5 years ago I had a car accident that resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Distorter (PTSD). 6 months later I was assaulted. Between the two events nowhere felt safe. For a while I wouldn’t leave the house. I developed a small routine of going to work and going to bed. I stopped doing all the things I enjoyed. I stopped playing the piano, and the sax. I stopped painting and drawing. I stopped reading, and watching films. I stopped socialising and eating out. I lost a lot of my friends.
Once the symptoms associated with PTSD were treated, I was left with depression and anxiety. I avoided driving and walking. After a couple of years I took up cycling. It became a safe way of getting around and I bought a basket so I wouldn’t have to rely on other people to do my shopping.
“I wanted to feel good again”
Then 2 years ago my best mate took me into town and performing in Williamson Square was Katumba. Dancing and playing drums, with colour everywhere! And giving off this vibe like nothing else in the world mattered! Just you and your drums. And I wanted to be part of that! I wanted to feel good again.
So when I was invited to the open evening last year – despite all the dread – I attended the workshop. And then, every week I attended the rehearsals. For a couple of hours every week I felt like the pre-PTSD me. For a couple of hours every week I could come up for air and breathe. For a couple of hours, as I beat my drum, my hands wouldn’t shake. And I had a safe place to go where I wouldn’t act like a meerkat and constantly scan my surroundings. Soon I was finding that I would be able to keep breathing after rehearsals… then the next day, and the day after that. And day by day the dread lasted for less and less time, and all the confidence I once had was quickly coming back.
“For a couple of hours, as I beat my drum, my hands wouldn’t shake”
I haven’t even mentioned the buzz you get from a live performance… or the really nice people! Or that – because I’m deaf – when everyone puts their ear plugs in we’re all in the same position and I’m not at a disadvantage! I’ve become part of a community and I know that over time I’ll build up a group of friends and a social life. I don’t what other people get from Katumba, but that is a lot of things for one person to gain from a couple hours a week over a 9 month period!
And that’s why I’m riding for Katumba on Sunday 15th July. To show my support for a group that supported me, and brought me back from a dark and lonely place.
“Having a van keeps the group accessible for everyone”
I’m cycling with a drum in my basket because the reality is, without a van, over the last few months I wouldn’t have been able to get my drum to rehearsals. That’s the great thing about Katumba – they are open to all. Having a van keeps the group accessible for everyone. It would be such a shame if the lack of a van became an obstacle for current or potential members!
Everyone who knows me laughs about how my basket is normally stuffed with snacks! So, as it’ll be filled with a drum (and you can’t eat a drum), I’m asking people to donate the price of their favourite treat!
Sponsor Jane on crowdfunder at: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/katumba