Wow, what a day. What a week! Today I went off to talk to a bunch of students about my experience of mental health recovery. I do this particular talk about every 6 months to the new group of students, and as I’ve been giving it for a few years now, it’s really interesting to notice the changes. I reworked a lot of it this morning and updated both the artworks used to illustrate it and the poems used. I remember the day I decided to be open about my experiences of DID, instead of talking only about PTSD. I remember deciding to openly discuss the contradictions about my story and experiences that are so easily missed in a snap shot presentation of my life. Today I pulled out my diagnoses as a focus and talked instead about key experiences – dissociation, multiplicity, voice hearing, psychosis, trauma recovery. I am really comfortable with the development I’ve done.
It went down really well. This one’s a long talk, over an hour, and that can be insanely dull, especially if everything’s done in chronological order or read off a power point. No matter how many times I’ve shared, it’s still an intense experience. My hands shake and my heart races. I remember good advice from an amazing public speaking trainer I saw once – ‘don’t interpret those reactions as fear, think of them and speak of them as excitement’. Fear freezes us, but we can ride the adrenaline waves of excitement. It works for me. I concentrate on not talking too fast (I’m so bad at that, especially when the time frames are tight), making eye contact, being present. People watch me avidly. Sometimes they cry. I’m so moved. I want to hug all of them. I want to sit them down and listen to their stories. I want to hear why they’re in this course, where they’ve come from, what they’re scared of, what they’re hoping to do with their lives. They all have stories.
I can’t talk about the past without going there on some level. I read poems about homelessness or loneliness and there’s a cry in my chest and a cold wind that blows through me. I take people there and I walk them back out again. There’s a lot of courage needed for people to be willing to walk down that path with me, a lot of trust that I won’t leave them in the pit with the bodies, that I’ll help them make some sense of the pain. People are amazing.
I’m home now, on a high. This is predictable, there’s a euphoria for me in connecting with a bunch of people like this, in such intimacy with strangers, in sharing what had been the nightmares and the failures of my life and in doing so, transforming them into sources of wisdom and hope and inspiration. It makes meaning for me.
A crash usually comes later. At some point, there’s the predictable exposure stress, the sense of rawness and loss, the shattering impact of finding that meaning and hope and connection do not erase pain, that I’m still vulnerable and still haunted. I know it might be coming but I’m still flying, soaking up the high for as long as it lasts.
This time it’s special because I’m working so hard on my business at the moment and talks are a huge part of that. Getting such warm feedback is a huge boost that I’m on the right track and this is possible. I’ve been quiet on the blog this week because I’ve been so busy writing new content for my websites and working on promotional material for my talks. It’s a huge project but I’m well into the zone, working every moment I get on it all and feeling it all flow. It’s coming together in my mind so well, what’s been confused and chaotic is becoming clear and I can see the next steps. That’s amazing, because I’ve felt lost and stuck since I started at NEIS and found myself embroiled back in the admin based assessments of the small business cert 4. Now I’ve hit the wall and put that to one side, I’m flying again and the business is developing daily.
If you want to check out my works in progress they are all linked to from this hub site: sarahkreece.com
- My Business Site – I’m taking a leap here. This is the site for all my face painting and custom art, I’m planning to properly add all my mental health/queer/community sector talks and workshops here. At the moment that aspect is undeveloped because I’m still working on the final draft of my master version of the pdf that will be used to advertise my talks. Once it’s more complete, I think I’ll make this my official hub site and close the other page down, or redirect it there.
- The Dissociative Initiative – many of you are familiar with this, but it’s been in stasis since my board collapsed. I’m updating it and linking it to everything else I do.
- The Hearing Voices Network of SA. I’ve wanted to start this resource for years, and tried to pull together interest from local people without success. So I’ve decided to host it myself and then liaise with the interested parties. Why not? There’s nothing to stop me, and we need it!
- Homeless Care – This one is actually my partner Rose’s fault lol. She got inspired and started a facebook group then picked up lots of work and got too overwhelmed to do anything about it. I’ve decided I’ll take it on as I’m feeling pretty comfortable about being able to hold the space – assemble the website and start some gatherings to work on resources and projects.
Feedback is very welcomed, as is any assistance for the free networks. Or passing on my details to anyone who might want to hire me. 🙂 I don’t know if I’m going to be able to achieve my goal of self sufficiency, but I’m going to work on it. At the very least, I now have the dignity that comes with having a public identity – an answer to the question ‘What do you do?’ that doesn’t involve talking to strangers about chronic pain and illness. (I try to never ask this question, it always hurt me so much. I try to ask about people’s interests/passions/hobbies instead. Sick people still have those.) And at last, I can see how to support my free resources, keep them alive and gather support for them. I’ve had so much trouble feeling uncomfortable about marketing myself, about asking for money and moving into a ‘small business’ mindset, but I’m starting to see that for someone who is disabled and dependent on welfare, this is also about dignity. I have a right to use all the skills I have to make myself as independent as possible, to care for my family and prepare for my child. It’s not greedy or grasping, I’m not cheating anyone or looking for pity. It’s not my fault that industrialisation has changed the nature of ‘work’ in ways that are extremely difficult for ill or disabled people to fit. In a different time I would live in a family or tribe and help out as and when I was able to, and give my all when I was well. (assuming I didn’t just die of course) In my own way, I’m doing my best to be part of good changes in the world. I will do what I can, and what I can do will be enough.