Have you heard of #VanLife?
My Van Life Dream
Some of you who follow me on Twitter, may already be familiar with my goal of embarking on #VanLife in 2019, but for the rest of you, here’s the tea.
I’ve always been a little bit weird (I like to think this is endearing, but I’m sure some of the people I know will disagree) and one of the ways in which I’ve been expressing my weirdness lately is in my journey to get rid of as much of my stuff as possible and focus instead on letting ALL my emotions hang out. In 2013-2016, I found myself in a relationship that was financially, emotionally, mentally and physically abusive - I refer to this period of time as “The Dark Years” and coming to terms with life post-abuse has been one of the most challenging and scary things I’ve ever done.
I’ve done a lot of soul searching, a lot of crying on the internet and a lot of focusing on making my life as much about myself, my twitter family, the people in my life and my dog as I possibly can. I’ve had to reevaluate what is important to me and learn to communicate complex feelings and ideas in ways that are comfortable for me and easy to digest for whoever is hearing me. It’s been a MOOD.
Success is usually measured in money and job titles and academic achievements, and it’s been hard for me to adjust to the idea of measuring my success in happiness, health and human connection - but I am working on it every single day and I really think that I have finally got it down (mostly). Of course life would be financially easier if I had a 9-5 and a salary, but finances aren’t everything and I wouldn’t be where I am today (or alive, actually) if I hadn’t started examining the way I think about the world and working WITH my brain, rather than against it, which has meant that I’ve had to learn to pay myself in kindness over money and spend time building a support network of like-minded people. That’s you guys.
I want to change the narrative around mental health and I’m doing this by blogging, podcasting and tweeting about my own experiences and sharing the stories of others. I hope that, along with the other awesome advocates who I’ve grown to know and love, I can help pave the way for others to talk openly about their mental health and have “scary” conversations with the people they love about how they are feeling. It’s a tall order, but I think we’re getting somewhere.
This week I spoke to BBC Politics about the access to treatment via the NHS in the UK (specifically how long the waiting lists are), which will be featured on their website (and TV) later this week - I’ll keep you updated. I know that several of the campaigners that I fuck with on Twitter and IRL have also been banging this drum in the media recently and the Mind Media Awards were an inspiring way of connecting with a whole room of people who are working towards the goal of changing the future for those living with mental illness - it’s so awesome to be surrounded by people who are fighting the same good fight. It seems like the world is finally waking up to the reality of the impact mental health problems are having on us humans and hopefully ‘the powers that be’ are becoming more and more limited in how long they can turn a blind eye to the issue.
Right. Enough of that, let’s talk about vans.
It’s becoming more and more obvious to me each day that the best thing any of us can do to campaign effectively is to meet up and work together. I’m a big believer in turning up the volume by all shouting the same thing at the same time - and I think that’s the most powerful way we can reach as many people as possible. So I came up with a plan.
In 2019 my goal is to convert a van into a tiny home, pack up my belongings, podcast equipment, video camera, some cheese and, most importantly, Doug (my dog) and hit the road. I want to meet as many of you as I possibly can, your stories are fucking incredible and I want to share them with the world. I’ll be trying to talk to organisations, charities and advocates about mental health and spreading their messages and ideas - podcasting and filming along the way.
The community that we’ve built together online is at the absolute heart of pigletish - and it’s going to be so cool to actually sit and drink tea with you in person.
Last week, I invited Marcus from Ministry of Change over to play for a few days and he helped me hash out my ideas for the van - he actually lives in one - and alleviated a lot of my concerns about the practicalities (he answered all of my “stupid” questions, fed me apple pie and gave me a lot of advice on the actual process of converting a van). This week I’m starting to actually plan the journey from where I am right now (my sofa) to owning and living in a tiny home on wheels.
I’m totally familiar with #VanLife on instagram. I’ve lost many hours lusting over the highlight reels of cosy fairy-lit vehicles against stunning natural backdrops - and yearning for the freedom of a simple life. But it is more than an idyllic fantasy to me. I’m aware that I’ll have some sleepless nights and I’m committed to driving around frustrated, looking for a convenient parking spot; to me the van life is going to lower my expenses and give me the flexibility I need to take the work I do to the next level. Yes, I want to meet you all. Yes, I want to take some cute instagram photos. Yes, I want to be able to take my dog with me when I work away from home. Mostly though - I want to create important content that packs a punch and draws attention to the mental health crisis. Let’s do this.
If you want to access exclusive content, be the first to hear where my plans are at and get to chat with me and ask me questions - you can sign up to my patreon page and pledge $1 a month to become a VIP (Very Important Piglet).
I love you.