First Steps

Since I’m not well enough to work right now, it seems like the ideal time to write the article that has been swimming around my brain a while. However, my brain is, itself, swimming in snot so this may end up being utter nonsense. Here goes.

I’ve been thinking about three topics that I was going to discuss in details in three separate articles, and I wasn’t sure which should be discussed first. However, I think I’ll worry about that later and for now cover the basics of all three topics in this one article. Maybe I’ll even leave it up to you, the reader, to determine what I write about next.

I’d love there to be more odd-jobbers out there, like myself, helping people do the small gardening and home improvement jobs that they can no longer do themselves, but odd-jobbing isn’t for everyone, and there may not be enough demand for it where you live to earn a sustainable income from it, which is why I think the best place to start after you’ve decided that you want to be self-employed is figuring out what you’ll be doing.

The best way to do this is to ask around. Ask people in your community what it is they feel is needed. One of the easiest ways to do this, if you have the opportunity, is to pay attention to local online noticeboard groups. Not every community does it, but you may find, after a quick search on Facebook, that there is at least one Group or Page dedicated to local news, events, and requests.

In my case I found that a lot of people in my area were asking for help with small jobs, but you may find that the people in your town are frequently asking for pet-sitting/walking services, cleaners, carers, piano tutors, math tutors, children’s entertainers or tax accountants. See what opportunities are available, and, if any of them take you fancy, reply that you are willing and able to help.

If you don’t find anything you can do locally, and you’re willing and able to deliver your products and services to anywhere, then spread your online search further afield to see what people in your field of expertise/experience are clamouring for.

Now, there’s a good chance that you won’t be qualified for some of the opportunities available. For example, perhaps you don’t have a degree in accounting, but you do know your way around a tax form. It’s okay to let your potential client know this. Most of the time they can’t afford a ‘professional’, and they don’t really need one. If the job is something they used to do themselves, they may even be able to teach you a thing or two.

I’ve already begun telling you about the next topic. How to find clients. I’ve got most of mine online to begin with, and then from word-of-mouth recommendations after that. I also got one or two from posters I put up in places I expected potential clients to go. I also hung out at the local ‘community hub’ to introduce myself in person while I was between jobs.

Participating in community events and projects will also help you get noticed.

The best way to get clients by far is by word of mouth recommendation, so when you’re doing a job, it helps to bear in mind that you’re also the best form of advertising for your business that you can get. You need to make a great impression, and maintain it. However, you also need to be honest, and be yourself. Some people have the knack to charm people, others, like myself had to learn it. However, it’s going to take more than one article to explore that topic.

The third topic I wanted to mention was money, specifically how much you need to charge. I actually hadn’t figured this out when I started. I knew I wanted it to be more that minimum wage, but I didn’t know what people would be willing to pay. I hoped that people would see my work and pay what they thought it was worth. It turns out that people like to have a number. Your best clients will be the ones that think the work is worth more than you’re asking.

Now, as your own boss, you need to pay yourself a fair wage for the work you’re doing. Ideally it needs to be enough to cover all your expenses even this is your only job. Also, you need to reach the target with just 20 hours per week (or less). As the word spreads and your reputation grows, you should be working more hours than that, but when you’re starting out, it may be a struggle to get that much.

Add up all your monthly expenses, for the whole household, for the year. Monthly expenses rarely include clothes shopping trips and things like car repairs, and you may have to guess how much unexpected expenses will cost you. The more thorough you are, the better, but even a best guess will give you a starting point. You can adjust later if necessary.

It may be mind numbing, but it will be worth it.

Once you have your grand total, subtract any other sources of income you may have (like a spouses, or a part-time job you’ve been doing) to see how much of the grand total you still need to make up. Divide that number by 52 (the number of weeks in the year) to see how much you need to reach per week, and again by 20 hours per week to see how much you should be charging per hour to cover these expenses.

If the amount you have left seems unreasonable, feel free to do the calculations again, and see what you can sacrifice, at least until you get more hours. I myself like to buy games, but I had to put that on hold until the basics were covered. For you it might be cigarettes, or your favourite fast food. Hopefully you won’t have to do without it for long.

