Art was my life! – the Journey of C.W.

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C.W. 62 year old from Nuneaton, was diagnosed 4years ago with a terminal health condition that started her depression. Until then, C. used to make a living as an art tutor specialising in water colours. C. first attended A Passion for Plants and subsequently The Healing Art of QiGong.

“I could cry. Art was my life! And then it was all gone. This horrible illness took it all away from me and Corona just put the cherry on top. I felt so depressed that I stopped being creative and I felt like a failure. Yeah, I don’t know how prisoners do it, but I suppose they have got a release date! For 8 years now I’ve had to refuse social contact and it really got me to breaking point. I was at my wits end and I thought Oh God I don’t like where I am now. I knew I had reached the bottom and I just didn’t know how I was going to get back up.

Out of the blue, a lady from Warwickshire County Council called to check up on people who are shielding. I said well because of the illness I haven’t been out for a year, I can’t do things and I can’t get any help. My son always says “Mum, you’re a trooper” and I said I really feel like the troops have left me and I’m dealing with this illness alone. A few days later Social Prescribing called me and told me about these courses and I felt really excited for the first time in years!

I signed up for a course but had no idea how to use Zoom at start but after a few weeks it felt really nice! The first workshop I drew some chickweed with roots and I thought – go with the flow!. It felt like being back at art college again. The Passion for Plants course was very enjoyable and it was so nice to be talking to other people again and listening to their stories! Somehow it made me feel better, I didn’t feel quite so alone. After the course ended I thought right, get your watercolour brushes out, but it was the Qigong course that actually got me started back. I loved the breathing exercises and you meditate and you relay it into paint. And my daughter was so chuffed I had my water colours out again!

I will never be able to pronounce ‘QiGong’ but it’s been a God-send. It’s about the power of your mind to form your own images, and with the movement they become more alive and colourful in your head. And it really did bring about healing for me! Yes, I’ve got this horrible disease but I can see past that and go up here, into my imagination and mix my own colours, and this has really helped me put the difficulties with my body aside. I am not able to go out but I can think about what I’m going to paint next. The other day, my daughter asked me to do a painting for her friends. So, I’ve got my stuff out and I painted this Alice in Wonderland scene and it was alright, she loved it and it pleased me. She showed it to my grandson who is 14 and he texted ‘You’re so talented, its lovely.’ And it was genuine and it gave me a real good feel.

I have so much stress from this illness and painting does make me relax. I won’t allow the illness to become everything I am anymore. I dread to think where I would be now if that phone call hadn’t come. I was so close to giving up, big time! Now I make sure I go out most days and I have my oxygen tank with me. I am getting physically stronger, this is the strongest I’ve been for some years. I am able to cook a healthy meal from scratch most days, and I have even started to bake again! When I picked up my paintbrushes again it filled a massive void because now I’m thinking about what I can do, not what my illness stops me doing. I was always been a very positive person but it disappears when you are ill, and especially with the pandemic.

Do I think that I’m finding that ‘me’ again now? Well, I hope so ‘coz I brought loads of new paints and I’m about to order some very expensive watercolour paper. I did a drawing the other day and I thought “Bloody hell, you haven’t forgotten how to do that, have you!”

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