I’m writing this a LOT later on than I would have preferred – the second UNION weekend was pretty much a whole month ago now. Saying that, I’m trying to purposefully allow time in between <insert the something here> and writing about it to allow things to percolate and simmer down. In that time, however, I’ve been really tied up with The Critical Fish – editing, proofing, printing, writing, publicising etc – and planning and designing the upcoming Recovery College term’s prospectus, booked a trip to India, got a budgie, I’ve had a birthday, gone to the Lake District for a break… I’ve had a funny old month between now and then.
Most crucially, I had also felt my depression building momentum in the few weeks leading up to the residency weekend. I still feel in this place now, but I feel like I’ve passed the peak of the storm. It’s a bit of a tangent, although relevant. For an extended version of this post which reflects on my mental health, visit my website, but for this a-n post, I’ll just get to the point! It was just prior to, during and after the residency where my depression began building momentum, meaning my perception of the weekend wasn’t as positive as I’m sure it would have been if I had been within my ‘normal’ range of well-being. Reading back through my own reflective journal (written at the time), I can see that I spent a lot of the weekend feeling quite paranoid, self- hypercritical, frustrated at myself and very vulnerable. Looking back as well, I cringe a bit at some of my thinking and interactions with others – it wasn’t me. I shared how I was feeling (to some extent) to my fellow UNIONites and leaders who were very kind and supportive about it all (and it was really appreciated, honestly. Thank you all <3). I got the impression that some may have not known what to do or what to say to me, however, which is understandable. Especially if you don’t know someone all that well. For anyone wanting to support someone with mental health stuff: generally speaking, extra doses of kindness are noticed and appreciated. And I felt the extra kindness from some individuals in particular – thank you!
I think that when writing about my perspective of the weekend, it is important to consider that it was perceived through this filter.
FRIDAY 5 APRIL 2019
Our group packed out Kardomah94 (alongside a load of steampunkers, randomly) as we sat down to a MONSTER dinner. Salad, hummus, bread, vegan pizzas, nachos… it just kept coming out lol. The Hullians then took folks off to various places (well, the people who wanted to go do something). Hannah took some to a drumming circle session (which sounded awesome and I’d have loved to have gone), Steve had invited folks to a Hip Hop fundraiser he was doing for Dove House Hospice, and Ailsa, Vickie and I took people on a tour of the City Centre, showing off some of Hull’s public art, sharing random tidbits of history and explaining some things related to the City of Culture. The theme of the weekend was surrounding megaevents and the role of arts in place and community (and the ‘hangover’ of City of Culture), so the tour was quite apt. Ailsa was a tour guide in Hull, so she was very professional (and knowledgeable!) about it whereas I kinda chipped in/interrupted with my own sweary quips and pockets of knowledge. We ended up at Thieving Harrys, but everyone looked shattered so we weren’t in there long, but it was nice to have a bit of a catch up with folks. Best thing about being at home is climbing back into my own bed at the end of the night!
I really like oat milk. And vegan cheese. And vegan cheese on pizzas.