Self-Publishing and Thera-Piggies: Ashley L. Peterson

Ashley L. Peterson blogs and writes about mental health. Here she is with one of her guinea pigs.
Ashley L. Peterson blogs and writes about mental health.

In my experience, sometimes happiness (some HBT posts about it here and here) comes easily, and sometimes it requires a heck of a lot of work. When I’m upset with my writing in particular (about my books here), I take heart from seeing what publishing rock stars like Ashley L. Peterson accomplish!

Want to listen to this blog post, not just read it? Check it out here!

Mental health nurse/author Ashley L. Peterson of MentalHealthAtHome.org blogs out of Vancouver, Canada, and writes from both a personal perspective as well as that of a medical professional. She’s adamant that it’s time we remove the stigma around mental health issues. Among her book titles are, “Psych Meds Made Simple,” “Making Sense of Psychiatric Diagnosis,” “Managing the Depression Puzzle,” and “A Brief History of Stigma.”

When it comes to self-publishing, she finds it’s wise to stay flexible with her listings at Amazon. On a daily basis, she experiments with keywords, especially in terms of how they work with setting bids per clicks on ads at the amounts suggested by Amazon. She has a guest blog post for Happiness Between Tails H-E-R-E.

Some of Ashley L. Peterson's books.
Ashley L. Peterson publishes regularly on mental health issues.

Here’s why she calls herself, “a proud crazy guinea pig lady”…

Ashley’s favorite photo of herself with one of her adorable little ones!

“Thank Goodness For My Thera-Piggies,” by Ashley L. Peterson of MentalHealthAtHome.org

I am a crazy guinea pig lady. Crazy in more ways than one.

The most obvious, perhaps, is that I have 5 guinea pigs (3 girls and 2 boys), and I treat them like my children.

What may be less obvious is that I’m crazy in a mentally ill sense. I have depression that only partially responds to treatment, so I deal with effects of the illness every single day.

I take medication and do various other things to manage my illness, but my guinea pigs are an important part of my overall wellness.

I live alone, and my illness has made it difficult to be around other people, so I’m on my own a lot of the time – at least in terms of human contact. But I’m never actually alone when I’m at home because I have 5 very active, very vocal munchkins to keep me company.

Photo of one of Ashley L. Peterson's guinea pigs, a white furry one.
“Cute” doesn’t begin to describe Ashley’s gorgeous guinea pigs!

Routine helps me manage each day, and the piggies thrive on routine. I have a rather odd sleep schedule, which they’ve adapted to quite happily. They know that when I wake up, they get fed, so as soon as they hear me start rustling around in bed, they start wheeking (an onomatopoeic word for their “feed me” noise). It’s a pretty good motivator to get my butt out of bed.

Ashley’s pets are truly adorable!

I prefer to practice mindfulness focused outwardly rather than inwardly, and my piggies are a perfect target for that. I can just gaze at them in fascination as my mind just shuts off.

More than anything, though, they need me. They’re very good at making their needs known, and they know that I can be counted on to meet them, no matter how lousy I’m feeling. Because of that, I mean the world to them. It’s definitely mutual.

What’s your best stress reliever?

Focus on What You Can Do, Not What You Can’t, by Caz

Want to listen to an audio version of this? Check out the podcast here.

Especially when I’m working on my novels-in-progress, my inner cynic can loom as one heck of an ogre. When I deny my fears, negativity wipes out my ability to capitalize on my strengths.

Caz, today’s guest, runs her Invisibly Me dot com blog out of England. She started her first blog when she was only thirteen years old!

She’s a warrior when it comes to facing invisible hardships. Her blog posts offer practical help, not syrupy platitudes about how to overcome difficulty. At her aptly named site, Invisibly Me, she describes what it’s like to endure chronic pain no one can see. Caz is young and lovely, so people have trouble believing she lives with an ileostomy. An ileostomy is a surgical operation wherein the ileum part of the small intestine is diverted to an artificial opening in the abdominal wall. 

Read on for a sample of her great advice…

Photo of blogger Caz of InvisiblyMe.com
Caz made her first website when she was 13!

“Focus on What You Can Do, Not What You Can’t,” by Caz

I wrote this with chronic illness in mind, but it also applies to other spheres of life, from living arrangements to your financial situation. 

Focussing on what you can’t do.

It can become a vicious cycle, leaving us exhausted and disheartened before we even begin. It can happen for various reasons. Looking at how things used to be in the past, such as before chronic illness took hold. It may be from social pressures concerning what we ‘should’ be doing at this point in our lives. It may be from comparing your life to how you thought it would look, or comparing your situation to that of your peers.

For whatever reason, it’s good to work on acknowledging and accepting the situation and what you can’t necessarily change right now. Then, redefine what’s important to you, not what you feel you ‘should’ value or want. Write your own rules. Find new paths to explore and get creative to find ways to get there. Maybe you can’t do certain things, but there will always be options and alternatives. There are always small changes you can make and actions to take to improve your situation or live your best life. You may just have to look a little harder to find them.InvisiblyMe.com logo graphic

It’s also about readjusting expectations and making them more realistic and manageable.

Take note of the things you can be grateful for that often get lost in the midst of pain and illness, or stress and worry. It’s about looking at the things you’re good at and the positives you can eek out of your situation and experiences. You’ve become stronger and more resilient. Perhaps you’ve met new people in person or online, such as through blogging or support groups. Maybe you’re more compassionate, empathic, have found a new skill or have become more appreciative of the small joys in life.

When we focus on the negatives, the limitations or the things we can’t change, we give up our power. By honing in on those things you can’t do or have, or the ways in which you feel constrained, it limits your perspective and experiences even more so.

By focusing on the can’t-do’s, you’re reducing yourself and your life.

You are more than just the things you can’t do. 

Empower yourself by looking at what you can do, no matter how small. Look at the things you can change, the tasks you can accomplish, the things you can choose to do. 

Instead of ‘I can’t do…’, change it to ‘but I can do…’.

You’re doing the best you can, with the cards you’ve been dealt and the situation you find yourself in. A little jiggle of perspective can make a big difference. Don’t close yourself off from possibilities. Instead, think outside the box and take back some control over your life. You may just find that you’re capable of more than you imagined.

Are you or anyone you know challenged by invisible pain?