Yesterday I took part in a storytelling workshop run by FDAMH (Falkirk's Mental Health Association) as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. I was invited along to share my experiences of mental health, particularly on how writing helped me reclaim my identity.
I'm a novelist and through my novels I've always sought to give a voice to people who perhaps aren't heard in our society. Both of my novels were written whilst I worked part-time as a primary teacher - a job I was always extremely passionate about.
And then 4 years ago I was involved in a traumatic accident in my classroom. The accident left me in chronic physical pain and suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. I became withdrawn and struggled daily with depression and anxiety. I lost all sense of myself and my self-worth.
I no longer had any interest in writing. I'd lost my voice.
But then two things happened, almost simultaneously.
I was attending a pain management course at Astley Ainslie, which looked at both physical and mental health, and I attended my first Woo'er with Words spoken word event in Falkirk.
As part of the pain management course we were asked to visualise our pain as something concrete with the idea of using this image to release the pain.
I was inspired by the poets and writers at Woo'er with Words and I decided to write a poem based on the visualisation technique.
This turned out to be the first of a series of poems. You can read more here.
I'd reclaimed my voice.
I'd like to thank Janet for inviting me along to share my work and present an exercise, and I'd like to thank FDAMH for organising a fantastic week of events. Yesterday was a clear example of the great work they do!
On the last Thursday of every month I meet up with a bunch of friends in Café Bar 1912, our favourite local bar. We catch up on all of our news and talk about some of the books we've recently read. Yes, we're a book group. But there are no hard and fast rules. At the start of the year, we don't list what we want to read, we don't take turn about with suggestions, and because we're all so busy we don't always get round to finishing the book...
Emma Mooney is a writer of Scottish contemporary fiction and is the author of A Beautiful Game. and Wings to Fly.