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It Takes Sunshine and Rain To Make A Rainbow

Column, Community Page

Heather Everitt explains how the recent lockdown and its complications affected her mental health and creativity and how she bounced back and found her joy again

As I write this, I think we are in day 59 of lockdown. I think it’s Saturday, but really, who knows?

What a totally surreal time; days go so quickly and yet so slowly, searching for the truth about how we should behave and at the same time, trying to keep a small creative business going.

It’s also easy to feel very guilty about anxiety and depression when I have a lovely home and enough money in savings to survive this difficult time. This is no time for comparisons with others though; one thing I have learnt in my own mental health journey is that whatever you feel is okay, it’s yours to own.

The one thing I didn’t expect was a loss of creativity – making has always been my solace in troubled times, but this time it took a break and it was scary.

In my business I combine commissioned pieces with designing kits, an online selling presence, and teaching. In the first day of lockdown I lost all my upcoming workshops – financially a big loss. As I reflect, it was not just the money I lost but it a loss of confidence; I have built my reputation over several years and I must admit to not being the most confident person. I think most artists suffer from self-doubt. It seemed that on climbing up the ladder of success I was at the bottom rung again and did I have the energy to climb up again? I don’t write this for any sort of sympathy, these are my thoughts and for me to sort out.

I really tried to work; I had a very complicated commission to finish but I did everything I could to avoid it. I tidied my underwear drawer, put my books in colour order, and folded my fabrics. When I did work, it was for just two hours and then I needed a nap. I decided that self-care was needed. ‘Be kind to yourself’ is the most valuable mantra.

It was around this time that a friend of mine sent me a cross stitch pattern she had been designing. This was the inspiration I needed. It had a lovely bee theme, just perfect. I hadn’t cross stitched for a number of years – over 20 – and, as I realised, it was when my depression last reared its ugly head. The repetition of the stitch, the counting, and the fact you really have to concentrate, was perfect. It wasn’t me being originally creative but following a pattern. I was hooked. I have completed two more and even framed one. It will be a constant reminder of these strange times.

The cross stitch got me into a working rhythm and one morning a couple of weeks ago, I decided I wanted to create a rainbow for my window. This was the first urge of creativity I had experienced since lockdown. So, I got out my stash of Liberty Tana Lawn and set about designing. It felt so good. I posted it on my Instagram page, the first post for a long time. The rainbow received a lot of lovely comments which was so nice and many enquiries about purchasing one. This was difficult for me as I had decided the Post Office had plenty to cope with, it didn’t need any further parcels. But then I decided to make the rainbows and give £5 from every one sold to MIND, so I pre bought stamps and got organised.

So, small scale production began, I dusted off my Etsy shop and I’m pleased to say I have made nearly £100 for MIND. Not quite up to Captain Tom’s standard, but in my way, I feel pleased that a brilliant charity will benefit and not only that these little rainbows have brought creative joy back into my life.

Instagram @heather.everitt.emb

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