A shared smile? A hidden silence?

“Your always so cheerful you put me to shame!” I exclaimed to the ever happy person who served me at the Tesco by my house today. “You don’t see me when I’m not in work though, I’ve got depression actually to” She replied “Someone actually bought me a chocolate bar yesterday for always being so happy and cheerful” She added, obviously touched by the gesture. (I guess this is the equivalent of a tip when working as a waitress – it’s that extra ‘mile’ which gives you a satisfactory ‘oomph’ to your working day – knowing you’ve made a positive difference to someone’s experience” What touched me most about this interaction was how open she was about her depression, sadly I think I still often ‘whisper’ about mine, or hope not to be heard out of fear of judgment. I’m ashamed of my diagnosis a lot of the time. However, other times I’m an open book and I’ve done written pieces, radio appearances and a TV documentary about it…I guess to made me sad to reflect on this, that firstly such a bubbly happy lady was actually sad within (to the extreme of depression). Secondly, that perhaps I’m sometimes not as open about my ‘diagnosis’ as I should be, this is possibly due to the fear of repercussions, but, largely due to fear of stigma too. But it’s sad because it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I certainly didn’t ask for depression or anorexia, nor do I choose to pursue it. So why whisper it? Ok, I’m not saying it’s something to be proud of or shout from the roof tops – but perhaps if, as a society, we could be more open, we would be more able to confront it sooner and treat it better? I wouldn’t think someone with a broken leg would whisper ‘I’ve got a broken leg’ and I quiet often hear people discussing their ‘headaches’ or ‘period pains’ – so why silence mental health issues? Am I alone in these thoughts and experiences?

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From the seeds of SOS we have sewn…

How did we measure up!?
What a brilliant day!! Today we saw SOS officially in its new home – Hafan Y Coed (llandough hospital). It is hung proudly in 2 parts within the safe enclosure of a conference room – it will still be on view, but slightly more protected due to its delicate elements/fabric potentially.
Seeing it was amazing, I beamed with pride! It’s still quite surreal to think where it came from, but amazingly so.
The day started very well as I met my dear friend (who I only actually met through SOS when she attended the first stitching session in St Fagan’s! So SOS has given me so much more, a dear friend – well several in fact!), Annalise. We caught up in the snazzy new café on everything from life to shoes! Then we were joined by my brilliant sister (who coordinated her nails to her top – was noted Hayley!) and my wonderful dad – it made me so happy that these 3 key elements of my life, and sos were here to see it launch. Of course, ideally I’d have loved EVERYONE to be there, but for various reasons I completely understand this wasn’t possible (maybe if anyone does SOS part 2 they could create a Tardis to transport everyone or a new national holiday so no one has to work!!?!??! Saying that I guess someone works everyday if in services etc.…. anyhow, I digress….).
We made our way over to the fresh new snazzy build and instantly it was a ‘boom’ of ‘wow’s!’ for me. I saw the smiling Simone who I have to give special thanks to, without her kind commission, without her kind support/encouragement and without her incredible patience and skill, SOS wouldn’t have been possible. The new build wouldn’t have been possible. Having spent time in other units, I can safely say this one looks incredible. At the front is a ‘tree’ which we were all encouraged to write a message on about how the building made us feel today – this is something (having spoken to the creator) that they will be continuing for patients/relations too – a marvellous idea… I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, but to me the unit was calming, clean/fresh, hopeful and positive, it was spacious and yet somehow comfortingly homely. The art work was so diverse but so positive and it made such a nice change to see such colour and talent spanning across every wall. I felt this unit would be a wonderfully positive place to begin a road to recovery, as I’m sure many people who walk through the doors will do with the support of the team. I spoke to a lady who told me the wards were ensuite singles and looked brilliant, like a hotel, I commented that this is how it should be, people who are already undergoing such turmoil and have been uprooted potentially from a home to undergo potentially challenging treatment, deserve a good environment to facilitate this. Well done all involved! I hope it proves to ‘blossom’…
It was a buzzing atmosphere, happy chatter, lots of suits (!) and smart people, lots of smiles, lots of hand shakes, lots of hello’s….it was brilliant.
I met Mark (of making minds charity) finally having spoken online for some time. I also met 2 fab SOS contributors whose kind words of how proud they were to be part of it and how they found seeing it, made it so much more worthwhile! Lovely to put a face to the squares too! Thank you for coming all this way!
We were ushered upstairs (by very patient people!!) to see more of the wonderful work and hear the speeches. SOS was the only pieces of art work in the room we had the speeches in and it did get a few special mentions in the speeches which I found touching.
It was wonderful to see/hear people comment on SOS, and believe me they did. Hayley and Annalise kindly talked about it too and it was fabulous to hear different perspectives on it and lots of positivity! Guys – you are amazing clearly!!!
I was sad to leave it, in a way, it’s been such a big proud part of my life for the past two years, as I’m sure it has been for others. But, as with lots of things, we must move forward. Thanks to Simone it will remain hung with pride for admiration, for some time to follow and perhaps will inspire others to ‘do their own sos’ (if so, brilliant and let us know as I’m sure a few of us would like to do another square – although Kath and Annalise am I right in thinking you possibly don’t want to sew another 50?!?)
Obviously it goes without saying that it is thanks to everyone whose contributed and supported it, that today was even possible. Looking back, it could have easily been another one of my random ‘flash in the pan’ ideas – but amazingly it blossomed – maybe the Audrey square is right ‘nothing Is impossible…’
I definitely think we met the original goals – of connecting people, enabling the therapeutic use of craft and revealing some of the hidden truths of sadly stigmatised conditions.
Hayley is going to post the written pieces on the blog for all to see, these were an amazing part of the project too. I created a scrapbook showing off SOS too, sadly due to my poor timing I feel I let you all down as I confess they didn’t end up being displayed today – but I’m hoping they will be following today’s events…
So, there isn’t much more to say – please all be proud of what you’ve been part of, what you’ve made possible, I’m proud of us all and I award each of you a virtual ‘hand sewn’ bouquet of buttons (flowers are so over rated right!??!) lol – thanks for being super trooper stitchers! 

