My Socially Awkward Life

Why I Took An Insta Break

Rachel From Raspberry Flavoured Windows

Do you ever feel that when the going got tough that well, the tough bit of you got up and f@cked off? So many times in my life I have been told I am strong. Even by complete strangers. How do you do it, they ask. The truth is I am not. I’m just a regular Joe, or in this case should it be a Joanna? It just so happens that I very good at looking outwardly strong. Inside can sometimes be a completely different matter. In my head I’m still the spotty, slightly chubby, flat chested 13 year old with poor self esteem and hair that no matter how much I wash it seems to be permanently greasy. And this is deep down the beginnings of why I took an Insta break.

 

Firstly may I apologise for the diatribe that you are about to read. And secondly, good luck and huge congratulations if you make it to the end.

 

I’m not sure if I’m an optimistic pessimist or a pessimistic optimist. The truth is I wake up every morning full of the joys of spring and I say to myself, this is a new day, it’s our day. And I believe it. No, not because I read ‘The Secret’, but because that was how I was brought up. I try to instil the same ethos with my boys. To see every day full of new opportunities. And some days it is a good day. But more often than not it’s hard. Is it wrong to therefore build a shield? Because the strength that others see is just that. It’s a coping mechanism. A persona. A way to cope with what being an autism mum throws at us every day.

 

A couple of months ago though I lost the ability to maintain outwardly look like I was coping. I’m not sure when it started to unravel, possibly when we lost our business. But since Christmas a little piece of me seemed to vanish on a daily basis. I became so afraid of heights. So much so that I couldn’t go on an escalator. Then I became afraid to ride my horse. Why would my brain do this to me? Then driving became an issue. Then leaving then house. Closely followed by being unable to speak to anyone via text or on the phone. In the end I was in a permanent state of panic. I woke in the morning with a sense of impending doom and went to bed with the same feeling. I was a shadow of my usual self.

 

Add into the mix that I am going through the menopause and well I actually thought I was going mad. Raging hormones are bad but having none at all for me is even worse! They say some women are lucky and don’t get any symptoms. Well I’m not so lucky. The menopause sucks! Waking up covered in sweat 10 times a night is not fun. And I think the sleep deprivation added to my changing hormones and more than a little stressful lifestyle all added to my mental state. There is a reason sleep deprivation is used by the army for interrogation purposes. You feel as though you are losing your mind!

 

So I made that all important call to my GP. And do you know what? They were wonderful. And after four different kinds of medication I found one that works for me. You see I can’t have HRT but there are lots of other medications that have the side effect of stopping the sweats. And like me not all may work for you, in fact one I though was working stated giving me the most horrific nightmares. But I didn’t give up and now I’m finally getting back to me again.

 

I have been pondering for quite a while as to whether to write about this. Firstly because opening up about my mental health is a hard thing to do especially when I’m known by all as the strong one. But then I thought, actually, this is the strong thing to do. If only one person reads this and makes that call to the GP then I’ve helped in some small way. And secondly because what I want to now chat to you about is slightly more contentious. It’s the reason why I took an Insta break.

 

A few weeks ago I received an email from a company who said I was inconsistent on Instagram. I was hurt by their lack of tact and how harshly they had judged someone they had never met. This came after two people, one I know and one I’ve never met before told me I should never have to explain myself to anyone. And after really thinking hard, and taking this in, I realised they were right. This may be a bit of an oxymoron as technically I am explaining myself but I’m doing it partly for me. I find it’s helping me to understand the last few months of my life.

 

Now, I’m not sure this world of companies judging us is actually doing any good. I don’t have to post everyday if I don’t want to. And I certainly don’t have to explain why I haven’t posted for a while. Especially when I’m feeling mentally fragile anyway. My world is topsy turvy enough without that added pressure of explaining my life to a complete stranger. My already wavering confidence plummeted to an all time low.

 

This did get me thinking though! What exactly are these companies looking for when they set out to create an ‘influencer’ campaign? Is the size of the account all that matters? Do they care about the engagement levels? It seems to me that the recent rise of that word, I shall say it again, ‘influencer’ has both good and bad connotations from both sides. There seems to be an increasing lack of integrity. Companies approaching accounts that do not match their brand image. And influencers doing the same. I mean there’s eclectic homes and then there seems to be ones full of free sh*t with no regard to their own personal style. I’m bored of seeing the same things over and over again!

