Hello there, this thing here about my story turned into the screen play for a movie. If you want to skip to the last paragraph, I won’t be offended (I won’t know either, which helps).
After struggling since childhood (I thought I didn’t have a valid place in the world, that I was an outsider and that friends and family didn’t actually like me) I took advice in 2004 and went to see a doctor who diagnosed me with Depression.
I started taking anti depressants and they helped somewhat. I was definitely more stable with my moods (I’d thought I was a miserable moody cow all my life rather than there being a problem!) and stopped analysing EVERY conversation. I probably only analysed half of them (not kidding!!). To cut a long story short, a number of highly stressful circumstances resulted in me hitting absolute rock bottom. I was dead inside, I couldn’t look after myself, I wasn’t washing or brushing my teeth and was wearing the same clothes day in day out with my hair scraped back into a tight pony tail to disguise the greasiness. I luckily had some excellent treatment (I thoroughly ‘recommend’ long and intense courses of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – CBT) and came through the worst with a whole new spin on life. I finally felt I was as entitled as anyone else to a place in the world.
I have grown since then, I still have gloomy periods which can last for a couple of days to a month or so. They are longer apart than I ever thought possible. I have a checklist of behaviour that if I begin to exhibit means I need to work extra hard on my daily CBT.
I think that unfortunately, during my early life, I didn’t naturally learn decent coping skills to handle every days emotional knocks. The woman supposed to nurture me was physically abusive and I learnt skills to protect myself from her… Not talking about my feelings, showing people that I ‘didn’t care’, bloody mindedness. These skills suited my childhood, yet don’t work so well in building adult relationships. Sometimes I have a knee jerk reaction and am transported back into that young insecure girl and employ the more negative tactics to cope. I believe I manage my Depression on a daily basis. I don’t think I’m ‘cured’, I do think I am now armed with the techniques and skills to nurture myself, work through my feelings and fly through stresses quicker and remain unscathed.
I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea in recent years and have found that it is due to my physiology (my face shape) that my airways collapse when I breathe whilst asleep. This condition explains why I’m constantly tired (seriously – if I go for a lie down at ANY time of day, even an hour after waking, I will sleep!), why I wake up in the morning as tired as when I went to bed, why I snore like a tractor, why I struggle to get up in the mornings. This aside… health problems associated with Sleep Apnea are: shortened life, heart attack, stroke, death during sleep, depression (coincidence or not?), diabetes, errrr…. I think those are the major ones.
Sleep Apnea is a DVLA notifiable condition. You’re much more likely to fall asleep at the wheel of a vehicle if you suffer from Sleep Apnea. You see, apart from stopping breathing every few minutes of sleep, you don’t get any deep sleep… That REM sleep where dreams are made and your daily activities are processed. So I dream a dreamless tiring sleep! Once diagnosed (involving a 2 night study at home and then an overnight monitored sleep in hospital) you get given the ‘Gold Standard’ of treatment – CPAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure). If you are successfully using CPAP then you get to keep your driving licence.
I tried CPAP for 6 months, and that’s when it was discovered that it’s my face shape causing my problems. I’m not your typical Sleep Apnea patient… They’re generally overweight middle aged heavy drinking males. Errrr, I’m none of those things! So, I’m waiting for some major jaw surgery to cure me. I have to have orthodontic work first… But there’s a 3 year waiting list for that! So… I am not receiving any treatment for Sleep Apnea and the DVLA took my driving licence.
This brings me nicely to me losing my job!! I was working as a Creative Therapist in a Hospice. Working with patients in palliative care is absolutely humbling. I fell into the role after wanting to gain experience before starting an Art Therapy MA. There was an opening at the Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Backford near Chester. I worked there first (I later moved to St. Roccos in Warrington) and found that I totally loved the role. People would say ‘Oh, I couldn’t work with people who are going to die’ and I understood, it’s not something I ever thought I’d be able to do either.
Working as a Creative Therapist, I felt that the people I worked with were worrying about what was going to happen to their spouse, their kids, their parents, their jobs, their house, their car, their pets. That’s whilst dealing with the fact they know they are coming to the end of their life, that they have problems associated with their illness AND problems associated with their treatment. I thought that if I could help someone have even 10 minutes of their day where they weren’t thinking about all that, where they were enjoying themselves, laughing, being creative, making things to leave to their loved ones, then that was invaluable. We often used to be told (in jest) that we were being too noisy laughing or singing.
Pottery for Pleasure Classes
Anyway, when I lost my licence, I could be longer get to my job, so I had to stop. I converted a room in my garden to my ‘studio’ and have been providing pottery classes to everyone/anyone (I had learnt and been doing pottery for a number of years and totally love making something beautiful of what essentially started off as a lump of mud). I have Autistic children who come with their parents to bond and help calm specific behaviour and ADHD children have found it helps them sit and focus. People with Arthritis attend as they want to keep their hands moving and forget about their pain, people who just love being creative through to businesses who are looking at different types of team building activities and helping their staff relax and switch off their busy minds.
So, Depression and Sleep Apnea are my more serious conditions. I struggle daily with pain from a Slipped Disc in my lower back and Arthritis in my neck (causing 3 more slipped discs in my neck). Karen who runs ConsciousCrafties.com was with me when I got the MRI results – she was a really great help when trying to listen about treatment and pain management. The Slipped Discs mean I get the joy of Sciatica down all 4 limbs, my hands are constantly tingly and when I’m bad, I can’t feel my hands at all…. which makes for some interesting pottery teaching if I have a class.
Now you know my ailments…. They don’t define me as a person.
I like to think I’m upbeat, feisty and funny – I’m sure some people would disagree. I hope that you like my pottery and ceramic jewellery and that if you live near-ish Chester (UK) that you may pop in to learn to make some pottery.