Doing this will also show you how insufficient minimum wage jobs really are. Particularly if you don’t have 20 hours spare between caring for children/ other family members and that part-time job you’re doing. You may have to quit that part time job once your own business succeeds. As much as you may like it, you may start to resent how little it pays. Sorry about that.

If you feel tempted to discount your hourly rates to even less, bear in mind you’ll need to work more hours to cover your expenses. One of the biggest mistakes that new businesses make is undervaluing their time and their products. A high price suggests quality, and a low price suggests the opposite. You may surprise yourself to see what people are willing to pay for a good job well done, even if you’re telling yourself you could have done better.

There will be some clients that think you’re charging too much. Some will will insist on getting a flat-rate quote instead of charging by the hour. Be wary of clients like this and replace them with others who like what you do and are happy to pay what you ask (or more) as soon as you can. However, particularly if you’re making products, you may want to offer a price for each item, or project, rather than charge by the hour.

You still need to take into account how much time it will take you to complete the project/product, as well as any materials used. If it will take you six hours, then the client will need to pay you for six hours work, plus the cost to replace any materials you’ve used. Even if you had everything you needed laying around, you will need to buy more for the next one, and the cost should be included in the products price. As does the cost of any ‘free samples’ you’re handing out.

If you can make it and people want it, then do it. 🙂

It’s going to be a struggle at first, but once people start praising you to others, you should be able to cover all of your basic needs, as well as save up for holidays and treat yourself to the occasional fancy meal, expensive gadget, or snazzy new outfit. Though you may find that the first things you spend the ‘extra’ money on is more tools and marketing for your business.

I hope this advice has been useful. Feel free to ask me questions. I’ll be happy to explain anything in more detail, or discuss your particular situation and how you can still be successful despite your personal obstacles. For the moment this is all free because I’m figuring out how to teach all this as I go and your feedback will help me improve my coaching methods and advice.

Thank you for reading, liking and sharing, and have a great day 🙂

The New Plan – Operation Freelance!

After talking it over with a very smart friend I’ve decided to offer blog articles for £100 each, and £50 each for short ones.

I’m offering Ghostwriting and Co-Author services too. If you have a great story idea but don’t think that you could do it justice, then I can help. You may even have started writing it yourself and got stuck. You can hire me as a Ghostwriter, in which case the book has your name on it, and you get to keep the royalties, but you pay me for my time upfront. Or, you can let me take a Co-Author credit, both names are on the cover, we split the royalties 50-50, and it costs you nothing.


I’m hoping to build up a client list as quickly as possible. I need to be a full-time writer. I’m going nuts. I’ve been trying to build my profile, and my reputation. Take my time. Do this right. Work wherever I can to survive while I make myself look great online. The problem is that the job I’m doing for money is taking all my time, energy and motivation.

I didn’t realize when I started working nights how lonely and depressing it would get. I needed some time to think, but now I’m ready to rejoin the world. I could just get another shitty job doing bar-work, retail or call centre customer service, but I really don’t want to have to. I want to write. It’s all I want to do, and I’m good at it.

I got my start as a blogger writing geek-culture articles for a WordPress-based website. The articles I’ve written for them seem to have gone, but I saved a few of my favourites and re-blogged them on Games ‘n’ Geekery. A geeky website of my own I created using all the skills I learned while working for them, and a few tricks I’ve picked up since.

They didn’t pay me anything, but the experience was invaluable. I learned how to use WordPress, how to make a good-looking blog article, and that I could churn out an original 500-1000 word article, including research, links, pictures and video, every single day.


I used what they taught me to create this blog, and others. The Hermes925 serialized story that I’ve been posting to this website attracted the attention of Tod Foley, who recruited me for the UbiquiCity project. The writer team would video conference online to talk about our ideas and world-build together, then we each wrote a short story that fit into the world we created. My short story, and the others, are now available on Amazon as part of the UbiquiCity anthology. The accompanying RPG sourcebook will be out soon. It was a fun project. 🙂

I got the opportunity to ghost-write a story for someone, and that was fun too, but the client put the project on hold before I saw a penny for the work I did. I definitely learned a lesson there, but it put me off the idea of ghost-writing for a while.

I submitted a short story or two to contests and publications that offered a cash prize or payment if you were accepted, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that writing short stories for submission, especially if they don’t get accepted. Too much time and effort, for not enough guaranteed reward. If I write a good short story, I want some guarantee I’m going to get paid for it, and I certainly didn’t want to have to pay someone to publish it.

