Who is Steph – Cert HE (open)? ☺💜
I’m a Mental Health Advocate, Creative Volunteer, amateur writer, digital illustrator, mental illness blogger, mental WELLNESS blogger, podcaster, distance-learning student, inventor of ‘Crap Poems‘ and ‘Weird Words’, living around grief, and spoonie.
I’m studying for an Open Degree covering Mental Health, Creative Writing and Design. I am about to finish year 4 and am so far able to include ‘Cert HE (Open)’ after my name. As someone with limited previous academic achievements, I’m incredibly proud of this.
I’m the ‘Creative Volunteer and Mental Health Advocate‘ for Cruse (South East) – the national bereavement support charity. Something else I am incredibly proud of.
I’m a grief expert, having been through a series of 6 grief episodes, all close to me, in the space of a few years. This is something that I carry with me every day and the principal reason for my own mental illnesses and the resulting challenges.
I’m a mum and a partner – these people are the reason I do what I do and wake up, get up and try, every single day.
I also have a lot of opinions. You’ll find most of them on this site somewhere!
“Look in the mirror and realise that the person facing you will always be there, knowing the things that make you amazing, kind, worthy of love and (most importantly) incredibly sexy 💋.“Steph C, CreativeSteph.co.uk, https://creativesteph.co.uk/2022/01/14/rejection-and-the-fear-of-rejection/ January 2022
Hi! Welcome to my page. I’m Steph, currently aged 40 (😢) and using creativity as a distraction from pain, grief and poor mental health. And sometimes it works!
Shes the inventor of ‘Creative Coping Strategies’…
As part of the journey I’m on, promoting good mental health practices through creativity, I am proud to have come up with the ‘Creative Coping Strategies’ Campaign.
CCS are available to anyone, anytime and you can do anything…legal and safe, of course. I use writing, drawing and now Crap Poems and Weird Words have become ways of coping for me too (yes, unfortunately I need several!). But ‘Creativity’ is the umbrella for a million things that can distract you from a stressful or anxious moment and I highly recommend finding your creative bliss and having the tools ready and waiting for when that time comes.
Even if you can’t get into a project, just trying takes you away from anxiety, even for a minute or two, reducing the ache in your bones, anger in your heart and / or racing in your brain. Those two minutes COULD make you calm enough to go back to the problem in a more balanced way.
Whether you need a distraction for an hour or a week, creativity can be wonderful, consuming and inspiring and (IMO) holds the first key to the double lock of Mental Wellness. Getting professional help and long-term solutions is usually the second. More information and ideas can be found on the Creative Coping Strategies page of this site.
She’s a writer…
My writing is mainly fiction, some completely new and imagined, some loosely based on my own experiences. I use mental health (specifically tourettes, agoraphobia, depression, BPD and anxiety), grief, pregnancy, pregnancy loss, hidden disabilities, parenthood, autism and weight issues as the subject matter for a lot of my writing. I always wanted to be part of the mental and physical health revolution, especially as someone who struggles with these things every day. It almost feels like the experiences I have, even though it can be really difficult to talk about, allow me to help someone else who might be feeling the same.
In my darkest moments I am engulfed by silence. I can’t escape it. So I hope to provide some useful noise in someone elses silence. A tall order, I know, but I’d really love to give something back. That’s what this website is trying to achieve.
When I have nothing new happening in writing I often post my thoughts surrounding my personal experience in these subjects as well as providing advice and signposting for people who might need it.
Some of my fictional written work is funny (or at least tries to be 😉) and some of it is sad, poignant and possibly difficult to read. I find it’s often hard for me to write about the sad things, but there is an element of catharsis that comes with it and when it works, it’s hard not to get addicted to the relief of letting your thoughts free! I highly recommend trying it.
I try to keep it balanced. If I’m struggling with my health (mental or physical) I do find my writing can become darker – you’ll probably notice this when you read some of the stories on my blog.
Entering short story and flash fiction competitions I have been lucky enough to be shortlisted and selected several times, as well as having multiple wins so far. I enter competitions every week and try to come up with as much new material as my brain and pain will allow. I rarely submit the same work to more than one place, so my writing is true to me and always original.
She’s a digital artist…
My drawing is digital using the Apple iPad, Apple Pencil and Procreate. All illustrations on this website are my own, even the ones accompanying my written work and blog posts (yes I have to spend a lot of time coming up with ideas! 🥱).
You’ll find a selection of my drawings (showing some improvement hopefully!) that I’ve uploaded to this site in my gallery.
In 2022 my art started accidentally and unexpectedly started gaining some attention and I have been asked to submit drawings for use on magazine covers and for other Mental Illness and Mental Health Journals.
I sometimes use reference images to get an outline for a drawing. I will always endeavour to credit the original artist whose work was my inspiration…if I can find them and / or they reply.
Shes a Mental Health Advocate…
In April 2022 I was incredibly proud to reveal my status as the first ‘Creative Volunteer and Mental Health Advocate‘ for Cruse (South East) – the UK’s national bereavement support charity. Having used their services in the past, their support is invaluable at a time when it’s desperately needed. Becoming part of the team in a creative capacity gives me the chance to give something back for the times they helped me, but also be part of the change in the mental health narrative, especially for those grappling with grief.
She’s a patient…
I was searching for an umbrella term that would convey simply that I have mental health challenges and physical health limitations and I talk about both. Alot! I decided that makes me a patient if nothing else.
It’s important to be open about my mental illnesses and poor mental health. I hope my honesty might help someone else one day. At a minimum my writing might provide a 5 minute distraction. It’s just my way of trying to give something back.
A list of what Steph does
- I write original short stories and flash fiction
- I use digital illustration to create all the images you’ll see on this website
- I’m the ‘Creative Volunteer and Mental Health Advocate‘ for Cruse Bereavement Support (South East), and am inflated with pride to be part of their campaign supporting mental health and wellness in grief. It’s a subject incredibly close to my heart.
- I’m a student, studying for a degree in Design and Creative Writing part time from home. I’m about to start year 5 and am able to use the words ‘Cert HE (Open)’ after my name. I can’t quite believe it.
- Pain and ‘acute agoraphobia’ keep me indoors and I struggle to mobilise most of the time. So you’ll normally find me here, sat on the bed, with a hot waterbottle and my friends (Codiene and Morphine) providing a bit of relief and drowsiness
- I blog every few days about various topics and include a bit of background on my successful competition entries as well as my thoughts on health and wellbeing
- I work hard to talk honestly about Mental Illness, Mental Health and my experiences, I also signpost to useful organisations that can help with MI & MH concerns – hopefully all this will help someone one day
- I have hidden disabilities that I also try to be honest about
- I’m agoraphobic – indoors (imprisoned) for nearly a year now
- I have a partner, a daughter and a dog. The dog is the only one who seems to understand me 🐶
- I listen to Adele and cry 🤍
- I grieve…alot
- I search tirelessly for distractions
- I enter writing competitions
- I swear
- I eat brownies
- Everything listed above and on this site was achieved whilst sat on my side of the bed, often in pain and/or feeling broken, having never left the house.
I believe that amazing things are possible in the most unlikely of circumstances! I’m trying to prove this is true every single day.
Steph Writes and Illustrates
“A kinder, more thoughtful world is a place we all deserve to live”
Email me: email@example.com