This is a quick post just to say a huge thank you to anyone who nominated this blog for the Mark Hanson digital media award at the 2013 Mind Media Awards. When the email came to say I’d been shortlisted I was astonished because I hadn’t known I had even been nominated in the first place. I went along to the Virgin Money Giving Mind Media Awards last night with little expectation of winning; the field was both strong and broad, encompassing personal blogs, campaigns and a corporate site.
During the ceremony, held at the BFI and hosted by Scott Mills, I sat with my phone in my lap, waiting to tweet which of the other worthy nominees had won the award. When my name was read out I could barely take it in. There was a whoop from the lovely gang of friends and family seated around me and I found myself on my feet. Up on the stage I was given a microphone. I can barely remember anything of what I said, but I think and hope that it was along the lines that the success of this blog is not so much about the stats as the fact that people contact me every day to say that what I write means something to them.
I’m pretty sure I have the special honour of being the clumsiest person at the ceremony. I was the only winner to almost fall over (so eager was I to leave the stage!). After going backstage for a quick interview I returned to the auditorium and sat down but there was something wrong with my red velvet tip-up seat and it wouldn’t flip down until I gave it a massive bump. Later, in the midst of a group of people scanning the floor for my missing phone, I suddenly realised what had been blocking the seat mechanism and what the “crunching” sensation have been.
And so I came home with a phone that looked like it had been driven over by a tractor in one hand, wrapped carefully in a tissue to prevent glass splinters, and a beautiful shiny trophy in the other. I was overwhelmed by the number of people who sought me out after the ceremony to tell me how much they liked the blog. I don’t care if this is a cliche, but I could never have kept writing, let alone won such a prestigious award, if not for everyone who reads my posts, sends me comments, and tweets me to let me know what you think.
In the backstage interview I was asked what I would say to someone just starting as a mental health blogger. My biggest piece of advice was not to try and guess what an audience wants, but to write about what feels important to you. I find that the posts that get the most hits and the biggest number of comments tend to be the ones where I hesitate for a moment before I hit “publish”; do I really want something so personal out in the public domain? But it’s exactly that breaking of mental health taboos that people respond to most.
So thank you so much again. It’s going to take me a little while to take it all in, I think. It feels a bit like a beautiful dream – but then a glance at my mantelpiece confirms it’s not 🙂
Amazing!!!!! Such a well-deserved award – many, many congratulations. Keep up the fabulous work.
Congratulations on your award it is well deserved. Blogs such as yours not only break the mental health taboos but as they as so personal they resonate the loudest.
I read many blogs on mental health issues from the academic to the humorous and back again. However, it is the blogs written from the heart by people with lived in experience that mean the most to me. Properly because it is so easy to think you are the only person who feels like this and it can make you feel so isolated. Then I read a blog like yours and it is as though somebody is writing your thoughts and fears and you fell less isolated and some how reassured.
So thank you and congratulations again
Wow! Not what you expected. A great endorsement.
I know everyone says, “Oh I didn’t expect to win!” but I really didn’t! 🙂
So well deserved. Great advice. And sorry about the phone!
Charlotte I’m so proud of all you have achieved and immensely proud to call you a friend! Lots of love nx xxx
Thank you, my lovely! Can’t believe everything that’s happened since I relapsed! And more things are coming up all the time..I can’t say more right now but will tweet them when I can 🙂 xxx
Charlotte, you really deserved this. I’ve been following your blog for the past year or so and I was delighted when you came up as one of the nominees!!
Thank you so much! It’s been an amazing couple of weeks.
WOw! that’s fantastic – both that you won and that there are awards to recognise this kind of hard work xx
Congratulations on your award, Charlotte. Didn’t know of your blog before, as I’m not a great one for the blogosphere, but I heard your interview on Woman’s Hour this morning and your superbly simple description of your experience of bipolar made me realise that this is what I have been putting up with for most of my life (I am now 60). I thought I was just prone to depressive periods (some very deep and black) and hadn’t twigged the manic ones — I just thought that was me being creative and “normal”, with boring bits in between the extremes. Told my wife and she said, “Thank god you’ve finally realised, I’ve known for years!”
