Looking at the past, gives us an opportunity to celebrate achievements and unsung heroes. We can also observe what was not so successful and change it into something better.
It was when I visited The Glasgow School of Art in May 2018 that I chatted to an American couple, who were also looking into their Scottish heritage. They gave me the info about the Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh that abandoned their strict disciplinarian approach in 1916 and replaced it with “Culture Therapy”. They also helped me see the vast amount of mental health discrimination, even with our war heroes suffering from PTSD.
My father didn’t ever mention his mental health issues during WW2 because he thought that was the best way of dealing with it. However the effect of it filtered down the generations and affected every member of my family detrimentally. I was the “black sheep” because I thought it best to talk about the underlying issues that resulted in our ultra-dysfunctional family. However the icy silence combined with the resulting atmosphere of hate, created far more issues for all of us.
Photo by Amanda Clair
On the 16th June 2018 The Glasgow School of Art was destroyed by fire. I took some photos of their visual arts exhibition. I was struck by the content. It had moved on from Tracy Emins art work and I found it even more disturbing It portrayed a man jumping off a building. At the UEA there is also a sculpture of a man, looking as though he is about to jump off a building. However when I did Art Therapy in 1989-1991 I found I could access difficult suppressed trauma, paint it in my pictures and then leave that trauma on the paper. I would always then paint a more positive picture to replace it and focus on a more positive outcome I stayed at a B&B next to the Rene Macintosh building…a beautiful feat of architecture. though it needed a lift for my heavy luggage!!!! It was a great privilege, especially now it has been destroyed. Good memories for me and good outcomes.
Photo by Amanda Clair
The Burgh Castle Almanac project is proving far more beneficial to me than I ever imagined. On the 12th June I produced my first oil pastel drawing for many years. Some tourists jokingly offered me a million pounds for it. If only!!! The Mindfulness walking took me to the present moment so I could take in the beauty of the area. I could hear the birds, the rustling reeds, The colours seemed brighter and I could smell the fresh air. I demonstrated Alternate Nostril Breathing which, for me is an easy way to relax and focus on mindfulness breathing. When I first started practising this in 1993 I couldn’t breathe through my nose because of the congestion. However as time went on it improved considerably and now my breathing is even except when I am stressed and overwhelmed with too many challenges. I find a drop of Tea Tree essential oil on my pillow at night will help prevent a cold developing It is said Tea Tree has antibiotic properties.
The steep climb up to Burgh Castle on arrival would have been totally impossible for me a few years ago, before I started mindfulness, yoga and then other alternative methods. My ketogenic diet has also helped improve my health. Instead of getting my energy from sugar and carbohydrates, the keto diet derives energy from good fats and nutrients from vegetables etc.
In such a peaceful environment with people I resonate with I find it easier to process past trapped trauma and release it from my body. Thank you to everyone for your acceptance and support. Thank you to all those for teaching me how to use my new camera, that was a Christmas present. The blue sari, blowing in the wind represented to me the letting go of the past, in a very positive way.
Text and artwork by Jeannette Beynon