Thanks to a poll on my Twitter back in November, my wonderful followers decided that I should publish a blog post and film a vlog every day for the entirety of December!
So welcome to December 6th…
A little while ago, I enrolled on a Creative Writing course through Northumberland County Council and have been thoroughly enjoying it – to the point where I was genuinely devastated when the Tutor called in sick one week!
I took a Creative Writing course at Bradford College while I was an inpatient in a psychiatric hospital down there and really enjoyed it and not just because it was much-needed time off the ward; but because it gave me the chance to do something I really enjoyed with like-minded people.
Ever since I was really young, I’ve enjoyed writing; obviously at first it was more about short stories with horses in every single one than deep and meaningful mental health blog posts but still, it was writing! Even before the abuse - in my happy, innocent childhood – I enjoyed the escapism and having the ability to get lost, or even just distracted, with the life of someone or something else. I actually enjoyed writing so much that one of Middle School teachers predicted that I’d be a Journalist when I grew up!
Ironically, during the abuse – at the time when you’d think I would most rely on my writing – I stopped writing so much. I think that a huge rationale behind this was the fear that if I started writing, I might never stop, and I could end up writing about what was happening to me. There was a huge amount of people I could tell about the abuse, meant the secret was like hot water bubbling inside of me, trying to reach boiling point and all the while threatening to explode from me at any moment. I knew that when it eventually did, it’d scald all those closest to me. So, I stuck to short sentences in a little diary.
Then, when I chose Law, History, and Philosophy for my subjects at A Level, I realized it meant a lot of writing very lengthy, detailed, essays; but just when I thought that I was going to start doing more ‘recreational’ writing at home, my mental health deteriorated. After I began experiencing auditory hallucinations, I struggled to focus on anything and what little attention I did have, was dedicated to thoughts of suicide or methods of self-harm.
Soon after I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2009, I learnt that writing was the greatest way to communicate with the ward staff and other professionals. Verbal communication in the psychiatric hospital was forever either being misinterpreted or ignored but writing letters to the staff? Well, they gave me the time to get the words straight and the opportunity to say the things that I struggled to say out loud. I spent the following three years writing letters; explaining my behaviour, talking about my thoughts, telling people what the auditory hallucinations were saying, and apologizing for the impact my mental ill health was having on others.
It helped me to think that staff were gaining a better understanding of what I was going through and that maybe this meant they could help and support me in a more effective way but it wasn’t until 2013 that my writing became properly therapeutic. I remember sitting with my Named Nurse in the psychiatric hospital I’d been an inpatient in for over a year and agreeing to begin writing about the abuse. We drafted a care plan detailing that I would start writing about the abuse on an evening and that I’d let staff know when I was, so that they could check on me more often on those nights. Writing this plan gave me hope. I can’t explain it, but it was like something inside of me knew that doing this – writing these things that no one knew about – would be the catalyst for my recovery. Somehow, I knew that doing this had the potential to make me or break me; and I wanted to document that, so I created an account on Blogger and I’m NOT Disordered was born!
Six years later and I can’t imagine doing anything else! So, of course it made sense to use my spare time taking a class with like-minded people… I love that it’s a fairly small class too (there’s only six of us) because it means that everyone has the opportunity to talk and showcase their work without any one person monopolizing the class and conversations. We’re all such different people and whilst everyone is talented at writing, we all succeed at different aspects of it and have our own writing style… To show you what I mean, here’s a few pieces from the girls and a little something from our tutor!
His favourite chair
An old man
With long grey hair
Big black boots
Faux fur suits
Cocoa from a cup
He must get up
His evening task
That children ask
Round the world
Fast on his sleigh
Ho ho hoing
All the way
There once was a group of six women met,
Obstensibly a creative writing set.
Now Wendy was the the Leader one,
Who set the tasks and made it fun.
She also had rules to abide to.
Hot Topics, and Learning Records to name a few!
These made the Group grump and groan
“What a waste of time” they all did moan.
“We only came as we want to write
Passionately with all our might!
It really does seem such a crime
To waste this good Free Wrting time.”
Maddie, she wrote Folklore Lit
With comedy featuring just a bit.
Her love of Haiku was renowned
And had the women quite spellbound!
Aimee wrote a Blog for years
And had the group in floods of tears
With her poem about a beloved cat,
And her penchant for mishap!!.
Debs wanted to engage her adult brain
Having had a baby and felt it drain.
To recreate the writer she had been
Was this young woman’s personal dream.
Dawn felt writing brought her joy.
To write for children was her ploy.
Her cheeky wit would find a place
In stories that would truly amaze.
Hilary had spent many years
Denying her feelings and feeding the fears
That she could never ever write!
This group had shown her a brighter light.
All these women quickly bonded
And grew in confidence
As they soon responded
To the joy of writing whatever they wanted!
From our Tutor:
24 hours with... Wendy Errington
Date: 5.12.19 – written retrospectively on 6.12.19
Why have you chosen to write about today? It’s my free/chillin’ day
What time did you wake up? 9ish
Why did you wake up at that time? I had a migraine headache.
Did you have a dream? Yes – one of those ones where I’m trying to get home and I keep getting side-tracked/deterred. Think I’m feeling stressed.
Do you think today will be 'good' or 'bad' day? (use your own definition of these words to answer the question) good day because nothing much planned but bad as I need to clear a migraine.
What are the first three things you do after waking up? Usually bathroom, heating on, then kettle on.
Do you eat breakfast? If yes, what did you have? Sometimes. I’m not hungry in the early morning – so usually skip it if I’m going out. If I’m in all day I have toast and tea or coffee at 11ish.
What would be your perfect breakfast? Fried tomatoes and mushrooms on toast and lots of cups of tea. Lots.
Is there anything that you have to do today but don't particularly want to? I have to get to the post office – got there at 4pm. Not bad going.
List five things that you do between 9am and noon. I have no routines – never have. Maybe I need to?!
Did you eat lunch? If yes, what did you eat? So, if I skip breakfast then I definitely have lunch. Today I had it very late because of the headache… it was a sarnie and crisps from Tesco Extra - after the post office trip.
What would be your perfect lunch? Homemade soup and goat’s cheese and warm bread. Or fish and chips. Or salad and chicken.
Do you eat dinner/tea? If yes, at what time? Yes – always have tea when my daughter gets in from work at 6ish to 8ish - depending on her shifts.
What do you eat? Today it was homemade Chicken Bastardo (chicken baked with lots of onions and chilli) and rice.
What would be your perfect dinner? The above!
What do you do with your evening (5-8pm)? Making tea.
Do you have a 'get-ready-for-bed' routine? If so, what is it? No – I’m definitely a no routine person!
What time do you go to sleep? Late – very late… 2am-ish. Always have.
Is this when you want to go to bed? Yes… I’m a definite night owl.
What was your favourite part of your day? Headache clearing and getting out and making tea – I find cooking very therapeutic – not baking cakes though – cooking savoury dishes from scratch.
What was your least favourite? A morning and most of the afternoon wasted due to a headache.
Did you 'learn' anything today? (use your own definition of this word to answer the question) don’t even drink non-alcoholic lager the night before a chilling day – it still gives me a terrible headache!
Are you looking forward to tomorrow? Yes!
What do you have planned? I’m going to see The Snow Queen at Northern Stage in Newcastle. The photos look amazing and I read a fab press review. It is a re-imagining of the famous story – adapted by a friend of mine - local playwright Laura Lindow and produced by Northern Stage. Theatre trips always lift my spirits.
If you’re a Northumberland resident, you can enroll on any of the Council’s courses, here: