Posted on Leave a comment

Creative “Penguistentialist Angst”

As opposed to Monochromania?

I shall resume painting this weekend after a long creative lacuna, which was brought about by simultaneously having too much and not enough going on in my life.  Well, mostly occurring between my mine own two ears.

Too much, but never enough.

My head has been full of great plans and equally monstrous trepidation, as ever.

There are a number of projects that are stuck in the cogs, predominantly due to worrying about whether they will turn out perfectly or dreadfully and being uncertain as which is most to be feared.

Creative stuff theoretically on the go:

  • Writing
    • Stuck at 24,000-odd words, having reached the age of about 10 in my perilous life story/warning to others.  Hopefully, some more creative expression might unlock things a bit.  Project Hyacinth (How could you allow crap to happen?) which has me working backwards from a later date could bring about some movement.  The Abstract Expressionist version of an enema?
  • Painting
    "Itchy and Scratchy." v3 (c) Ian Springham, 2017
    “Itchy and Scratchy.” v3 (c) Ian Springham, 2017
    • I have produced 3 pieces since moving here over as many years ago.  Plans for further works have been sketched out – including an entire “Cat Hallucination” series, covering the first year of Lithium – but I never seem to find the time, space, or motivation for their execution.  The first will, of necessity, be bichromatic: “Itchy and Scratchy.”  Rough draft to the right:
  • Making some money
    • This seems to tie in with everything else on the list; my one question, is it cause or effect?
  • Professional Development
    • Torn between a DipTESOL and a DELTA on grounds of cost and availability.
  • Recovery Training
    • Despite my many and varied overtures to the Government and other statutory bodies, apart from founding an NGO – Pharos, V/O 1180 – little has come from my Peer Training skills and experiential wisdom, apart – I guess – from self-management skills.  I want to help to heal the world but feel entirely unheard.  Ho hum …
  • Prioritising
    • Perhaps that should have gone at the top of the list.  I have found a very helpful app, Trello, which allows me to shuffle reminder notes around my screen.  I think I can see where that is going wrong!
  • Engaging
    • A Neurotypical skill that I have overlooked or avoided.  Must try harder


“Which one of us is me?” A Penguin (among many other penguins) wants to know who he is. A cartoon from The New Yorker, drawn by Kaamran Hafeez and written by Al Batt, inspired the punchline at the top and the introspection.  Thanks, guys!

Posted on Leave a comment

Last day at South West London Recovery College

As it says on the tin, 31 December 2013 was my last day working as a Peer Trainer at South West London Recovery College. I joined, as a student, in 2009 and took the “Taking Back Control: Planning Your Own Recovery” and “Telling Your Story” courses. The recovery process seemed to work for me and, my teaching and training talents being noted, the College offered me work as a sessional trainer. By 2010, I had undertaken the “Train The Trainer” training and let loose in my new guise on an unsuspecting world; or at least to that part of it in Southwest London mental health services.  I have also undertaken the Knowledge & Understanding Framework (KUF) for working with Personality Disorder, and have been delivering that training to staff at South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust. A path of mentoring and tutoring that restarted through IT courses at Croydon College and Merton Adult Education’s art classes took pace and there was no stopping me. I blossomed through art and Imagine Mental Health eventually invited me to run their art sessions. This was the outwardly visible start of rebuilding my life, as I found I could use my previously untapped empathy and experiences to help others. Classes and exhibitions of artwork followed, giving confidence in both mine and others’ recovery. Later the MACS drug & alcohol project further extended belief in my artistic and mentoring skills, and lead to me volunteering for the online forum that Rethink Mental Illness provides. I put longstanding IT skills and online experience developed as coping mechanisms, to better and wider use. RethinkTalk is an online community for everyone affected by severe mental illness to exchange ideas, opinions, artwork, and support. My roles there as moderator, guide, advocate, activist, friend, mordant artist, and occasional wit, have hopefully also helped others explore their situations in a safer, more supportive environment. Other artistic adventures through The Green Canteen and – lately – Expressive Salon 57  CIC have allowed me to run art groups and curate exhibitions to fill gaps in service provision for people with more challenging life experiences, who tend to feel excluded from the mainstream.  Having moved to Lambeth from Merton, I also got involved in my local Mental Health Trust, helping SLaM in co-developing and co-delivering two courses or their Recovery College. 2013 started with me stepping down from a number of voluntary and community positions to focus  on another passion: English Language Teaching.  I finally took the CertTESOL course at St George International for which I had registered some years previously, achieving a B and 4 As.   This qualification allows me to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages.  At Easter, we went to Malta – the hub of English Language Teaching in the Mediterranean – to explore places to work; Tunisia’s political stability ruling that out as an alternate location.  Having sought out potential employers, I returned to the UK and took up a part-time role teaching with EC English in London.  A further visit to Malta for interviews led to work offers teaching there; which is to where I am heading in January 2014. The moving boxes are almost all packed, the cats are awaiting their fitness to fly certification, homes are being found for art equipment, I’m building a bonfire of the old diaries, and plans for Malta are all in place … … so this should be another interesting year!