Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be nominated for the ‘Blogger of the Year’ category at the Mental Health Blog Awards.
As the ceremony was only the next city over from me I knew I had to be there, mostly so I’d get to meet some of my amazing Twitter friends!
To my complete and utter surprise, I won the award! I didn’t think in a million years that this would happen, the people in my category were so insanely talented and I have so much respect for everybody I was up against.
I wanted to write this post just to say a little thank you really. I started this blog when I qualified as a mental health nurse and I thought it would be about my journey through being a newly qualified nurse, but it didn’t feel natural. My first ever blog was written for Time To Change anonymously, a good few years ago now where I was still in a place when I knew I wanted to influence change but didn’t feel ready to put my name or face to being ‘mentally ill’. I owe a lot to them as an organisation. Over the years of working with them I have grown in confidence so much, and they are one of the main reasons I decided to ‘go public’.
This brings me to Twitter and the blogging community. I’ve had a Twitter account for years and had no idea how to use it for at least 50% of the time. It sat stagnating at about 100 followers with me posting something incredibly mundane every six months. I’m not sure what changed exactly but I wanted to start using it more, and that’s when things really changed for me. I found this entire community of people just like me, who were so honest and vulnerable in the name of helping to create change. You guys are who inspired me to start writing and sharing.
I was incredibly nervous about starting a blog. Would people laugh at me? Would it completely flop? Would people care what I have to say? What if I run out of things to talk about? It’s scary putting yourself out into the world, and I don’t think the bravery of people who do this can be underestimated.
I vividly remember reaching 50 followers and being overwhelmed that so many people were interested in what I had to say. My blog follower count now sits at over 1200 which is still very small compared to others but to me is amazing!
The whole reason I write is because I want to be part of the bigger picture. I want to be somebody who initiates change. But it wasn’t just so that I could be part of that wider movement to break down stigma. I also wanted to help people on an individual level to see that they’re not alone, and that it is possible to live a fulfilling life whilst experiencing the ups and downs of mental illness.
There have been times when it has felt challenging to keep up with the pressures of managing a blog when I’ve not been quite so well, but the feedback I get from you guys has kept me going through those times. Knowing that I can and have helped people means the world to me.
One thing that I didn’t anticipate though, is how much writing has helped me. I have always written – English was ‘my subject’ at school and I’ve kept journals since I was a child, documenting my mental health journey. But they have always been hidden and intensely private. Sharing my difficulties publicly is not only cathartic, it’s incredibly freeing. I don’t feel like I have to hide away anymore, or lie, or feel guilty that I’m not letting people in. I am not ashamed of who I am.
So, that brings me to today. I can now officially call myself an award winning blogger, and that is strictly down to you, my readers. Yes, I do the writing, but this would be nothing without the love and support I get from you. So thank you to those of you who nominated me in the first place, those of you who voted for me, and every single one of you who reads my sometimes garbled thoughts and feelings. I am so, so grateful. And a huge thank you to Mike, without whom none of this would have happened! I cannot begin to imagine how much work behind the scenes goes on to set up something like the Mental Health Blog Awards, and the fact that he has taken it upon himself to create something that celebrates this community is nothing short of amazing.
And that’s what this is ultimately all about. It’s not just for those nominated or those who won. It’s about recognising the incredible people who tweet, vlog, blog, and campaign to improve the world for people living with mental illness. It’s not easy, and you all deserve an award!
Thank you so much everyone, I am so lucky I found you all.