P.S facebook group has lots of photo’s from me and I believe annalise will be adding some – but also I think the official ones will surface somewhere too I hope!

The final countdown (or should that be stitchdown…?)

Its under a week until SOS IS LAUNCHED FOR ALL TO SEE and I personally cannot wait! In many ways its been a long journey, with lots of positives and incredible results…in other ways its gone so fast and I guess more could always have been done, such is life eh!

I’m really excited to see it in its glory and hopefully see others there too, see their reactions and just enjoy meeting those who made it possible.
I’m fortunate that my fabulous sister, my wonderful dad and my lovely friend Annalise will be there for the launch – alongside many others I hope! I know it will be an emotional day but also one of proud moments!
Photos will be taken so that everyone can be part of this day too! So watch this space!

Also, I’m really hoping someone will start a sos somewhere else which I can be part of too! I think its been a real success and something which could be a starting pad for others projects! 🙂

SOS IN PRINT

It was with great delight that I got home today, knowing (thanks to my sister who’d informed me her’s had arrived/told me how fabulous it was in print) that my copy of Cross Stitch Crazy magazine had arrived!!!! 🙂

Thanks to a very special friend and a key part of SOS, ANNALISE, and the very supportive and super Yvette (Editor of Cross stitch crazy mag) the article came together superbly! It was a touching reflection of EVERYONE’S hard work and, I think, did justice to how superb the end result is!  Annalise’s beautiful way with words comes across wonderfully in the article, I think, as she describes being a “guardian of so many people’s efforts, thoughts and talent, encased within these beautiful squares” and she bravely explains a bit about her own struggles which, to me, reflects powerfully how amazing she is.

This article is a fitting celebration of everyone’s hard work – every square, every stitch, every sewing up (thanks to fabulous Katherine, Annalise and Margaret) and every supporter, I hope others enjoy reading it and feel proud to be part of it!

I really love how the images capture SOS creative talents and how the words outline a bit of the SOS adventure so far!

THANK YOU CROSS STITCH CRAZY FOR SHOWCASING OUR PROJECT!

Go buy your copy of Cross Stitch Crazy 18 Feb!!!!

 

 

 

 

A new home

I imagine it was a similar feeling that I experienced today (As sad as this might sound) as when a parent leaves its child at the school gates for the first time. Slight angst, slight panic at whether all preparation had been done, slightly pride, slight fear, slight hope, slight apprehension, slight gratitude, slight autopilot, slight relief, ultimately knowledge that they are in the best place…I don’t know, I haven’t had children so anyone who has, please do feel free to correct me here…BUT I experienced this because thanks to the ever amazing Annalise and equally fab Hayley , we were able to deliver the sos displays to their new home with there new owner Simone!

