‘The Two of Us’ radio show on catch-up

Interviews, Mental Health, Other Lives, Politics

In the Reels Rebels Radio show ‘The Two of Us’ I talk to writers and artists  from all disciplines about their work and how it relates to mental health/emotional well-being. For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (14 – 20 May) we have four very different guests on ’The Two of Us’ featuring Khairani Barokka, S.V. Berlin, Diane Goldie and Joan Woddis. You can also enjoy some of the other guests I’ve had on my show – namely Joelle Taylor, Miriam Nash and S.K. Perry.

Joan Woddis publicity

Diane publicityJoelle publicity catch upKhatun publicity CATCH UPMiriam publicity CATCH UPOkka publicity catch upSK Perry publicity catch up

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‘The Two of Us’ May 2018

Interviews, Other Lives, Radio

May publicity small

In ‘The Two of Us’ on Reels Rebels Radio writer and photographer Naomi Woddis talks to artists, musicians and writers from all disciplines about their work and how it relates to mental health/emotional well-being. For this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (14 – 20 May) we have four very different guests on ’The Two of Us’ featuring Khairani Barokka, S.V. Berlin, Diane Goldie and Joan Woddis.

 

 

Inspirations for The Two of Us, my monthly radio show

Other Lives, Personal Journey, Radio, Recommendations

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Some years ago I had my very first radio show ‘The Conversational’ on Reel Rebels Radio. I became ill in 2011 with Lyme Disease and the unrelenting fatigue meant that I could no longer continue with the monthly show.  A great deal has happened in the years since. I’m still unwell but I’ve become more accustomed to it. It would be a lie to say that I’ve either learnt the fine (and impossible) art of pacing or that I’ve reached a state of acceptance.

Two things have made a massive difference to my day to day living. Firstly I’ve plucked up the courage to call myself an artist and not wince when I say it. And secondly I’ve discovered podcasts. These two statements are connected. I can’t say for sure whether my artistic ability has improved, although I’m confident in saying it hasn’t got any worse. However my relationship to my work has shifted. I’m more interested in personal story than ever and more recently (the one I love and bed) have found ways to integrate my photography, writing and interview, for example Whoever Was Using This Bed .

Being ill for such a long time has intensified my contemplative nature. My love of podcasts has a direct link to my social isolation. On better days I go for what I call a local ‘photo potter’ a camera in hand, headphones hon listening to On Being, Made of Human, Invisbilia or whatever I’ve carefully downloaded and curated before I began my walk. Story telling and story listening (whether in words or images) have become an integral part of my life in the last 7 years. Chronic illness brings with it a number of emotional hurdles. Lyme has gifted me with high end anxiety as a near constant companion. I first experienced depression after my parents divorced when I was 11 and it’s been a part of my life ever since. Luckily the treatments I’m having seem to keep it under control, that is until I have a flare and I can spend months housebound and often to bed.

Even though I live with depression and anxiety I believe I have a great capacity for joy. One of my greatest pleasures is found in human connection and satisfying my endlessly inquisitive nature. I never know quite where I get my ideas from. It rarely feels like I’ve made something up myself and more that it plonks itself at my feet and I’d be a fool to ignore it. As my love for podcasts began to develop I knew that I had a real craving to do another radio show. I just wasn’t sure what. I was clear about one thing – unlike my other show where I had two or three guests a show – now I wanted to explore the long form interview and have just one guest.

Two of my favourite, albeit somewhat gruelling, podcasts are Terrible, Thanks for Asking and The Hilarious World of Depression. The latter began as interviews with stand up comedians but has now expanded to other performers. Inspired by both of these shows I decided to talk to writers and from all disciplines about their experience and the result was The Two of Us, aired on Reel Rebels Radio.

Writing is home for me. I think you’ll find the writers here, Joelle Taylor Miriam Nash and S K Perry incredibly articulate and generous about their own mental health journeys. I decided to focus on both mental health AND emotional well being as I believe it’s like the flickering of a candle flame and most of us move from one to the other and back again throughout our lives.

I’m also interested in lived experience and intersectionality. Mental health doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it cannot. I wanted to create my own mini mental health awareness campaign and to include exuberance, survival and complexity. The three guests that have appeared so far have been fearless in their honesty and shared breathtaking work. Have a listen. Enjoy and share the word.

