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My name is Alison, but I often get called Ali. I live in regional Western Australia with my husband and two little boys, we also share our home with two cats and several budgies. I am a stay at home Mum and enjoy reading, writing (I have written a novel which I hope to one day publish), art, a bit of photography here and there, and holiday adventures.
I write with my cartoon counterpart Jessie. You might see her featured along the way. She likes to pop in when she can – sometimes appearing on The Nut Factory’s Facebook page and Twitter account. She’s also a mum to a couple of cartoon little people. She likes cats, rainy days and watermelon.
Below is “Neptune” having a bath in a glass of water. She was hand raised from sixteen days old and is very tame. Also pictured is “Flea” climbing the Christmas tree when he was just a small kitten. He is much bigger now and full of mischief.
What’s this blog about?
There is a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness and this needs to end. Stigma stops people reaching out and getting the help they need and deserve. The only way I can see an end is if people start talking about it, start being open and honest and sharing their stories and experiences. I started this blog to do exactly that.
I’m using this blog to talk about my personal experiences with mental illness, recovery and the occasional relapse. I find writing to be very therapeutic as a way to express my thoughts and feelings, especially when I have trouble verbalising what is going on my head. I am not writing this for sympathy.
For some family and friends this will be the first time they are hearing these stories. I do have some fear in sharing some of these things, but I’m hoping the best will come from it. After all, that’s exactly what stigma does. It creates fear. It stops people sharing their stories. It causes other people to become fearful of something they don’t understand. This is what I’d like to see come to an end. I want others to know they are not alone even though mental illness can feel like the loneliest place in the world. I want people to feel brave enough to share their stories too.
I was first diagnosed with depression at seventeen years old though it had likely been going on longer than that. I am also diagnosed with general anxiety, social anxiety and am a recovered borderline (which means I was once diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder but have recovered enough to no longer meet the criteria for this diagnosis). I have also struggled on and off with self-harm since I was sixteen years old.
My goal is to help break down the stigma of mental illness one story at a time.
Some of my stories may be triggering and so I have included a “Where To Get Help” section for those who may need it or are experiencing a crisis.
So what’s with the name?
The Nut Factory started as a bit of a joke about myself. If you didn’t laugh you’d cry right? I’ve done more than enough crying in my lifetime so why not have a bit of humour. While I realise the title “The Nut Factory” can sound stigmatising that is not how it’s meant.
Another way to look at it is this…
In order to get a nut you have to break down the hard outer shell to get to the inside; the good part. In the same way I hope to break down stigma of mental health to get to the good part of human nature. Let’s take away the shell and be open about mental illness. Let’s break down the fear and make it normal and OK for people to talk about their struggles. Let’s remove the shame and work together to help each other without judgement.