I havent written a post for ages (again) and as it is New Year’s Eve, I thought it would be the perfect time to write a post that looks at what has happened to me this year.
At the beginning of the year, I was rehearsing for a production of ‘The Wedding Singer’ and I played a wonderful role, Rosie, who had the best lines in the show. It was great fun to be in this show and we all had so many laughs doing the show.
In April we moved onto Cinderella by Rogers and Hammerstein and I auditioned for Fairy Godmother and Wicked Stepmother, both of which I knew I could play well. However, auditions are a totally different experience to anything else and can be extremely stressful. Whilst I felt completely prepared for the auditions, I totally froze once in the room and seeing how many people were on the audition panel. My singing voice is always poor in an audition due to the tension and on this occasion, it was no different. I came out of the audition feeling horrific and I cried for a good hour, inconsolably too. I knew I had done a poor audition for the Fairy Godmother and then, an hour later, my audition for stepmother was also poor, but because of how I felt about the first audition, my heart was just not in it and I knowingly gave a poor audition. Needless to say, I knew I wouldnt land either role, but when the production team called me and asked me to share the role of the kings steward with another cast member, I couldnt refuse, although I did not feel good about it. For the first couple of months, I constantly saw the negative side to the role and could not see a good show coming from rehearsals. Then, after airing my negativity to the directors and hearing their opinions (which were incredibly positive), I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and to get a grip on my role. I made her into a unique character, who managed to get a few laughs out of the audience during show week and I also received wonderful compliments about my singing voice (one saying I was the best in the whole show).
During the early rehearsals for Cinderella, I had the opportunity to apply to be director for our next production ‘Just So’, based on the works of Rudyard Kipling. Another team member and I discussed and agreed that we would apply as a joint team, knowing that we were both inexperienced in directing and I also put myself forward as Musical Director if no one else had applied. The committee, put their clever heads together and agreed to us being Directors, with another member being Musical Director (who is a lot more clued up on such things as me) and so we were asked to present the new members workshop as a final test to see if we could work successfully together. I am happy to say, the workshop was a complete success and so we went forward with our plan.
So, here I am, 1 month into rehearsals and loving every minute of it. The 3 of us are working wonderfully well together, the MD is getting fantastic results from the musical numbers and the other director and myself are throwing ourselves into our scene blocking and we are both doing a bit of choreography too. I am directing less scenes that the other director as I am making the costumes, staging and props. I had forgotten how much imagination I had until I started this and now it is just flowing out of me and I love it!
Last winter, my physical health was poor. The weather really affected me, I had more pain than normal which led to more exhaustion and I was not able to mobilise well without my crutches or holding on to someone. The spring show and its lead up, was good for my health as I was regularly doing dance routines which increased my ability and energy levels, although, during show week, it meant I wasn’t able to go to the pub after each show, which is the usual tradition or to the curry night as I was so tired and pained after each show.
I was diagnosed with 3 more conditions in the early summer; Oesophagitis, Helicobacter pylori and a gastric ulcer. Antibiotics given and now on lifelong Omeprazole, but a further endoscopy showed, that the ulcer had healed and the inflammation was reduced, so, phew!
During the summer months, I found my health improving, more good days than bad, no horrific flares, less migraines and more mobility. We holidayed in Bulgaria and the heat was wonderful on my bones and I was able to swim daily, but not able to climb stairs without assistance (thank goodness for lifts).
My mental health declined rapidly on returning, probably due to my son moving to University, my youngest daughter having personal troubles and the tax credit people telling me I owed them £17,000 and therefore taking £600 per month away from my normal incoming finances. Having experienced depression before, I did not want to spiral like my previous bout, so I saw my GP straight away and received counselling which worked a bit like cbt and was quite helpful, but it also exposed deeper problems which needed addressing and so I was referred for one to one counselling. This has been incredible so far, in so much as I was immediately able to speak openly and honestly to someone about my feelings (something I have never been able to do before as I didnt was to sound totally deranged). We havent come up with many solutions yet, as each session, we find a new problem, but for the first and extremely problematic issue I had, we are finding ways for me to cope, accept and forgive.
However, we have also uncovered things that I either wasnt aware of, or was blocking on purpose, which has opened up a huge can of worms and feels very raw currently. It has also led us to think that maybe my current medication is not working as well as it should and I may possibly need to see a psychiatrist for a proper full diagnosis as I seem to be crossing a few boundaries, which can make treatment difficult. I also have been told I need further counselling of a specific type and rather than feel frustrated that I am receiving more treatment, like I do with my physical health and medication, I feel encouraged that I am finally heading in the right direction of finding my true self and being happy with who I am.
