Having An Off Day

I never intended this to become a daily blog, and on some days I may not update for days at a time. Today I wasn’t going to update because I didn’t want to show the more negative side of me, but then this blog wouldn’t be honest and I really want honesty.

Sometimes we have off days, where nothing has provoked us but the world seems dim. Yesterday I had a great talk with my boyfriend and yet I still felt bad waking up. Sometimes depression just takes your whole day and makes everything seem dismal and dark. My main concern has been my lack of close friends here, my mind has made this image that everyone here except me has best friends that always hang out. It’s the most isolating feeling, one that is hard to get out of right now.

To try and help, I went for a walk in the park and sat down just taking in the views. Walking by myself has the effect of getting my feelings out, even if it means returning to my room to have a cry in the bathroom (absolute peak of a day). But it worked, I feel less lonely than before. I still don’t feel great but I don’t expect that. Having depression means that you have those days where everything seems wrong, and having any lift in mood for me is a success.

In the end the main person who is going to make you feel better is yourself, you have to want to get better to be better, look after yourself and accept the feelings you have. Feeling sad is pure sh*t, but don’t beat yourself up. Know that your feelings are not forever and tell someone that you aren’t feeling too great. Having a good support network is key, especially any of those interested in the theatre path. For now I might play some music and read, maybe speak to a living person, whatever feels right for me.

Sorry if this was not helpful, but this is me at my most vulnerable without a façade and I’m no longer afraid to hide it from people.

Keep yourselves safe,

Gabby

Picture of Rose Bruford from the Park, looks so secretive from here.

Holding Yourself Back

This is the proper weekend of the course, my calves feel as if they are on fire and my back is solid. Yesterday’s workshop really took it’s toll on, me not only physically but mentally. An ETA graduate called Andrew came in for the 3 hour workshop and the first thing he did was get changed in front of all of us which was surprising to say the least. What followed was three hours of intense games, running and breaking down each person’s monologue through getting them to shout angrily until they felt something. The feeling of being pushed like in the room was hard to manage at first, being so exposed in a group of 20 was daunting.

There were moments I thought about just stopping, where I had reached a limit I couldn’t pass, but when I stopped thinking about stopping, it didn’t become a problem. Andrew made a comment to me saying ‘You really continued even though you showed signs of pain, but right at the end you should of held your ground, you quit.’ If he said that out of the studio my anxious mind would not be able to handle that, but there I just nodded my head, He was right, I tried really hard but in the end I did give in. And there is nothing wrong with that. Quitting or failing does not mean you have given up, it means you’re human. It only means giving up if you don’t stand up again and try.

That workshop made me determined, it changed my thinking of failure and testing the limits. I was physically broken at the end, but ready again for another one. My anxiety always made me afraid of failing, already that fear is being contested. One thing that won’t change is having some quality me time and my lean towards the more macabre. Already my room is becoming decorated in some excellent pound land Halloween stock, now this room is starting to feel like home. I still await my tree tapestry (real student feels) but if anyone would like to donate some old hippie tapestries, my wall is still very bare.

As I write to you, the close sounds of heavy bass play echo from my flat (creative lighting students and their tech) . Tonight may be a good one.

Stay hydrated ya’ll,

Gabby

“Once you enter into the performance state you can push your body to do things you absolutely could never normally do.”  – Marina Abramović

Enlight151[1297].JPGHaven’t named this skull yet, what should be the name? Also wish I could use real candles in this room 😦

Staying Motivated

I’ve almost completed my first week of my course and it has been a great one. Yesterday was spent talking on how to write our journals and then a movement class where we pretended to be rivers to music. You can’t make this up!

A couple of things have been getting in the way as of late however, one being tiredness. It seems no matter how much sleep I get I still can’t feel awake at 7 in the morning, which is a struggle when I take 3 hour workshops in the morning and assignments after that. For this I made a balanced structure: Complete the workshop, take a two hour nap, do some work, eat, finish the work and then video games. Tiredness is the killer of happiness, but how can I do the work effectively if I’m tired? You can’t, the aim is to know your working limit and work around it. Never do an assignment if your body says no, let yourself take a break.

Another problem has been pain in my back which someone described as ‘it looks like you have grown another bone in your shoulders’. I have always had a very tense back which worsens during stress. For now I may see a physiotherapist, but also have started doing yoga exercises for my back everyday. Just working on an tense area ten minutes a day does more than you think, I like to pretend I’m a little beetle on my back swinging back and forth. Makes it more fun.

Whilst uni has been a very stressful time, it’s the little things that get me through such as decorating my room, messaging people I miss, drawing, getting to know flatmates etc. On Saturday I may take a walk around the park, it’s a beautiful place and I might have something more interesting to talk about!!

Tomorrow is a long day, so wish me luck!!!

Have a great evening,

Gabby

A drawing I did a week ago, may draw something in the park perhaps?

Keeping Organised At Uni

Second day into the drama school experience and it seems my body is starting to take a toll. 3 hour sessions of intense games are really not that fun when your face has a tendency to go red and you sweat ten times more than everyone else. Who knew I’d be paying £9,250 a year to play stuck in the mud and pretend to be animals running around the room? I have no idea why the employment rate for actors is so low with skills like that.

The main takeaway from my lessons so far is the importance of having fun, or what they call ‘Le Jeu’. If you’re learning drama and you’re not having fun then what is the point of doing it? The purpose is destroyed. I haven’t giggled so hard in a class since probably primary school, it’s as if the child part of me is still there. Whilst the classes themselves are great, the reading is ENORMOS. This first week I have been set to read 4 long articles, a whole play, continue my journal, reflective thinking as well as learn a monologue from ‘The Three Sisters’ play by Friday. They don’t mess around on ETA. So how can someone like me keep on top of things? I mean when I was revising I got so bored I would birdwatch for hours instead of learning psychological studies (but who wouldn’t).

