Monday, 11 October 2010

Yet more career talk...

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has replied to my last couple of posts. I really appreciate all of the input, and I am particularly grateful to those people who have come out of hiding to do so! It is funny, because even though I know my blog gets more hits a day then I get comments, I kind of just think of the people who comment, and other who I know read it as being my readers - it is funny that there are people out there I have never spoken to who read what is going on in my life. But I do really appreciate everyone taking the time to respond. I normally reply to comments within comments, but there are lots, and lots with a similar message, so I thought I would just write another post.

I agree with everyone who said that going from nothing to 50+ hours a week is probably not that sensible, and that I would need to find some way of gradually increasing what I do. This is more difficult than it sounds though. I am already involved in about all I can be performing related at a local level - I have always done dance classes as you all probably know, and then this year I have got back into being in productions as well - I have Carousel in a week, and I did a 1 act play in May, then The Tempest in August, and now Carousel, and then the concert I have talked about in December. I do have a lot of free time, but it is all during the day - my evenings are actually very busy, and that is when all non professional performing things (classes, rehearsals etc) tend to take place. There is an extra ballet class I could do during the day if I had transport, but that is literally about it. So I am already involved in pretty much everything I can be locally in terms of performing. So basically that isn't really an option as a stepping stone to drama school. There is also a bit of an issue going on with it. Like I said, I have done 3 productions this year now, but I haven't enjoyed any of them. I auditioned for all of them despite not feeling enthusiastic at the time, as I hoped that once rehearsals started and I got into it I would get my enthusiasm back. But it didn't work. I was planning to audition for another show once Carousel is over (either Crazy For You or Beauty and the Beast if anyone is interested!) but I don't know whether I should or not. I keep just thinking that surely something will have to click and I will end up enjoying it, but this year every rehearsal has felt like a chore rather than something to enjoy - I don't think there has been a single time when I have looked forward to going. And that a) makes me wonder if there is any point auditioning for another show whilst I am feeling so bad, and b) makes me wonder if it is totally ridiculous even considering applying for drama school. I just have no enthusiasm or passion at all. Occasionally it flares up, like when I see a show and it is really amazing and I leave almost hurting because I want to do that so much, or sometimes when I am listening to a show recording or watching a video on youtube or something. But most of the time I just feel flat. And if I can't get interested in performing, then why am I trying to do more? Maybe I should just leave it until I start feeling like I want to do it again. Or maybe I should keep going, because at least it gets me out of the house and doing something. I don't know.

There are other things I could do locally that aren't performing - I have taught Speech and Drama in a school before, and could do so again, and I have also choreographed and been assistant director for another school's musical, so I have experience, and could probably find something if I wanted to. But again, there is just a complete lack of enthusiasm. When I was doing the teaching I dreaded going in. I didn't enjoy doing it. I was constantly told how good I was at it, but I didn't like doing it 99% of the time. I think partly because children just aren't my thing, partly because I don't really have any interest in teaching, partly because I felt so awful and low and couldn't focus properly, and partly because I didn't like having to get up and go out and be around people. I could do it again, in fact it would probably be greatly appreciated, but I just don't think I can make myself do it. I used to come home feeling so awful - it makes my mood worse doing something when I don't feel up to it, plus I don't sleep well enough to be able to get up in the morning, and then the days were too long so I was constantly exhausted. It just felt like too much. It was only a couple of days a week, but even that just felt too much. I suppose if I had been doing something I loved it might have been different, but I don't know if I do love anything at the moment. The choreographing/ADing was better - partly because it was just a couple of hours a week, and in the afternoon, so less stressful and less tiring, and partly because the children were older, and I prefer working with older children. But doing that again isn't really an option due to a) a change of staff at the school where I did it, and b) them choosing to do shit productions since then that I would have had no desire whatsoever to get involved in.

