Students share stories to inspire the internet

Students like Shannon Blackmore share their stories on the internet about mental health, thinking positively and weight loss. (Hannah Rudderham/AQ)

Three St. Thomas University students have one big thing in common. They use the internet as an outlet to discuss personal challenges and goals.

Victoria Deveau, a fourth-year student, started a blog about a year and a half ago where she talks about depression, seasonal affective disorder, emotions and tips on how she deals with difficult times.

“It used to be so taboo to talk about your struggles, but everyone has them so you might as well speak up and make other people more comfortable with talking about them,” said Deveau.

Victoria Deveau started her blog discussing mental health and emotions a year and a half ago. (Hannah Rudderham/AQ)

First-year student Claire Leighton was also inspired to start a blog in August after struggling with mental illness for a few years.

“I was just really negative, really down and really depressed. I was in a dark place and stayed there quite willingly,” Leighton said.

After getting dumped for the first time in Grade 9, Leighton decided to change her eating habits and exercise regime. She also began her journey to turn herself from a pessimist into an optimist.

Leighton’s blog is called Positive Talk On. Each post begins with “Positive Talk On” and then the topic of the blog post.

Shannon Blackmore, another fourth-year student, decided to take a different route to talk about her personal journey. In 2017, she started a YouTube channel to follow her weight loss journey. She also started to open up more about her struggle with mental health as her videos progressed.

“I had always wanted to use videos as a creative outlet, to tell people a story,” Blackmore said. “With respect to weight loss and mental health, I wanted to be a voice of reason and encouragement for those who followed my life and story and for those who were experiencing similar situations.”

Claire Leighton started her blog, Positive Talk On, in August 2018. (Submitted by Claire Leighton)

Blackmore wanted to share her message on the internet because it’s something she’s always enjoyed watching herself. She related to Shane Dawson, a YouTuber with 19-million subscribers, as he openly talked about his weight loss journey and loose skin.

“It affected me so strongly and I related so much to his situation. I knew that others could also benefit from what I would have to say and my experiences,” Blackmore said.

Blackmore also opened up to her followers about the death of her dogs.

This had a big impact on her mental health and she touches on it in the video “Heartbroken: My Dogs Passed.”

“Your mental health contributes to your physical health – which end result, affects your weight loss,” Blackmore said in the video.

Shannon Blackmore made YouTube videos discussing her weight loss and mental health, but now she’s switching to podcasts. (Submitted by Shannon Blackmore)

But Blackmore has plans to start a podcast instead of YouTube videos. YouTube was a good way for her friends from around the world to stay in touch with her life updates, but Blackmore feels a podcast is more suited for her and she can be more accountable for it.

The podcast will be true crime-based with some conspiracy theories thrown in. Blackmore said she’ll likely be speaking to an audience that’s aged 14 and up due to the material and language she’ll be using.

Leighton pondered the idea of starting a podcast in the future. She said she thinks she’d enjoy that more than her current blogging situation.

Deveau is not planning on changing her method, she’s just happy to have a space to call her own.

“I wanted a website that I could go on, where I could reflect on my past experiences,” Deveau said.