One of my biggest tools is self care, looking at myself and going ‘If you do this now you won’t have to worry about it later’. Knowing myself I get highly stressed and expect a lot, so not having much time is my nightmare. Additionally I try and split the work over days, only doing what can be expected even if this means reading one thing a night. Spreading the work is a godsend my friends. Also turn distractions into later rewards (I say this with Skyrim playing in the background), but my biggest motivator is thinking about how much bloody money I’m spending on this course and how I need to make the most of my money. Student finance doesn’t pay itself kids.

Getting messages about my blog is truly heartwarming. Whilst I have yet to figure out how to be more entertaining and helpful, I’d like to thank those that are on this journey with me. Hopefully this can only improve with time.

In the meantime, here is a picture of my corkboard. I’m thinking of filling it with photos but for now the main draw is the giant ‘Stay Sane’ written up there. In all honesty I may just change it to ‘insane’. Fits my personality more.

Have a pleasant evening,

Gabby

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The Acting Journey Begins

Today marks the official first day of European Theatre Arts Training and boy was it a long one. 9:30 start where Thomas (one of our instructors) spent 30 minutes directing us in silence using only mime. This was then followed by a sequence of games and activities involved in showing us how to use the space, such as pushing and pulling eachother, walking in poses, filling spaces etc. For 3 hours. This was then followed by a 2 hour voice session mainly concerning relaxing and speaking about our main concerns in our voices. Admitting to my insecurities was quite liberating as I was definitely not alone, so many people felt uncomfortable with their voice and yet we all supported eachother in proper ETA fashion.

I feel so comfortable with the group I’m in, it’s almost unreal. Before sessions my body tenses in anticipation about ‘what if I fail?’ Or ‘what if I look stupid in front of everyone?’ Yet that all melts away. In the rehearsal room I don’t think during activities, I concentrate on my body purely. I never thought that would be possible when most of the time I’m concerned about everything, like how I am in social situations, how people perceive me etc etc. This year is for my failure and learning because how can you learn if you don’t mess up? Already my grammar school mind is changing and adapting and I love it.

Only a week on and I feel like a different person, someone who can do a full course and live independently. Only 4 years ago all I thought about was my life ending, of hopelessness and no future. Now I feel the present and love the moment, I have a long way to go and a lot of demons to piss on but I also have time. Luckily this course also offers a lot of reflective thinking which I think is key for me. Learning isn’t taking notes and listening, it’s feeling and observing, it’s taking action. I might not be ready to let go of my medication yet (or handle the withdrawal) but I am starting to feel a sense of belonging here, no matter what mental disorder I have. And that’s beautiful.

Have a good day all,

Gabby

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Drinking beer in the house of God

Tonight has become a strange one. It began with half my flat being comatose whilst Hannah and I remained the ones up for a couple of hours. I feel the freshers in my bones and in my bad throat. Also I was visited my my grandad, dad and my incredibly patient boyfriend who lovingly carried up furniture and a whole barrel of homemade beer. All the essentials.

Seeing my family again just makes he homesickness resurface for a while, but I’m so glad they can visit me so easily, I have it so good. The quirks of my Irish Guinness drinking grandad have been missed as well as my amazing parents. (also you Pascal).

Now to where it gets weird. A couple of nights ago I got drunk and signed up to go to church on Sunday. I have upheld my bargain which involved a bunch of songs by a Christian band, an old Rose member preaching followed by a free beer and bar. This church has a bar. Where I got forced to sing karaoke to the Christians of sidcup. Church is not what I remembered it to be, mainly because I’m an atheist. But what a great night before the course with a bunch of great first years who I can’t wait to get to know.

To be continued

(Here’s Hannah and Harrison embracing the light of the lord.)

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Greetings!

Hi! As many of you already know my name is Gabby McLean and I’m studying ETA at Rose Bruford. It has been a week since I’ve moved in and already it feels more like home and it only took a few late night cries. Additionally my flat mates are really nice people and no one has set anything on fire yet. Brilliant!

In the true style of freshers I have had many the hangover and the flu is rife in the flats. As this is a drama school many first years live together in one block of flats which, as you can imagine, is very theatrical. It appears one can never have too much ABBA or random bursts into song in a drunken stupor on the streets of Sidcup. It has to be seen to be believed.

My main continuous thought is how privileged I am to be here, after hours of work and years of acting I can finally say I am a drama student. Everyone tells you how impossible it is to get in, and as a socially in-adept girl who was always cast as villains and boys (or both at the same time) it seemed always out of reach . My confidence has always been held back and for many a reason, so to be studying at this school is beyond what I ever hoped to achieve.

My reasons for this blog are varied, firstly is that I always wanted to have a decent blog to carry on and look back at. I also want to keep motivated through my year and change my bad organisation as well as give information to people who want to know about the drama school experience. It hopefully will also show that no matter your mental illness or disability that not giving up can finally get you where you want to be (soppy I know).

This week has already been a fantastic one with fantastic people, so I hope I can share my experience along the way with you.

All the best,

Gabby (The anxious actor)

“I learned that my sadness never destroyed what was great about me. You just have to go back to that greatness, find that one little light that’s left. I’m lucky I found one little glimmer stored away.” – Lady Gaga on Depression

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