My name is Denise and I am a writer.
I write about many things, but mainly I write about mental health.
I write about this, because for a couple of years, not all that long ago, I was very unwell. Everything in my life had gone horribly wrong, and the resulting depression that came along for the ride with that absolutely floored me.
I lost absolutely everything.
I used alcohol as a way to escape my own head, and I drank myself unconscious more times than I care to remember. I found myself in some pretty horrendous situations, and was eventually hospitalised and subsequently admitted to detox.
I started to write whilst living in a homeless hostel as a way to process my thoughts and also as a distraction from bad head days, to give me an alternative to scampering off to the nearest bar or off-licence for a few pints of lager and a one-way ticket back to hell.
Fast forward to now, and today I am an award-winning writer.
My on-line blog "Just A Girl - My life" has been read by thousands, and a tiny, award-winning film that I wrote about that time has inspired countless others to come forward and share their own stories.
I have just written a play. A play that has taken me almost two years. A play that I started to write in early recovery as a way to take my mind off the fact that my day job involved scrubbing lots of toilets.
The play is about a woman who slips through the cracks, and shows how one wrong move can drastically alter the course of your life. It's a play about money, and the "choices" that you make in life when you find that you don't actually have any.
It is also a play about hope and resilience...because I needed those in spades whilst I was slaying my own demons for a while, and it is a play that I believe will impact many, sparking conversations and debates and shining a spotlight on serious topics that others tend to shy away from.
A play that will provide paid employment to everyone involved in it.
But if this is to happen, my play will need a stage, and an audience...two of the things that are gradually being whittled away because our theatres are closing at an alarming rate.
Theatre doesn't “just happen”. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time...a lot of dedication and effort.
Theatre "happens" because people like me strive for change and have hopes and dreams of better days and brighter futures...We want to share stories and go on adventures... to be part of something so much bigger than ourselves.
We want to laugh, cry, right a few wrongs maybe, but most of all, we want to connect, both with ourselves and others...we simply want to "feel."
Theatre gives us all of this and so much more.
Writing bought me clarity at a time when I was struggling and needed it most, and finding my way onto this path has changed the course of my life entirely.
The arts opened up a whole new world to me, and offered a healthier form of escapism, and watching live theatre for the first time in recovery created a spark, that resulted in me writing a play of my own further down the line that gave me hope and dreams for the future.
So the next time you hear that a venue is closing its doors, imagine them closing on Narnia...and on people like me and our stories, and the plays that now may never be shown, because somebody somewhere would rather see a plane repainted than come up with a way to save an industry currently on its knees.