 

In all honesty I’m actually starting to find it all a little distasteful. I came back on Instagram (after we lost our business) to catch up with friends and share my passion for decorating, DIY and interiors in general. I don’t mind an #Ad at all. But I do want it to be in line with the account I follow. And that is my choice I know. It’s up to me, just like it’s up to you as to who I do and do not follow. I could just unfollow them right? But the thing is I followed them at first because I liked them but it seems people change. I started to ask myself do I really know them? Or did I just know the person they are projecting?

 

It’s big business being an influencer and with the arrival of personal branding people can more or less pretend to be whoever they want to be! With my low mood I started to find it increasingly difficult to decide who is genuine and who isn’t. Lets think about it. We are all influenced everyday by people we know. A friend recommending a holiday destination. A relative recommending a book etc.  Even someone you’ve never met before at the supermarket might recommend you a new brand of coffee after watching you pondering over the huge array available. And you think, well I’ll give it a go. You’ve never met them and yet you trust what they are telling you.

 

Now think how you would feel if this person was paid to stand in the isle all day recommending that particular brand of coffee. Would we be quite so trusting when we know they are working for the brand? Would we question if they really did love it? Are they being genuine? How about if you saw them every week? Would you then start to listen to them? Would you start to think I know this person now? Well this is what I started to ask myself about Instagram. And I just became more and more unsure.

 

And there’s the rub! Can we retain integrity and still be paid for work? Blogging is time consuming and believe it or not can be costly too. It’s wonderful to get recognition for hard work but at what point does a blog or an influencer go from feeling like a friend to feeling like an over bearing mother? And at what point do they lose their authenticity? More to the point why are huge brands supporting this behaviour? It makes a mockery of them as much as the influencers they work with. You see the same brands over and over again. I actually make a point of never purchasing from these particular companies. It’s put me off them.

 

So I took a moment to say, do I really know the people I’m following? Or is it the persona they project that attracts me to them? Worse than that, did I follow them just because everyone else does? I started looking at comments on blogs and listening to the behind the scenes gossip, I wish I hadn’t. I began to realise that any negative comments on some larger accounts feeds and blogs get deleted. The accounts are picking and choosing what they want us to see. And some of these comments are reasoned and fair. They’re not coming from key board warriors. Just regular Joe’s like me and you having an opinion (which we are all entitled to).

 

Suddenly I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be part of Instagram any longer. And yes, I know I can just unfollow people and find new accounts to follow but that leads me to my next few points. Something has gone so sorely gone wrong. There are so many blogs and accounts out there that have retained their integrity. Many have been in the industry for years. There was no Instagram when they started out. They didn’t one day become suddenly famous, they have stayed true to themselves because they worked hard to get where they are. An algorithm didn’t suddenly work in their favour and propel them skywards.  It never feels as though these accounts are hustling you. You know when they say something is great, it really is. They’ve grown through hard work and know their followers value their honesty.

 

This world of the so called social influencer is going bonkers! Instagram now feels to me to be all about the ego. Worse than that I felt that by being part of the community I was endorsing this too. I have nothing against a collaboration, by definition it means .’the action of working with someone to produce something’. But what exactly? Where are the ethics? When a company approaches me the first thing I do is research them. Their ethos has to fit with mine. In truth, I feel we’ve become a community of lemmings, me included. Blindly following and never questioning. The Instagram community is not monitored. And just recently it feels as though it’s getting out of hand. A little too big for its boots and I’m wasn’t sure I wanted to hang around in it any more.

 

Having a break from Instagram has been in truth, wonderful. I don’t have a huge account. And this isn’t about me being a sore loser. In life I very much believe you get back what you put in. It’s the same when it comes to Instagram. I am not a prolific poster, nor will I ever be. It was never about the numbers for me. It was always about meeting and chatting with people. And my Blog. I spend an awful lot of time at home with my boys. Without my Blog I would have nothing to do. And without Instagram my world is insular. It stops and starts pretty much with the front door. So half way through my break I find myself in no man’s land. I want the interaction, the sense of community and comradely again.

 

So now I am a blogger. And it’s something I’m proud of doing and take very seriously. I’m not setting the internet on fire by any means but I am doing something I love. I not only love the writing but the technical aspects too. I love SEO work, optimising the blog and researching how to make it better and better. It keeps my brain active. My brain is a funny old thing. It needs to be kept busy or it turns on me. I take this blogging thing very seriously too. I want to know I’m working with companies that like me are championing the slow movement. And many feel like they are just handing out free things left right and centre without regard to the impact that has on our environment.

