I found Bridges Creative Writing Group by chance through an app I downloaded in the middle of the night. The following Wednesday I forced myself outside into unfamiliar territory and I am so glad I did. I didn’t know what to expect as I had not done any creative writing since high school. Looking back at the notebook page from that day I have a little message I wrote for myself, “I loved this! I shall keep doing it. Everyone was so friendly”. For me to write that at a time in my life filled with so much uncertainty due to mental illness gives the message much more gravity.
I continued doing it and every week I’ve felt unjudged, safe, and welcome. I’ve made so many new friends who, like me, have long-term health conditions. Those connections have made me feel less alone and given me a space in which I am comfortable being 100% myself. The idea that I have something to offer and something important and interesting to say has carried over into other aspects of my life too, giving me more confidence and the realisation that while I struggle with my health, I still have a meaningful place in society. I thought my life was on pause, but it is just different now from what I expected and just as fulfilling thanks to every door that opened to me on my first day attending a group at The Shoebox.