Have you heard? I don’t know if you will have heard, I’ve kept it pretty quiet, you see. I’ve mentioned it once to my friends and I had a bit of a moment with my mum, but other than that, unless you delved deep you might not have known what I was about to tell you. I am completely joking, by the way – I haven’t stopped talking about this. But I promise, this is the last time I will really concentrate on the subject…Last Friday, I only went and won a blooming blog award!
Back in November, I was sat in the back of a huge conference room in Birmingham. On one side of me was my mum, and the other was some lovely Twitter friends I have made over the last year. We were all there for one reason – the Adoption UK Conference. I had finished a night shift at 7:00am and met my mum on the train at 8:22, coffee in hand and bags under my eyes, we travelled across the country so I could sit alongside some pretty incredible kids on the panel of the conference. As I was introduced to the room, it was mentioned that I was recently nominated for an award in the mental health category in the UK Blog Awards. I hadn’t really thought about it in the time leading up to the conference, instead I had been focusing on making sure I was equipped with the knowledge to answer any question that came my way.
A couple of days after the conference, the voting opened and slowly I began to see people old and new taking to Twitter to inform me that they had voted. I really wasn’t expecting anything to come of it – after all, I’m just a kid who sometimes talks about being the sad kid. The voting closed and so did that chapter of my life. Then I was announced as a finalist. Me. A finalist.
To me, reaching a finalist status was a huge win in my book. In 2017 I had been nominated for the same award and had probably received 20 – 30 votes max. Again, to even be nominated was recognition for me, but to make it to the finals earlier this year was an incredible achievement.
And then, last Friday, I won.
It’s been 6 days between my win and the writing of this, and I still cannot find the words to tell you how strange this is. It’s a good strange, don’t get me wrong. But over the last week, I’ve been on a bit of a journey. As you might have seen from the weekly, I had a ‘I am so happy and I don’t know what to do about it’ moment when I found out I had won. Me and my parents celebrated by sitting down together (a rare occasion in our house) and sharing two mini easter eggs. It was perfect. On Saturday, me and my favourite humans got together for a belated birthday / blog award win celebration. Two of my pals decorated the apartment we were staying in, turning it into a mermaid nightclub. I got to introduce my new favourite human – a boy (more on that another day) – to my group and it was incredible. But twenty-four hours after my win, my happiness was replaced by gin-induced guilt.
You see, I do what I do because it helps. It helps me to understand what is going on in my head. It helps you understand what is going on in your head. Finally, it seems to help the wider mental health community, as we push into our fourth year of discussing mental health, we increase its awareness and we have truly begun to unravel the stigma. But from day one, guilt has etched its way into all of this. I feel guilty because the reason I am in a position to talk about mental health is a terrible reason. It comes from a place of deep regret for not being able to save the person I loved. Then there is the guilt to all of the people between then and now who have had to witness the fallout of grief that has taken over my life at times. Then there are the things I was too scared to tell those closest to me, and so I let it flow out online, because for some weird and widely unknown reason, that was the easier option.
But then, mid-gin induced rant with the boy I really like and my two closest pals, I realised something. And for this, I am going to need you to cast your mind back to January, when I was in London for a series of meetings. I stood in front of my camera, completely unsure of what I was doing with my life, and I had a little cry about how I was scared that all I would become known for was being the Mental Health Boy. Whilst that video is terribly edited, rewatching it makes me incredibly uncomfortable, because something finally registered in me.
I am the mental health boy, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
In fact, in recent months, I have become quite proud to be the mental health boy.
If it means that by taking that title, it saves you from your head sometimes because you no longer feel alone then I will take that title and I will prove to you a thousand times over that you are worthy. You, the reader, have become more like a friend to me over the years. We share a special bond you and me, and whilst that shared ground might be a bit hard to comprehend sometimes, we get each other through it every single time.
With that in mind, this is not my award, it is our award. It is for you and me. Us who sometimes struggle to get out of bed in the morning and we that just need to hide from time to time. It’s for all of us who can’t understand why we are sometimes the sad kids who don’t always enjoy life. For those of us who have been to the most troubling of places, only to bounce back hours later.
Thank you so much for trusting me with this. Thank you for voting for me. Thank you for coming back time and time again. I promise you that I will do you proud.
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