 

It’s wonderful having my own little spot on the World Wide Web again. I still miss the 15 years I spent there as a brand. Like many start ups all we had was a name and an idea. A belief that we would succeed and bucket loads of determination. I taught myself everything from scratch. Literally. And part of my job description (besides being the tea lady) was running our social media for most of that time too. I have met and worked with some truly lovely people over the years. And this new wave of influencer just doesn’t feel quite the same.

 

As a brand first and foremost comes integrity. We put our whole lives into it investing everything in what we are doing. Your brand is everything, your ethos, tone of voice, style, colours. It is designed to appeal to your potential customer. And so when we start talking about personal branding I’m wary. It infers a person is creating a persona with the one goal in mind. And the cynic in me feels like that one goal is of gaining followers, in turn to work with brands.

 

Instagram feels full of people chasing numbers. I mean look what happens when some Instagram accounts finally reach the magic 10,0000 followers? It can’t only me that see’s a personality change. And that upsets me. You think you knew a person and then they change. So which person is the real one? The one before or the one after the magic number? But that’s the thing, no one prepares them to hit the limelight. They haven’t had years of experience honing their skills. I don’t blame them for changing. But I do question my own instincts as to who to trust and follow now.

 

Having been a brand myself and approaching social media from that perspective, there is a distinct difference watching the personalities of individual accounts change as they see themselves growing. You will not see a brand suddenly change, they remain consistent. A brand will still talk to you. They will still engage, OK maybe not the big ones. But that’s because they have from the first moment carefully crafted their brand. They designed it to appeal to a certain group of people. But now people themselves seem to be doing this too. Though every so often they drop the veil so to speak.

 

Instagram now feels like a giant social ladder with people clambering over one another to hit the top spot. I wonder if they even remember the smaller accounts they used to chat with. Or whether some of you like me may have been dropped like a hot stone? One minute you think you have a friend and the next they’ve vanished leaving you wondering what you did to upset them. I’m not sure what the answer is but I do feel this deserves discussion. I know it’s not just me that’s finding it increasingly distasteful.

 

Like I said initially I have really spent a great deal of time debating whether or not to publish this. I’ve even sent it to other bloggers to ask their opinion. And there we go back full circle, I went to the people I trust. I’ve followed them for years and trust that they will tell me the truth. I don’t have to explain myself to anyone I know that, but that’s not me. I want people to know the real me, and the real me cares about what people think of me (I know I shouldn’t). And that is why I will always retain my integrity and also the reason that I hit publish.

 

When I came back on Instagram a couple of years ago it was because I missed chatting to some of the wonderful people I met as a brand. Those people welcomed me back with open arms. And supported me during a really difficult time. There are still some absolutely wonderful accounts out there. It’s just that well this time around it feels different. Not as light hearted, more passive aggressive if you like. The personality seems to have vanished. I’m not sure what the answer is but I am pretty certain that change is on the wind. Savvier brands are I think making tentative steps to get around the whole influencer thing for starters.

 

Have you recently had a message pop up from a brand saying, hey there, reply with this hashtag and we’ll use you pic and make you Insta famous, T&C’s can be found here? They are relying on follower hungry people to jump on the band wagon. Many of the companies then list how they will use you photos if you follow the link. You’ll find out that by using the hashtag you have agreed that your pictures will be theirs to use in perpetuity. Basically they are licencing your images. But they are not paying you for them. Nor or they gifting you an item. They are just dangling the carrot that you might possibly get more followers and your own chance of Insta fame.

 

Who knows what Instagram will look like in the future. Maybe a new platform will come along and wipe it out. Just like Instagram did to Facebook. One thing I do know though is that it appears we are on the whole not great at self governing. And it would be great to regain some integrity. I absolutely believe in the freedom of speech. But is this why we were given it? To use it so unwisely? It’s all becoming a bit too PC. A bit bland. Plastic even! It feels as though accounts are becoming what they think a brand wants to see rather than being themselves. But that’s missing the point. The reason I personally followed them in the first place was because there was something about them that I liked. That made them different.

 

Now these are only my thoughts, you may or may not agree with me. But I have to be true to myself. Just as you are to yourselves. If we all thought the same things this would be a very boring old world wouldn’t it? So, first and foremost I am me. I will always be me. It’s my chance in life to be me. And after 15 years of being a brand it’s refreshing I can tell you. To be using my own voice and not that of our company. And for this reason along with missing my (I hope) true friends I will be sticking with Instagram (for now). Eagerly awaiting change and hoping it will come. Watching and waiting to see what direction it will take and how that will have an effect on influencers and brands alike.

