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Healing is Not Linear. Claire's story.

I feel I've walked this path a thousand times. I remember how hard it's been before. I feel the pain of how hard it is still. Like everyone’s journey and recovery, mine isn't linear. Even though I've been down this route before, there are differences. I am different. Change is constant. I develop even though I feel I'm hitting a brick wall. The pain is the same, but I am different.

I always thought I would have the perfect journey in recovery and inpatient settings. Never, did I think that it would be a journey that led me into 11 years of inpatient settings. But it has been. I feel it's important to own it, and where I am now doesn't define me, but it's a part of me.

Who is Claire? Claire is a mum, daughter, friend, musician, support worker, a sarcastic human being.....and many more things. I'm also a mental health patient with a diagnosis of emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD) and anorexia. I've spent all my adult life in and out of inpatient settings, crises, and hospitals. Currently I am in treatment for both disordered eating and EUPD, on a ward with 10 other females. I'm preparing for change. It's not happening as quick as I would like and most days, I feel I am drowning. My journey can take 12-18 months and maybe more until I can function as an adult at home and be back at work. One thing I have that keeps me going is my music.

Claire the musician first appeared as a tot, when I can remember sitting at the piano with my siblings and mum playing songs and singing. We're slightly more dysfunctional than the Von Trapps. My love of music started here and grew as I started school and learned instruments and went to pretty much any music group or activity that was happening. I’ve always loved performing and this was my safety net through school and into adulthood. Whatever happened (and still happens), I listen to music or play/sing, and I feel like I’m home. This leads me onto where music fits in with my recovery.

Whilst I had my children (3 beautiful children), I started singing properly again as I started admissions into acute inpatient units for my mental health. In recovery once again I met my partner of 4 years. In 2021 I joined a choir in lockdown. ‘All for One choir’. It helped me stay focused during the pandemic and gave me purpose. The choir director Helen Garnett also directs a gospel choir ‘G Choir’. Watching their videos online I applied to be part of ‘G Choir’ which is audition only. Much to my surprise I got in and singing with them was amazing and moving from online rehearsals to in person rehearsals was mind blowing. It gave me purpose, it grounded me and I was able to get myself to a point of wellness that I hadn’t had for years. I started having vocal lessons with Abi Garnett and Rachel Garnett. I have sung with both in G Choir and starting vocal coaching aided my recovery. I realised that I could do my music as a career and started to believe in myself. Something that I had wanted to do since leaving school but never thought I would be good enough to pursue it! I also started volunteering and doing peer support for a local organisation in Hull. We support people with mental health issues to get back into employment and vocation. Doing this work also helped me see that I wanted to be an artist but also deliver music as a therapeutic intervention.

This leads me to where I am now. Life is life, and I had another setback which has led me to a relapse with my eating disorder and personality disorder. I’m starting intensive trauma therapy and have had admissions again. One thing I still have and can use to escape is my degree. I started studying Music BA Hons with The Open College of Arts and I love it. I have amazing support in my programme leader and I’m starting to believe in myself. This also leads me to starting this blog and where I am as an artist. As an artist with disabilities and mental health issues, I always felt I was in a vulnerable and isolated place. I now realise 8 weeks into my new recovery journey, what a privilege it is to be able to empower others in the same position as me with my music. I feel blessed that I have realised this, and I want to start to be proud of who I am and my journey! Life’s hard with my diagnoses (physical and mental), AND I can still progress as a musician and learn to be proud of who I am and my journey!

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