I recently discovered that I have been nominated for a WEGO Health Award, in the category of ‘Rookie of the Year’. I was absolutely blown away, as per my Facebook post below at the time. I think what was particularly touching was that my initial nomination was by somebody I have looked up to and aspired to be like when I first started this journey, a fellow writer and an amazing advocate.

Shortly after, one nomination became nominations in four categories, made by others:

Best in Show: Facebook
Best in Show: Instagram
Best Kept Secret

You can view the nominations here: WEGO Health

I tried to give some context as to why this meant so much to me on my social media:

Let me try and wrap some context around this. I might appear confident because I can talk well (or ‘rabbit on’ in Norfolk terms!) and am prepared to share my story, warts and all, but every day is a confidence crisis for me.

But, within a couple of weeks, I was receiving daily emails from other people also suffering in silence, wanting someone to give a voice to their experience of daily pain, letting people down, trying to hold onto careers etc. etc. Within weeks, I was asked to write for other organisations, where I could be found on social media, etc., and it entirely snowballed from there.

I think I wrote for myself for about a month. Now everything I write, post, share, every interview I do, campaign I say yes to – I am now always conscious of the two audiences to my words – those that suffer who I try to represent and those that need to be educated about our suffering.

None of this was by design. I’m not too proud to admit it. But I am also proud to say that after the birth of my son, it’s the most fulfilling job I have ever taken on, and I do it happily. So I don’t need any award or recognition.

However, especially if you follow me on Instagram, every day is a battle, either mentally or physically, and I thank you guys for giving me an outlet. For helping me as much as anything else. Our private conversations, the article shares; to simply observe you wonderfully supportive people help each other on the Support Group – that’s where the real payday is for me.

So – in my head – I deserve nothing. I beat myself up for the sick days when I can’t do more. I feel like I am moaning too much as I try and show the realities of living with fractured mental health. I apologise a million times when I leave someone waiting on an article release, podcast interview, or email reply.

I feel like I could do SO much more without my limitations…but I guess then, I wouldn’t have a story worth telling.
I will never understand how this has taken off as it has, or some of the thank you messages I receive. But, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for helping me find me amongst the dark – and find the greatest friends I’ve never met.

If you would like to know more about the WEGO Health Awards, including the process for how winners are selected, click here.

If you would like to nominate me personally, see here.

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Arthritis and Psoriasis Patient Advocate, Writer And Consultant. Owner Of The Pain Company.

I share my story of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis to raise awareness and specialise in pain, parenting (with disability) and the mental health impact of living with chronic illness. I write and campaign for leading charities and organisations. In addition, I provide patient experience consultancy for both charities and global healthcare companies.

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