 

So I’ll leave you with my parting thought. As I mentioned earlier we are all influencers everyday of our lives. We influence what our family will eat, where a friend goes on holiday, what they wear, where to eat out. The list goes on and on. There is nothing wrong with scaling this up. Or receiving a free gift or payment for that matter. A lot of time and energy goes into writing about Brands and shooting pictures so why shouldn’t someone receive remuneration of some sort. I’ve found many a brand I love that I would never have found if it wasn’t for Bloggers and Influencers. When it works, it’s the best.

 

So let’s keep it that way. Let’s bring integrity and personality back to Instagram. I’m not sure how we do it (though occasional use of the word ‘no’ might help) but we could at least give it a try. Let’s banish the bland! Oh, and let’s be be honest too. Let’s talk about our not so great experiences or products too. After all you’d tell a friend if something was crap wouldn’t you? In reality Instagram is a giant version of word of mouth, and the brands know that is worth far more than advertising any day. Let’s take back control of our own actions. Shape a new future. and above all let’s have some fun again.

 

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35 Comments

  • Reply Maz June 19, 2019 at 8:04 am

    Great post Rachel! Truthful and from the heart. I’m sure it echos how a lot of people are feeling. Maz x

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 19, 2019 at 8:07 am

      Thank you Maz, I was so worried about publishing it but I’m so happy that I did. Sometimes we have to do something however hard it is to be true to ourselves. x

    • Reply Tracey June 19, 2019 at 9:15 am

      Love this post.
      I’ve been blogging 8 years, writing is my passion. I’m on Instagram and I’ve got 13k followers which has taken me 6 years to achieve. I see people who only started last year on 20k … not sure how they do it ?!
      I’ve always tried to keep my authenticity and prude myself on my honest reviews.
      I do see a lot of ‘influencers ‘ advertising one thing one week [say a cream] and the week after another one that they can’t live without. I’m not surprised people are losing faith.
      Totally agree that Instagram is becoming bland but like with most things I’m not sure what we can do to change it now …
      Tracey xx

      • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 8:02 am

        I love that you pride yourself on your reviews, I’ve just read one of them and you sound as though you are chatting with a friend and are as you say very honest. It’s a breath of fresh air. I’m not sure about how we can change it either. But I hope that by talking about it openly we might make the first tentative step. x

  • Reply Jo Griffiths June 19, 2019 at 8:39 am

    A lovely honest post and a true reflection of how this platform really contributes to our lives both positively and negatively.

    Just a small note ……. after many years trying to manage symptoms of the menopause myself , happy to share with you directly what worked for me : )))

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 19, 2019 at 8:44 am

      Thank you, and yes please to hearing what helped you with your menopause. I think I have mine sorted (for) now but I would like to write a blog piece specifically about it. Not much is said about the menopause and yet it a huge portion of a woman’s life. It would be lovely to share other people’s experiences of it as well as my own, if that’s OK with you. The one thing I have realised is that there is not a one size fits all approach to dealing with the symptoms. And very little out there on alternative ways to treat it.

  • Reply Pauline June 19, 2019 at 8:45 am

    An interesting and very well written post. I came on Instagram for ideas but then found a community that i could interact with, but then after a while some never spoke and you have said what i thought, what have i done to upset them when they have been so chatty now its like i don’t exist. So i just tend to speak to the people who do interact. A few weeks ago i was feeling very low in mood and there was only 4 people who i could tell on here and they were all amazing. Im happy with how my account is going, its small but a lot of the time it is a happy place. Xxx

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 19, 2019 at 8:54 am

      I’ve had the same. I disappeared from Instagram and only 6 people messaged to ask if I was OK. Though to a point I think that is partly Instagram’s fault. We no longer get to see peoples feeds. And we all follow so many people too. And then every so often you think gosh I haven’t seen so and so for a while. Toddle off to find them and realises they’ve been posting everyday but you haven’t been shown them. I tried turning notifications on too, that didn’t work as once I open my phone they disappear. I am always only on the end of a DM lovely, well when I’m on Instagram that is, or an email away if I’m not. Never feel alone, it’s the worst feeling in the world. Sending you a huge hug x

  • Reply Maxine June 19, 2019 at 9:21 am

    This is a brilliantly written, honest blog post! Everyone should read it! Instagram is definitely a “double edged sword” for sure. I have only been involved for about 9 months and am a very, very small account. I came on through my interest in all things interiors and a magazine feature on my home. I guess I was looking for some “outside the home validation” since I am a stay at home Mum who often gets pretty sick of cleaning toilets and wondering what to cook for tea!!!