Annalise kindly made the trek down to Cardiff in this grotty weather we are experiencing (Although I know this is nothing compared to what some are facing!) and shebrought with her sparkle, warmth and the sos displays neatly bundled into a totem pole type manner!

Hayley kindly drove me there, accompanied me in and was her usual helpful self.

lovingly wrapped by Annalise, and stylishly carried by hay and nat… (!!!)

 

We both met Annalise and then Simone in the new build (and what a wonderful build too I must say  – smelt nice and new too!) in order to unveil the pieces and safely store them ready for them to be displayed!

home sweet home

 

 

EXCITING STUFF!

I am so proud to be a part of this! I am so happy with the end display, in awe of the talent, amazed by the story which has stitched out alongside the amazing squares, excited to see people’s reactions, privaledged to have crossed paths with so many wonderful people, honoured to have heard people’s amazing journeys so far, happy to have seen amazing people today, amazed by how generous people have been, slightly sad by the chapter of sos ending, aware of the last little bits which need doing but ultimately just wowed by the whole thing and hopeful that others are too!

ignore the baggage – but look how amazing the work is!

 

 

 

 

no title does this justice…

so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, thanks to everyone, and especially to Margaret, Katharine and Annalise for amazingly sewing these pieces on! Thanks to Hayley for her fabulous organisational/administrative/creative magic on it all continually – look at the results! wow!

Annalise kindly took home the two pieces – one which Katharine had so brilliantly started. She waved her utterly magical wand (and dedicated a tremendous amount of time, patience and talent to!) and look at the outcome….!!!!

WOW!

words cannot REALLY do justice to how amazed I am by seeing this – I hope others agree, its just phenomenal! We are hoping to deliver the pieces to Simone on Tuesday so watch this space! but for now, please do look upon these photos with the same pride, joy and admiration as I do! I am so proud to be a part of this! 🙂

What does it mean to you?

I have meant to ‘blog’ for a little while – but thanks to moving house on xmas eve I have no wifi so this is my ‘return’ to the digital world (and its shockingly sad how ‘out of it’ I feel!!!!)

For me Xmas was mixed – I spent it in amongst other peoples celebrations and joy, in work, which was actually lovely. I moved house on Xmas eve, as I say, so it was a bit of a ‘rushed’ period too, but hopefully a hopeful one for a better  2016 for all. Quite often when I say to people I worked over xmas, im met with signs of sympathy, but actually it was quite wonderful to see so much happiness, to be surrounded by the wonderful people I work with, and still get to speak to family and friends who I’m close to. Sadly I missed to catch up with some very dear people, due to work, but I do hope to replan this for 2016 if they are willing, I also got to see my lovely sister for a catch up and other fab friends for coffee, catch ups and even a bit of theatre!! Back to work, It was interesting to see how various people celebrate, hear the gifts people had received, the things people were valuing. It was nice to hear happy chatter (even if it was just at the relief that it was nearly over!)…Which leads me to think, that xmas means different things for different people….. An interesting thing which I saw today, which partly reminded me to write this blog, was found in an interesting location, a toilet (!!). On the door was a hand scribbled message “IT WILL BE OK, STAY STRONG AND KEEP FIGHTING”, this leads me to wonder who wrote this, what they meant (was it personal, or just a reminder before hitting jan sales….the list could go on…). I guess ultimately, it means different things to different people, which, again, is an ongoing ‘thread’ of SOS, this season and life. I know that the festive period and in deed the new year can be a mixed one for many, with challenges, choices and thoughts…but hopefully everyone manages to get through it one way or another and even better if they can reflect on something ‘happy’ in hindsight too.

The New year can pose difficulties for many, myself included, thinking back on the past year, what I’ve done/not done, or looking ahead to the hopes/fears for the new year. Again, there are no magic answers to how best to ‘cope’ but, all we can do is the best we are able to do, at any one time. We must also remember that we are never alone and that reaching out can be the greatest chore, but show the greatest strength of all, in times of struggle.

 

In terms of SOS – the new year will hopefully see the launch of the wonderful display, to which I do hope some of you wonderful contributors/supporters will be able to attend. As for ‘what next’…apart from hopefully allowing others to ‘admire’ the work we’ve created over the coming months/years etc….I, like perhaps you, simply do not know what the year might hold, of course it will be sad to see a chunk of SOS close a chapter, but perhaps it will lead to another chapter unveiling…

 

Have a peaceful, healthy, positive week and, incase this is the last blog of 2015, a very HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!