Born in London , spends 10 years in West Africa 1970-80. Islands, beaches, beauty. It was a cosseted community having lots of fun!
Her mum moved them back to London in 1980 into Grandparents house. London was a bit of a culture shock. She’s unsettled at school, being on the receiving end of some bullying.
Early 1980’s moves to Ascot with mother and then to the North West. Mum has some health challenges which leave ‘A’ left to navigate life herself a bit and learn her own life skills.
Goes to Manchester Poly where she can be herself a little more but prolonged psychological challenges mean she leaves to return home to take a year out. She discovers art at her old school and has the sense of wanting to belong somewhere.
Applies for art foundation in 1992 and goes to Swansea institute of visual arts. Struggles with agoraphobia and self harm and returns home. Eventually goes to Chester Uni as a mature student in hr late 20’s. Suffers with her mental health, mother is a good support. Suffers four breakdowns each time getting back up but not fully addressing the bigger problems.
Lands Oxfam job in 2001, volunteering that helps her keep on an even keel. That experience leads to a job at Laura Ashley. Meets her future partner and also has more contact with her Father.
Enters into Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and although her health improves. Has to visit Bowmere Hospital with much heavier mental challenges and ‘the weight of the world on her shoulders’, but:
‘I always knew I was in there somewhere’.
After 3 months returns home and receives heath support. Starts the slow step by step of going out of the house.
‘Some people can fudge life, like ‘functional addicts’ for example, but not me. I couldn’t be half me’. Starts to accept herself, which feels like a key step. ‘I need to work with what I’ve got. I am who I am’.
Gets taken to creative writing classes, grows in confidence and starts voluntary work at a local shop/cafe. Qualifies as an adult learning tutor winning student of the year award.
Joins EA for emotional support. (12 tools for living).
Starts to run therapeutic art classes and is paid and feels she belongs. Runs voluntary art classes at an art cafe for 3 years. Continues to meet with people from the art cafe as an informal creative, community support group.
Gains PGCE degree! ‘in a better mental space’. Offers online teaching as an adult learning tutor regarding wellbeing skills.
Death of her father causes her to unravel and is unsure she wants to continue to teach. Looks to start expressing her creativity and finds a cafe and community space to express realising:
‘My creativity is an important part of me’.
‘Creatives suffer if they don’t use it. It’s important to find an outlet. Support groups are great both to give to and get from. I’ve realised what’s important to me, and finding a way to explore those things’.
After quite a journey, now active and making a positive difference in the community.
‘Don’t compare yourself with others but open up and risk being yourself, everyone else is taken’.
‘The only failure is if you don’t try’.
There are more chances in life than you think!’
Telling my story was very helpful for me. I have unravelled a few times in my past. Like an old jumper, it means something can be created again as the wool is knitted back which is a better version.
The difference between my past unravellings is that they were very unmanageable and I didn’t know how to cope. This year (and at times over the past few years) I unravelled in a different way where I had the tools to start knitting again almost immediately – or perhaps I just darned a few patches!
Image response to AD’s story
Unravelling and rebuilding.
Fancy joining in?
Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone’s story is valuable.
Share some stories from your life with a view to encouraging others by sharing the ups and downs of your journey, with opportunities to join in with some creative responses if you want to!