    I am also totally menopausal and have in fact suffered like you in the most horrendous way… antidepressants, HRT, sweats, panic attacks and unknown reasons to feel miserable when life is actually great! Hormones eh? Who knew???? I am very glad you have found your own solution and I too have for now, which is brilliant for me and my family!!!

    Insta has made, me happy, sad and insecure at times too – all this often within a matter of a few hours!!! Why don’t people follow me… they like my stuff but that’s it, it’s not a follow? Why have I lost followers – what have I done? Why don’t I see particular accounts anymore? I have also been obsessed with growing numbers… especially when it doesn’t happen – the harder you try the worse it affects you!

    Anyway, what you have written is amazing… I would like to give you a hug! You are truly not alone in your thoughts and experiences on this platform. I send you my very best wishes and just carry on being you!

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 8:10 am

      Thank you Maxine, firstly for leaving a comment and secondly for being so open and honest. I know this sounds a cliche but forget about the numbers, honestly they won’t bring you any happiness. It doesn’t matter if you have 50 or 50,000 followers. A number chaser will never be happy because they will always want more. And the more followers you get the harder it is to talk to the people you used to love chatting with too. My break really put the whole thing in perspective for me, hence the photograph of me yesterday. It was a picture I liked. I started out initially with the idea of a visual diary after losing our business, a way to hopefully see us moving forwards. And I’m happy now to be back in that place. Am I brave enough to unfollow accounts yet? Sadly no, but I have muted a few and my feed feels much better for it. Oh, and please never feel down or alone, I’m only ever a DM away or an email away if you need a chat. x

  • Reply Leonie Knight June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

    What a refreshing read! I feel exactly the same of late. Sorry you’ve had such a difficult time lately but glad to see you back x

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 8:11 am

      Thank you for taking the time to read the post, I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed it. I’m very glad to be back and feeling much more myself again. x

  • Reply Karolina Barnes June 19, 2019 at 9:39 am

    You know I’ve been sceptical about social media for a long time. For all those reasons and observations you made, I decided to do the opposite and don’t spend much time on it. It seems that we are in an environment where popularity and ego wins over integrity and intelligence. I was invited on a panel discussion at a business event recently where I said that social media and Instagram shouldn’t be the primary focus of a small business. It’s too late. Instead, it should be integrated into an overall communication strategy and making the customer the primary focus. If necessary, put energy into improving your product and service, not deleting negative feedback and comments. And yes, sitting next to social media experts, I was the odd one out. Anyway, one of the biggest problems I see is that brands are shortsighted. You can also see this on Instagram where actually some of the loyalty brands, in interiors in particular, which are built over decades and through reputation, don’t have big following, unless they are trend-led, VC backed or “popular”, but that’s not that many! I don’t know what the solution is but Instagram will be changing soon anyway. I predict similar faith as FB, especially now when we, as consumers, are being turned off and desensitised by ads and sponsored posts, which as you said create distrust. Hence, social media in general will be seriously disrupted. And as you know well, disruption is great for innovation but it can also kill short-term successes. I cannot wait!! Kxx

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 8:31 am

      AH, Karolina as always you have raised several valid points. You are so right, it should be all about balance when it comes to Brands. Having been a small brand, like you, it’s hard not to get sucked into over focusing on social media. But just as you say, although it should be used, it shouldn’t be a primary focus. It should be integrated into an over all strategy. Social Media is time consuming but customers visiting a website for the first time tend expect you to be on all the platforms. They will go and check them out to get a feel of the company. Whilst a website is great for selling, social media is good for showing off your personality, ethos and values and not be about selling. The two should work synergisticly together. I have watched an interior VC company grow when it was first launched. They shared our warehousing. It was chaotic and ruthless behind the scenes, the sort of company I would never but from. I suppose like you I have a unique perspective on this having been both sides of the fence. I think it will become harder and harder for brands to be seen on Instagram, this is perhaps why those ”popular” brands are gifting left right and centre. I hope they too have a think about their strategy. I’m not sure what the answer is either, we will just have to wait and see. I just hope it gets better and not worse. After all our economy relies on these businesses to do well if they pay taxes here. I for one though would like to help the smaller ones with great ideas that are just not getting enough of the limelight. I think Instagram should have different levels of business accounts. The big brands should pay more than smaller ones to give them a leg up. Ah, but that I fear is wishful thinking. I think smaller brands have also forgotten the strength of blogs, not only do they get coverage but essential back links too which are getting harder and harder to acquire. As part of an overall SEO strategy back links are essential to their rankings. x