It’s about that time I got distracted by the Creative Writers group. It had only 32 members left, no admin at all. It occurred to me that I could test some of the things I’d learned about social media management and audience building, and also create the kind of supportive community I wanted to find. The group now has over seventeen thousand members.


I even created an opportunity for group members. I’ve always been a ‘learn by doing’ kind of person. I learn best when it’s a necessary means to accomplish a desired outcome. In hindsight the Monolith project was probably a little too ambitious, but that was kind of the idea. Set the bar high and see if I could pull it off. I didn’t, but I learned a lot along the way.

The idea was to create a series of large anthologies, containing well-written stories, all conforming to the same theme. There would be no charge to submit and we would review the stories as they were submitted. That way we wouldn’t have to try and deal with a huge pile all at once after the submission deadline, and the writers would get feedback right away instead of having to wait. This also gave them an opportunity to try and improve their submission and try again.

We ended up with a lot of great stories, and a lot that could have been good if the writers had been willing to improve them. The project became a logistical nightmare, even with help from other admins in the group, and so the project was abandoned. However, I decided to test self-publishing anyway with one of the short-stories I had written. It sold pretty well for a short story, and I’m currently writing a longer story, hopefully a novel, inspired by the short story. It’s called The Haunted Story.

Dead Letter cover

It’s taking longer to write than I wanted though. I enjoy writing stories, but they’re harder than blog articles. I have several work-in-progress story-lines that I will to turn into books. A few of the ideas have already been mentioned in this blog. I know I can manage my time better, and be able to spend more time and energy writing my stories, if I can write full-time. The night porter job is an inefficient use of my time and wastes my creativity.

I could replace the hotel job by securing enough clients to write an article a day, just like I used to do. I’m a good writer, as you can see from this blog and my published stories. I’m more than happy to negotiate, especially if I can gain something else besides money, like cover-art, editing, or marketing.

I can do blogging, and it comes easily to me, but I’d prefer to write a book with you. I know from the previous experience that I write better and faster when I’m working for someone, and it gives me something to look forward to each day. Unlike my current job. At this point I’d welcome any opportunity to write for a living really.

So, want to write a book with me? If you don’t have any ideas, I can help with that too. I’m aware that some people just want to see a book on the shelves with their name on the cover. I can arrange that. I can also go to the opposite extreme and help you polish up and revise a story that you’ve mostly written already (and that wouldn’t cost as much). It’d be much more fun to bounce ideas off each other and come up with a great story together, but I’m flexible.

Please email me: antonym.copeland@gmail.com or leave me a comment if you have any questions, advice for new freelancers, or a project for me. Whether you’re a fellow writer with too much on your plate, a website manager that needs more content, or just someone that wants their name on a book, I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great day 🙂


The Power Of Negative Thinking

I was beginning to worry about my writing. I’ve been doing a lot of talking about writing in my rapidly growing(“, he said smugly, “) Facebook group called ‘Creative Writers‘. I haven’t been doing a lot of creative writing myself though. I haven’t been able to delve into my stories lately, and it was beginning to worry me.

At first I tried telling myself little pep talks. ‘It’s okay, you’ve got the day off tomorrow, you can catch up then’ only to do nothing productive that day, except perhaps talking about writing online to other writers. The advice I’ve been giving seems to be popular. The Creative Writers group only had 32 members when I took over as admin, and now membership is up to 805!

As you can see I still have a tendency to default to looking on the bright side even when I’m trying to describe how ineffective positive thinking was! 🙂 Lately I’ve been getting too easily distracted and sidetracked. Again, my internal Mr Brightside is telling me that some of my ‘sidetracks’ are actually good ideas. Monolith, for example, has a lot of potential. As do the half a dozen or more new story ideas I’ve had (I may tell you about them in upcoming articles).

I came up with a new profile pic and banner combo for my author page. Like it?

My point was that I was beginning to feel depressed because I was spending too much time working at the hotel, sleeping (or laying awake waiting for my gf to get up), having tickle fights and talking about writing. I was even beginning to wonder if I would have to give up my girlfriend (whom I love) to find the time to write.

