This week I had the pleasure of interviewing Katie from The Little Crunch. Kate blogs about mental health, slow living, self development and blogging.
Here, Kate tells us about her mental health journey, her transition from full-time work to carving her own path in the freelance world and how blogging has been cathartic for her.
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your life.
My name is Kate and I live in lovely Devon with my partner of almost 5 years, in fact we moved to our first house together late last year and we’ve never been happier.
I’m also a part-time dementia care assistant currently, hoping to someday take off my freelance writing career alongside my beloved blog titled the Little Crunch.
Outside of my love for writing I very much enjoy living by the coast, bobbing around in the ocean at every opportunity and going out for brunch. Raspberry tea is also a new love of mine, and cooking up a storm in the kitchen is how I like to unwind – my current favourite meal to cook is Massaman curry with home-made flatbread.
How have you found the shift to your slower pace of life from your legal career?
Easier than anticipated. I quit my full time role in the legal sector during December 2017 because I was desperately seeking more freedom. I felt I had much more to offer than the role I was currently working within and wanted to expand my horizons.
I truly felt stuck and although working in dementia care was a scary transition, it’s revolutionised the way I live my life these days. My outlook has changed entirely, my priorities are different and my mental health is better than ever.
Could you tell us a bit more about your mental health story.
Where do I begin? I was always a very nervous child who struggled to keep up with other children of my age. For a long time I felt scared in every facet of life and worried about how I’d cope as I grew older.
Internally I think anxiety had me feeling completely stupid and incapable every step of the way growing up but, with the help of my mum and my amazing GCSE English Literature teacher I had the privilege of learning from, I made it through education and into adulthood. Because of their support I was able to leave school at 16 to attend a business course through college, where I then managed to make my way to university.
At university I found out that I actually had a learning difficulty. This acknowledgement felt like a weight had been lifted. I finally had access to the support I needed and could understand where my anxieties stemmed from. I began to discover so much about myself and recognise that I wasn’t stupid at all.
Unfortunately however life often throws the unexpected our way, so just when I began to feel on top of my mental health, my father suddenly passed away during my final year of studying. That’s when my anxiety spiked. His loss despite our turbulent relationship was devastating. I couldn’t leave the house or get out of bed for quite some time. Often when I could, I had panic attacks and moments where I’d hide in toilet cubicles crying instead of attending lectures. I relied a lot on my housemates and close friends to take care of me.
I truly believe that if I hadn’t already reached a certain point with my mental health recovery I might not have been able to get over this phase in my life. I guess I’m just very grateful to be here five years later. To be living a life where I feel capable for the most part, with an incredible partner I love and a home to appreciate.
How have you managed to overcome your anxious thoughts?
I’ve put a lot of time and effort in if I’m honest. I’m the sort of person who won’t just sit on a bad feeling for too long. So, after losing my dad I eventually registered for counselling at my university, I attended workshops, volunteered my time at Devon Mind, did my research at home and found a mentor who pushed me through my final year – someone who taught me so much and I couldn’t be more grateful for.
I’ve also found that in recent years opening up to my friends and family about my mental health has helped too. No one in my life is in the dark any more, so I know I can rely on all of my loved ones if I ever hit crisis point again.
I’ve also slowed down a lot over the past five years and come to the conclusion that living a fast paced 9-5 lifestyle just doesn’t work for me. You should know though that leaving office work and accepting a smaller life wasn’t truly a choice but a necessity. I’m just very glad I learnt this lesson relatively soon into my dysfunctional career.
I’ve thankfully now found a work life balance that allows me enough freedom to feel at peace with myself. Through finding a love for dementia care I’ve also allowed myself to open up to a world where I can help others and feel valuable.
What piece of advice would you give to someone who is trying to overcome their anxiety or limiting beliefs to do what they love?
To be honest with yourself first and to then open up the conversation with someone you’re comfortable with.
I remember when I was at my worst I sat down and made a list. I wrote about all of the things that made me stressed or anxious e.g. getting on public transport, alongside why and how I felt in these circumstances too. This exercise made me realise how severe my thoughts were and allowed me to understand that I needed support.
