First of all, I’d just like to say a HUGE thank you to all of you who have donated to.. well err me, or rather my blogging via https://www.patreon.com/weallmadhere?ty=h – Without meaning to steal Tesco’s slogan, every little really does help. I’m blessed with an awesome community of followers and I’d like to send you all a big northern style bear hug.
Last night was the Mind Media Awards and I was lucky enough to be invited. Where to be a begin? Not to use a cliché, but it was an emotional rollercoaster.
For starters I was sh**ing myself because I hadn’t been given a +1, (genuinely not a problem as I knew that space was limited). However this did mean that I had to go on my own. That’s right, the girl with Social Anxiety and Panic Disorder went to a party where she didn’t know ANYONE alone. On paper it had all the elements of a horror story, but I was determined to focus on the positives. Everybody there would be a supporter of mental health, so surely it would be the one place where I could be myself 100%, without worrying about what others might think.
I won’t lie, on arrival I seriously wanted to bolt. The room was a sea of strangers, already stood in groups and chatting animatedly. The negative thoughts began their attack:
- Who’s going to want to speak to you? You’re nobody.
- Most of the people here have serious mental conditions, you’re just a fake.
- You should leave now before you embarrass yourself.
The panic attack hit me like a double decker bus. I began to sweat and tremble, my brain screaming at me to leave immediately. Also, my mouth was drier than the Sahara desert, so how on earth could I hope to have a conversation with anyone? I HATE panic attacks, the anxiety I can welcome to a certain extent but panic will always be a challenge, because it’s so aggressive. BUT – like many times before I didn’t fight it. I let the feeling of terror crash over me like a wave and promptly went to the toilets to do some ‘belly breathing’ in private. After five minutes I’d regained my composure and decided that if I at least approached one person then the evening will have been a success and I could be proud of that. GAME ON.
The first person I spoke to was Victoria Macdonald.. who just happened to be one of the judges AND the Health & Social Care Correspondent at Channel 4 News. (BOLLOCKS). However, to my relief she was absolutely lovely and we had a good chat about the importance of blogging and being open in the media about mental health.
As I was wondering over to the bar (again) I heard “Claire!” and a smiling chap introduced himself as one of the nominated bloggers for an award, I’d tweeted him earlier that day. So I had the opportunity to speak to his team and family, which was fantastic.
Anyway enough about me, let’s talk about the awards! Jo Brand was our host for the evening. With her ten years’ experience working as a psychiatric nurse and wicked sense of humour I don’t think they could’ve picked anyone better. Her overall message was simple “it’s ok to ask for help,” she was just plain awesome. I also loved her steel toe capped trainers!
She gave a fascinating speech about her days on the psychiatric wards and how important it is that local authorities are educated about mental illness. She told us a story – a man was brought into the hospital with a dead pigeon is his mouth, he’d been found running around a grave yard. By this point his face was purple, as he was clearly suffocating. After Jo and the other nurses had removed the pigeon and admitted the man, she asked the police officer on duty why they hadn’t removed the bird. “We did, but the mad f**ker was making such a racket that we shoved it back in again!” – He clearly thought this was hilarious… but for Jo it highlighted just how distorted police views on mental illnesses were.
Things have changed since then, but it’s important to reinforce the message.
I wish that I could mention everyone, but I’d need to write a 20,000 word dissertation (which I did for my MA and it nearly killed me).
So here are my shout outs:
Claire Greaves – a beautiful and truly inspiring young lady. She writes about her experiences with Anorexia and the importance of Mental wellbeing. She also gives talks.
Claire was given special leave from the hospital to attend the awards. When we met she gave me a hug I had to fight back the tears. Very brave girl, who’s honest and not afraid to be vulnerable.
Laura Lejeune – Vlogger who aims to be “the (internet) big sister I never had.”
She doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to depression and self-harming, but she’s also incredibly relatable and warm. Not to mention the awesome pink hair that I really want but haven’t got the balls to do!
Seeing as I’d been stalking tweeting her, she kindly posed for a photo with me. Thank you Laura! Sorry if I freaked you out by saying – “oh that’s your boyfriend over there, I recognise him from your videos” *CRINGE*
The Mental Blocks – a really cool and quirky blog that highlights mental health situations via lego!
This is the guy who rescued me from standing alone at the bar, (so naturally I love him already). The blog’s main characters are Nick and Amy, who I was honoured to meet!
The final person I would like to mention is Jonny Benjamin who appeared in the documentary http://www.rethink.org/get-involved/campaigns/finding-mike-film
On 14 January 2008 Jonny Benjamin went to Waterloo Bridge to take his own life. A stranger, ‘Mike’, stopped him that day and changed his life forever. Six years later, in conjunction with Postcard Productions, we launched a campaign to find the stranger on the bridge who came to his aid – Mike actually turned out to be Neil Laybourn and they both received the ‘Making a Difference’ award. Jonny’s acceptance speech was simple, but powerful – he addressed It solely to Neil and said -“You didn’t have to stop… but you stopped. Your unwavering faith in me saved my life.” I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.
Jonny’s story prompted me write more about something that I’m often guilty of shying away from – Suicide. Nobody should have to deal with that alone.
It was an inspiring evening. I was honoured to be invited and to meet so many wonderful and kind people. Furthermore I’m pleased to report that none of the following happened:
- I fell on my face
- S**t myself
- Consumed too much of the free wine.
- Accidentally insulted someone
- Made a fool of myself (I don’t think)
To read more, have a look on twitter at the hashtag #vgmmindawards
Here are some more photos from my solo night out.