A year ago today, I set up my Twitter account @SchizophrenicGB as a year-long experiment. I didn't write about it being an experiment on my original blog post here, but I did intend to join Twitter for a year, see how it went, and then possibly deactivate my account if I didn't think it had made much difference. However, the results of my year-long experiment have been positive, and I'll be staying on Twitter for now!
As I type this, I have 971 followers on Twitter. I can't say how many read my blog regularly, but my blog stats jumped from 80 views in July last year to 789 views in August last year, coinciding with the creation of my Twitter account. The blog stats have been rising steadily since, and July this year, I had 2,500 views, which, compared with 80 in the same month last year is a significant rise! In August, I've already had 166 views, more than double last July's count, so I'd say that Twitter has made a huge difference for my blog!
Twitter was also the place where I discovered that mental health charities are always looking for guest bloggers, and where I wrote my first guest blog for SANE. I've written several more guest blog posts, which can be found here, and as a result of the positivity from writing them, I had the courage to actually complete my idea of setting up a magazine, Still Here. Had I had that idea but not written those guest posts, or had negative feedback from the guest posts, I probably wouldn't have set up the magazine.
However, the biggest positive from Twitter is the companionship. While I follow 905 people on Twitter, I've only knowingly met four people. Yet, I would still call many of these people I follow friends. It may sound daft, seeing as how the 901 people I've not met could be frauds, but I'll take my chances. I'd much rather call some of these 905 people friends than some people I've met in real life. Leaving the house is leaving my comfort zone, and meeting new people in real life terrifies me. Online, I feel more confident and can have a laugh with people in a way that I couldn't do in the real world. At least, not straight away!
The best part though, is some know what you're going through in a way that most people couldn't. I know people who have cared for a loved one with schizophrenia for years, even decades, but they couldn't imagine what it's truly like to battle this demon. I tried my best to show what it's like to hear voices in my YouTube video What's it like to hear voices? and it's been met with an overall positive response. A couple of trolls yes, but it's mainly positive. I recently did a video to try and debunk some of the myths around schizophrenia in What is Schizophrenia? The Myths vs the Facts, but even with these two videos, a person who hasn't battled the illness won't truly know what it's like. And not just the illness, but the effects of the diagnosis, the stigma, the medications, the side effects etc. I thought I was being weak by finding akathisia so difficult to live with when, even at its worst, I didn't have it severely. I've found so many people online though, who've struggled with akathisia at its worst and at its mildest, and found it so difficult to live with. I just wish psychiatrists and psych nurses et al would just learn how difficult, how painful, and how distressing akathisia is. I think they would do a lot more to help it if they just knew.
As there is still so much room for improvement in psychiatric services in the UK, I will continue to shout about the bad in hope for positive change, but also shout about the good, in the hope that I can show an example to live up to. And while she's not in the UK, 'Nurse with Glasses' sets a fine example to live up to. Her 20 commandments really should be printed off and placed in every nurses office in every psych ward there is. I know there are many hospitals in the UK where staff should really read and heed commandments 8 and 9!
So, returning to my original topic, my year-long experiment with Twitter is now over. I use it now because I find it a useful tool in my recovery, and also because I've found it the best place to advertise my magazine! Although that's on my other Twitter account @StillHereMag. I don't know how long I'll stay on Twitter for, I'll just stay on it until it is no longer useful. Same goes for my blog!
I leave you with the happiest animal in the world, the quokka!