I was even trying to think positively about the prospect ‘You won’t be as happy, but you can use that misery to make your characters more believably tragic and pathetic’ I’d say to myself. Then I’d realise how crazy that sounded and was left with only was positive sounding resolution. ‘You got this. You can find a way to be happy and become a successful writer. You just have to try harder’.

I thought maybe that I should try to limit my writing time to when I can write uninterrupted. It didn’t take me long to figure out that there’s no such thing. Even if there’s nothing else happening I distract myself. It’s only today when I was talking about this with my girlfriend that it occurred to me that I could pay her more attention and submerse myself in the story I’m writing by talking to her about my ideas.

I seem to recall I used to do this, and she would listen intently as I told her about the part of the story I was stuck on. Most of the time I’d then come up with what happens next anyway without any input from her, then I’d start writing and she’d go back to her game. I think maybe it’s because she just listened and didn’t have to say much that I began to think she didn’t need to be bothered with my writing process. I thought maybe she wasn’t interested, but it turns out she’s happy to be my sounding board.

I also had this hair-brained idea of becoming an online live storyteller. Perhaps using Twitch.

Maybe I should try it with the stories I’m editing too. I know that you catch more mistakes when you read a story aloud. Maybe I should read Hermes925 from the beginning to her. See if we can catch any continuity errors and other mistakes. It could work! I wouldn’t have come to this conclusion if I hadn’t been prepared to explore my negativity, and think through the thoughts I didn’t want to have.

When I was living in America I didn’t think much of myself. My shitty opinion of myself drove me to read countless books on sales, marketing, entrepeneurship, coping with adhd, anxiety, depression, and other self-help books like “Think and Grow Rich” and “The Magic of Thinking BIG!” I haven’t had the motivation to do that since moving back to the UK. There’s still lots of unread self-improvement books on my Kindle, but I’m happier here.

Part of me wishes I was still so desperate to be proud of myself that I read anything and everything that could help me. On the positive side though, it worked. I gained the self-confidence I needed to improve my situation and make a better life for myself. Now’s not the time to rest though. I’m still a long way from becoming the literary success I want to be.

I have to remember that when I’m feeling low, it may not be just a random imbalance of chemicals. It may actually be an indicator that something is wrong, and worth exploring. If nothing else it will give me an insight into my feelings that would be invaluable. Both from a writing perspective, and just getting to understand myself better and know how to make myself happy. At best I may actually figure out a way to correct the cause of negative emotions, and actually improve my life.

I know that for some people Depression really is just an uncontrollable chemical imbalance that leaves you the victim of your moods. I’m not content with this diagnosis personally. I don’t like being the victim. It feels like willingly locking a pair of hobbles around your ankles and saying it’s because you can’t run.

I know I could make myself happier artificially with drugs, exercise, and positive thinking (sometimes I wonder if love should be counted on this list), but I’m much rather be happy for achieving my goals, and pay attention to my sadness to find out what my next goal should be. If it turns out I’m sad because I’m not writing enough, my goal is to make more time to write. If I’m sad because my desk it so cluttered I can’t find anything, I need to clear it.

I’m sad about my Grandma’s health too, but I don’t have any control over that. All I can do is keep working on me. If I somehow manage to become wealthy beyond my wildest dreams, receive a kind and generous offer from a wealthy patron, or I suddenly became a super-genius, maybe I could find a way to make her better. Maybe I can challenge the grim reaper to a game of Exploding Kittens and make him restore her and Grandad to full health and vigour (providing I win)?

Anyway, I need to get ready for my hotel job soon, so I have to wrap this up. My point was that bad moods have been misrepresented. When you’re upset, there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe we shouldn’t all be trying to avoid, cover-up, or chemically alter our negative emotions. Maybe we should be trying to figure out why we’re feeling sad, really, underneath all the bullshit you’ve told yourself. Really dig in until you find the answer that makes your mood lift.

If you do actually try this yourself, let me know how it goes. Even if you don’t and you think I’m wrong because depression is a chemical imbalance that can only be treated with prescription medication, I’d like to hear your opinion too, though I admit I will probably take you more seriously if you at least try to find out what your sadness might be really trying to tell you.

Maybe we could write a book on the subject?

