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My Story

My imagination doesn’t seem to have an off switch. There have been times when my mind has simply had enough of trying to keep up with it all and has blown a fuse. The internal silence that followed has been both a relief and very frightening, not only for me, but for my family.  


In the early nineties, I was in a psychiatric unit being encouraged to engage with the activities. I just wanted to be left alone but thought that if I got it over and done with, the nurse would leave me be. Full of resentment at having to ‘join in’, I picked up a paintbrush and went for my favourite colour. Black. 


Thirty minutes later I stood back and looked at what I had created. A hectic, circular weave of black and grey brushstrokes, with a small black dot at the centre. Then something strange happened. As I looked at my handiwork, I realised it reflected how I was feeling. I felt trapped in an endless circle of confusion and fear. Like a wounded animal surrounded by wolves. That I was drowning in a sea of worry. These snippet summaries of my feelings kept coming to mind. Even though the words would not be spoken, thinking about them gave me a little comfort and a glimmer of understanding. And all from one simple mess of a painting. I began joining in more often. 


After a lightbulb moment, I realised my family were suffering every bit as much as me. It was a turning point, and I began working with the doctors, instead of against them. Slowly I began to learn how to manage my mental health. For many years painting and crafting played an important role in this process. When a back problem began making painting and crafting increasingly painful, there came a time when I had to stop. Without these creative outlets I felt disorientated, lost, incomplete. 


As an escape from my sadness, I started reading the Game of Thrones novels. Through his words, George R. R. Martin recreated his imagination in my mind, breathed life into his characters. And as I read the books, it seemed as if he was holding up a mirror to humanity. And so, my passion for exploring the human condition through creative writing was ignited. 


I wanted to learn more about how to write, more about what it is to be human. It was not long before I had signed up for my first course with the Open University. In 2015, I gained a First-Class Honours Degree in Humanities with Creative Writing and Philosophy. 


With all the writing ideas buzzing around inside my head, along with all my other thoughts, it can get very noisy in there. I have learned how to manage this, so it does not become a problem. An idea is silenced, takes a back seat, once it has been written down, even if it is just a few words. 


Acute anxiety over whether I have missed any spelling, punctuation and grammar errors, stopped me sharing my writing. Years ago, someone was giving me a hard time over a piece of writing I had shared online. I had never heard of the grammar police until then. 


Having said that, I don’t worry if a reader is going to like my writing. It’s great if they do, but we are all wonderfully unique and not everything can appeal to everyone.  


Attributed to Christopher Hitchens are the words, ‘Everyone has a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.’

I do not agree with that. Not everyone is knowledgeable or confident enough to be a lecturer or public speaker, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t talk about subjects that interest them or that they care deeply about. Not everyone has a bestseller in them, but everyone has a story. If someone wants to write autobiography or weave elements of their life experience into a fiction novel, why should they not write?    


Ernest Hemingway once said, ‘If they believe the critics when they say they are great then they must believe them when they say they are rotten and they lose confidence...So now they cannot write at all.’ I wholeheartedly agree with Hemingway. Critics may speak for some, but they do not speak for everyone. 


On my sixty-fourth birthday, I decided it was time to muster my courage, channel my inner warrior and as Nike says, ‘Just Do It’. 


I started by creating this website. To say it was a learning curve is an understatement. To begin with there was a lot of pressing keys until what I wanted to happen, somehow happened. Apart from my logo, I decided not to include images on the site. It is my hope that my writing creates imagery in your mind.


Next on my list of ‘things I should have done a long time ago’, is to final edit and self-publish my fantasy novel on Kindle. 


I am not trained in mental health and have no connection to any of the organisations on the ‘Mental Health Support’ page. What I do have is a lifetime of living with mental health issues. Despite what our mental health can often have us believe, we are not alone. And we are enough. Always. 

Thank you for walking with me a while
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