Life is messy!
Employment. Redundancy. Friendships. Family. Bereavement. Money. Brexit. Trump. North Korea. Islamic State.
All at a time of hyper-connectivity on social media, where everyone has a window on our personal lives and thoughts to a greater or lesser extent.
Is it any wonder that mental health is coming to the fore as the new public health issue of our times?
As a sentimental soul who tends to dwell on the deeper side of life, and having had a bit of a complicated upbringing, I have come to understand how I could be vulnerable to anxieties and depressions, including a brief but catastrophic period of erratic and self-harming behaviour following my Dad’s death a few years ago.
As I turned 40 in 2015, I was made redundant from a job I loved. The job involved trips to my childhood city of Leicester, which I had had to leave as a child, thirty years previously. The job seemed to complete a gap in my life and felt perfect in many ways. I had put all my effort into applying for that job, so being made redundant after just 15 months sent my internal thoughts into meltdown.
At the point when I discovered Artefact Cards on Twitter, I was also struggling to deal with the loss of two father figures of my life during the winter of 2015-16: firstly my PhD supervisor, Barry Jones, to whom I owed so much. Secondly, my hero of the airwaves, Sir Terry Wogan.
I was deeply upset by both deaths. Barry and Terry represented a precious and more innocent time in my life. I was heartbroken but I knew that I had to try very, very hard to not let that spill over into my personal and family life.
I managed to scribble down some key thoughts on my Artefact Cards. One morning I hit on a particularly lovely train of thought. I realised that the music from Terry Wogan’s radio shows still lives on. Therefore, it can be held that Wogan has not died completely. By extension, I realised that if I chose to perceive things in a certain way, then NOTHING dies completely!
This train of thought is my “Wogan Doctrine”. It is one of my a key Artefact Cards, and helps me tackle the issue of grief, which I know to be a personal Achilles heel.
Another of my Artefact Card contains a quote that was spoken at Barry Jones’ funeral: “Grief is an expression of love”. This thought has been absolutely key to understanding my own personal nature.
Two female singers, Kate Bush and Alison Moyet, have both referred to the idea of life being about capturing “moments” of time. The Artefact Cards have helped me do just that, and focus the mind on key moments of happiness, such as taking my daughter to Wembley to watch our team AFC Wimbledon win their play-off final in 2016. Similarly, I have an artefact card saying “5000-1 it can happen!” in relation to my home-town team Leicester City winning the football Premiership title in the same month.
A couple of my Artefact Cards refer to my decision to stop drinking alcohol on 22/03/15. I was never addicted to alcohol, but getting drunk would sometimes make me inexplicably upset. I have remained alcohol-free to this day. It is the core behavioural value in life, it has helped to revive some sense of personal faith, and I now work with two organisations who promote alcohol-free living.
In my recovery, the importance of networking and branching out has become apparent. So I was absolutely delighted to be asked to contribute my thoughts to the Artefact Cards blog, to network in to a this friendly community of creative thinkers and innovators.
In one of her songs, Dolly Parton urges us to “shine, design, refine” our lives until our dreams come true. From a position of profound personal pain, Artefact Cards have helped me do just that, and to try and visualise a more positive perspective for me and, by extension, my family.
Thank you - or Diolch yn Fawr – from west Wales.