This is a blog about my website, it absolutely blew me away when I read it. Thank you so much to Tony, who saw one of my talks in Harrogate a few weeks ago. I think your the first person to ever render me speechless!
· I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation and know the passion you describe very well from my work in health.
· I thought your impassioned speech today would be perfect to send, a recording or your true self would do better, however things being as they are, if you could prepare a document with links to your blog/website and work and send it to me in the next days that would be great. So good to hear and see you today. Looking forward to hear more
· Hi Debs I was inspired meeting you today, perhaps I too could learn to draw . I have sent an email requesting info on courses for beginners starting in January
My inlaws sang your praises before I met you today and they were so right .
Your work is incredible.
· Thanks Debs. It's great that you are so enthusiastic about sharing your story and your experiences.
Meeting you the other day was inspirational and has given me real hope for the future.
· Your gallery is amazing.
You were a star in Harrogate.
What a fantastic, inspirational day.
Looking forward to seeing you soon.
· Hi Debs
How are you?
I just wanted to say what a fantastic day in Harrogate this week we had.
You were a star.
· Had a great time @TheCBSO today. Thought provoking talks all 'round. @allofusinmind
· We’ll be joined by the amazing @debs at conference on 26 March at @thecbso Centre to talk about how #CreativeMinds changed her life
· You're an inspiration, Debs.
· #FF Debs loving what you do & 4 being super helpful
· Hi Debs, I was thinking about you this morning and was going to look at your website. Your card is wonderful
· debs Absolutely agree. You're helping end the stigma by talking so thank you!
· debs You look great Debs! And your story is so inspiring - just like the rest of #CreativeMinds !
· debs was just looking at your art work on website; v distinctive/unique style, I like!
· debs thanks, and thank you for sharing your story yesterday. It was AMAZING and INSPIRING #ImROC
· debs Thank you! Inspirational! #ImROC
· debs Your presentation really moved me, thank you so much for sharing your journey I'm sure you will inspire many people
· debs Having the courage to stand up You're an inspiration
· debs thank you very much - great to meet you and thank you for your inspiration
· debs thanks, just need to bottle you and take it home!
Having always had mental ill health from a very early age (8 was the first time I went to doctors with ‘nerves’) I feel I am as ‘qualified’ as anyone can be about mental illness.
I wasn’t officially diagnosed until I was about 36, but all the signs were there. The classic mood fluctuations, the highs, the lows, the deep dark moments that gripped my body. It was the highs that caused the most disruption (the lows were classed as me being ‘in a mood’ or ‘feeling sorry for myself’) and I was often getting into trouble at school because of my hyper behaviour. It was just how I was. Today I might be classed as hyperactive on a high and autistic on a low, but the truth is I have bipolar and depressive disorder.
I am now proud of who I am, its taken a long time to accept myself and my condition. It wasn’t an easy journey and not one that everyone will feel able to do, but if I can manage after all these years there is hope to everyone else. I was told I would be on medication for the rest of my life. who was I to argue with the psychiatrist, he is the expert right?? WRONG. YOU are the expert of your own mental ill health, just as diabetics are responsible for their own well being. I’m not saying that I am ‘cured’ I know I have bipolar and depressive disorder, but I can now manage it. I can finally feel like I have the control and it doesn’t have the control over me.
So how did I magically get to feel like this? I became creative. I (by chance) saw a leaflet for an art for wellbeing class whilst sat in the psychologist waiting room for an assessment appointment. I thought I would give it a go. I have never done art in any way shape or form, but something made me pick that leaflet up and decide to give it a go. I rang up and was asked to attend the following Tuesday. I went along and I was hooked. I was on that psychologist waiting list for 18 months before I was seen on a regular basis. Had I not have gone on this course I would have been left at home with no support or services offered whilst I was on this forever waiting list!
Everyone else was a much better drawer than me, they all had previous experience and knew roughly what they were doing, I however was a blank canvas (which i discovered was to my benefit sometimes) I joined the full program of going to art therapy sessions and with the social aspect and the confidence from drawing something that resembled something that it was supposed to I started to feel more positive about life. Maybe it was worth ‘hanging on in there’ for.
Each week I grew stronger and stronger, more confident and settled (if that’s the right word to use with bipolar/depression) I started to feel ‘well’ I had even cut back on some of the 21 tablets a day that I was on to help me feel ‘normal’ I was chatting to people and making friends and really enjoying life. I continued to draw and even started painting too. I was hooked. I was still coping.
I had moments that tested me, when I felt I needed to go back on the medication because I felt I wasn’t functioning well without it. (having been on medication for over 25 years it was a huge step in itself to try and cut them all down, I was dealing with thoughts and feelings that I had been numbed from for most, if not all, of my adult life) Stopping all medications (which as of March 2014 I have been meds free for 15 months so far) was a huge huge step. I am realistic and know that some day I may need to go back on them, but for now I am coping and dealing with what life is throwing at me.
I still suffer with depression and bipolar (and yes I think I will always suffer with it) but its learning to deal with it. To spot the triggers and almost talk yourself through things. I do talks about my life for the NHS (Creative minds) and recently did my biggest audience speech yet to over 300 people. The thought of speaking to over 300 people didn’t daunt me as much as the train journey to get there did. I know its not rational or easy, but then neither is mental ill health. I had plans in place to help me deal with the rush of people on a mission to get to work in the rush hour traffic. I prepared much more than the average person to deal with it. That’s what I have to do. I felt like I had conquered another ‘issue’ when I finally sat on the last train I needed to be on. Just as diabetics have to diet and/or inject, I have to plan.
Its not always easy, somethings are easier than others. I still struggle getting out of bed in a morning sometimes, but I make myself little challenges. I set myself little tasks to conquer. Each one is a huge step forward for me, which helps boost my confidence and gives me the ability to try another new ‘challenge’. Its about keep moving forward on the journey. I want to keep moving, I have existed for 45 years of my life, only living the last 2 of them. I cannot believe that this is my life now,
I do inspirational talks to service users and medical staff, I have been to Sweden to tell of my journey and I have spoke to over 300 people about my life. In May I am going to visit Buckingham Palace (I was nominated for my inspirational and my voluntary work) I couldn’t get out of bed just over 2 years ago, my daughter was my carer, now look where I am. I know the old adage if I can do it anyone can, seriously if I can do it then I have no doubts in my mind that anyone else has the ability to transform their own lives too. What have you got to loose?
Wishing the world would take me away