In the mid nineties my life sort of fell apart, I got ill and it was put down to my stressful job. It took a year and a six hour operation to put that right and then, just as I was getting on my feet, my wonderful rock of a Dad died. I found myself defeated, burnt out and unable to interact with my previous life.
A very dark period followed. Anxiety, panic attacks and deep depression took the reins and I withdrew and was unable to engage with the world. My family and my best friend prevented me from disappearing completely when I myself couldn’t. I lost all but a couple of my dearest friends who will never know how much they all mean to me.
But they, and good medical intervention got me back on my feet. I began to study part time and after a couple of years got a portfolio together and rather amazingly got a place at university to do a degree!! It was tough being back in education – within a couple of months my tutors spotted a problem. They referred me on and I got my dyslexia diagnosed. This was a hugely significant moment for me and has helped me immensely in many ways since.
There have been many ups and downs, more episodes of physical illness, panic, anxiety and social phobia and at times getting out of the house has been impossible – but my family and friends have been my salvation. After a very scary psychotic episode, my sister got me a puppy and my wonderful Tibetan terrier Mossop came into my life. He has been a huge help to me, ensuring I get up and go out everyday no matter what.
Unable to get back into fulltime work I have continued to do voluntary work – this has been very important to me and part of my keep fit! I was inspired one day by TV’s Dr Raj Persaud discussing how we should learn to keep fit mentally as well as physically. He suggested happiness was the icing on the cake, as it were – much of life is just cake and expecting more is unrealistic. I wondered how I could get more mentally fit!!
Then, rather quietly at first, singing came into my life by way of Liz Martin and her community singing groups. Going to my first session was terrifying and some weeks it’s still a challenge. Not all the group know my entire story, but a few will have heard it maybe once too often! Like many of us I can talk, too much sometimes. Often though, I find it very difficult to talk about the dark times. Everyone in our group has their story their struggles, sadness and challenges. But when we are all gathered and Liz works her magic something very special happens and it always lifts my mood. I belong, I fit in, I’ve been heard and I come away feeling good. Singing makes me feel well.
In recent times my health has been an issue again but having singing in my life has helped me cope. I haven’t been able to do as much volunteer work again and without singing I am sure I could have had more issues. I have welcomed a diagnosis of Crohns disease to my family of ailments. But this time I have kept my head above the water and managed my depression.
Liz and all the members of our singing sessions are great ambassadors for community. Liz in particular, with her warmth, naturally inclusive style and mile wide smile is just one example of the magical mix of Wotton. Through her I was given a connection to Wotton and its hidden heroes. Yes there are more and I hope they share their stories here.
My cake’s pretty well iced at the moment, but when I get low I know someone in Wotton will have some to spare.
Thank you for welcoming me into the project Katie you are an inspiration, along with all the hard working team that make MMiW possible.
(You can see Kay right in the middle of this photo of our London flashmobbers, with a coffee in her hand, and Liz Martin – the inspiring community choir leader she talks about – just in front of her….)