I am an artist with a very clear and powerful vision: to be successful and help others along the way. Success, to me, isn’t the temporary media version of fame – a ‘one hit wonder’ or a fashionable statement of the times – it’s far more simplistic: doing what I love everyday and making a decent living from it (bills paid, no debt, a little extra for holidays and the luxuries of life).
I thought I was on the road to success in the summer of 2019. I had left my job in Mental Health to begin a Masters in Social Work – a 2-year intensive course at a great university, with work placements and an opportunity to specialise in my chosen field of Adult Mental Health.
I had left a problematic relationship and moved into a shared house, which was not where I wanted to be living, but I was happy as it was part of the plan to be independent, work hard on the course and become a successful Social Worker.
However, a power greater than I decided that this version of success was not for me. Call it the universe, karma, mother nature or whichever chosen deity you put your faith in…. the decision was made for me, not by me, as I wholeheartedly believed that I was doing what I loved and was on the right track to success.
So, what stopped me in my tracks and prevented me from moving forward with this goal? Ulcerative Colitis. Described by the Doctors as Autoimmune Disease: Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Described by me as A Great Big Kick in The Guts! Yes, the universe had spoken and kicked me off course (literally, as there was no way I could continue whilst experiencing such horrific UC symptoms) and forced me to stay home.
New plan: figure out the cause of my sudden UC illness; work out my triggers and eliminate them; give my diet a complete overhaul and swap my spin and aerobic workouts for gentler yoga and walking options….and get back on course for September 2020. I was still determined to chase the version of success that I believed was best for me.
Did you notice though? I started this blog with “I am an Artist”, not “I am a Social Worker”.
It’s the end of 2021. If I had continued on my Masters course, I would already be a qualified Social Worker, in the job for almost 6 months (Plan A); or halfway through my 2nd year and already specialising on placement in Adult Mental Health (Plan B). The thought of this makes me cringe…or laugh! What was I thinking? I am an artist!
Whilst I have no doubt that I have the intellectual ability to write the essays and complete the assignments on the course and all the personal qualities and experience required to be a good Social Worker, deep down in my gut (excuse the UC pun!) I know that I was meant to have a different life. A life full of creativity, beauty, wonder and excitement. One that offers up design challenges, ‘happy accidents’, opportunities for collaboration with likeminded creatives, and a flexible, easy-going pace. I just needed that kick in the gut to give me time to stop, reflect, and follow my intuition.
I am so grateful for my UC diagnosis. Without it, I would still be on the wrong path and, quite likely, making myself more and more ill with every decision I made. Since my diagnosis I have had huge successes with alternative therapies (I’ll talk about these in future blog posts), but for now I’ll end with this thought: as a woman in my 40s I feel blessed to have the opportunity to start my life over as many times as I need to; to have the support of wonderful friends (new and old) in artistic and wellbeing communities; and a constant, flickering flame of hope deep within, which never fails to guide me towards a healthier version of success.
I AM AN ARTIST. I AM AN ULCERATIVE COLITIS WARRIOR. I AM.