I'm surprised, delighted and somewhat speechless and overwhelmed to announce that I've been shortlisted for a Women of the Future award in the category for Community Spirits. Congratulations to all the other women who are shortlisted with me and for the amazing work that they do.
This comes a few days after it was announced that I am also now named as 1/30 Inspirational City Women Champions of Diversity by Brummell magazine.
Being recognised by both of these organisations / publications is a tremendous honour. A year ago I still wasn't being fully open about my mental health because I was terribly afraid of the stigma I might receive from others, as I had experienced in the past. I still see that stigma and experience it both personally and through the accounts others share with me. But now I talk about it. I won't accept it. I speak out and up and will keep speaking until this stops.
This stigma has to end. Mental illness is a killer and not being able to talk about it makes it worse. If you can start a conversation in your work place, your family, with your friends or with someone on the bus where we talk about being more accepting, understanding and kind to each other, whatever our differences are, whatever illness or disability we may have, we can make this conversation part of a bigger national and international discussion where we can highlight the dreadful stigma around mental illness and - together - end it once and for all. I represent a person who is living with a mental illness but I am living with it. I am not a psycho, a nutter, a mental case, a head case. I am not a #headclutcher. I have an illness and I need respect for that. And then I need respect to get on with my life as I choose to. And one of the things I choose is to speak up for others suffering with mental illness (and stigma) who do not feel they want to or are able to speak for themselves.
I hope you will join me and have a conversation about this today, tomorrow, or someday soon. #MentalHealthMatters. We all have it, and we need to look after it. Our own and others'.
Thank you for supporting my blog where I will continue to share my story and perspectives on what mental illness is really like. And thank you to @womenoffuture and @BrummellMag for recognising me. I am overwhelmed, delighted and inspired. I hope it will help to bring more people into the conversations we need to have about #MentalIllness and the actions we need to take to change how we care for mentally ill people - the millions within our country struggling and surviving (or not surviving) - better.