Today I drank coffee from a mug that say's "Tea" on it and I didn't even freak out!
I'd say that is pretty sweet progress considering I've been sleep deprived and over stimulated lately.
I've been busy advocating on behalf of Mental Health as usual, and this week I was part of a live panel interview on Resonance FM.
Artist Gary Molloy, Musician Mark Roberts and some writer called Kerry Hudson (that'll be me then) discussed the therapeutic benefits of creativity. Gary hasn't been in hospital, where he was in and out of for years, since he picked up a paint brush nearly fifteen years ago, and he in on minimum medication. I've spoken with countless artists (as in the art form, these are mainly musicians) whilst writing about the subject who say that medication slows them down - their creative drive, their idea formatting process, their motor skills.. - which in turn makes them more frustrated, more depressed, and further from recovery.
I guess I'm one of the lucky ones who has a supportive shrink - he knows that if I can't go from idea to production I'll get cranky. Really cranky, I'd NEVER be able to drink coffee out of a tea mug, life would be a list of lists, timetables and IF THEY WEREN'T NEAT ENOUGH... I currently take five lots of little white ones daily, from lithium to diazapam and I rarely keep up with all my publications and I torment myself by thinking if I came off them all, I'll have multiple books written, multiple screen plays even, multiple everything. But I'd probably be writing them all from Butlins Ward (a psych ward) having bought every pet from every pet shop in London and talked so much so fast I put Energy companies out of business.
Speaking of psych wards, the show's presenter Yodet Gherez asked our experiences about institutions and if they changed and the first time I was in one (aged sixteen) it really did feel like a holiday camp, there were numerous activities, daily. There were also extra curricular activities I got in trouble for too, like setting up a secret aerobics class for the eating disorder patients, and running a walking club in the basement, and this was Addenbrooks in Cambridge, one of Europe's largest hospitals and basement corridors went on for miles, and you could get, and we did get lost. It had a fully kitted out music room, complete with piano and drum kit for music therapy. My last trip to a ward, a couple of years ago, music therapy consisted of a tatty boom box and a pile of RnB CD singles, and we take turns playing them. No offense to RnB but I'd rather play Rene and Renate on repeat for the whole of my stay.
Back to the creative process. I sometimes wish that I didn't have a brain that has a hundred thoughts, suggestions, ideas,and at times beliefs per second or so it seems, my flat is often covered in notes, papers, lists, post-it's, drafts, fabric cuts, storyboards, pins, "to do's", latex.. and I sometimes have my laptop and sewing machine whirring simultaneously because I'm running with a new textile art idea as well as an article.
I used to work for an architect and his PA would make me very jealous when she talked about her life, she knew exactly what she was doing from one day, one hour to the next. Monday evenings she and her husband would go to her mums, his mums on a Sunday. Tuesday gym, Wednesday ironing, Thursday late night shopping at Lakeside, Friday dinner with their friends and Saturday they laid in till 10am then did DIY. And when she left work every day, she didn't take anything home, she switched off. You can't switch off when you're creative, or you can but I haven't worked it out yet. Wine helps but it's also loopy juice on top of most psyche meds.
Routine can be difficult for people with mental health, no day is the same, it's ruled by our moods, thoughts, beliefs, behaviour, energy etc.. I may have "10am appointment" in my diary but even if I'm up by 7am on a rare occasion I've slept, it's likely that by 3pm I still haven't made it in the shower and have no idea what I've been doing. I once started writing it down, every hour, on the hour, and I came up with "writing down what I'm doing" which completely fed my OCD!!
I haven't met many people with mental health problems who aren't in some way or other creative, we naturally question everything, perhaps to obsessiveness sometimes, and spiral off in different directions looking for alternative conclusions, very much like the artists' mind. It would be good if we could switch off occasionally, lithium does so much but I'd love to switch off at 5.30pm and go late night shopping with the rest of Essex!
Should you want to hear the interview you can access it here..
I'm sorry in advance if I offend any Loose Women fans.
You can read more about creativity and mental health in my article on the subject here..