Happy New Year, survival, paying it forward and a hello to 2017

2016; a year of swings and roundabouts, as they say. This is just a post to tell a bit of my story of living with anxiety and depression. It’s not me dwelling (and I hope it doesn’t come across that way) I’ve chosen to do this because I’ve found it so comforting at times to read and/or hear other people’s and have a flicker of hope knowing I’m really not alone in this. I want to repay these people’s kindness in sharing their stories by sharing with my own, as a sort of pay it forward… *deep breath*

Firstly I want to wish you all the very best for the next year and your future in general. I hope 2017 is a beauty for you in whatever form that takes.

So here goes…

2016 it wasn’t fabulous, there were highlights, sure, but overall a dark year for me – As for many others – several of my friends and family; feels like it’s been a rough year for most, with one thing and another. But one of the best things for me was finding my voice and creativity again, which I had lost all momentum for.

After years of living on purely my creative drive I’d come to rely on it and during a spell of dark depression I lost all care for anything, and after someone I cared very deeply for distanced themselves abruptly from my life – a silence that sadly spoke volumes – my creativity took to the shadows and I found basic functioning a struggle. I say this not to dwell or be downcast but – I hope – to show it is possible to find a way out of it, in the most unexpected moments and ways. I’m not over it by any means but I’m managing better. So finding my voice again has been huge.
I’m not sure how I found it again other than fleeting moments of sheer stubbornness and excessive failure (as I saw it) at what I used to find so natural. But they weren’t big failures, I started small – drawing the letter’A’ in two different ways, then three and then two for ‘A’ and ‘B’ and then three. Until I found I was doing it without thinking – it’s wasn’t great creatively, nothing exceptional by any means, but I was doing it. It was these small tasks and the need to find a moment of worth in my day that lead me back to my Sketchnoting.

This in turn lead me to twitter, and back to sketchnote army. I also stumbled across a poem online that really spoke to me and had echos of a I poem I once wrote. I felt quickly the double edged sword of feeling light comfort that others – even a stranger – understood at some level and the reinforcement of what I was feeling was real and perhaps all too real to ever escape. But I found a few hours later I felt lighter. As if a part of me had heard that it was possible to find a way back, if I wanted it. And for the first time in months put pen to paper and wrote a rhyming couplet. Just a couplet. And it wasn’t anything special but that was it. Looking back, that was it.

That was my turning point.

So all I really want to say is that even a second or two of feeling like you could or may want to do something can be filled and eventually seen as the mammoth step is actually is. So underestimated by -certainly – me, perhaps others too. Those 3 – 5 seconds choosing to write a letter were like wading in slow motion through acidic treacle. But with intermittent and, albeit short-lived, tenacity they eventually grew (over months I admit, a long dark cloud this time) until they became minutes. Then eventually – after many months and setbacks, occasionally hitting rock bottom again a few times – I’ve turned that into hours and on a good week, days.
There’s still a long way to go before I feel anywhere near functional again but I’m sharing my hope at a time where I feel it may be hope for others. At a time where sometimes joining in with frivolity and festivities is a matter of saving face rather than a real choice.

So I’m looking into 2017 with the hope I found towards the end of last year. And although the road seems vast, rocky and impassable a lot of the time. I have found my voice again once, a comfort I’ve never had before. So thank you to those who’ve inspired me, to those who knowingly and perhaps unknowingly helped me through. And I’m feeling almost positive about 2017. Which may not sound like much. But it’s a huge statement for me.

And that’s okay. (Sound patronising perhaps but I think it’s worth noting).

I’m delighted and touched, and also a little humbled, to have found such response to my work in the last 6months or so.

Thank you all for your continued support for my work.

And so after all that… I repeat sincerely that I wish you all the very best for the next year and your future in general. I hope 2017 is a beauty for you in whatever form that takes.

All the best,

Josie x

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