I know, it’s a little early, but I thought I’d post this today, as well as a bit of a personal review of the past year.
2016 has been an interesting year for me, one of some major changes in my life.
It started with me being a science teacher, off again on long-term sickness due to a recurrent bout of intense anxiety and depression. I was so distressed about having to return to work as a teacher, about what else I could do. I couldn’t think straight. My capacity to read and understand what I was reading or remember it was severely impaired. I had trouble going out of my home. Anything to do with my job caused me an intensifying of these symptoms and the most distressing nightmares I’ve ever had.
Teaching has changed so much in the 28 years I was a science teacher. The pressures have increased, both in terms of workload and behaviour/attitudes of the students that is a reflection of how society has changed too. All of this resulted in triggers for my depression/anxiety/low self-esteem/low confidence.being overwhelmed by even little things. No matter how well people told me I was doing as a teacher (senior teachers, colleagues, inspectors (I never had less than outstanding in the last two inspections I was seen teaching in), I never believed them and thought it was just a fluke.
Because of this, I kind of knew that I’d have to leave teaching, but didn’t know if I could do so financially. I’m single, responsible for all my bills and so on, so whatever I did I had to make sure I had some kind of financial security.
Eventually, I made the decision to leave teaching and to become a self-employed artist/illustrator based on the success of the adult colouring books I’ve done (of which there are now many – listed on my amazon author page), and that happened in the early part of the summer, officially.
This was, arguably, the best decision I’ve made for a long time. The difference it is making to my mood/mental health, as well as progress in counselling is quite remarkable. My only worry at the moment is my first tax return and tax bill in the early part of next year!
I know I have a lot to do to create a portfolio and to come up with projects that will keep contracts coming my way, but I do have some breathing space at the moment, with just one book to be completed asap.
On the back of this decision, my home had a major clear out, again in the early summer. Though it’s not entirely finished, enough progress has been made for now. I now need to have a major de-stash of art materials to make space for either new, or just easier organisation of the materials i use most often.
I also discovered I have quite strong views politically about how our society should be a lot more caring of those who need help, for whatever reason, and how important the British NHS is and how much more it should be valued by those in power in the country, and not just seen as a cash cow for their buddies and supporters. It took me a long time, but I finally worked out that my beliefs/views politically mostly aligned themselves with the traditional Labour Party (not ‘new Labour’, which seems to me just a lighter shade of blue than the Conservative Party). So, I joined the Labour Party. Yet to make it to my first meeting, but no doubt I will do.
I also have become involved with Time to Change Wales as a Champion. This is an organisation whose campaign is to end the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness. I’ve yet to tell my story at an event, but that’s on the cards for sometime in the early part of 2017. Again, this is something I have strong feelings about, especially the self-stigma that prevented me from recognising and accepting I had a mental illness (complex post traumatic stress disorder(cptsd)) and seeking help.
I am really grateful that I did recognise the cptsd, and have made the major change of going self-employed as a way of looking after myself and being happy in how I earn a living, and it doesn’t even seem like work most of the time!
I’m grateful for those who have stuck with me through thick and thin, offering me the support and encouragement that they are able to.
I’m grateful to those who have created difficult circumstances for me, and those circumstances have either shown me how far I’ve come along in healing, or where I need to focus some attention on as my counselling continues.
So, thank you 2016 for moving me forward in my life with the challenging events, for showing me how far I’ve come along in my healing journey, and for the fun and laughter that have helped me keep going.
Thank you to all those who have believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, who have given me amazing opportunities to create and share art with others via the medium of adult colouring books, and I look forward to all the opportunites that come along in 2017 for me to continue to create and share with others.
Here, as promised, is the line art for the image above. If you’d like to download/print and colour, please do so. All I ask is you respect my copyright, you use it just for personal use, not for commercial gain, and if you share your coloured image, please link back to my blog.Enjoy, and thank you!