If you want to help me find more time to write, and see articles on the story ideas I mentioned earlier, please become a paid subscriber. Either via my Patreon page, or by selecting one of the Paypal subscription choices below:

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Have a valuable day! 🙂


Instead of writing I’m watching Mr Robot. It got me thinking about something that has popped into my head before. We all have shit that we think makes us weird, makes us different, and we try to hide it to fit in.

The number of people I know now who have had terrible childhoods due to alcoholic, mentally ill or absent parents, and think that this is weird. I hear it so often I think that it’s probably a lot more normal than we’re taught to believe.

My own family is loving and supportive, and still together despite every obstacle and hardship they’ve faced. I admire them greatly, partly because it seems so rare. At least among the people I know. Despite the fact that a Mum and Dad working together to raise and support their children is supposed to be normal. In reality it seems to be odd, unusual, weird.

I like being weird. I used to worry that I had no right to be weird because I didn’t have a messed up childhood. So I tried to be normal. Go to college, fall in love, get married, get a career, a house, a car, have kids, make friends with other couples and climb the corporate ladder.

Me being all domestic

It was all wrong though, fake, dishonest. If we’d had children though I would have kept it up indefinitely. Worked jobs I hated just to make sure they had a roof over their heads, food in their bellies and a loving mother and father to look out for them.

I can’t have children though. I’m infertile. To be fair so was she. After we found that out it got harder to understand what it was all for. Humans are supposed to reproduce. Even though I reasoned that at least we weren’t condemning a new life to our particular combination of genetics, I still felt like I’d failed as a husband and a human being.

It still took a few years for the marriage to crumble into dust. During which I still tried to hold up the structure of a perfect life, with one pillar missing. The remaining pillars, and the two of us, cracking under the strain.

She found someone else shortly after we broke up. I have no idea if they’re still together, nor do I want to know. I’m not that person I was trying to be. I’ve embraced my weirdness. No more pretending. Though I admit I’ve toned it down a little for work.

Me now

I have no idea how my new coworkers would react to my black nails and eyeliner. The fact I like to eat raw bacon as a snack doesn’t need to come up. I loathe sports, but I love fantasy and sci-fi games.

I worry that I have little in common with people. I want to be able to relate to the customers and coworkers. I’m repelled by the thought of having to pretend I’m someone I’m not, but I like this job. I don’t want to lose it because I have no idea which football teams are playing, or because someone thinks I’m too weird.

I know I’m being over anxious. I got a food order wrong today, something I found out on day one I could get in big trouble for. The problem was resolved before it became an issue, but I can’t afford to make any mistakes.

Firing a perfect employee because he’s weird is prejudice. Firing the weird employee because he makes expensive mistakes is justified. If I was in their shoes, I’d be waiting for me to make another mistake. It’s not like I’d be hard to replace. Two more people handed in job applications today. Who knows how many more applied via email.

I feel a little better for expressing this. It’s overdramatic, but emotions often are. I don’t really expect to lose my job anytime soon, no more than I do in any job. There’s always a chance that the people you’re relying on will betray you, but that’s life.

Have a great day

New Beginnings

If you can’t see the video, or can’t play it right now, I’m just showing of my very pretty (for now) room in my Grandparents house in Dalton-in-Furness. We just arrived today, and I’m very excited about this next step in my life. This will include more writing, find a part-time job to help keep on top of things, and meeting new and interesting people that I can get interested in my website and my book.

To that end I also have the new business cards. They arrived the same day I did. They look awesome. If you take objection to the fact it says author, that’s okay. I still consider myself an author, a writer and a wordsmith. I would include poet, but I don’t particularly enjoy writing poetry. Regardless, I self-identify as an author and I will not be bullied into changing it just because I don’t fit certain people’s narrow definition. 😛 Here’s the card, it’s double sided:

I have a little desk that folds out. I have it set up right now, but I can put it away when I’m not using it so that it doesn’t take up space. It was still in boxes when I got here. The first thing I did, before I’d unpacked even, was to build my desk. I like it very much. Being able to fold it down out of the way should encourage me to put away my notes when I’m done with them instead of leaving them strewn across the desk.