  • Reply Penny Richings June 19, 2019 at 10:16 am

    This is the best blog I have read this year! Some accounts I have watched, followed and enjoyed over the years are now just offering up paid content that is so boring! Many so blatantly drop into a story something they are ‘researching’ and a couple of days later said product is being offered as an ad. I have no issue with someone being paid for work but many seem to have just sold out?. As I’m writing this the washing machine is on, washing bedding yet again from another night of menopausal sweats and nightmares and that is on HRT! A blog on menopause would be great we are all in prepared for its myriad of symptoms for me acute anxiety which I still really struggle with. I personally am very please to see you back on here x

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 8:41 am

      Thank you Penny for taking the time to leave a comment. I totally hear what you are saying. Some accounts just no longer sound genuine. But equally we have to question the brands. It’s one thing to say you’re researching and another that the brand then offers the product. I one hundred percent am going to write a piece on the menopause. Like you say, I just wasn’t prepared for it. And so many of us are suffering with anxiety because of it. I genuinely thought I was loosing my marbles. I had dreadful nightmares too, so bad I would get up rather than go back to sleep. I think the best way is to ask everyone about their experiences and any tips they might have. It seems a lot of symptoms are common but others are specific to the person. For me Citilapram has treated both the sweats, the nightmares and the anxiety too. I don’t understand why GP’s are not more aware of the other options that are now out there. If they were going through what we are I bet they would start researching pronto! I hope you find something that will help you. I will get started on a blog post and let’s see if we can help each other through our experiences. x

  • Reply Kate Skitt June 19, 2019 at 11:30 am

    I have just discovered you via Deborahvos and I’m glad I did. I appreciate your honesty and completely agree re your Instagram issues. I have become very jaded about Instagram after using it as a new business. It’s changed just in the last 6 months. It’s all become very samey and seeing the same accounts posting about yet another PR event with the same photos as each other over and over is just dull.
    As a new brand I would love to hear more about your business. Have you any blog posts about it? Would love the benefit of your experience if you’re happy to share
    Kate x

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 8:45 am

      Hi Kate, thank you for taking the time to pop on over from Deborah who I have yet to meet and we are only an hour or so away from each other. I must get myself organised. I’ve just had a look at your Etsy shop and you have some wonderful designs. I haven’t written much about our business. In fact we are still in administration after almost two years and in all honesty it still feels hard to talk about. There were aspects of it that I still miss every day. Some not so much and glad to be rid of. If you would like to pop me over an email with any questions you might have I’m happy to answer. It’s hard starting a business but with determination and belief in yourself you can do it. x

  • Reply Caz June 19, 2019 at 1:46 pm

    Wow! Rachael! I just read your blog about Instagram and influencers and I immediately gave you a standing ovation. I follow lots of interior accounts and I completely agree with what you are saying. I used to enjoy them but now it seems like every post is an #AD or sponsored. I relied on Instagram for inspiration in my own home (but on a budget) as I had health issues, was forced to leave work and couldn’t afford glossy interior magazines. It’s quite sad really because I feel like I’m getting products left, right and center, shoved down my throat. I noticed when it first started to happen I would put pressure on myself to save for this item the person was advertising because I thought I needed it. (The power of advertising!) But I initially followed these accounts because they had their own style, character and personality. I purposely don’t “like” posts that are sponsored as it irritates me that every 3rd post on the main part of Instagram is a company advert anyway. It’s just gotten so far away from the platform it used to be, it’s all sell sell sell. I just want to appreciate good interiors while hoping the person running the account feels they don’t have to whore themselves out. Because that’s basically what it is!

    Anyway(waffling) I’m really sorry to read you are going through such a tough time. Mental health is equally as important as physical health and I’m so glad you had the strength to seek help. Because it takes the strongest person to do that! I’ve gone through a lot of what you talked about and I would love to recommend an app that has helped me a lot. It’s called Dare. There is a free version and a Facebook group or you can purchase the whole app. There’s also an accompanying book. I’ve read ALL of the self help books and most of them are carbon copies but Dare is different. Haha now I feel like I’m forcing you to purchase something! Please, please, please look after yourself and take time away from social media if you find it aggravates your mental health. Self care is essential! Oh another account I found helpful is @annamathur She is a psychologist and her posts are unbelievably helpful.

