I’ve not really written too much about this publicly, but this year has been a major upheaval for me work-wise. Back in February, some stuff came to a head which then led to me leaving the company I’d co-run for the last 12 years, and it was the most painful thing ever. It’d never even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t ever not be part of the business – I’d always thought I’d be there until the day I stopped working.
Technically, I left at the end of March, but was last working in the office in February, and that was the last time I saw any of the people I worked with. It’s now been nearly 6 months since I last really did any paid work for anyone.
I’ve wanted to work in production since I was kid – I was obsessed by TV and how it’s made (I used to make TV studios out of Lego!), and even when I was at school spent a ridiculous amount of my free time filming and editing videos. When I was about 13, I even got to visit BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham, and explore the various studios and galleries which was amazing, and just reinforced that it was what I wanted to spend my life doing.
So to then be doing the work I’d always dreamt of – I was always aware how lucky I was to do a job I was passionate about. Even though there would be bad days, and I’d sometimes work some ridiculous hours, there was always that reminder that so many people had to go to a job each day that they absolutely hated.
But then, when that all fell away, I quickly realised that it was the only thing I really had in my life, and that having suddenly lost all confidence in my ability, I was just staring into an abyss. I don’t want to sound over dramatic, but after it happened, I struggled to even get myself out of bed, and there were days when I really wished my life would end, and I couldn’t deal with what I’d lost. There were times when I had really dark thoughts, and there was part of me that thinks the only reason I’m still here is because I didn’t have the guts to go through with where my thoughts were leading me.
I also cut myself off from the world – I ignored calls and texts, and left Facebook for about a month. In fact, other than family, I didn’t really speak to anyone else in my life from February until maybe about June when I went to a gig at Edgeley Park with Lee and Katie. (I’d obviously spoken to people when I was in hospital, but they were more strangers, and I had a lot of other stuff on my mind at that point!)
There’s a lot of stuff I feel that I’d like to write, but I won’t because I don’t think there’s any point going over certain aspects of what happened, but like I said, the whole situation really destroyed me, and I’ve not worked since – the fact that I was then diagnosed with heart failure a few months later has obviously been a factor in that, but it’s really difficult to face the work that I’ve spent my whole life doing. Obviously I got some money for my half of the business, but I came out with nothing else to show for all those years, so it really feels like I’ve lost everything, and I have to start again from the bottom, which is a very scary prospect. I do know that I have a few people that will support me, but I struggle to accept that, and most of the time will push people away rather than face up to my situation.
Even with the time that’s passed – it still feels very raw. I really have to go out of my way to make sure I don’t see anything about what the company is up to since I left, because it just hurts so much to see, and it just makes me upset/angry/negative against it, and everything it does. Also, knowing that they were all glad I’m not there anymore, which in itself is a real killer, I have to try and just forget about all of them.
Anyway, I know I need to try and work out what I’m going to do now. Some days I even wonder whether I should totally change career, but this is the only thing I really know how to do! And I appreciate that I’m not really the right age to be trying to start again. I wasn’t a great freelancer before we set up the business – I don’t think I was ever very good at going out and finding loads of work – but obviously I do need to build up freelance work now I have no money coming in. It’s just balancing it with my health issues, so that’s very much of a steep learning curve at the moment.