You also get to see me reflected in the mirror. Don’t be too alarmed. I’m going to keep this article short as Grandad should be coming back with Fish & Chips soon, and after dinner I need to get myself ready. I’ve been told there’s a band playing at The Derby (a pub in Barrow) tonight, and I intend to be there. With my new business cards.

I look forward to comments, but bear in mind I’m entitled to a difference of opinion. If you want to change my mind, may I suggest a reasonable discussion between equals. Shoving your opinion down my throat and insisting I change is precisely the wrong way to go about it. 🙂

Have a great day.

Writing or dating?

I’m currently faced with a slight dilemma. I already know what the answer has to be, but nevertheless the decision is a tough one. For those who have read some of my older posts on the same theme, you may be sick of me bringing this up again. To be honest I wish I didn’t feel this way too. I’d much rather be just be able to concentrate on writing without having to torture myself with the idea of having a girlfriend.

I thought maybe I could get it out of my system. Chat to a few pretty girls, make a connection, perhaps even arrange a date. Then I could focus again. I’m beginning to think that will not be the case. I’ve updated my OkCupid account, started a MeetMe account, and I’m debating with myself over starting a Plenty Of Fish account also.

The first couple of days were soul crushing as I attempted to make contact with several girls, and got nothing back. Yesterday I got someone interested in chatting with me, but she’s literally miles away. Since neither of us have a car or a paying job right now, I’m not going to meet her anytime soon.

This recent surge of desire for female contact was inspired, in part by a couple of my former (who am I kidding?) crushes from the states getting back in touch with me. They are both wonderful women. Kind and beautiful, and hundreds of fucking miles away! When you find yourself craving the touch, the scent, the up close sight of a woman’s skin, a facebook message isn’t going to cut it!

To make matters worse, the house in Kidwelly still doesn’t have WiFi! We’re getting by with an unlimited mobile data plan from Three, and my phone’s hotspot turned on. However, it has an automatic parental lock. You can turn it off if you have a UK credit card, which I don’t, or you call them. I could just call them I suppose, but that requires me actually saying “Hey, could you let access adult websites please?” to a person, with my voice.

To be fair, online nudity isn’t helping much either. It’s treating some of the symptoms, but not curing the affliction. Quick side note. Yes it’s very weird that I can talk about looking at naked women online when I’m writing without it bothering me at all, but confessing the same thing via phone feels awkward and uncomfortable. Though, I don’t actually like talking on the phone at all if I can help it.

Another tangent. Why do phone calls sound like you’re on a phone? Microphones and speakers are capable of reproducing the human voice perfectly. Modern computers can store that information and transit the data with absolutely no loss of quality. So why do phone calls sound tinny and muffled instead? I honestly don’t get it.

Anyway. The reason why I’m writing about my struggles with my baser human instincts is because it’s all I can bloody well think about! I’d love to write a bit more of Hermes925, or write about the animated re-release of the lost Doctor Who episode “The Power of the Daleks”, but I can’t seem to focus on anything but the chase.

I have to get over it. I’m not going to find what I’m looking for, not without putting a lot more effort into it. What if I’m successful? If I find a girl that likes the same things I do, provides me with the outlet I’m seeking, actually makes me feel happy to be with and fills my thoughts with her smile and her perfume. When would I find the time to write?

I would certainly need to get a day job to help me pay for the dates and gifts and other romantic paraphernalia, and, if things go well, to help pay rent. Then I’d also have to do my fair share of the housework, spending time with her just cuddling and watching TV, making time for dating and intimacy, and sleep. The amount of time I’d have available for writing would diminish to almost nothing.

I have to stop this madness! Trying to be with someone would be pointless anyway. I can’t produce children, so my only legacy to this world after I’m gone will be my words. I know some people are content to leave nothing behind, leave no mark. But I  need to do something that clearly states “I was here! My life counted for something!” If I don’t, then what would be the point of being here at all?

So this is me, once more, trying to stick to the plan. Write everyday, don’t bother with the drama and heartache that inevitably accompanies relationships. Just get over it. Perhaps when I have at least one book published and a somewhat steady income, then I can split my attention. By then I’ll have more to offer anyway.

Hermes925 needs to get written!

Please add your comments, to tell me I’m being daft or support my decision. Either way feedback is welcome.

One more thing, if you’re even considering dating me, you should probably read this first!

