Saturday, 17 August 2013

A Once in a Lifetime Opportunity?

Yesterday evening, I returned home from spending a few days with my sister to an exciting email from The Huffington Post.

"Dear Katy, 

Last November, TED and The Huffington Post proudly debuted TEDWeekends –- a curated series that introduces a powerful “idea worth spreading” every Friday morning, anchored by an exceptional TEDTalk video from TED's extensive library.


The foundation of our upcoming August 23rd edition of TEDWeekends will be Eleanor Longden's talk "The Voices In My Head" (which already has over 420,000 views). We're reaching out to you because we think your interests and expertise align in unique ways with this idea. 

Longden tells the story of her heartbreaking and deeply challenging experience with schizophrenia, yet leaves the audience filled with hope, optimism and wonder at the strength of the human will. 


As a blogger with schizophrenia who is open to sharing her experiences, your voice could really add to the discussion.

If being a part of the conversation here is of interest to you, send us a 500-850-word post on the subject on or before August 22nd. We will then consider it for publication that week (each edition of TEDWeekends starts on a Friday then runs for one week, and we publish a few posts a day).

This program will not only be given prominent front-page placement on The Huffington Post, but we will also use our unique and vast social-media networks to aggressively promote your content. The combined power of TEDTalks and The Huffington Post touches 44 million people every month.

Please let us know if you'd like to participate in the August 23rd program, or if you have any questions."

To be honest, the first thing I did was to check to see if the email account that had sent it was legitimately from The Huffington Post, as I was sent spam mail a while back of a similar nature. I did realise it was spam last time before I sent anything back fortunately, but it did make me very wary of future emails.

The email account is genuinely Huffington Post, and the person who sent it to me really does work there. Once I had established this, and picked myself up off the floor, I immediately started writing. The inspiration came from the email alone, so the blog piece came really quickly to me. Once I had the basic blog post written, I sent a response saying that I was interested. The response came back almost immediately, but in the middle of it was a snag.

"Please send your post directly to me ... along with a headshot."

Me? A photo?! The last decent photo taken of me is the one I use as my Twitter and Blogger profile picture!

I seriously doubted that they would use a baby picture of me, so I started thinking about whether or not I should go through with this or not. Using an up-to-date picture of myself would wave goodbye to virtually all of my anonymity. Granted, I would still call myself Katy Gray, rather than my real name, but a photo would show everyone who saw it who I am. The worry is no more of people in the street recognising me; my worry is that people who bullied me in school, would read it, find my blog and learn about my long-term effects of bullying. High School was nearly a decade ago. Yes, they shouldn't have bullied me, but people do a lot of stupid things in High School. Regardless of whether or not they are sorry for what they did to me, in my heart I have forgiven them. Holding onto a grudge does no one any good, so while I may still write about bullying and the possible link to my schizophrenia, I no longer allow myself to feel resentment towards them.

After talking it through with my family, I decided I would go ahead with this. After all, how often will I get emails from the likes of The Huffington Post in the future with requests for full blog posts?! This may be my only chance at doing something like this, and I know I'll regret not sending something off over the sake of a photograph.

There's no guarantees that I'll be published by the way. They may not like what I've written and not publish me. But I'm going to at least try. I'll send it off, along with a photograph (eek!) on Monday, and if I find out in advance that they don't like it, I'll write something else. It would be great to be published by The Huffington Post, so I'm going to do all that I can to get in!

I'll update my Twitter and blog when I find out if I'm being published, so watch this space!


  1. That is fantastic news Katy - so exciting, and so brave of you to step up! I can't wait to hear if you get published! Well done!

    1. Thank you! Just need to get a decent photo of myself to send off! That's the really tricky bit! Will find out next week if it's in!

  2. My school experience was more than two decades ago now (I left the school where most of it happened in July 1993) and I'm still dealing with the effects of it. I've spoken out about the things that happened there, mostly because I read in the media of initiatives to set up what sound like other places like it. When I first tried to discuss it with other "old boys", some of them insisted I was the "sad case" for still talking about it after all this time, because of course they had a great time there and got away with murder. They regarded me as a mouthy little shit, and thought I got what I deserved.

    Recently, when the press and police started getting interested, some of them changed their tune. But I was never interested in pursuing grudges against them; it was the school I blamed, because it let obviously criminal acts happen in public, including from prefects and members of staff, long after hitting children was banned by law. I didn't name any old boys, although I did name staff because they were responsible for what was going on and chose not to stop it. It would probably be a good thing if some of your old teachers knew what had happened and how it had affected you. They might still be responsible for kids' welfare, after all.

    1. I think it's good that you speak out about things that happened to you, especially if they were against the law. I don't know if I'll ever see any of my old teachers again, but if I do, and have a conversation with them, I may well let them know what happened under their noses, which they may not have known was happening. After all, I guess they're partially responsible, especially the teacher who I talked to about the bullies who did nothing.

  3. Hi Kathy,

    How are you doing?
    I am a 40 something female with lots of experience of shizophrenia.
    If you want some advice I am happy to help you.


    1. Thank you Lena, it would be interesting to hear more from you! Do you have a blog yourself?