This year, I’ve entered for the local business awards. One of the categories is the Enterprising Women in Business Award, and as part of the process I had an interview with one of the judges, Rachel. I had thought it would be a very serious, business-like meeting – despite having met Rachel before, and not really thinking she was a “power-suit” sort of person. It wasn’t serious at all; it was a lovely chat about my business, my blog and my life in general – which was a relief since I know about those things, and I’m not so hot on the whole “grown up business” thing!

When I meet people I don’t usually shake their hand and say “hi, I’m Vicky and I had a massive nervous breakdown…” But when I think about everything in my life right now, it’s all there because of the breakdown.

Hands down,  the biggest and best thing in my life is being a mother. Having S has not only helped me to get on top of my mental health issues, but also to find my “calling” as it were. If I had never found myself in September 2012, a single mother sitting on the sofa after my daughter’s bed time and wondering what to do with my evening, I would never have set up this blog. Without this blog I would not have rediscovered my love for writing, or learned how to use social media to successfully promote my blog. If I hadn’t done those two things I could never have set up a business where my main sources of income are writing and social media.

During my interview with Rachel, I spent an entire hour recounting all the reasons I’m a bit awesome. I told her about my weekly piece on Wave 105; my column in the local paper; my upcoming appearance in The Sun; my January appearance in The Times;  my podcast; my appearances on various radio stations commenting on current affairs; the fact my blog has climbed up the Tots100 chart; my Klout score and the fact Thomas Power complimented me on it. I also talked about my work and how I love the blogs and content I write for my clients, as well as the training I’ve been doing lately and how much I’m enjoying that.

All of these things have happened because of my blog. My blog happened because I was a single mother in need of a voice and an outlet. I was in that position because I’d split up with S’s father, a person who I believe targeted me in the first place because I was recovering from a breakdown. For me, all of this stems from my breakdown. And actually, I think I’ve done bloody well.

I also think that having been through something like that, I am stronger, generally. People say I’m “brave” to have shared my experience, but I just feel very strongly that we shouldn’t all be ashamed and trying to hide things like this. If you’re ill and you don’t seek help because you’re scared of being labelled as mad, or seen by someone walking into the offices of the local community mental health team, the chances are you will get worse before you get better. If I can stand up and say “Look at me, I went completely bonkers but I’m ok now and actually doing quite well thank you very much” perhaps someone else will see this and feel like maybe there is hope for them.

I am glad I had a nervous breakdown because, as the saying goes, from great struggle comes great reward. I reap my reward every day when I look at my daughter’s face. I am one of the lucky few, and I remember that every single day.

When you have a breakdown, it can feel like you’re on a very slippery slope with no way of ever climbing back up again. I felt like my life had changed irreparably, and as they say, “you can’t go home again.” There was no way “back” to where I had been before. As it happened, that was true; I didn’t go back. But I had been suffering with a low-level depression for years, and actually “back” was not somewhere I would want to be any way. When I eventually came out the other side of my illness, I found myself in a much better place – a place I believe I could not have reached without first going through the horrific experience of a massive breakdown. Nietzsche said that which does not kill me makes me stronger and I think he made a valid point!

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Kirsten Toyne · 15/05/2015 at 10:41

Thank you for sharing this. I have seen this so many times that through facing our demons we become stronger and funnily enough more able to be ourselves. sometimes loosing everything is a part of building ourselves up. A powerful post. I will put it on my facebook page (The Guilt Free Guide to Motherhood) because we all benefit from this discussion.

    Vicky Charles · 15/05/2015 at 19:13

    Oh thank you Kirsten that’s a lovely comment – and thank you for sharing. I do think I’m lucky to have S and she is what has made me stronger.

Jeremy · 15/05/2015 at 18:03

Great attitude. Its so much harder to keep going than to simply blame somebody else for our struggles and give up. Good luck with the award.

    Vicky Charles · 17/05/2015 at 12:05

    Thanks Jeremy. I think there is a tendency to blame others; I did it for years, nothing was ever my fault. But having a child made me realise I needed to pull on my big girl pants and just get on with it!

Joy Morales · 17/05/2015 at 01:14

I truly believe that things happen for a reason – and that we can find the good out of every not-so-perfect, or downright crappy situation. Kudos to you for being a survivor…and a thriver!

    Vicky Charles · 17/05/2015 at 12:00

    Thanks Joy, you’re so right. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – the trick is not to let it kill you!

christina · 17/05/2015 at 15:28

Everything does happen for a reason. Sometimes it takes a while for that reason to become truly apparent. In our case we also started our blog as a way to survive. We haven’t found the true reason why things happened as they did, and perhaps you haven’t either. But it sounds like we have both been given new reasons to succeed!

    Vicky Charles · 17/05/2015 at 21:02

    I love your attitude, you’re so right.

Pen · 17/05/2015 at 22:07


Thank you for sharing this. I think you are amazing! In life our biggest challenges become our greatest achievements. Well done.


    Vicky Charles · 18/05/2015 at 09:00

    Ah thank you Pen, I think I’m just lucky to be honest but it’s nice to pat myself on the back sometimes!

Daniel Kronenberg · 19/05/2015 at 09:04

A lovely piece Vicky. Thanks for sharing your experiences and good luck with the award.

    Vicky Charles · 19/05/2015 at 20:23

    Thanks Daniel!

Emma · 23/05/2015 at 18:08

What a wonderful post and so very true, thank you for being so honest. You are an inspiration. Good luck with the award.

    Vicky Charles · 24/05/2015 at 15:45

    Thank you Emma. I think I’m very lucky to have survived!

Esther Nagle · 02/11/2017 at 06:47

I totally get this! I hada breakdown in 2013 after 20 years of numbing my pain with alcohol and drugs. The breakdown, painful as it was, made me see that all the things I was doing to try to get through life were making my life really bloody hard, and i needed to do something different. It took training to be a Yoga teacher for the light to finally go on and for my recovery to really start, but that happened because I had the breakdown, and wanted a way to earn money that was less stressful and more healthy than sitting at a laptop all day. It didn’t quite work out how I expected, but I got sober, and that is the greatest gift ever. I am a better mother to my kids than I ever was before, and even on my darkest days, I don’t hate myself like I used to. I am really grateful for my breakdown.

Thank you for writing this, I love your blog!

Kristin · 09/05/2018 at 16:35

Thank you! I’ve wanted to write for years but I don’t because the things I want to write about will expose me. And while I have this persona of not caring what people think, deep down I do, I know it. I’m known for being a very strong woman, I rarely let the softer side show but always feel like I’m one challenge away from breaking. I do think it’s very brave to open your life and vulnerabilities to the world. Maybe one day, I’ll be able to do the same. :)

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