SQUEE! I’m Finalist in Mental Health Week Writing Comp

mhw_colourSQUEEE! This week I’m celebrating Mental Health Week, the ultimate opportunity to share my story of recovery and hope. I’m pouring all my creative energies into pushing mental health issues to the forefront.

Last Sunday I launched the Life Writing program which Queensland Health contracted me as co-facilitator. I delivered the first two sessions to mental health consumers, giving them a voice … It’s Challenging. Surprising. Rewarding. In return, I’ve learned so much about myself.

Today I’m over at My Book Corner, children’s book review website, sharing my personal struggle and triumph over Bipolar Disorder from a teacher’s and children’s author perspective.

After I returned to teaching, I taught my beloved year two class mental health strategies, to strengthen their emotional resilience … I’m sharing my mental health advice to parents today…. http://www.mybookcorner.com.au/articles/439-karen-tyrrell–mental-health-advocate-teacher-and-childrens-author.html


WOOHOO! I’m finalist in the mental health week  writing competition.
The last two weeks I’ve posted the *gripping*opening pages from ME AND HER: a Memoir of Madness.  Check out … http://karentyrrell.com/?p=944

My *winning* short story, Writing my Way to Recovery is set at a future time and place to the opening pages. It’s NOT directly from my memoir … Here’s a snippet …

When will they release me from this psyche hospital? How long must I suffer being locked away from my kids and my family?
It didn’t matter what I said. What I did. It was hopeless.

I slumped against the pillow on my cramped cot bed, tears rolling down my cheek. Outside the sun shimmered but I didn’t care.

I remembered when I first arrived in an ambulance in the dead of night, my heart hammering as if it would detonate. Two paramedics escorted me through the barred back door to the night admissions counter, my wobbly knees dissolving into jelly.

‘Welcome Karen, we’ll take care of you,’ said the smiling nurse.
My head spun in confusion, jumbled thoughts trying to make sense of it. My hands sweated and shook as I filled in pointless admission forms. I paced to and fro unable to keep still, my racing thoughts pumping up the mania inside of me. Every pressurised word gushed from my lips at once.

‘Why am I here? Why me? I haven’t done anything wrong. Have I? ‘

But that was then.
Four weeks on, I focused back to the reality that I was still incarcerated in my tiny hospital room. Flower arrangements decorated every shelf. Smiling family photos and get well cards plastered over my walls, begging for my recovery. I’d come so far, hadn’t I?

I clutched the key dangling around my neck, and unlocked the top drawer of my bedside chest. I reached inside and grabbed my glossy green journal from the pile. I flicked though the pages and scanned the interviews with Doctor Michaels, Nurse Maureen and my mum and dad, pleading with them to answer my questions.

Why had I become so ill?

What did you think of my  *winning* story?

Did you connect with my angst and my desperation?

How can  Life Writing  be cathartic?

How can parents and teachers  support children’s mental health?

I really would appreciate your feedback … Thanks 🙂

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34 comments to SQUEE! I’m Finalist in Mental Health Week Writing Comp

  • Sue

    Congratulations Karen on all that your doing for mental health. Loved your emotional short story too. Don’t forget to have a break.

  • Thanks sue, I really appreciate you saying that. Thanks for all the awesome support you’ve given me.

  • Sounds like a frightening experience. Congrats on the news though. 🙂

  • Hi Anthony, my times in the psyche ward were the the most profound experiences in my life … Life changing you could say.
    YES, I’m Thrilled to be finalist in this writing competition!

  • I am just always touched by your bravery and your determination….. Thank you.

  • Thank you Wendy. My passion is leading me … Thanks for your awesome support. Really appreciate it 🙂

  • Loved it Karen! Written with such heart and honesty. One can feel your agitation, despair and fear. Great stuff and yes, writing about the ‘bad’ or unsavoury parts of life can be extremely cathartic. I am have an on going wip, structured in letter form, for my child, which is an account of my husband’s brain tumour drama. It is of course a way to off load and recount the experience from my pov in written form. So I whole heartedly connect with your need and desire.

  • Art Antonious

    “Writing my Way to Recovery” excellent short story promotion material for Mental Health Week Karen. Well done, I enjoyed reading it as I am sure countless others will find it encouraging and supportive. I read it and was hanging on to each word as it brought back memories of my own personal story of recovery.