Have a great day! 🙂


Developing a Trigger-Guard

A Facebook friend has her own blog. It’s called LiberalWoman101’s Blog. She writes well and is particularly fond of writing essays. She’s even thinking of going back to school so she can write more essays! Personally I loathe essays. I want to be able to express my own opinion without having to refer to the work of others to make it count.

She recently posted an article about “The Stigmatization of Mental Illness and Why It Needs to Stop” in which she explains why it should be okay for people with mental illness triggers to come forward and ask for their triggers to be respected. In other words to ask for a ‘trigger warning’ if anything that bothers them should come up.

She asks for a world in which we accommodate for mental illnesses more, and actively try and to make the world feel less hostile to those who suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and depression, and also from bipolar disorder, dissociative disorder, schizophrenia, etc. I certainly find the idea attractive, though I also find it unrealistic.

I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder and even hypo-manic depression. I know people close to me that are managing dyslexia, bipolar depression, anxiety and even schizoaffective disorder. I agree that people like myself may need to be handled a little differently, particularly when we’re young. The standard education system can be difficult when your brain is wired a little differently.

It would be helpful for educators to have a better understanding of mental illnesses and better ways to present the information to a variety of different brain types. However, many educators are also underpaid, overworked and underappreciated. Perhaps if we had special schools just for us with better funding, but this presents several new problems.

Who would pay for this? If the parents are expected to pay for it, then only those with wealthy parents could afford to send their mentally ill children to the specially designed school. It could be privately funded by a charitable organisation, which would require fund-raising events that would inevitably result in these young, easily triggered individuals on public display.

I know that’s not what Jessielle (the author of the article I’m referencing) intended either, an integrated system would be far more preferable. Sending people to specially designed educational programs only leads to segregation and further stigmatism. Which is my key point. Reducing us to labels and asking people to make accommodations for us just emphasizes the differences.

Now I realise that this opinion may be unpopular. It may sound to many that I’m suggesting we ‘toughen up’ or ‘just get over it’. To a certain extent, I am. The temptation to use your mental illness as an excuse to avoid responsibility is great. The desire to have someone look after us and tend to our delicate and sensitive natures can’t be denied. However,  I personally have no desire to live the rest of my life acting like a spoiled brat.

My brain is different. That doesn’t mean it’s wrong, or broken. It means I think differently. This is good. It can give me an advantage in many situations because I can think of solutions that a whole roomful of people can’t. My weirdness makes me powerful. Expecting people to be careful around me doesn’t make me feel powerful. It makes me feel weak, soft, and delicate.

Not to mention people all have their own problems. Expecting someone who is working every hour they can to pay their astronomical student loans and other debts, checking through masses of work handed in that clearly didn’t understand the assignment despite several attempts to explain it, to avoid saying things that may upset you is extremely insensitive. Have a little empathy!

The world is a harsh and unforgiving place. The sooner we accept that the stronger we will be. It’s only by facing challenges and finding a way to overcome them that we can really find out how tough we are. If we spend our whole lives hiding in our safe space from everything that upsets us, then we keep ourselves segregated. We reinforce the stigmatism.

If you want to walk around in a skirt, heavy boots, eyeliner and a beard (as I do) do so confidently. If people are weirded out about it, so what? It’s there problem not yours. If people say something offensive, they’re entitled to that opinion, and don’t let it break you or push you towards being someone or something you don’t want to be.

If a doctor tells you that you have anxiety or depression, or something multisyllabic and scary sounding, you don’t have to let it define you. You are more than your mental illness. Find out more about it, learn what superpowers it gives you, and be proud of who you are. People don’t need to add stress to their own lives by worrying about what triggers you. You are in control, and if anyone tells you otherwise it’s just because they fear your power or they have been taught that different is wrong and honestly don’t know any better.

Some of those that try to keep you from expressing yourself may have a mental illness or two of their own, and have been taught that they are victims of it. Show them they’re not. That they’re special, talented, and wonderful people. Being different is what makes us powerful. We don’t need to be taken care of. We can take care of ourselves.

That’s my opinion, and it’s served me well, after learning the hard way and deciding I’d had enough. If you have a different opinion, or think I’ve missed Jessielle’s point entirely, please feel free to comment below. I promise you won’t trigger me.

Have a great day 🙂