JaneB suggested other types of performing, ie not professional musical theatre/acting, which is a perfectly valid suggestion, but to be honest this isn't really something I am interested in. I don't like performing because I like standing up in front of people and talking - it is really theatre that means a lot to me. I obviously wouldn't turn down film or TV work if offered (I would have to be crazy to, as the money is always tonnes more, even for an advert or something, and you take what you are offered in acting), but it is theatre that I am really passionate about, and musical theatre in particular. Doing something like tour guide work just would not appeal to me, and theatre in education is most actors' worst nightmare! I do have experience of something in this field, ie something that could be considered performing, but isn't theatre or anything - I was a participant at a well known re-enactment place one summer, and it was ok - some days I quite liked it, other days I just wanted to get out of there, but there is no way I would ever want to do something like that as a job - it just isn't the type of thing that appeals to me.

As an actor I am fairly conventional I suppose - I have friends who have done Community Theatre, or more experimental types of theatre etc, but that has never appealed to me. I like being given a script and working with a good director etc. If there are songs and dances then so much the better, but I do love straight plays too. But devising and experimental theatre just is not my thing. I obviously want to have creative input into a production, but not in terms of devising the concept or writing the script. And I suppose that is essentially why I need to go to drama school - because the particular career path that interests me is pretty much a closed shop, and without drama school I can't access it. But I need to be well enough for drama school, and I don't think I am at the moment. But doing something else in theatre that wasn't performing would just be too painful for me - working backstage or in production would just constantly make me wish I was the one on stage, and it would just be too close. I think it would be better to do something completely unrelated than try to be involved in the theatre in another way - that would just hurt too much. I would spend every day feeling like I had failed, and being close to it would just be like rubbing my face in it.

What I don't know, is how I can take steps to get to the point where I am able to cope with moving out and going to drama school. I know the treatment I think would be most likely to help me, and have for some time, but it isn't an option, and I feel like I have tried everything else. So I don't know how to get better mental health wise. And in terms of taking steps activity/work wise, it is difficult. As I said, I am doing all the performing I can locally already. Getting a job feels like more than I can cope with at the moment. I feel stuck. I feel like to be able to even start taking the steps I would need to in order to build up to being ready for drama school, my mental health would need to be better - I would need to be able to get through a few hours without thinking about suicide, and feel less overwhelmed by my thoughts and feelings, and more able to leave the house. To not have weeks at a time where I would just feel too overwhelmed to go to work or whatever. But I don't know how I can reach that point. I wish I could get appropriate treatment, but it isn't available. And as great as I think L is, she is a CPN, not a miracle worker. She supports me enormously, and helps keep me alive at times, but she can't cure me or change how I feel or think. I just cannot see my life ever changing, and that makes me even more depressed. I don't want to be stuck living at home or in supported housing in 10 years time, or 5 years time, or even 2 years time. If I am alive, I want to live - not be in this weird limbo that I am in now. But I just can't do it. It all feels too much and overwhelms me.


  1. wow. Sounds like you have an awful lot to think about, but at least you're being sensible thinking about it and taking everything into consideration. Even the idea of you thinking about a future must be a positive thing!

    Is it a love hate relationship you have with PA? For me, I love performing so much and like you mentioned I physically ache watching a performance because I want to do it!! But when it boils down to rehearsals and such I get bored incredibly easily!

    Maybe a proper course will be different though? Its more classes etc with 2 maybe 3 performances a year? So if you find class enjoyable, maybe a PA school you wont find so bad?

    Have you discussed this with L? I am aware that if you do go away to school, you will leave all your MH contacts behind, and either have to find new ones, or just be in contact with L etc when you come home for holidays etc. I wonder, as L has been such a good, strong support for you, is this something that holds you back slightly?

    L might be able to offer means and advice for you? I know some CMHT's work a lot, or have a specific person dedicated to helping people back to work or school.... is this something that happens at your CMHT?


  2. Thank you for explaining more about the situation! I understand completely - one of my ongoing issues at the moment is that I loved to sing. Wasn't good, but good enough to sing in choirs. I sang in a chapel choir for years, and had managed to find opportunities local to my current job. Then I began to have voice problems - and have had no singing voice for about six years now, or one that only lasts ten minutes or so. I long to sing... but being around music and NOT singing is incredibly painful and rubs in the loss every minute.

    You seem to be in such a hard place! Can you talk to L about any of this? Because it must be so hard...