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 9:05 am

      Thank you Caz for taking the time to leave a thoughtful, honest and helpful reply. I don’t mind see #Ad or #gift if it is in keeping with a persons style and that person is I feel honest and genuine and isn’t selling me something new everyday or telling me I have to have one too or I just won;t be in the it crowd. The rules are such now that this is part of transparency to allow us as followers know that what we are looking at was a freebie. It’s the how it’s done that matters to me. I’ve found many a brand I love that I would not have found if not for seeing it on Instagram. But like you, though for different reasons I found myself at home too (after losing our business) with an extremely limited budget. And like you started to feel bad that I couldn’t possibly ever afford the things I was being sold. That’s partly why I started the blog, like you I have to save up for larger purchases, by that I mean a maximum £200. But I save up only for quality pieces that I need, that are beautiful, well made and designed to last. I don’t follow trends because I can’t afford to. So I do work with brands but only if they fit the criteria ‘ would I buy this in real life?’. So many things became much clearer to me when I had my break and now I’m happy being me again. Never again will I allow myself to go down the comparison rabbit hole. I’m off now to take a look at the app you mentioned and will see if my local waterstones has a copy of the book. If nothing else I love that it’s called DARE, I would love to be daring again x

  • Reply Melanie Boyden June 19, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    This is such a great post Rachel! I think I agree with pretty much agree with everything you said. I had to take a break from Instagram just after Christmas as I felt it was severely affecting my mental health and it did the world of good. I love working with brands and will always try and keep my integrity but sometimes it’s hard when brands are throwing good money at it. I too am a stay at home mum. I’m naturally a very social person so I won’t lie, I’ve found it hard. Instagram helped me reconnect and realise what I want to do with my life. I’m definitely going to concentrate on my blog more from now on though. I absolutely love doing it!! Thanks again for such an inspiring read 🙂
    Mel x

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 9:19 am

      Hi Melanie, thank you for taking the time to leave a reply. I’m glad to hear you took the time to have a break too, who’d have even thought a social platform could do this to us? And glad to hear also that it did you the world of good. It’s hard being a stay at home mum. It’s easy to become isolated and one of the reasons I too went back on Instagram. To talk with like minded people. I think what started it off for me was that people stopped talking about random things and just started to talk about the picture they had posted. I love interiors but if I go out for a coffee with someone I do talk about a whole host of other things too. It all started to get samey and a tad bland. And you are right, when it comes to brands they can be very pressurising about what they want you to do. Like you, I love my blog, I love writing. I’m going to hop on over to yours now and sign up to your mailing list x

  • Reply Dawn Stockley June 19, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Firstly can I congratulate you on your refreshing honesty and integrity in this blog post. I usually follow accounts to do with either Whippets, art or travel but in need of some decorating inspiration I started to peruse such accounts. So few are truly individual, most follow the pack and ever fewer post for the reason of, well, just posting. So many are clearly in it for the numbers and that contact from a company that will make them the next Mrs Hinch or whatever her name is of the interiors world. I’m not sure they realise just how transparent they are.
    Any how, for my twopeneth, thank for being real, honest and mainly for being true to you.

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 9:30 am

      Hi Dawn, thank you so much for leaving a comment. I do hope the post has stopped a few people and made them think. Though as they say Rome wasn’t built in a day and so change will be slow if it comes at all. And don’t get me started down that particular accounts route. It’s shall we say, not for me.

  • Reply Hazel Doyle June 19, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    A very well written and interesting blog Rachel and I totally get what you are saying. I discovered instagram when I was off work with an injury and interacted with lots of people on here. I then disappeared for some time to get myself well and on return find that it has just taken off, accounts have flown and it is a lot about chasing the numbers. There are lots of positives too, including following accounts like yours. I have worked with autistic children and adults and totally admire how you care for your boys and share your wonderful creative talent with us. It’s everyone’s individual experience and enjoyment on here and that is what is important. Glad to have you back! Oh and I’m a menopause member too! Take care. Hazel

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 9:41 am

      Hi Hazel, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I totally agree, and that in itself is sad. Because whatever the number there will be a bigger one after that and a bigger one after that. It’s not healthy and certainly not good for mental health. And the higher the numbers the more time is spent on the platform, that can’t be good for mental health either with no actual time for real life. I’m now feeling so much better and whilst I will never name my boys anywhere on my blog or social media platforms I do think it’s important to share aspects of our lives. It can be lonely being an autism mum and I share my experiences in the hope it might help someone feel they are not alone in this. Oh and I think we need a post on the menopause too, I hope yours is as good as it possibly can be. x

