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Friday, 8 September 2017

Finding Your Creative Spark


Warning: This article contains honesty, mental illness and faith. It is an intensely personal account of recent events and I speak only for myself. What I will say is I would love to support others who wish to share their own journeys. #BreakTheSilence lets work together...
As many of you may know I have just moved with my family to Southbourne, Dorset. One of the reasons for this move was a need for greater support and a realisation that mental health was again threatening my well being. For so long I had believed that the worst aspects of my battle with depression were consigned to the past and that I had sufficient knowledge of myself to make the many trigger warnings I put in place effective in warding off any attack. What a stupid fool I was! I now realise that I will battle the black dog for the rest of my life and sometimes I will lose. This realisation had a devastating effect and the waves of failure that washed over me threatened to pitch me yet again into dangerous levels of mental instability. I had realised years ago that when things get 'stuck' with my reasoning or emotional core I use alcohol to unstick them. It's kinda like setting off a controlled explosion and there is damage caused but far less than if I let things get totally out of control. I am not an alcoholic (although I have read the 12 Steps on a number of occasions and visited many AA meetings) but I do use alcohol to dull the pain and to dislodge dangerous blockages.
I chose Ventspleen as my name deliberately as the careful venting of spleen either written or vocal prevents a blowout of fatal levels. The controlled explosion my subconscious triggered 2 months ago was caused by an overwhelming despair of the state of our country and, in particular, the inhuman treatment of refugees and migrants by our criminal government. It got stuck and I couldn't dislodge it so I got drunk and the resulting bout of insanity made me "go all Nicholson". It terrifies me that I have such darkness inside of me, darkness that is kept back by two things, my faith in Jesus and my creative spark.


Whilst I have never blamed any of this on Him I find communication to be near impossible when the Black Dog takes control and I have to resort to creative spark as a safer vent. Trouble is my creative abilities dry up when I am depressed and I just cease to function. I can vividly remember times when I have sat in front of my screen KNOWING I have to write but the words wont come. Sitting at my piano and being unable to pull a single chord pattern together, in these times the creative jolt required to release the spark is huge. A geographical move was required because, in addition to an increase in practical support offered by my retired parents who moved to Bournemouth a year ago, I needed a larger creative spark igniter. As I was piecing together my mental framework after a near fatal breakdown I realised that, for me, the only way was definitely not Essex! If I was going to stand any hope of keeping away from alcohol I needed to find something that would enable me to write and reignite the creative spark that would act as a safer vent process. Just writing for my PR job wasn't going to cut it I needed to find a way to write about the other loves in my life. Jazz music, Doctor Who, history.... I could go on but I needed to be out of a place that made me feel trapped and unable to breathe. Living in Essex was literally strangling the life out of me and nothing gets to have that sort of control over me!


Imagine feeling the waves of depression, of anxiety increasing in ferocity and experience tells you that a storm is coming. Every wave that crashes around you increases your pain, intensifies your discomfort. You know this one is going to mean you capsize and this time you are not coming back from the cliff edge. As your head goes under the water again your only hope is to light a flame, a creative spark that will burn with such intensity that you find your way to safety. A safe port in a storm you might call it, but you cant see your hand in front of your face and you are so numb, tired beyond the capacity to think.  Creative sparks when ignited can push back the depressive darkness that threatens to destroy you. If you have faith, a creative spark can allow you to hear the voice of God and to reach an outstretched hand out. I moved to one of the most beautiful areas of the country because I was going to die where I was and I want to live. I have so much I want to say and so much I want to hear, to see people that I care about spread their wings and fly. To see film makers realise their dreams and to support creative brilliance is something I long for. I moved so I can see all of things flourish. I want to see my boys grow up and I want to help them up when they fall. I need to be strong but I need to be honest. I write this and #BreakTheSilence but I am scared. What if this isn't enough? Social Media can be such a source of connection and we can achieve life saving interventions if we only dare to speak honestly. Is it really a slight on my masculinity to say I am not strong enough? Is it pathetic to admit that I sob my heart out for a world that seems hell bent on destroying itself? No it is not and I will continue to write about the good and the bad. I will continue to speak out against those that destroy and world leaders who wish to kill and maim. But I write this today and I can almost hear the waves breaking on the Southbourne shore. I have found my creative spark and as I breathe in the fresh sea air I know that I will write more than I have ever written before.


Thank you for journeying with me and please join me. What is your creative spark?

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