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I'm Not My Illness

I was recently tagged on Instagram to post twenty facts about me that highlight me as a whole holistic being rather than just a mental illness. It really struck me as something important that perhaps we could all benefit from. Day to day, we all fit in with the lives we ought to be leading… the roles we have; which isn’t a bad thing of course! But how often do we stop and take stock of the whole person we are and really give ourselves a bit of a pat on the back for some of our achievements.

Mental illness can shut you off within a bubble of appointments, working to recover, speaking to others who are unwell or even just fulfilling a role of a sick person or a recovering person. No wonder it’s a bit exhausting. Then there comes pressure from the outside world to be a good student, daughter, sister, work colleague, partner or any of the other roles we have! There’s certainly nothing wrong with working hard to be the best person we can in all aspects of our lives, but it’s ok to not be perfect at everything. If you try and keep all the different plates spinning at one time, you can just end up losing the lot… or even yourself along the way. I guess it goes back to the good enough principle that I often harp on about… but anyway, I seem to have gone on a bit of a tangent.

I am in recovery from a mental illness (which I still have), work in a mental health setting, blog about my mental health, have friends with mental health problems who I support… but I am more than an illness or a supporter of others with mental illness… and here are twenty interesting facts about me. I found it really helpful to write these. It made me smile at points, feel grateful at others and above all feel a little proud even though it makes me squirm a little to say that. I really encourage you to have a go… even just to think of five things about you that are not related to your illness. It really is a helpful exercise.

  1. I grew up in Suffolk, in the middle of nowhere. In one house we lived in, you could see the sea from my bedroom window.

  2. I have a younger sister who means the absolute world to me and I don’t tell her that enough.

  3. I always dreamed I would be a vet; I worked in a Vet practice for years and spent almost a year working as a receptionist during my gap year which I loved so much. I learnt that it’s ok to not reach the place you (and others) always expected to and that actually you can find an even better alternative that you never knew you would love more, if you can let go of what you can’t reach and change your path.

  4. I was scratched by a monkey when I was little in a zoo in Holland (sadly no gruesome scar) and I was bitten (or is it pecked?!) by a when I was a bit older… yet I still love animals!

  5. The first time I ever went on a plane was to fly to Borneo with a group of relative strangers as part of a Blue Cross Fundraising trip (13 hour flight!). I trekked through the jungle and spent some time with an NGO working to rebuild forest areas for Orangutans; I got to see a mum with her baby in the wild. It was the most amazing experience of my life!

  6. Not one to take things by halves… I also chose to complete my first proper sailing trip (after being on a yacht for an afternoon) by taking part on a leg of the tall ships race. We wanted to win the best entrance into Kristiansand at the end, so tied our underwear to the rigging and did the Macarena… it definitely turned heads.

  7. On the same trip a couple of us were invited to the United Arab Emirates Navy’s afterparty… some of the officers were challenging people to blow on a conch shell and I was the only one to do it… we were then invited back to their cabins for drinks but I politely declined!

  8. My Dad’s side of the family were a circus family… thankfully my Grandad was the last family member to actually be involved but it’s exciting to be from a family of performers!

  9. In face my Great Aunt Flo was a Hollywood wardrobe mistress in 50’s-60’s who worked with stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and Marlon Brando.

  10. Perhaps that’s why I wanted to be an actress when I was little. Although the furthest I got was village panto (I know all the panto versions of classic Christmas songs!), local drama competitions and school plays!

  11. I have had classical singing training, I’m a top A Soprano… and currently sing with the Church choir where I lower the average age by about 30 years!

  12. It’s a bit of a fluke that I got my job as a Media Worker for a non-profit. I can thank a wonderful friend who believed in me and a company who gave me a chance to prove my worth! I absolutely love it and am so glad to actually be a paid writer!

  13. I have 13 piercings and 3 tattoos… thinking of the next one(s) to get

  14. I have been successfully living without an appendix for the last couple of years

  15. I can horse ride and enjoy jumping. I did once break my coccyx falling off a friends horse but am proud to say I got up off the ground and back in the saddle with my broken arse!

  16. I have a blue Burmese called Stitch, who I had reared as a sickly kitten… which perhaps explains his love of cuddles and slightly needy personality. I wouldn’t change him for the world!

  17. I have a bright orange Vespa that I rode for years before I passed my driving test

  18. I am in to my 5th year (second choice of degree) of being at Uni and hope to finally get my undergrad this year!!

  19. I once asked a famous footballer to spell his name as I had asked him to repeat it twice, still not heard it and assumed he was just being rude/awkward

  20. And I’ve had lots of interesting jobs… I was a waitress, leisure professional at a hotel health club, volunteer at a livery yard/cattery, training sessional and copy editor for a national charity and am now loving being a Media Worker for a mental health non profit!

If you got to the end of that list… you’re a hero! Why not try your own?

I’m in the running for the UK Blog Awards 2016 which are now open for voting! I would really appreciate it if you could just take a moment to vote for me by clicking on this link. You can vote twice per day… so the more votes the better… I will be eternally grateful!

Two of my greatest passions in life are seeing social change and helping to sculpt the lives of young people, enabling them to go on to achieve great things. I am a champion of all things third sector and an activist and campaigner at heart, brimming with excitement for innovation and change.

I’ve been interested in fundraising and charity since I was at highschool and am full of mad cap ideas to gain peoples interest in the cause I am representing or raise money whether it’s through hard work individually or in a team or through stunts such as finding a way to bring a reindeer on to University grounds for a winter themed event. I’m a yoga loving vegetarian, writer, blogger, activist, feminist, irrational cat mother, with great smelling hair. Originating from Suffolk, living in York. Recovery warrior, working in mental health sector, wanting to change the world one day… and have a French Bulldog!

Read Kate's blog: or follow her on Twitter @kates2091

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