Andy Hollinghurst is one of D31 Art Galleries founding members currently exhibiting several pieces of art work in the 'Togetherness' Exhibition.
Andy tells us about his struggles with mental health and his road to recovery
A Journey to Recovery through Art
We are often defined by what we do, not who we are.
Sometimes you wonder how low you can go and if you have been at the top of your profession it’s a long way down. I used to be a head teacher.
Over the last year or so when asked what I do, I say I am Andy Hollinghurst, an artist, who campaigns for mental health organisations such as Time to Change, Mind and Mental Health First Aid.
Now, I am a’ Head Teacher,’ a teacher of heads, but fundamentally Andy an artist, check out www.andyhollinghurst.com . I have changed my talks recently, they follow my progress towards recovery, through my art. People don’t want to hear, ‘woe is me, wasn’t I hard done to!’ well yes I was, but let’s use what happened to me as a lesson for change, hope and recovery.
The ravages of a small school take their toll, especially for a person with anxiety. Can you imagine the variables of disaster that could lurk within a school, staff, pupils, buildings, parents, advisors, dinner ladies? When you have anxiety you try to prevent problems, cross every ‘t’ dot every ‘i’ and pre-empt potential pit falls. Impossible in a school. On the surface I was Mr Congeniality, always calm, in control, pleasant, efficient organised. In my head I was slowly burning out. Being the ‘Proud Man,’ I did not ask for help, after all I had my family to support, a weak person throws in the towel, admit they are struggling, not me, all the clichés I now bandy about in my talks.
A psychologist said to me once, ‘You had no choice but to be ill!’ on reflection she was right, it was only being ill that would stop me as I would have carried on until I could carry on no more and that is what happened to me, and that is why I am such a passionate campaigner for wellbeing and reform in the workplace, where it is ok to struggle and be supported when you do.
I don’t intend going into detail in this blog about what happened to me in words but with my art hat on and in illustrative way, this is what happened to me.
Painted a couple of weeks after I became ill, as a teacher you have 6 months to recover, from where I had gone it took me ten years, now I manage very well most of the time, recovery is possible but more possible if you don’t fall too far.