I live in Birmingham with a number of pets I never asked for: “Complex Chronic Overwhelming Psychological Distress” (also answers to a variety of other names), “Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder” (a breed that seems to have issues with chronic pain, fatigue, IBS, breathing issues etc) and Alopecia (which is actually not so bad in itself, just hard work getting it out the house because people are mean to it). They are very high maintenance all together though: they clash and fight and make each other worse, so have a significant, widespread impact on me trying to get on with my life. Although loud and constantly distracting me from doing most things, most other people’s hearing is not able to pick up or become disturbed by their presence.

I can’t get rid of them and they won’t grow up and leave home either. I’d love a pet-sitting service but sadly they cannot be taken away from my presence for even a minute. Sometimes though, they do relax, quieten down and behave if they are around other people who can hear and respond to their needs for fussing and feeding.

*end of metaphor* I can’t keep it up!

Photo of goldfinch looking at camera

In 2012, at 33 years old, after a couple of years of pretty decent functioning thinking I’d got it all together, I realised that despite a lot of my external difficulties having got better, there were still massive issues I was struggling with.

In a way this was the hardest bit to accept – and after an emergency referral to my local community mental health team in 2014, I began being supported on a journey of taking notice, exploring why things were so difficult for me and what might make me feel better. I also began feeling able to pursue medical explanations for physical symptoms I’d had since being a child, resulting in an Ehlers Danlos/Hypermobility diagnosis in 2017.

This blog is about recovery, self compassion, self care and learning to thrive. As well as learning to drive my body and my mind.

Everything here is a product of my brain and body working to make sense of what gets through the filters of perception to resonate with my thought patterns.

Much of it has come from the (late and difficult) realisation that we can’t just bypass our inner worlds to live as purely rational beings. Without first understanding and accepting our feelings before applying rationality, those feelings will find another way to manifest in our behaviour and lives. We can’t escape the feelings our magical biological bodies create because they exist, like in all animals, to serve a purpose. Sometimes they are way off the (objective, rational) mark, but they are still created and they still affect us biologically, physiologically, psychologically and spiritually/culturally/in terms of Meaning.

I make no claims of uncommon artistry, skill, talent, comprehensiveness, objective accuracy, wisdom or insight. My specialist knowledge (not sure if too niche for mastermind) is my own lived experience of struggling to feel comforted or connected to human beings while living with chronic pain and other symptoms. I’m aware of the lucky breaks I’ve had and lack of barriers compared to many. My new field of study is acknowledging the barriers I do face and building meaning and hope. I’d like to share this online to make it ‘real’ and in case others may also benefit from it.

If you want to know about my actual education/work background and the pieces of work I’ve contributed to in mental health then LinkedIn has a summary of that.

Folksy shop:

Some products of this process seem to be things people like and want to own, which is why I set up an online shop. The income mainly covers costs of therapeutic making which I do with support from the Rape & Sexual Violence Project’s therapeutic crafts group. www.folksy.com/shops/goodnewsfrombad

If it’s something not currently available in the shop or a commission, pop me a comment somewhere here, tweet me, facebook me or email me at GoodNewsFromBad at g mail dot com and I will get back to you!

I use newspaper yarn for a lot of my creations, but also photography, drawing, digital painting and sometimes words.

Why Newspaper?

Newspaper may look black and white at first glance, but the inks in the paper really come to life when you spin it into yarn. And so bad news becomes good, old stories become new ones and a rainbow of subtle colour appears from black and white.

I sort through paper, cut it into strips and twist the yarn with my fingers, rather than using a spindle, to get a very fine yarn. I do not use glue, or water or add any colours, so any colour results from the inks in the paper. I like to find words in newspapers which can be cut out and given new life in my designs where possible. I have written a post about how this process mirrors recovery and therapy.

I’ve been working with handspun newspaper yarn since October 2010 (though originally my Folksy shop was called “Zygotegifts“).  I had to close it in 2013/14 but reopened in 2015 with a new name, “GoodNewsFromBad”, having been taken under the wing of a therapeutic arts and crafts group run by the Rape & Sexual Violence Project in Birmingham. I am now looking to keep working under a social enterprise model and I hope that by spinning new yarns from old stories, I can help survivors to do the same and create new meaning in their lives.

Other stuff:

You will also find photos here – I’ve always liked taking pictures, but it became a bit of a lifeline over the last few years – practicing mindfulness, mindful walking and gratitude by photographing the little bits of beauty I see by road sides, in overgrown gardens or even out of my bedroom window on days when I can’t get outside.

Drawings and illustrations which have helped me in a lot of my therapy work. Much of my compassion focused therapy has involved imagery, something I personally find hard to do and also to connect to. So to make things feel more real and to ground them in my senses and being I draw them. It helps me make sense of my journey and what is happening in my head and in the world.

There are also helpful links, summaries of events, and ideas that have helped me with my recovery including easy recipes for fatigued people and random thoughts and words I have felt the urge to write.

I hope some of it is of interest or enjoyable in some way. If not, well there’s a zillion other places on the internet and in the world so I’m sure you can find what you are looking for. If you can’t, then may I suggest you try creating it if you can – even if it’s just at home in private for your eyes only.

The Charity:

While the main aims of the therapeutic crafts group is to engage the public with the work of RSVP, start conversations, raise awareness and provide social support via therapeutic crafting, any profits made go towards the charity’s running costs, including the group itself. You can find more about the wonderful work that Rape & Sexual Violence Project (RSVP) do here: www.rsvporg.co.uk.