T.B. “A new purpose in my creativity”

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I used to wake up with a feeling of terrible dread and anxiety that wouldn’t go until the afternoon. I tried a private psychiatrist but all they did was teach me breathing exercises that I still use now. I knew I had to get up and do something, because if I was doing something like getting dressed, showering, taking the dog for a walk, etc. it was better than not doing anything at all. All I wanted was to hide under the covers but I also knew that these feelings would get worse and worse. I attended Willow View for 12 weeks every day. This made me get up and do all the mundane and everyday things I was so struggling with. It helped me to crack a bad pattern and I feel that perhaps it saved my life.

I was diagnosed with Lupus in 2000 but think it all started in 2004, perhaps a combination of empty nest syndrome, stress from my job as a teacher, not sure…. It just all got me down. I remember I felt very empty and I can remember sitting in the bedroom and crying and worrying about my son going to Uni. He wasn’t happy, nor was I, and he called and asked to come home. From the start my husband was very good and very supportive but he told me he was very worried for me, and he was scared to leave me during the day in case I was suicidal, which fortunately I never was. It was lots of little and big things building up, and then one day my mind was like ‘No, I can’t cope with this!’ and I went through a series of massive panic attacks.

I knew what it was, well, my husband knew anyway. I really scared him. I was out of control. Screaming. Shaking. I couldn’t stop it. We went to the Walk-in Centre and the GP chatted to me, prescribed me with various things so it quietened down a little bit but I was still getting terrible anxiety in the mornings. Then the person I was seeing at Caludon took me off some medication and it was almost like I was back at the beginning again. I had to go back in for an emergency appointment, and he apologised and put me onto something that worked much better. I noticed that when I started taking them I couldn’t cry anymore. That got better with time though, and now I am able to cry again which is such a relief! I got early retirement on the terms of illness both mentally and physically and it has taken me 10 years to adjust to life changes and coping with Lupus.

I do remember my first day at Arty-Folks quite clearly. I was very anxious because I didn’t know what to expect. I heard about it while I was at Willow View and I came to Arty-Folks at the end of my 12 weeks there. I got into the activities quite quickly but I was still feeling held back, like everything was happening without me. Things were going on around me but I wasn’t part of it. I felt invisible, or like I wasn’t needed, which I think leads back to the boys going to University.
I think I started to come out of my shell when we did the mask. I was fighting my way out of foliage, I was in there so long, I was so pale. At the time I felt colourless, insignificant, everyone else mattered apart from me. My creativity started to fill a hole that my lack of job, health and purpose had left. I have been with Arty-Folks two years and I would describe my journey as very interesting, good to be with people with similar problems, being able to talk to people about it, and they know what I’m talking about. The art projects are interesting, I’ve been doing things I never would have, like the sculpture and various other things. I go to a lot of other classes but Arty-Folks is more structured, the projects are clearly defined to channel and stretch skill and thinking. My artwork has developed a lot and I’m quite happy to use all sorts of paint, and I mix them in my work.
I have discovered a new purpose in my creativity and I attend numerous classes like watercolours, pottery, I like drawing portraits and people, and we changed the garage into a craft room, with my husband making models there, and I do work in there too. Yes, I’m coming out and I’m becoming more me again. My husband and I both had busy working lives, we were both teachers, and we have decided we need to spend more time together. We have been through a tough time together and we accept things how they are now.
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