I had a breakdown in my 40s from pushing myself too hard and not being able to say “No”, this was treated with antidepressants but all they did was take away my drive and creativity. I am an artist, so quickly stopped taking them as I couldn’t bear to be so docile. Slid into another very dark period during 2008 but managed to crawl my way out through meditation, self-hypnosis and creativity. Am just surfacing from a terrible 3 months during which, as you so perfectly put it in your previous blog, “I just feel like these unseen, malevolent forces are trying to thwart me at every turn,” and, this morning, your words washed over me like a refreshing bathe in a cool mountain stream. So this is what it is, it really does have a name and other people feel this way too. Thank you so much for your insight and help.
Hello Steve, well that definitely makes me feel that all the pre-broadcast nerves were worthwhile! The pattern of my illness is different now – nobody knows why – with more highs than lows but I did spend decades not realising the highs for what they were. When I got rediagnosed with bipolar in 2011 I immediately did a lot of reading and *suddenly* it all made sense! I am very close to finish a book about my experiences which has been amazingly helpful for looking through my past and making sense of my life and now with this wonderful gift od hindsight I can look back at those decades wand see the mildly elated hypomanias, the irritable hypo manias, and the panicky ones, and put them all into context. Do let me know how you get on! C x
Hello Charlotte, thanks for your reply. I’m sure your WH interview will have helped others too. One thing you said that I found very encouraging and heartening was that it’s not necessarily a lifetime condition and that with a change in circumstances the condition can change and even disappear. I have always believed that it’s caused through conditioning as a child, in my case, a quietly ambitious and sweet father combined with a neurotic, hypochondriac mother who was always worried about what others thought and what might happen if…. Consequently, I grew up talented and with ambition but with a devastating lack of self-confidence which I always hid beneath a carapace of apparent over-confidence. This often resulted in saying inappropriate things, or just saying too much at inappropriate times — most annoying to both myself and others and a wonderful trigger for yet another downward spiral. However, if my mind was trained as a child to be the way it is then surely it’s possible to retrain it to behave more “normally” and to be more comfortable to live with.
I’ve always felt that if my circumstances were different I would be able to overcome the beast within but sadly I’m in a situation which it’s not possible to change. I live with a woman who is often very negative and cynical (another trigger), who is getting old quickly and who is losing her memory and understanding so, not only does this affect my ability to create new work, it’s also not possible to leave. Luckily I’ve found that mixing with energetic, creative, positive people and giving to others who have their own personal troubles is a great help. (One of the reasons for writing this long and detailed reply!!) I’ve also found self-hypnosis and meditation to be very helpful in overcoming the lack of self-confidence, well, that and being successful in my chosen field. Though that success came about by being driven by the lack of confidence and desire/need to be the best at what I did. What a convoluted web we weave within our heads!
Whilst I haven’t managed to get rid of the dark times, through the meditation and self-hypnosis I have, with a few exceptions, managed to reduce them to very short periods of often no more than 12 hours, often less. Knowing that what I’ve been living with has a name and that it’s not just me being weak, pathetic and stupid is also a great help. So, thanks once again, Charlotte, I’m sure you do so much more good than you realise. Steve. x
Well done for the award!, I’ve been recently diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder and i just read the article about ‘THEM’ as well, i get that a lot if i wonder around at night in the dark, i try and make a magic bubble around my room so that the dark forces cannot penetrate and get too me, i am struggling too come to terms with the illness even though its explaining a lot of issues i have had and reading through your blog is an inspiration, please keep posting and making people aware, you are doing an amazing job 🙂
Thanks, Aaron! I found out a lot about bipolar when I got rediagnosed in 2011 by coming home from the psychiatrist and reading lots of blogs. Really helped me put my experiences into context, as in, YES, my experiences may be abnormal, but they are normal for someone with bipolar! Hope you see what I mean. Anyway, that was one of the catalysts for deciding to blog about it all, so I’, so pleased to hear you found it useful 🙂
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