2013 began with the First Fortnight festival – two weeks aimed at challenging mental health prejudice through creative arts. This year I went to far more of the diverse arts events on offer than I had in previous years, when I tended to stick more closely to the music events. The Therapy Sessions had a brilliant mix of music and spoken word artists; Solpadeine is my Boyfriend and Silent reawakened my love of theatre in two very different ways (Silent has stuck with me since in so many ways); Please Can You Make Some Noise for Mental Health gave a safe forum for discussion with Stuart Semple in particular sharing in such an open way about his battles with mental health difficulties; and No Kidding, Me Too! shared Joey Pantaliano’s experience of addiction and depression.
Tara Lee, Dylan Tighe, Verse Chorus Verse and Heathers at Therapy Sessions 1
Mumblin Deaf Ro and This Club at Therapy Session 2
As usual, the musical finale was a highlight, not only because after seeing them work so hard for the entire festival, it was nice to see the organisers and volunteers let their hair down!
Vann Music, Kopek, We Cut Corners, and Le Galaxie at the finale gig
I have spoken in previous posts about how amazing I think this festival is, but I have to admit that this year’s festival hit a particular nerve with me. 2012 marked a particularly low period for me and ended with me finally getting professional help to get through it. First Fortnight came just weeks after admitting to my family at Christmas how much I had been struggling for a long time, and how successfully I had kept it hidden from them. So to say there were a few layers of skin missing around that time would be an understatement. Seeing a festival such as this pushing to get mental health into people’s everyday conversations proved to be a real turning point for me, and I have since been far more open about my own experiences, and far more open to hearing about others’.