Just before October show week, I started with a fairly big flare, which was frustrating, but ‘the show must go on’ as they say and I made sure I was able to attend all the rehearsals, tech and dress as they are so necessary. Unfortunately, during the dress rehearsal, as I came off stage, I found myself at the wrong side of the stage. Normally, I would have had to run downstairs, under the stage, then upstairs to the other side, but I still struggle with stairs and I was still in flare and so I asked the stage manager, as it was a rehearsal, could i go behind the back screen on stage to get to the other side. This was agreed, but as I started to walk toward the back of the stage, I tripped over a prop that was invisible in the dark, fell forward and landed face first on my staff.
as you can see the staff had been accessorised to fit in with the steampunk costumes. My jaw landed on the large cog jutting out and i bumped my knee. Extremely embarrased, I got up and made my way to the other side of the stage. By this time, my jaw and knee were hurting and my shock and embarrassment added to this and I became weepy, so rehearsal now finished (luckily) i went up to my dressing room. Here i started getting pain in my ribs, very sharp pain and figured they must have landed on the staff too. Driving home was not pleasant and I struggled to get comfy in bed. A quick visit to the doctor, the next morning confirmed my suspicions that my ribs were either broken, but more probably bruised and pain should subside in a couple of days. Laughed when told to take paracetamol for the pain, but agreed and thought no more of it. Show week started and the adrenaline that accompanies me with each performance, got me through every evening pain free until undress. Sleep was almost impossible as the pain was increasing and it even hurt to breathe and by the last performance, I could barely sit or lie down of an evening, so after the weekend finished, contacted gp again and was told it seemed more likely to be broken ribs due to the type and length of pain and was given oromorph. OMG, now I get why people can get hooked on drugs! I loved it, I loved it too much from the first dose, it was a miracle drug! I slept more deeply than I have since before having children, I could even feel myself sinking into the bed and into sleep. It was wonderful, but it was too wonderful and once I felt that the pain was reducing, I stopped taking it as I knew I would be on it forever otherwise!
Since then, I have had a couple of migraines and mini flares, but nothing extreme and the cold weather does not seem to be having the same effect on me as it did last year, then again, I am more prepared and thermal socks are on all the time! I am still exhausted most of the time, but I am finding that when I do get a window, I am able to make more use of it that I was before, which has got to be a good thing.
LIFE AND DEATH
I’ve called the next part, life and death, as there didnt seem an appropriate title to fit that I could think of.
During this year, I have observed a spiral of bad feeling between people I know within my musical theatre group, which resulted in everyone becoming paranoid about others talking behind backs, everyone blaming everyone else for the situation and no-one taking responsibility for their own bad behaviour. I am ashamed to say, that, even I got caught up in it all. I stuck up for the underdog (as I always do) and found myself being so paranoid about others opinions, that it influenced my mental health downward spiral which resulted in me having suicidal thoughts, thankfully, my counselling helped me through this tough time.
It has been a year of ups and downs this year and in the main, it has not been a good year. The early celebrity deaths of Lemmy, David Bowie, Terry Wogan, Alan Rickman and Prince have had a profound effect on me. I grew up with listening to Terry Wogan on the radio and watching him on tv and I have always thought my dad looks very similar to him. It felt like a personal family loss in many ways. I was a huge fan of Prince growing up and have seen him perform at Wembley Arena as well as having all his albums up until Diamonds and Pearls. He was a musical genius and wonderfully eccentric and I still adore his music. Lemmy was a memory from when I lived in London. I was really into rock music and Motorheads Ace of Spades was always on my favourite tracks list. David Bowie, was another legendary musical genius and I loved his music and many good memories attached to his songs. As for Alan Rickman, I’ve had a crush on him since I can remember and have always loved his acting. There have been so many other celebrity deaths as well as deaths of not so well known but incredibly important peoples deaths, like Henry Heimlich who invented the well known life saving manouvre, that I cant name them all, but some whose deaths saddened me deeply.
Thinking on these deaths (some, very untimely), has led me to think more about the life I have left to live. I don’t want to waste it on useless emotions and misdirected anger and I certainly don’t want to waste it on narcissists or people who don’t yet have the maturity or ability to accept that the world doesnt revolve around them.
looking back over the year, I can say I have grown as an actor, singer and dancer, I have taken risks which have paid off and I have learnt from mistakes. I have, in general, improved in my physical health, but my mental health has declined substantially. I have taken steps to improve my health and I am still looking into ways to take back control of it. My relationships with most people has grown positively, however, due to observing the negative social behaviour of some people, I am still unable to trust and my paranoia has grown.
For 2017, I would like to get more organisation into my life and home again, I would like to get a better sleep routine which in turn, should improve certain areas of my health, I would like to make room in my day for exercise and relaxation and I would like to make myself go outdoors more.
I love my family and friends and I would like to be able to show them more in 2017, how much I do love and appreciate them.
To you all, I continue to hope that my posts, in some way, help some who find themselves in the same dark places as I have, to know they are not alone and to know that there is always hope of a way out, other than death. I also hope that you all are able to put negativity behind you and embrace positivity and pass it forward x