Getting Back on Course

I’ve done some soul searching about the blog over the past few days. I’ve been asking myself, “Why did you start the blog to begin with? What was your intent?”

Honestly, I’m not sure at the time I’d completely thought it through. I’d just moved my sister who has bipolar disorder 100 miles across the state so I could help ensure she got the care and support she needed. I was learning a lot about mental illness, stigma, and the challenges of navigating our federal programs and the mental health care system. I was convinced she could be healthier but she was at a place where she just couldn’t do it on her own. I was making mistakes, recovering from them, trying one thing then another. It was a crazy, messed-up time. And in the midst of it all, I thought there must be others like me. There must be others who are trying to figure this out and maybe we can all help each other.

But then I started the blog and it seems more often than not my posts have been for my own benefit. A form of free therapy. You know, getting my thoughts organized, stepping back and trying to view what just occurred more objectively, trying to figure out what the hell happened in my family, getting things off my chest, and just generally recording the journey. Whether this has helped anyone else in the blogosphere, I don’t know.

I’ve thought a lot about the audience I’d like to serve through the blog. My desire is to build a network of followers who care for and about loved ones with mental illness. A number of you follow the blog because you know me or Jerri, you know what a big thing this journey has been for us, and you care. Thank you for that. It means a great deal. You offer a tremendous amount of support to me and I can’t imagine being on this journey without you.

Some of you follow because you have your own struggle with mental illness and my perspective as a family member helps you better understand your own family relationships and challenges. Many of you have your own blogs and are far more experienced at this than I am. Some of you have a huge following. You’ve got this blog thing figured out. I can so learn from you.

And some of you (although I think potentially only a small percentage) follow because, like me, you have a family member, a sibling or a child, who has a mental illness or another disability which affects your family in similar ways. You are actually the ones I theoretically started the blog for and I fear I haven’t delivered a lot of content of value to you.

These are purely my perceptions. They may or may not reflect reality so I’d like to hear from you. Tell me about yourself. What attracts you to the blog (if you are, in fact, attracted) and why do you continue to check in? If you don’t like to publicly comment – no biggee. You can email me at trophydaugher@nc.rr.com.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to seriously contemplate the mission and vision of Trophydaughter. I plan to develop a mission statement to guide my posts moving forward.

When I started this venture, I had somewhat of a if-you-build-it-they-will-come mentality. Obviously, that’s not the case. After a year and a half of blogging I still have less than 100 followers. Not that this thing was ever about the numbers for me (despite the fact that us trophydaughters are prone to measuring ourselves 🙂 ) but I do want to make a difference so I’d like to increase my readership. I’m also concerned the audience I most want to reach isn’t that active in the blogosphere. Specifically, siblings. Thoughts on this, anyone?

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One Year Blogiversary of TrophyDaughter

20121121-202414.jpgWoohoo! Today is my blogiversary, one year of Trophydaughter!

This blog has been somewhat of a grand experiment. I’d been thinking about writing a memoir about, you guessed it, sisterhood and sanity and my BFF, Susan, who is a marketing wiz, said “you’ve got to do a blog.”

“But I’m not ready for that kind of commitment,” I said.

“Publishers are looking for writers who already have a following. If you can demonstrate there’s an audience for what you write, you’re less of a risk as a new writer. It’s all about the marketing, you know. Even if you decide to self-publish, which is perfectly acceptable these days, social media and blogging is a way to get feedback and gain a better understanding of your readers.”

“I just don’t have time for it,” I said.

“You don’t have to write every day. Just pick a schedule, maybe once a week, and stick with it.”

“The LAST thing I need in my life is more responsibility,” I said.

“You love to write. You need to write. Just do it.”

So I thought about it. For months, I toyed with the idea. In addition to what Susan said, there were other great reasons for blogging.

My writing life needed some structure. Blogging was a way to introduce that. If I made a commitment to post once a week, I knew some of you would hold me accountable.

Blogging can be cathartic. Particularly when you maintain some anonymity. It helps work through my emotions and evaluate what’s helpful and what’s hurtful in my relationship with Jerri. I replay things in my head and discover where I went wrong. I try to take the confusing bits and piece them into something that makes sense. Sometimes hitting the “publish” button is super scary but sometimes it feels incredibly liberating. And I get to rant. There really is nothing better than a good rant.

Blogging is also a great way to connect with people who have similar life experiences. I hoped to meet others supporting family members with brain disorders and I have. It’s been amazing. I’ve been moved by your stories. I’ve felt less alone. I’ve embraced your advice. I’ve learned from you.

So I might not be the Bloggess and I might not have been Freshly Pressed, at least not yet, I still have hopes, but I HAVE had readers from over 40 countries including the UK, France, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jordan, South Africa, Japan, Malaysia, Germany, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. And that has to be one of the most awesome achievements I never set out to achieve.

So thank you for reading. Thank you for caring. And thank you for commenting. The experiment continues.