I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last posted anything. And what a year it was!
Not the worst year of my life to date, but wow, it was really up there!
I wasn’t in a good place to start the year, my parents had decided to move back to their home town at my brothers suggestion, so that someone could care for them as they got older (it must have been assumed that I couldn’t do it with my illnesses). This totally floored me, all my family are from and in the north, we moved to Shropshire when I was 11 and it was always my intention to move away as I’ve never felt happy here, but with one thing and another, I’ve never managed to take that plunge, so now (apart from my husband and children), I’m on my own here as far as family is concerned. This announcement had played a large part in my mental health hitting the floor again and once again, I was struggling so much that dying was the only way I could think of to stop the pain. The crisis team were called and I was put back on the medication that took so long to wean off from the year before.
I was also performing in a musical theatre production (as always), however, I was really struggling with this too. A few years before, someone had said to me, I’d be perfect for Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and so I watched it and fell in love with the show. Then the opportunity came up in my company. I had singing lessons to make sure my voice was as good as it could be for the audition and I watched a variety of leading ladies play the role to gain as much understanding of the character as I could. My audition went really well (in my mind and that was great as I really struggle with high anxiety levels in auditions normally) and I came out really believing I had given a leading performance and had an excellent chance of getting the role. But this was not the case, another lady (who has an amazing voice and stage presence) got the role and whilst I did not begrudge her getting it or the production team for choosing her, I just couldn’t deal with this decision. I felt as though, I was delusional to think I was good enough and was making a fool of myself to even try and finally decided I’d never audition again. Worse than that, I then found that whilst I loved watching the show, being in it was a totally different story. There isnt a whole lot for the chorus to do in this show and what there is to do, is extremely difficult with harmony parts and it just didnt seem to come together and was extremely frustrating. The cast didnt seem to have fun with this show either, which felt awful as with all previous shows, we found ways to really get involved and enjoy it, but maybe it was because of the lack of involvement or the difficulty level, the cast just felt flat (or maybe this was just my perception as my depression was hitting hard just before Christmas 2018 and rehearsals started in December and the show was performed in April.
My parents moved out of our family home and we took them to Newcastle and to their new home. Once stepping through the front door, it was incredible how it felt right for them to be there and part of my sadness about their decision melted. Plus, the decision to visit as often as I could, which meant I would see my brother’s children more, felt good as I adore my home town so much, plus my daughter was at the University there, so I could see her more often too.
When I was a child, one of my favourite films to watch was ‘The Sound of Music’ and this was the next show that the musical theatre company were doing, so I was really looking forward to being in this show, although, only as a choral member. Then I managed to get the courage to get audition material for 2 roles, neither of which I really wanted, but thought auditioning would help me get back on the horse. The baroness was the role I really thought I’d be best at, however, I really didn’t like her songs or the way the production team wanted her played and the Mother Abbess felt old and uninteresting and ‘Climb every Mountain’ was the ONLY song in the film that I didn’t like (it sounded like a strangled cat singing). Plus it was hinted to me that my voice wouldn’t be able to sing the top A note of the song as I normally sing mezzo soprano. This was the comment that made me more interested as I know I’ve got a 4 octave range and have sang soprano before, but only sing mezzo because it’s more difficult and interesting. Then when I sang with the other auditionees, I totally nailed the note and felt a lot more confident about it. That was until the lady who played Norma, was going for the same roles, my confidence left me and I did not believe I could be as good and so what was the point. My best friend was on the production team and advised that I didn’t pull the audition, but wait to see how I felt on the day. I was convinced I wasn’t going to bother, anxiety levels just led me to think I’d never get the role. Then about 2 hours before my audition, I thought to myself ‘I will do the audition, knowing I won’t get it, but at least I’ll have got back on the horse again’ and I went into my audition with this frame of mind. I don’t know how it went on a personal level as that part of my brain shut down, probably from getting it so wrong on previous occasions. I think I had to then wait a week for the results as they held call backs for certain roles. I only went and got Mother Abbess!
Rehearsals were horrific for the first couple of months as I had imposter syndrome and truly didn’t believe I was right for the role and that the production team had made a mistake or just given me the role because of what happened last time, or some other ridiculous reason (which I know for a fact to be insane as they were as fair as any other production team). I couldn’t sing the song in front of other cast members in case I made a mistake and they could also see I wasn’t in the right role and would have panic attacks and actually cry and shout because I got myself so worked up about it! Luckily I have some amazing friends in Tadlop and they really helped me to calm down, plus the musical director would give me advice on singing certain notes and styles which really improved my ability and confidence. By the time show week came around, my confidence in my ability had returned and I had grown to love the song as I totally made it my own, no strangling sounds, but a powerful voice emerged and sang. The compliments I received were phenomenal and had me in tears and even some members were still watching out for me and encouraging me right through, massive love for them!
In the middle of my parents move and show week, there were 3 more enormous events.
The most emotional being my wonderful mother in law became ill and passed away. She hadn’t been well for a few years and was an incredibly strong woman, who defied the odds. She had been given 48 hours to live 3 years ago and came back from it and then again in May, was given a short time, but improved again. My husband and I would regularly go out with his parents on a Sunday to get them both out of the house, respite for dad and change of scenery for mum and I grew closer to them than ever during this time. Then unfortunately, she took a turn at the beginning of the school holidays and we were told that there would be no coming back from this. She was transferred to our local hospice who were true angels with all of us and she passed peacefully there with her family around her. There was so much love in that room, it was incredible to experience and whilst it was a terribly sad time, I’m so glad and humbled to have been a part of it.
The week leading up to this was my 50th birthday, which was not what I had dreaded. For years, I’ve been afraid of dying and all that it entails (including ageing), but from seeing the care that mum received, reduced this fear greatly and my mental approach changed and almost overnight, I would announce my age without hesitation, whereas before, I’d avoid answering completely. I had a party too which I totally embraced and had the best time with some really special friends. I still don’t like the getting older part of life and all it brings, I’ve got enough shit going on with this body and its illnesses, I really don’t need all the extra that old age brings! However, I do now love seeing peoples expressions when I tell them how old I am.
In September, one of my best friends who introduced me to TIKTOK and I went to Basildon, Essex to a TikTok meet up for content creators. I started doing TikToks in November 2018 and slowly loved it more and more and became better and better at it. Then from mid 2019, I was flying, I had a viral video out which is still being watched and liked (400k views and 24,9k likes so far) and I was totally hooked on it. The meet up was to network with others, gain new followers, get some awesome ideas and create some incredible content. The weekend was fabulous, we had a great time and have already booked our hotel for this years event.
My pain seems to be getting worse, I’ve noticed my Tramadol no longer has the effect on me it once did and sleep has not respite for it at all. I have finally been referred to the pain clinic and I’m really hoping to find ways other than meds to help alleviate it.
The happy pills have kicked in properly and I’m coping better with life, I still have days where I just want to be dead to stop the pain, exhaustion, depression, lifestyle that I now have to take, experience, live. But it is usually very fleeting and I can see through to the other side of it.
I’m no longer on the list for bariatric surgery as I have been unable to attend appointments due to my illness, so they have taken me off the list, plus, I’ve researched and found that because I’ve had a gastric ulcer and have oesophagitis, the band (which is the only option I’d consider) is more likely to have complications and possibly not work.
Anyway, this is where I currently am, I have another supporting lead role in our current production of ‘Guys and Dolls’ and I’m looking forward to seeing what this year brings.