In Search of Roots


April 12, 2023

Two years ago, I was living on my own and trying desperately to hold down a full-time job with my deteriorating mental health, following a deep trauma. The worse my mental health got, the more I isolated myself, distancing myself from friends and family. I drowned out my suffering through addiction, using addictive behaviours as a coping mechanism. In August 2021 this descent reached a plateau. I had sabotaged everything, having quit my job, damaged my relationships and severed my support networks. I had a nervous breakdown. I wanted to take my own life. I didn’t feel worthy of living. Fortunately, my brother was there to support me. He urged me to attend a 12 Step (AA) meeting. I didn’t ignore his advice; I had nowhere else to go, I needed help. That evening I went to my first meeting, and I’ve been in recovery since.

The idea for Rooting into Place came as I began to work through my Steps. The more I explored, the more I began to see that I had been trying to find the answer to one question all my life. I was searching for a place I could belong.  I was raised in an ex-mining community in South Yorkshire. My ancestors were Irish migrants. My interests were in literature, arts, herbalism, philosophy, theatre, and writing. I felt there was no space for these interests in a Northern working-class identity or in my local comprehensive school. I didn’t feel like I belonged.


Through my recovery, my confidence grew and I began to explore these interests again. The roots of the West Yorkshire woodlands held me when I felt little else could. I was out of work, on Universal Credit and I occupied myself by spending time outside foraging, creating, painting, writing. What I love about natural arts, storytelling, folklore and herbalism is that they empower me. They are free and therefore not exclusive. I don’t need money to engage in these things. They have a rich historical tapestry that helps me connect, they help me to understand my relationship with the place I call ‘Home’. These crafts weave me back into the Land and, in doing so give me a sense of belonging – something I hope to share through my course, Rooting into Place.


This course is being delivered in June 2023 – click here for details.

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