  • Thanks Dimity for your deep understanding of my “story”. Thanks for sharing your powerful need to write about your hubby’s situation for your daughter and for your own healing. Sending {hugs}xx

  • Thanks so much Art for your awesome support once again. We both know the importance of writing for recovery, don’t we?

  • Steph L

    Fingers crossed for you to win Karen 🙂

    Gives us a bit more insight into what has actually happened to you (as opposed to reading 2 pages of your memoir).

    I haven’t got to the carthatic writing point yet – might have to stick with just humour instead

  • Hi Steph, The winners were announced this week. I’m proud to be Finalist … although it would be nice to win $1000. Glad my story was *engrossing* and insightful for you. Did it give way too much of my memoir?
    Hope you’ll start writing soon … but humor is cathartic too

  • Graham Clements

    I would like to read the full story. I particularly like and felt the line “begging for my recovery”, because my family were begging my father to recover from dementia. The excerpt felt full on, no unnecessary filling.

    I hope you win some recognition for your efforts.

  • Hi Graham, you were the first to pick up this was an excerpt. Debating whether I should post the link to my full story. Would it give away too much of my memoir? I was disappointed I didn’t win this one because I put my heart into it. Wish there was a people’s choice award! Apparently, I’ll receive a certificate in the mail. LOL.

  • Belladonna Took

    Thanks for sharing your story, Karen. And congratulations on being a Finalist. That in itself is an incredible achievement!…I thoroughly enjoyed reading your excerpt. You describe a heartbreaking and terrifying experience with such honesty, immediacy, heart, and energy. I hope you do post up the full story one day.

  • Thanks Belladonna for all your awesome support you’ve given me and your generous comments too 🙂
    This excerpt is the first page of my story “Writing my Way to Recovery” … When will I put up the whole shebang? Mmm, Good question!

  • sarah liu

    Karen, I think a lot of people will find it helpful. I had some experience in high school when I want to hurt myself. There are so many people who need to know your story and be encouraged. Thanks for all your work, Karen!

  • Hi Sarah, lovely to meet you . Thanks for your awesome support over at PlanBIG. Yes, Sarah, my story MUST be told. Hoping a Publishers picks it up soon 🙂

  • Best you’ve written! Well done!

  • Heather Golding

    Wow! That was awesome Karen! I really liked the use of the many descriptive and relevant words, which clearly described your experience! Congrats on being a finalist in the Mental Health Writing Comp. also! Way to Go Karen!!!!!!! 🙂

  • Thanks Michaela,
    I’ve purposefully used a coherent writing style in this story to reflect my “recovered”mental state at that time.The opening pages of my memoir reflect the manic and disjointed thought processes of an earlier time.

  • Thanks Heather, I’m glad you zoned into my new story. Thanks for your ongoing support and friendship 🙂

  • Sharyn

    Hi Karen, so much emotion, so much despair, so much information imparted in such a short piece. Well done and congrats on becoming a finalist – excellent work. Keep up the writing, your story is worth sharing.

  • Karen – just popped over from PlanBig. Congrats on being a finalist, its a great story.

    Well done,


  • Thanks Sharyn for your very generous words of support. So glad my personal story has grabbed your interest and empathy. Please thank the PlanBig community.

  • Thanks so much Lisa, for dropping over to comment here on my memoir short story. Thanks too for all the support from you and the PlanBig community.

  • Graham Clements

    Hi Karen,

    If you think the story would give too much of your memoir away, than don’t publish a link to it.


  • Considering that Graham. The short story doesn’t give way too much.
    Just want to keep up the “edge” and the mystery with my memoir 🙂

  • Marian Rigney

    Congratulations Karen
    The snipet makes me want to read more. Well done.

  • Thanks Marian. Glad I hooked you in with my short story. Chatted with your friend Phyllis today about Publishing memoirs. She’s meeting up with me on Friday to share her wisdom and experience.

  • Thanks Ang for choosing my Blog to be part of Blue Dingo Network’s weekly feature 🙂

  • Congrats, Karen. You are such a great inspiration. I still can’t wait to read the whole story 🙂

  • Hi Carol, Thanks for Reading my Finalist story. I’ve also posted the latest and BEST versions of the opening two pages of my memoir. I’m working hard to get this story published 🙂

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