Hey, everyone! For those who don’t know me, my name is Anna and I’ve been the blog manager for Vent Over Tea for the past year (give or take two months).
It’s been a lot of fun working with the VoT team and all the wonderful volunteers who contribute to our blog. But as summer comes to a close, I’ve decided to say goodbye and go to graduate school. Though I’ll be leaving the team, I won’t forget all the things I’ve learned or the fundamental message behind Vent Over Tea - and I hope to carry it with me wherever I go next.
Becoming a blog contributor
Back in the summer of 2018, I was browsing through social media when I came across an intriguing “call for blog contributors.” The post asked for someone who’d be interested in writing on the topics of mental health, healing, and human connection. “Hey, wait a minute,” I thought to myself. “Those are all the things I’m interested in!”
As a literature student, I’d always been curious about blogging; I just didn’t quite have the courage to start my own blog. Suddenly, I’d been provided with this golden opportunity to write about things that mattered to me, all for the sake of a platform dedicated to raising awareness about mental health.
I'd always been curious about blogging; Vent Over Tea gave me the chance to try it out.
My first blog was about my experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Writing it was cathartic in an unprecedented, but very welcome way. I’d always been open about my mental illness, but there’s a difference between ranting about your experiences to your friends and actually writing out your journey. It felt like everything had been wrapped up and tied up with a neat little bow.
Of course, it didn’t mean I was done struggling for good: the battle to find peace with one’s mind never really ends. But being able to read how far I’d come filled me with a whole new sense of accomplishment.
Fast forward several months: I’d written a few more blogs for Vent Over Tea, and though it was exciting to share my work, part of me felt like something was missing. It wasn’t enough to share my experience and hope it would reach others; I wanted to help others share their own experiences, too. When VoT issued a job posting for the position of blog manager, I jumped at the chance to do more.
Sharing others’ stories
The first few months of managing the Vent Over Tea blog were exhilarating. I still wrote articles from time to time, but the best part of the job by far was getting the chance to read other people’s work. People from all over the world and all sorts of backgrounds came to VoT to share their struggles, wisdom, and/or advice.
Initially, it felt pretty scary to know that they’d put some of their most personal stories into my hands: the thought definitely humbled me, and I did my best to handle them with care.
Over time, I became used to my new role. And slowly, a familiar feeling crept up on me: the gnawing thought that I could be doing more. That I should be doing more. Was it really enough to post one blog a week? Would that end the stigma around mental illness?
Everyone has experienced this feeling at some point - the fear that whatever you’re doing, it’s not enough. This fear can motivate us to seize new opportunities. However, it’s dangerous to get stuck in this feeling: if you let it overwhelm you, you run the risk of forgetting what you’ve already accomplished.
To my adult self, most of what I did as Vent Over Tea’s blog manager felt mundane. But I try to remember how different it would’ve felt to my teenage self - my thirteen-year old self who thought she was going mad and would have to spend the rest of her life in an asylum. I had her in mind when I wrote my first blog for VoT. I know that for her, it would’ve made a world of difference to hear something as simple as “it’s okay to need help” or “you’re having a panic attack and it sucks, but you’re safe.”
I didn’t get to hear those reassuring words when I first started struggling. But thanks to ressources like Vent Over Tea, more and more people will receive the acceptance and help they deserve. I’ll always be grateful to have been a part of this endeavour, no matter how small.