Anxiety is too exhausting to struggle with alone and sometimes asking for some help or just having a loved one listen can open so many doors.
I still live with anxiety and there’s definitely aspects of my life I’m very nervous about but, I won’t let anxiety rule me in the same way any more – that’s such a pivotal point to reach. I can now get up every day, attend those scary events or complete panic inducing tasks I’ve been dreading and conclude that more often than not the outcome is always positive…or at least less stressful than anticipated.
I suppose if like me your ambition is to be your own boss, I think you firstly need to acknowledge how exactly you can make your goal a reality. Think about what you do or don’t love about your current work life balance for example and how you can create better ways of working moving forward.
I would also recommend following lots of other creatives on Instagram who are currently doing the thing you aspire to achieve, sign up to their memberships or courses, read their Ebooks and blogs etc. Take those small steps that will eventually lead to big change.
How has your blog influenced and been woven into your mental health?
The Little Crunch started off from a bad place if I’m honest. After I had somewhat of a mental health breakdown last Summer I decided that I wanted to write moody content that had bite. An honest blog about all of my life experiences without limits.
Almost overnight however my headspace changed when my partner and I moved out of our shoebox flat and into a humble sized house. Life became brighter and I realised that I wanted to change my blog concept just slightly. I still wanted to always write with honesty and to understand that not every topic could be upbeat but, I realised that through my experiences I could create content that actually helped people too.
In turn writing this blog and putting myself out there has really been cathartic for me.
I’ve realised I know a lot more about certain topics than I gave myself credit for and enjoy sharing my life, whilst promoting personal development.
These days my core belief is that life has to work for us in every single way. I don’t believe anyone should waste a single minute doing anything they don’t enjoy. Once I opened my mind to this single belief my world truly opened up and I’ve been able to let a lot of my anxiety hang ups go.
Could you tell us more about your thriving blog?
Certainly! Talking about my blog is a favourite hobby of mine currently. This time last year my presence online hardly existed apart from having an old blog I had zero motivation to write on.
So, yes – my blog. The Little Crunch. Sometimes I hate the name I devised in December last year but, then I remember the history behind it and feel good about the foundations of my brand. This blog of mine is something I’ve been working so incredibly hard on since last November and I’m so proud of its direction.
On the blog I talk mostly about personal development topics, my fondness for the slow living movement and mental health however, I like to add that no topic is truly off limits. In fact, I say I’m not your normal personal development blog because I want my brand to have bite, a little wit and a lot of truth. Everything I write comes from the heart with a lot of thought and feeling.
These days I’m so proud to say that although the Little Crunch stemmed from a negative mindset, it has started to become a hub for my like-minded community to feel heard and valued.
Speaking of community – I have a newsletter called the Sunday Club acting as an extension of my blog where I encourage my subscribers to seek comfort in content. This newsletter allows me to help my members unwind through light reading and reflection.
In essence, you can find me sharing more intimate advice, resources and think pieces alongside sharing small businesses and bloggers I think my readers will love.
You’ve just gone freelance! How exciting. What do you hope the year ahead will hold for you?
So exciting and nerve-racking! I have my brand fully formed and ready to go, I’m just waiting to be brave enough I suppose? But, what I will say is that my focus is on copywriting. Through my business knowledge and various other bits and bobs I’ve picked up over the past 5 years I know I want / need to work for myself. To work flexibly and with creativity. To help others and build small brands that have impact.
I’m hoping that my freelance life will begin to take shape properly early 2021, whilst things are temporarily on hold due to some unforeseen aspects of my personal life that need ironing out.
In terms of a goal, I don’t wish for much but to have at least five new and loyal clients by this time next year would be a dream.
Finally, is there a charity that’s close to your heart that you’d like to mention?
I’m a huge fan on YoungMinds. I wasn’t diagnosed with panic anxiety when I was in school up sadly but, through empowerment and life-changing support today this charity works hard to assist other young minds build resilience moving out of education and into adulthood.
Read more interviews here.