Hello again friends and fellow bloggers,
This is the second installment of my Behind the Author weekly series, where I find an inspirational blogger or author to pick their brain for good information. I do this because it satisfies my own personal curiosity and I can learn something from each author to help me in my journey towards becoming a better writer. But, I am not one to horde a good thing all to myself! So, I want to share these discussions with you to inspire you and to introduce you to some new blogs along the way.
Today’s Guest: Ashleyleia of MentalHealth@Home
I’ve been following Ashley for a while now on WordPress, almost from the very beginning of The Blog of the Wolf Boy. She is a blogger with close to 4,000 followers who specializes in Mental Health topics. A nurse by trade and an author of one book on mental health issues, which is soon to be two. Mental Health is a topic so close to her heart because she shares in the same struggles of many of her followers. So, if you have a moment and you enjoy this interview, please take a look at her blog and say hello. 🙂
– The Interview –
Mathew: Hey Ashley, I’ve been reading your content for quite some time now, and I enjoy that it’s a safe space for people struggling with their own issues. What prompted you to start this blog in the first place, and how long ago did you start it?
Ashleyleia: I started it in October 2017. I wasn’t working much because of my illness and had quite a bit of time on my hands, and the idea to start a blog popped into my mind. I decided to run with it, even though I didn’t know anything at all about blogging, and I’ve never looked back!
Mathew: You have a book out now too, Psych Meds Made Simple. What inspired you to write this? And could you tell us a little about it?
Ashleyleia: I was inspired by other bloggers who I saw publishing books. I decided to give it a try, but as I was writing it, I wasn’t really sure if I was going to publish it. Once I finished it, I decided hey, why the heck not. I chose to write about psychiatric medications because it was a good fit with my professional knowledge base, and also because there’s just so much misinformation out there in the world on this topic. To be honest, another factor was that it was easy to write. I still have all my notes from school and continuing education that I’ve done, so just by pulling those together in a cohesive way I had a substantial start on the book.
Mathew: Would you say this book is only relevant to the people who are medicated for a mental illness, or do you feel like it could be relevant to others?
Ashleyleia: I hope that it would also be relevant for people who are reluctant to take medications. Understanding how medications work in the body, in both good and bad ways, puts people in a better position to make informed choices about their treatment, whether or not that includes medication. It could also be helpful to loved ones whose family member is taking medication, so that they can get a better understanding.
Mathew: One thing that I love about your blog is your strong sense of community. You’re a very active member of the WordPress community and you also help to introduce and establish new bloggers. Is that the nurse in you looking to nurture and take care of others? And do you think that’s part of the reason that your blog is so successful?
Ashleyleia: I don’t think it’s coming from a place of care-taking. I’m not a competitive person by nature, and I knew when I started blogging that it would be easy to get sucked into a numbers game. I wanted to avoid that, and focusing on community connection has been helpful in keeping me on track with the stuff that actually matters rather than getting too distracted by stats and other unimportant things. Supporting each other, and sharing what works and doesn’t work, ends up making all of us stronger.
Mathew: You also review books, and it’s a long list of books you’ve reviewed! Personally, I have trouble reading more then a few books a year and I would love to read more. What advice would you give me?
Ashleyleia: I read more now than I have in a long time. Having the structure of doing a weekly book review helps to keep me motivated. When I’m reading a book to review, I take notes, which actually helps me to get a lot more out of the book than I would otherwise. I’ve pretty much stopped reading fiction entirely, because my concentration isn’t great and I have a hard time following the story-lines. I like non-fiction that’s broken down into small chunks, so it’s workable if I only read for a few minutes at a time.
Mathew: Last question! I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and I was wondering if maybe you would like to speak a little bit about the next book that you’re working on? Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis.
Ashleyleia: It’s similar to my first book, in that a big goal is to shed light on a topic that tends to be quite misunderstood. A diagnosis isn’t a random label that gets slapped on someone. There are specific diagnostic criteria, and reading through the criteria as they appear on Wikipedia and self-diagnosing really doesn’t work. There are plenty of people that bash the DSM for various reasons, but it’s the best we’ve got, and this book explains the symptom criteria in plain language. What’s most exciting for me is that a number of contributors are writing first-hand accounts of their illness experience, and this will be matched up with the diagnostic criteria to give a more multi-dimensional view of the reality of the illness.
Thanks again to Ashleyleia for participating in this week’s Behind the Author.
If you haven’t checked her blog out already, you can find her blog here.
Personally, there have been a few things which I have taken from this interview. When I first began with my blog and even now, I have been guilty of getting too wrapped up in the stats and numbers, myself. So, it’s refreshing to hear that what’s most important to Ashley, is to write what you are passionate about and to share with your community. I believe that’s great advice!
Also, I have been guilty before of trying to self-diagnose on the internet which made me chuckle a little in response to Ashley’s description of her second book. Anxious minds are great at finding more than just the real issues! It sounds like a great idea for a book, and once again, she’s doing what she does best and getting others involved.
I wish Ashley all of the best with the future of her blog, and as a published author!
There are already more interviews in the works. So stay tuned for next week’s Behind the Author, which I am aiming to post every Tuesday. 🙂