“I’m A Phoenix, Biscuit”

It’s Sunday evening, the end of a long and difficult week. But rather than feeling gloomy I feel hopeful, rescued by an incredible piece of theatre and a slice of my own advice.

The week kicked off with a hospital appointment I’d been anticipating ever since an MRI scan of my spine back in July showed some potential problems. The doctor was thorough, kind and clearly very knowledgeable. She took time to listen to me, to examine me, and to make sure I understood what she was saying.

She showed me the scan of my spinal cord and explained that it should be one solid colour all the way down. But on my scan there were a couple of slightly fuzzy patches. To try and work out what’s going on she’s ordered another scan of my spine and also one of my brain, as well as some other tests.

Hopefully these will help get to the bottom of why I’ve been struggling so much with pain, fatigue and an unruly bladder. After a long time of feeling ill, and a couple of months of waiting for this appointment, it felt good to finally have a chance to ask questions, even though the lack of definitive answers is frustrating.

The appointment’s stayed with me for much of the week, creeping into my mind and conversations unexpectedly.

Last night I went to see a preview of ‘I’m A Phoenix Bitch’, an incredible new show by performance artist Bryony Kimings.

It’s a beautiful, gut-wrenching and powerful piece.

Bryony uses shattering storytelling to describe how her world was turned upside down by postnatal depression, anxiety and the serious illness of her baby son Frank.

It’s not a sad show though – it’s fierce, full of love, strength and optimism. It reminded me of the power of creativity and the importance of honesty.

Writing this blog has helped me carve a path through many challenging times, through changing tics, changing homes, changing hands, and in the face of unbridled hate. But in spite of this I hadn’t planned to write about this week because the uncertainty felt too big.

But then I looked back over some correspondence I had with Bryony around the time Frank got sick. I wrote: “Taking the situation and process in little blocks seems very sensible. It’s so natural to worry about the future but for me focusing on the wins and on what’s needed now and next has been really positive and productive.

So I’m going to take my own advice, take things one step at a time, resist the urge to let my mind run on, and concentrate on the wins.

At the end of a week full of uncertainties and tricky emotions, Bryony’s show was definitely a big win – it helped me feel resilient, connected to a creative community, and ultimately very hopeful.

To Bryony, Fat Sister, Leftwing Idiot, the NHS and everyone else who’s provided help, support and great art this week – thank you!

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