Last Saturday I flew to Washington for lunch.

I had been invited to attend the media awards luncheon at the annual conference of Mental Health America. I was among the writers and journalists receiving awards for excellence in reporting and portrayals of mental health issues.

I received the award for my blog, Depression on My Mind, here at Dr. John Grohol, the founder of invited me to blogĀ  for the site in March 2009 and I have thoroughly enjoyed every keystroke of it since.

I had not heard of when John called me with the invitation. I was embarrassed to admit it then, and even more so now because I have learned that is one-stop-shopping for all things mental health.

In my other life I am a reporter for The Palm Beach Post newspaper. I write hard news and investigative stories on everything from mortgage fraud to labor violations against undocumented workers. I also write a weekly column for The Post called Kicking Depression, which won the MHA award for column writing in 2008.

But my blog is my joy. I get up early, make a pot of coffee, read my email and then write. While I do not post to my blog every day, I do write everyday. Writing is a solitary endeavor. My therapist says I do not need anymore solitary endeavors. But I do it anyway — as often as I can — because this blog is MY canvass. These are my words, unedited. What you read is what I wrote.

For three decades I have written for newspapers. I consider myself a subcontractor. I report, research and write a story the way I believe it should be written. With the push of a button on my keyboard, it is gone. The newspaper does with it as it wishes. An editor reads it and rewrites what he/she wants. Mostly I have been blessed with good editors who made my stories better. But not always. When I first became a reporter I got angry when an editor changed my words. No more

I am a subcontractor. I build what they want. They can paint it whatever color and display it wherever they choose. I get my satisfaction from the actual writing – not from reading it in the paper.

But this blog, these words, are me. Raw. What you read is the real me — my words, unedited. After 30 years of watching my words packaged and displayed by someone else, this blog is utter freedom.

To John Grohol for giving me this freedom, thank you.

To you reading this as is — unedited — thank you.

To Mental Health America for recognizing my work and helping so many of us with mental illness — thank you.

To my dog “Dog,” who curls up in his bed beneath my desk as I write, thanks little buddy.

To my higher power, who has always helped me so many times climb out of the black holes of my depressions, mucho, mucho, mucho gracias.

I could not have done it without any of you.