Recently, we held a Life Writing/Memoir Bootcamp. We offered participants an opportunity to showcase a snippet of their work on our blog. Here are some pieces from some very brave souls.
Biographical Achilles in Fearful Momentum
by Terissa Sheperd
Memories may be selective, heart driven, sense driven, ego driven. There is a natural ‘papering over’ throughout the time guises of friend and foe. Softening alters the biographer’s account, possibly subconsciously sabotaging for the sake of sorting, tidying and smoothing, the literal shaving away of sharp edges allows for optimal storage, however, thwarted retrieval.
Superfluous details discretely trimmed, yet without warning, the pricking senses awaken moments forgotten. Perhaps nothing is let go at all, just so firmly packed away it takes the most insistent of ruminating moles to find. One wonders why we’d revisit accounts of memories which touched the core of our beings. Why dredge the abyss again? What purpose does airing one’s linen serve? Are verbal ‘beatings of the breast’ somewhat counter to our western societal response to loss, or our solution?
The contention whether to protect the bedding or hang it all out for airing elicits coinciding paradoxical responses: the solace devouring seeker; the voyeuristic, judgemental consumer; or simply the distantly secure observer of another’s trials; each reader will interpret and utilise loss biographies accordingly. In sharing vulnerability with a life-writing group of strangers, my Achilles draws me forward in seductive fear of a future as ‘Writer’.
Terissa has worked in education for 26 years and has discovered her passion for writing through journalling, dabbling in poetry and reflecting on life’s observations. Yearning to live a second half of life allowing greater creativity, Terissa has committed to completing a reflective journey of loss and ultimately, healing; and to seek further opportunities into the world of words. When not lost in writing, Terissa also whiles away her weekend hours painting; her other passionate creative discovery, as she seeks to live closer to her true self.
Living with Bipolar Affective Disorder
by Anisa Marie Ross
It is a strange thing to analyse a professional relationship that has sustained and nurtured me for over a decade. I seek to understand the intense emotional processing that has profoundly affected my life. I am grateful for the time I have been given, the skill of the practitioner and the self-development I can finally acknowledge. I have been focussed on that which I still want to accomplish and consequently I have minimised the gains of recent years. Profound gratitude floods through me as I reflect on treatment. I have seen the shadow side, felt the despair and thought the pain would never end. I know it has ended now. The impenetrable armour has been breached and the hopelessness is gone. I acknowledge I will experience further pain in my lifetime however I now trust I will be able to overcome challenges. The sense of pushing my way through waist high solidifying cement has gone. Depression and mania have been banished for a long time now. A solid therapeutic alliance can withstand many assaults and produce a satisfying result. Mental health care matters to everyone. As a society it is imperative that we support community members struggling with mental illness. You can see more of Birthing Anisa. Chapter 2. Out of Control..
Anisa Marie Ross is a single mother, mental health nurse and writer. She has recently received a grant from the Richard LLewyn Arts and Disability Trust in 2011 to develop my book “Birthing Anisa”, which she began writing as a therapeutic tool to assist in recovery following a manic episode associated with Bipolar Affective Disorder in 2001. She has presented at The Mental Health Services Conference in Auckland, New Zealand and Choosing Change was subsequently published in the NSW Consumer Advisory Group newsletter in December 2008.