Quadrophenia, NK Theatre Arts

As regular readers will know, I've raved multiple times about NK Theatre Arts, a group based in Romiley. I wasn't able to attend their latest show, Quadrophenia (which I'm gutted about), but my dad (Barrie Hawker) went, loved it, and has written this brilliant review to share with you all...

‘Not schizophrenic, I’m more quadrophenic’
This is one of the standout lines from Quadrophenia, a rock musical staged by NK Theatre Arts in Romiley, which I had the privilege of seeing last night. And it was quite some musical and it did indeed stand out.

I’ve seen a few shows here over the past year and have always been mightily impressed by the talent on show. The performers are all local and they are all amateur, something I had to keep reminding myself of last night when the singing was so brilliant, the choreography so mesmeric, the band so amazing and the acting, well in my opinion, first class. Can you tell I enjoyed it?

Well I say enjoyed, perhaps a better word might be experience…

It's a numbers game - mental health update

I recently shared that I was seeking more help for my mental health, for the next stage in my recovery. If you want the background it's here, but today I want to talk about another stage in the journey.

Last week, I had a call from the local mental health service, to assess exactly what support I needed. In case you're interested, it will be another round of intensive CBT for a period of 12 to 20 sessions. I had been waiting 6 weeks for that assessment call and the wait is predicted to be around 4 months until the sessions begin.

All this got me thinking about the reality of the waiting game that is waiting for help with your mental health. I'm incredibly fortunate to have always been in a position where I'm surrounded by support from friends and family, and the help I HAVE had from GPs and therapists has, for the most part, been outstanding.

However, we hear all the time how under-resourced our mental health services are, and I thought that today I'd give a bit of…

The Reading List #51

I've fallen into a pattern of including two fiction and two non-fiction books in each of these round-ups, and I think I like it. For a long time I said I wasn't a non-fiction kind of people, but times have changed and I'm really enjoying reading more of a variety.

Here's some of the latest things I've been reading:

Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer

Foer spent three years immersing himself in the world of animal agriculture, to find out how the industry really worked behind the scenes and to work out his own opinion on related topics. This book is the culmination of that research and exploration.

This book is hugely informative and very readable. The narrative style is very friendly and there are chapters written by vegans, farmers, factory farmers and others involved at all stages of the agricultural industry. Some of those shared views that were completely unexpected so it made for interesting reading. There are some quite extreme views and examples shared, but …

Pressing repeat

It's not unusual for the human mind to get hooked onto certain things. We find a song we like and play it until we groan every time the opening bars play. We find a food we love and eat it until we get bored of the taste.

No level of 'obsession' in this way is a good thing. You end up sick of the situation, or the thing, or the item. You get no variety in your diet or your playlists or your style of workout.

The same is true when we get our thoughts stuck on a loop.

Pressing repeat on certain thoughts or emotions, which often happens subconsciously, is not a healthy space for your head to be in.

Over the past couple of years I've been making more of a proactive effort to catch myself when I'm falling into old habits of letting thoughts repeat on a loop. It's been a huge focus throughout my treatments for anxiety over the last four or five years and something I've been working hard at.

Whenever I'm more stressed or more tired, those techniques can end up…

Swan Lake, St Petersburg Classic Ballet, Storyhouse Chester

I've wanted to see Swan Lake for years and years, and over the weekend at Storyhouse I had my chance.

Presented by the St Petersburg Classic Ballet, Tchaikovsky's iconic music was brought to life for a couple of performances at the wonderful Chester venue.

We were sitting right at the top of the Gallery, which I have to admit was a perfect position from which to view a ballet - we could see all the formations and dances from above, but the layout and clever tiering at Storyhouse meant we didn't feel far from the action.

I also enjoyed being able to see straight into the orchestra pit, as when it comes to watching a ballet, the music is just as important as the movement.

Maybe the orchestra is where I will start: I was so impressed. The full orchestra created a wonderfully balanced sound and the familiar music filled the auditorium beautifully. I want to particularly mention the clarinet player, who had some brilliant lead moments.

There were also some standout dancers. As …

Mental health update: back to the doctor (but it's a good thing!)

I went through a long period of feeling like asking for help meant I had failed.

And that asking for MORE help because I hadn't yet had enough was greedy, or an example I had failed even more.

Both of those beliefs were wrong.

One thing I've been consciously working on so far in 2018 is asking for and accepting help.

A couple of weeks ago, I went back to the doctor to chat about my mental health once more.

For some context, I finished my last period of counselling in December 2016, which is when I left London and moved back up north. My counsellor was brilliant and I made huge progress, but with the amount of issues I had to work through I had been told from day one I was likely to need more than one 12 week course of sessions. For more on those sessions, head right this way, where I've shared about that experience in full.

When I finished my final session, the counsellor suggested a period of a few months over which I would continue putting into practice the techniques we…

Time blitzes

If you asked a lot of people I've spent time with over the years, both in and out of school and beyond, they'd probably agree that I was an organised person. I've always done well at creating that illusion.

The truth is, I really battle with myself most days to get anything done at all.

I've always wanted to get things done, not let people down and do everything to the best of my ability, but inside my mind there is a master procrastinator.

Don't get me wrong, some things I don't struggle to get done. There might be an immovable deadline or something of huge importance; if there's absolutely no choice or a clear deadline, I'll get that thing done.

As soon as there's some uncertainty, the desire to be efficient starts to duel with the master procrastinator.

I've tried lots of things over the years to help, but this year decided things really needed to change. I'm juggling multiple jobs and responsibilities across many areas of my life, and if…