Welcome to the latest installment of my interview series!
Who are some of your favorite bloggers? I try to follow as many as I can because they have so much wisdom to pass on. (Including bloggers like Jessica from The Unplug Initiative!)
That’s what gave me the idea for this interview series. I wanted to glean as much knowledge as I could from those much wiser than me.
This is our fifteenth installment of my interview series, Meet the Blogger, all about The Unplug Initiative, a fellow blogger. (You can read our previous installment here: https://diffusingthetensioncom.wpcomstaging.com/meet-the-blogger-introducing-unwanted-life)
Interview series questions
First of all, tell me a little about yourself.
My name is Jessica, and I’m the writer and founder of The Unplug Initiative blog. I’m originally from Tennessee, but I currently live in Indiana. I turn 31 this month (where you at, Scorpios?). I finally finished my Bachelors at 29, but I’m not at all on a career path to lead me to a traditional dream job. I did get out of retail, but despite pursuing what I thought was a fun, challenging, and interesting career, I realized that writing was still my one, true love.
What is your connection to the blogging and/or mental health community?
I started the Unplug Initiative in 2014, with varying degrees of commitment to posting, as well as vastly different post formats and goals. It was an ambitious, albeit naive start, with a promising motto: “banning distractions to get stuff done.”
In its current iteration, after securing the domain name earlier this year, the Unplug Initiative is a mental health and general wellness blog that provides solutions, inspiration, and hope, using my own background with mental health as the cornerstone.
I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010, respectively. My experiences, personal research and reading, and treatment has informed my viewpoint on the blog.
What is the hardest part about having a successful blog?
In my journey to becoming a successful blog (not there yet!), I’ve realized that there is so much work outside of blogging that you have to commit to. Engaging with the community and making blogger friends has been fun and takes little effort, but learning SEO, marketing my blogs on social media, growing subscribers, and everything else, is time-consuming and exhausting. To put it simply: those things are just NOT fun. They’re not why I got into blogging in the first place. It’s also the necessary evil if I want my blog to get in front of eyeballs. That’s why I’m doing this after all–so people will read it!
What is the biggest challenge the mental health community faces currently?
Awareness of all mental illnesses, their symptoms, and how to get help or treatment. I want to phrase this delicately, but I think often-times well-meaning advocacy and awareness gets lost in the muck and mire (and hashtags). It’s something repeated within the community, but it’s not reaching new people. At least, maybe not to its capacity. There’s probably a lot of people who don’t even know their symptoms could be because of a disorder. There’s probably hundreds of thousands who know something is wrong but don’t know how to get help. That’s the kind of awareness and advocacy I’m talking about. Reaching more people, with an effective message, is the community’s biggest challenge right now.
What are 5 things many people do not know about you?
I was homeschooled.
I used to be in the Navy (very briefly).
I love Christmas music.
I have a tattoo on my back (of the pentatonic blues scale).
What is your favorite book and why?
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. It subverts a lot of fantasy/adventure tropes. It has a kick-ass female lead. It has a gay subtext that is both seamlessly incorporated and incredibly obvious at the same time. It’s well-written, and it’s a COMIC. Did I mention that? Yeah, there’s pictures. Nice pictures, too. I’m embarrassed to admit I’m not a big reader, but I like comics.
What do you do when you are having a really hard day to lift your spirits?
Watching funny videos on YouTube or a stand-up special on Netflix; a yoga routine; a nice cup of tea with honey; cuddling with my boyfriend or my cat; journal.
What makes a person brave?
I love this question! I think being brave means standing up to things that you might fear, things that might challenge you. It means not caving to the pressure or the fear or your own inner critic and saying, “I’m going to be strong. I’m going to fight.” Nothing can stand in the way of bravery.
What 3 words would you use to describe yourself and why?
Ambitious, resilient, and funny.
I’m always setting goals for myself and never settling with my current level of achievements. What some might say is perfectionism or a never-ending pursuit for happiness is just my pursuit of interests, passions, and goals. That’s the ambition. Resilience because I seem to bounce back from all setbacks and heartbreaks. Though BPD means I’m sensitive and have thin-skin and basically I’m upset easily, I credit my ability to bounce back and never stop trying. And finally, I think I’m pretty good at making people laugh–also I couldn’t really think of a good third one. I enjoy diffusing the tension (see what I did there?) with a good joke or two, and making people laugh. It feels good. They could be pity laughs, but I don’t care.
What is your biggest flaw?
I take things too personally. I’m getting a LOT better and talking myself through it and seeing other sides to a situation and not letting it bother me. Or, if it does bother me and/or the person really did mean it harshly or rudely, I’m better at coping with it and responding appropriately.
What is your greatest strength?
I’d like to call back to my resilience. Having a mental illness is not easy for anyone. Having to fight a battle in your head every day takes a lot of strength! I think a saw a quote one time about that on Twitter. But I credit myself on being able to not let it knock me down–and when it does, I get back up. I encourage others to look within themselves and point to where they haven’t given up, where they’ve picked themselves back up, and how they keep going and trying every day.
What is your best childhood memory?
Visiting Gulf Shores, Alabama when I was 10 with my extended family.
Where do you envision your blog in 5 years?
I hope to have amassed a following via my subscriber list (that is coming soon), as well as gaining thousands of unique viewers per month. I also hope to be posting once a week, at least, if not twice, by then.
Where do you see the mental health community in 5 years?
Talking more about all mental health issues, not being afraid to talk about the ugly side, and hopefully, sharing solutions, advocating for healthy coping mechanisms, and making it easier to find professional help.
Who do you follow to stay updated on all things blogging and/or mental health? Share their links below!
Diffusing the Tension, of course!! Great resources, which I feel this community needs more of.
Nyxie’s Nook fantastic real and gritty look at mental health, with some great insight and advice.
My Everyday Challenges Just a wonderful place for inspiration, advice, and coping mechanisms/advice.
Just Call Me Jess Bringing awareness and staying active in the mental health community.
Help Me I’m Adulting while not directly mental health-related, she’s a funny and down-to-earth blogger that I enjoy reading. Plus she’s got some seriously helpful tips!
Unapologetically You for blogging tips. She also breaks down complicated topics that you’ll find really useful, like SEO.
About the Author
Jessica Mathis is a writer, mental health solution advocate, gamer, and cat lover. You can read her work at The Unplug Initiative.
Follow her! She follows back.
Thanks, Unplug Initiative, for participating in my interview series, Meet the Blogger! I loved your responses, and I truly appreciate you taking the time out to answer my questions. Best wishes on all your blogging endeavors!
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