The HR Juggler

Day 9: Stakes In The Sand

Posted on: December 9, 2013


It has been an absolute pleasure and a privilege to get to know Charlotte Walker aka @BipolarBlogger this year, both in person and through social media. She is immensely bright, articulate and compelling and offers those unfamiliar with the daily realities of living with a mental health condition a really powerful insight into what matters about the topic and how she experiences life. I can honestly say I have learnt more from her this year than she will probably ever know…and I am sincerely grateful to her for her generosity and consistent searing honesty. You can follow Charlotte on Twitter (@BipolarBlogger) and read more posts from her over on her excellent, award-winning blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is by the brilliant Simon Heath.


2013 began just four months after losing another career. It’s not impossible to retain a profession when you have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, but it can be extremely difficult, particularly when your episodes last for not months but years. I began the New Year with the knowledge that although my condition was improving, I was still nowhere near able to work full time. I could not cope with a commute and I knew I was not resilient enough to go back to the kind of target-driven public sector job I had always worked at. I would have to do something different – but what? My confidence was low. I did not feel employable.

When my friend Jon Bartlett offered me a chance to take part in an event entitled Human Resources for Mental Health (or #HR4MH), I jumped at the chance (you can read the transcript of my talk, as well as Jon’s reasons for organising the event). I couldn’t put my finger on why, but being there seemed important. I couldn’t have known it, but that early February evening would be a catalyst to beginning to build a new career, for one simple reason: people who heard my talk came forward to tell me that they believed in me. I wasn’t sure that I believed in me, but they did, and they were people I respected.

During 2013 I began to believe in myself more, to push against the boundaries of my illness and find that my limitations were not so fixed as I had once thought. Although I was already comfortable with publically about my mental health if you had told me in February that by June I would speak confidently on live television (Sky News), I would not have believed you. If you had told me in June that in September I would spend an afternoon in Westminster, telling the story to a string of MPs, I would have been amazed. If you had suggested then that by advent 2012 I would have won a prestigious Mind Media Award for my blog, appeared on Woman’s Hour and be waiting to interviewed for Society Guardian, I would probably have laughed. Yet I have done all this and so much more.

At #HR4MH I described living with a fluctuating mental health condition as like being repeatedly inundated by a tidal wave. I’m still not home and dry – I couldn’t manage a nine to five job even now – but I see more dry sand than I did a year ago. When placing my stakes, I have had to bang them in hard, hoping for some structure and security even if the waters rise again. One form of security I particularly need is the financial kind. Some of what I do has begun to pay, but it is not yet enough to live on. I have to fully believe that the things I do – from public speaking to consultancy, from research to writing – are worth paying for, and paying well. So I’ll keep exploring my beach, banging in my stakes just as hard as I can. And when I eventually reach the safety of the dunes I will look back at my haphazard line of stakes and think: I did that.

6 Responses to "Day 9: Stakes In The Sand"

Dear Charlotte, I’m writing this with tears in my eyes. You have touched me with your honesty and humble determination. You will reach your goal and all I can say is that life has a way of connecting you to people in your hour of need. You have been given theHR Community. Wish you well in every way. And thank you. As ever, thank you Alison and Simon. Xx

I bang on endlessly and unapologetically about purposefulness.

This rather counts on that front.


What a lovely uplifting and hopeful post. Reading your 2013 achievements is really powerful, motivating stuff, keep it going please.

And I think you’ve used the politest collective noun in relation to MPs that I’ve seen in a long time.

Reblogged this on dawnsmedley and commented:
Really inspirational read…thank you for sharing

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