too much.
This is such an inspiring, wonderful post, Jenny. I can really relate to this, having suffered from anxiety and depression myself, and starting my blog when I was at an all-time low. Thank you for sharing your story. x
Aw thank you so much I’m glad you liked it and I’m glad you too found an outlet in blogging (: xx
I can honestly say I relate to you. Blogging has made me a happier person and I love always having my blog! I love to read and write, and my blog is my outlet for those hobbies. Thanks for sharing your story 🙂
I’m so glad you found that in blogging too (: it truly is wonderful sometimes isn’t it? xx
Amazing story and inspiring me to push forward, always. My blog will be a success, just like yours! Happy journeying!
I’m glad you liked the post & best of luck on your blogging venture (:
Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog.
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I enjoyed your post. I drop in from time to time. Yes, the author community is awesome and you’ll meet many wonderful people. I know I have. My blog is just a little younger than yours. It has given me many hours of entertainment writing reviews and expressing my opinion. It IS a life-changing experience!
It really is! When you really put your mind to it and work hard it can change your life in many different ways <3 xx
Such a strong and inspirational post! Dealing with anxiety is a difficult thing and you’ve done so very well and supported so many of us writers. Much love xxx
Thank you so much Georgina. I’ll never stop supporting authors <3 <3 xxx
A brave and inspirational post. You’ve been such a huge support to many writers including me. Much love xxx
Thank you so much <3 xx
I’m always baffled by the similarities in our stories! 🙂 Thank you for sharing with us. Heat is a major anxiety factor for me, I can’t stand it when I start feeling too hot. I was having health issues and my agoraphobia had made its second appearance. One day – a good day – I dragged myself to the university library after having had to drop off my classes, and I came back with a book. It was in December and the book was 1084. Orwell made me feel so many things, feelings I had forgotten, and the story has dragged me out of my situation, making me forget I was sick and riddled with issues. When I finished, I was frustrated because I had no one to talk to about my renewed love for books, and I turned to blogging. I was sure it would not last, because depression has the tendency to take you away from what you enjoy. But I stick to it. I’m still sick, I still have more bad days than good ones, but my blog is still here too. I focus on my books and my blog and it helps me move on, day after day. I was lucky to meet awesome and supportive bloggers and I feel better now than I felt before I took the leap. Enough about me! You have come a long way and you can be proud of yourself 🙂 xx
Aww, honey! You’re right, we do have an awful lot of similarities don’t we?! I HATE the heat, it really really makes me anxious and uncomfortable. So glad someone else can understand that. Books play a huge part for both of us, they truly are magical, aren’t they? You should be proud of yourself too. Congrats on battling through your depression and anxiety every day – that’s an achievement in itself. Here’s to us! <3 xxx
Jenny, what a superb, strong post. You should be so proud. Thank you for all of your support xx
Thank you so much lovely! <3 xx
What a positive post! I am glad you were able to help find an outlet for your anxiety through blogging. You can overcome anything you set your mind too!
Thank you (: I wouldn’t have thought this post would be considered positive but I’m glad it is! We all need our outlets for our problems xx
I probably wouldn’t be doing this without you, Dorothy! So I’m eternally grateful and thank you for writing such wonderful novels <3 xx
Wow, great post! You’ve come so far love 💗
Thank you so much <3 xx
As usual you have managed to get through to me .. we probably all start blogging for personal reasons (I did) and the sheer thrill of finding like-minded people and the interaction is fabulous. You know I read every day so YOUR words matter as well. Keep up the good work and you know where I am if you need anything xoxo
I think everyone probably does start blogging for personal reasons, don’t they? Well the majority of people anyway. I’d love to hear your blogging story some day! Finding the like-minded people from all over the world has been one of the best things. And thank you for the constant support <3 xxx
You’ve come a long way and achieved so much and you still have so much to give xx
Thank you, Lindsay but you know I wouldn’t be here without you, right?! <3 xx
That’s lovely of you to say and I’m very flattered but I think you’d have made it anyway xx
What a very honest post Jenny. I’m so glad you found bookblogging and you have had a big success of your tours too. I’m sure this post will ring true for many other bloggers too. I like how you mentioned Authors too, Authors comments really make my day, and makes bookblogging that much more fulfilling.
I have always loved receiving comments from authors about my reviews of their books. I love it when they take the time to thank the bloggers (: it does make it that little bit more special, don’t you think? Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Amanda <3 xx
Congratulations and thank you for sharing your story. I feel as though I’ve seen a few anxiety related posts in the last week and the more this is discussed the more we will find support from our community and realise we are not operating in a vacuum. I also suffer from anxiety and stumbled into book I blogging completely by accident. Good luck and best wishes for your continuing journey. 💙
Mental health related posts have risen SO MUCH and it’s great that people are being more open and honest about it and helping to spread advice and rid the rotten stigmas attached to it. Sometimes the things you don’t expect to happen are the best! Best of luck to you too <3 xx
I am full of admiration for you for many reasons. Virtual hug. I don’t virtual hug very often as it creases my virtual jacket. I am making an exception for you. I always really enjoy everything you share. All the very best. Chris.
Haha! Sorry for creasing your virtual jacket. I’ll give it a virtual iron. That’s such a lovely thing to hear, I’m so glad you enjoy my posts. I’ll try and not disappoint! xx
Such a wonderful post, brave, honest, true. My first book was published by Harper Collins, the same year you started to blog and that’s how we first connected. Thank you for all your support. Us authors appreciate it more than you could ever realise. Hugs.
Aww! I absolutely adored Beyond Grace’s Rainbow, it made me cry so much! <3 xx
This is a fantastic and brave post, Jenny. Congratulations on all you’ve achieved with your book blog so far and thank you for sharing. xxx
Thanks so much, Cathy <3 xxx
This made me cry a little bit! You’ve come so far and I’m so bloody proud of you (I can imagine you reading this and going ‘oh God Lyns is being a sap again, but I don’t care). You’re a fantastic blogger and an excellent best friend; I’m so glad you started blogging because without it, I wouldn’t have you ❤️
Thanks, Sap 😉 xxx
How did I know you were going to say that ;)? xxx