Monday, 29 August 2016

AUGUST : PLEASE #SHARETHELOAD

August is the more serious of the summer months. Everyone starts to think about the academic year ahead, what they have achieved since the start of the year and what they hope to achieve before the year ends. 

For me, it has meant gearing up for my final year of uni. I wanted to spend the month destressing, taking a bit of time out from working, and start organising myself for the work that lies ahead (dissertation and studio practice). Needless to say this didn't quite go to plan - I have had very little time off, and the month turned into a pretty hectic mess.
Long story short, my body was exhausted and my head was fried coming up to the end of the month and despite trying my hardest to live a more healthy lifestyle (by giving up the drink altogether, getting off my phone for long periods of time, cutting back on eating crap) I still burnt out hard.

I haven't experienced bad anxiety for quite a while now, yet there was a week where I felt so overwhelmed with pressure that I ended up having two panic attacks. The first was my wake up call; the one that made me realise that I needed to take a step back from everything. But being the stubborn bitch I am, I ended up trying to stay on top of it all and push through, until the second one.

A few days on, a few steps back, I have decided to hop on here to talk a little.
In my life I have met a lot of creatives that love the grind, but at times they take on a back-breaking amount of jobs; sometimes there are oppertunities that come your way that don't come by often, sometimes you feel like you owe it to someone to take on a project, and sometimes you just don't notice the work-pile build up into a mountain before it is all laid out before you. I know that I am that person; the one that can't say no, stubborn that I can juggle it all, and thirsty for experiences. It's great, but obviously, as I mentioned, it can get a bit too much and things get stressful.

I love living a fast paced life, where there is something new happening everyday. It's exciting, challenging and exactly what I want to be doing. Slowing down, or stopping, even just for a short while, can feel like you are moving backwards. But it is an important to pencil some blank space into your diary.
I hate to bang on about it, but mental health is such an important aspect of life that we should all keep an eye on, talk openly about, and get help with. Everyone experiences bad bouts of depression, or anxiety at some stage in their life, in different measures - and one of the best things we can do to combat it, is talk about it.
Everyone is well aware of the stigma against mental health, and at times it can be really hard to open up about it to people - but I hope that as time goes by, and more and more people talk openly on platforms like this, and amoungst friends and family, everyone will feel more at ease to talk out.
With this month came the heartbreaking news that Stevie Martin had passed away. He was a talented and inspirational musician (Rainy Boy Sleep) and a supportive friend to all who crossed paths with him. I have known Stevie for years, and through-out that time he always took the time to encourage and commend me each time I posted about mental health on the blog or socials. We conversed a lot about using online platforms as a way to start conversations and break the stigma against mental health, and over the past few weeks those ideas have been floating through my mind, and I've been thinking about what I could do with them.



This Thursday I will be exhibiting work with Go Girl Belfast in PS2 (Paragon Studios Belfast). I have decided to collaborate further on the #ShareTheLoad series and talk with fellow creatives from the group (Nuala Davies, Katie Richardson). I reached out to graphic designer and illustrator Alice Kearney to help me to create some images for exhibiting that were based on opening up on mental health.  I was keen on working on something within Go Girl as I think that it is such an amazing support system for creatives to turn to. As I mentioned in my last post, Go Girl has been a Godsend for helping me to get out of ruts, and a source of inspiration and encouragement to keep on truckin; I only wish that more people would get involved and reap the benefits.
It's important that people feel like they are a part of a safe community, be it a friendship group, online space or other. I hope that by talking openly online about Mental Health, and sharing experiences within Go Girl will help others to feel that they can reach out and help themselves. It's a scary scary thing, and whilst I can only ever speak from my own experiences, I would never want anyone to go through it alone.

If you would like to learn a little more about the exhibition then please check out the Paragon Studios website HERE, or the events page HERE


Anyway, thanks for checking out VENT today and taking the time to read. I'm going to crawl back into my hole and take a little break before the madness that next month will bring. Before you go though, make a point of thinking about how Mental Health effects you and those around you. We all have mental health, and we all need a little help sometime, so if you can be that helping hand, or need one, please turn to those around you, reach out and talk about it. Please do not be afraid about opening up about Mental Health, support one another and #ShareTheLoad.


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