I had a tattoo done in October. It has a purple butterfly (for transformation) and a daisy (for happiness).
I then hit rock bottom – as previously described. The creative side of me – my writing and singing in particular – and the physical side of me (my running) felt as though they had shut down. I carried on singing with choir – I was one of an octet singing the solo parts of Haydn’s St. Nicholas Mass – and had organised a singing evening at a local restaurant which entailed my doing duets and solos, but I was struggling. I had had some ideas for features prior to going off sick from work but even pitching them felt like too much effort.
Having been off sick for the best part of three weeks, on returning to work I found I was still tired and lacking energy and motivation. I started to feel better generally about life – less panicky; calmer – and allowed myself to do less and to sleep more. But I missed the energetic, happy me and wondered if she’d ever come back.
When I wrote my last blogpost I had had some good days and some positive conversations with people, but over the subsequent few days I felt sad again. It was the choir concerts that weekend and whilst both went well and I enjoyed singing in them, I felt empty. I saw Bella in her dance class Christmas show on the Saturday afternoon and wished I had the man I loved there with me to watch her too.
I was given a bracelet by a friend at choir. I only belatedly read the box. ‘Equilibrium’, it was called: it said the stones would reflect light and encourage positive feelings. What a lovely, thoughtful, gift. The choir master also told me that we’re going to be singing Stanford’s The Bluebird next term, including making a recording of it (amongst other pieces). I did the soprano solo for it last time, and love it – he said I have just the voice for it. I would normally have immediately been on a high but I was feeling so sad that I was really pleased but still couldn’t stop myself feeling rather sad and alone.
On the Monday in Whitehaven I went down to the harbour and then into Trinity Gardens (it used to be a church) to try to obtain a sense of inner peace; on the Tuesday it was Edward’s nativity play in the morning, which was lovely, but by the time I left work in Whitehaven that evening I felt tearful; on the Wednesday I went into WH Smiths.
That probably sounds a little bizarre and mundane, but I needed to get various bits of stationary. While I was there I browsed some of the books. I can’t even remember the title of the one I picked up, nor who it was written by, but I remember clearly the last chapter. ‘Let yourself shine’ it said, ‘you deserve happiness, success, love… don’t go listening to the little voice that says what you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’, ‘ought’ or ‘oughtn’t’ do… trust your gut feeling… and don’t go thinking that it’s all too good to be true or to last because you don’t deserve it – you do’. At least, that was the gist of it.
That struck a chord and I woke on Thursday ready to get on with the copy-writing I have been working on. Instead of wasting time and finding it hard to concentrate on writing, it was easier to write: how it normally is, or was before I was depressed. I even went and did a tiny bit of singing practice, just because I had songs going through my head. I started planning future singing events and thinking about new feature ideas and who to pitch them to: and I wrote a business proposal based on promotions-type work with a bit of property management thrown in, for a friend who owns a local business. By the end of the day I had achieved more creatively than I had for weeks; and the ideas were still spinning around in my head.
That evening I had an appointment with the therapist I mentioned in my last blogpost. I was late and ended up running all the way there; but as I burst through her door I immediately felt a wonderful sense of calm and of healing (that’s the only way I can think of describing it). The premises feel good. A couple of hours later and I came out feeling more positive and joyful than I have felt for weeks; and when I got home more positive things happened: only small things, but significant.
I realised that I had finally truly got back to my sense of self: to the inner me who is creative; is a performer; but is also practical enough to be a surveyor and business woman. I felt back in touch with the very essence of me, and I feel sure that this time I’m not going to let the writing and the singing drop. They are too much part of me and too important to me.
When I moved to north east Cumbria and then started singing again I said to my mother that my soul felt right here. Standing in Ridge Woods staring over towards the Solway and Scotland; feeling the wind blowing through me at the top of Talkin Fell while I gaze into the distance; just working at home in Brampton; all make me feel rooted to the very ground here and yet that my spirit is able to fly free – and writing and singing are also part of that. I wonder now if the harsh fabric of city life, its rush and bustle and its materialism, made me rather superficial and out of touch with my feelings when I lived there: whenever I was sad I used to drive to the coast or get away into the hills.
I know what path I’ve just stepped on to: one that I’ve been taking tentative steps on for a while, but which I haven’t been brave enough to commit to before. This time I hope I will tread more firmly on that path and stay on it. It will entail some calculated risks: but in fact they may not be risks at all, as what could be riskier than not following your instincts, your deepest gut feelings?