 

Re Issue – Rothko’s Silence

Other Lives

Rothko’s Silence

We flinch from it, want more images

to flick across the surface. Instead

a blur of slate grey diluted

to a white penumbra with a shot

of turps, or how the oranges

in my fruit bowl sing at their skin

mentioned on a canvas. A hive

of assistants worked with him,

hands moving at a conjurer’s speed.

Each painted layer a shared meditation.

One restaurant bought his painterly

autograph, so that diners, lips full

of conversation could sit at ear height,

chewing on carpaccio, sharing the maroon.

Rothko gave the money back, his paintings

later earning millions. A sum he’d never know.

He died at his own hand, his blood

a signature in a 8 x 8 room, deadened

and dense with pills, deep cuts

across his wrists, left his children

fatherless, led us where wordless colours

rule the accuracy of silence

he talked about.

Living Differently – Who Cares ? by Will Hames

Living Differently Project, Other Lives

I invited my friend Will Hames to write about his experience as a full-time carer for his wife who has M.E.  Here’s what he wrote :

You start looking after somebody because you care. It’s a feeling, an emotion, and in the beginning all the work you do is driven by love. For me, several years down the line, the word “caring” has taken on a different complexion all together. It’s not something I feel any more, rather it’s something I force myself to do because ceasing to do it is unthinkable.

There are still many moments of tenderness, but they are heavily outnumbered by flashes of irritation from both of us and long periods of mind-numbing tedium. Minor inconveniences which I would formerly have taken in my stride and rated unworthy of even a mention assume ridiculous proportions now.

She used to be an actress, full of bounce and bright ideas, before M.E. started to creep up on her. I used to have a well-paid job that involved frequent foreign travel and a lot of intellectual challenge. We both worked hard, expecting to keep our careers on a steady upward path, not knowing that we had already peaked and the only way was down. When I started to fall asleep at my desk, my mind blank with fatigue from nights spent helping her keep afloat physically and emotionally, the end was inevitable.

As my wife’s world has shrunk to the space within four walls, so has mine, and but for the fact that I have the very occasional opportunity to go out for a few hours as a comedy poet, my entire contact with the outside world (apart from a little banter with local shop staff) would be via Facebook and our doctor’s surgery.

There is a haphazard, arbitrary quality to our existence these days, with the need for regular medication as the only really consistent element in any of it. Outsiders see the state of our lives and wonder why I, as the stronger partner, don’t insist on imposing some proper structure on our days. It sounds weak and flabby to say that my patient calls all the shots according to how she is feeling from moment to moment, but that’s the fact. Sleep patterns? What are they?

As carer, it is down to me to make all the concessions and compromises: to fight with an invalid would make me a tyrant and a bully, so I allow myself to be tyrannised and bullied because I am – supposedly – big enough to take it.

But that’s just my own situation. Talking to other carers has shown me that there is a whole spectrum of power/dependency balances out there. Some people whom I might be tempted to envy because their patients are docile and biddable, envy me for having a patient who knows her own mind and can articulate her needs.

All the same, there are some common elements. For a start, neither invalid nor carer will have volunteered or had training for their respective positions. Both parties would rather be doing something else.

And neither one can look hopefully towards the future, particularly in respect of the question, “Which one of us will go first?” A carer without anybody to care for is in a better position than a suddenly-lone invalid, but at least the invalid has some claim to consideration from the rest of the world. The ex-carer has no status at all, and if he has spent decades going quietly stir-crazy in a role that is no longer relevant, his chances of fitting back into the world productively are pretty slim. Nevertheless, I hope I’ll be the one who survives, for her sake and for the sake of our children.

Every once in a while, somebody will remind me that I’m doing a valuable job, on duty 24/7 and saving the welfare system oodles of money (at least, while we still have a welfare system to speak of), but these reminders do not come nearly as often as the slurs and persecutions aimed at the disabled and people like me, who make a “life choice” to stay at home, ostensibly unemployed.

My wife draws benefits because she is unable to work for a living. I also survive on those benefits because, although I am perfectly capable of holding down a job, I can’t go looking for one. If a Daily Mail reader came to our house, he would probably label us both as benefit scroungers the moment he walked through the door.

We have a big, flat-screen TV. That says it all.

Will Hames has been a carer for more than twenty years. He keeps his spirits up by writing silly poetry. Every once in a while, he says something wise, but he insists on being careful not to make a habit of it.