  • Reply Leilani June 19, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    At the risk of sounding like a crazed fan I think I really just love you and want to give you a big hug and a round of applause. I can’t imagine how your day to day life must be with all that you’ve got going on. I’m going thru that time of my life too (hello night sweats ??) and have also been to my GP and found help – & you know what… I’m so glad I did!!! It makes a huge difference! Your decor style is so inspiring but your personality is also much of why I keep coming back and enjoying your posts, and stories, and engaging with you with our little comments and encouragements. I hope this visit today with the SW goes well. Will say a prayer for you too. ? Sending love long distance.

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 9:50 am

      Hi Leilani, it’s so lovely of you to leave such a wonderful and encouraging comment. And I’m so happy to hear that you went to your GP too. I mean not only are we coping with the symptoms but the mental impact too. Acknowledging to ourselves that we are getting older, I mean there’s no way I would ever have another baby at my age but at least I had the choice there if I wanted to! Mentally we have to transition to a new phase of our lives and it’s hard isn’t it? The SW visit went well I think, well they’re coming back next week so it’s a start. x

  • Reply Colinandserj June 19, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    A great piece. Well done on speaking out on the crossover between mental health and menopause: I truly believe that for many women this personal hell can go on for years. I have been there and the effects are long lasting and devastating in many ways. Thank you.

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 9:55 am

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and for your honesty too. The menopause feels like such a taboo subject doesn’t it? It needs talking about more. I was certainly not prepared for the tsunami of shit it brought with it. It’s something I would like to explore more here on the blog. I know of women who are still having sweats after 10 years, they must be in hell on a day to day basis.

  • Reply Claire June 19, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    Really thought provoking read, thanks for taking the time to write it. I’ve only been doing insta a few months, so I’m not entirely sure where I stand on some of your points but definitely agree on some of the clumsy brand ‘collaborations’ I’ve seen (particularly in relation to the actual definition!) xx

  • Reply Sue June 19, 2019 at 7:18 pm

    Rachel, you are so right. Now I can’t say I’ve been ‘dropped’ as it were, because I’ve always been a very small fish, but I’ve still seen how things have changed. I have been one of those people who worries about the numbers but in the end, integrity and (dare I say it, because it’s a word seriously over-used) authenticity are far more important to me, as are the friendships I’ve made. I’d also like to give you a standing ovation for being so honest and revealing just how effing hard some days are. You are absolutely not alone. I’ve been an avid follower of your Insta feed for some time and you’ve given me all the Honey from Notting Hill feels. I absolutely know are best friends already 🙂 Sending big love. Sue @SuzyHomemakerUK / @WitchatOneandSeventy xx

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 10:06 am

      Hey Sue, thank you for taking the time to leave a reply and for being so honest too. I think number chasing must be mentally exhausting. Whenever I asked my grandfather a question like how long will so and so take? He used to answer, ‘Rachel, how long is a piece of string?’ That has always stayed with me, and it made me think but what number are they chasing? When will they stop chasing it. What number is THE number? And thank you for the standing ovation. One of the things I realised whilst I took my break is that we never know what is going on behind the squares. But by projecting a perfect life I started to feel inferior. I would never want anyone to feel that way when looking at my feed and so I share everything, warts and all. x

  • Reply Vicki / Wheel Chic Home June 19, 2019 at 7:25 pm

    This is a really insightful thoughtful article and a lot of it resonates with me. I’m a small instagrammer and blogger who struggles to be seen, and it’s hard. I don’t want the responsibility of 100k+ followers, frankly that terrifies me. I want to talk about interiors and disability in my blog and my Instagram and if I can help or advise one person then I’m happy. Cliche but absolute truth. When a I get a message from someone telling me thank you for an idea or a blog post then I’m thrilled. I’m struggling with confidence too and little things like that give me a boost.
    Thank you so much for this post. Beautifully written and honest. Thank you.

    • Reply Rachel Edmonds June 20, 2019 at 10:15 am

      Hi Vicki, thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I have to say the responsibility of 100K+ followers absolutely terrifies me too. I almost wish there was a feature that you could use to limit the amount of followers you can have. And I am absolutely with you, I too just want to help people. If I make one autism mum feel better than I’ve achieved something far greater than a few likes. Like you, a message or comment to say I’ve helped gives me a boost too. In truth, Instagram is a wonderful place when used for good, please keep on doing what you do x

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