Declaration Guest Blog 2: James Woods, Ellesmere Port

Heart

As part of our tour of Declaration we’ve invited audience members we’ve met along the way to share their responses as part of a series of guest blogs. We were pleasantly surprised when one audience member at our performance at Action Transport Theatre decided to blog about Declaration off their own back.

Our second guest writer is James Woods who shares his experiences of living with ADHD, advocating for mental health awareness and seeing himself in Declaration. This blog was originally published on James’s brilliant blog about Mental Health: Furniture of the Mind – go check it out immediately! James, 25, from North West England is a Time To Change Young Champion and is Mental Health First Aid trained.

‘Tonight I got the opportunity not only to see Art With Heart’s production, ‘Declaration’ but to see it in my local theatre space which was a real treat. I had heard of the show through the ADHD Foundation. For those who don’t know ADHD was something that was first suggested in 2013 by my brilliant university mental health worker, I was finally diagnosed in late 2015 and started medication late 2016 after some complicated red-tape related issues.

Firstly, let’s not beat around the bush, it was fucking brilliant. The program was filled with information about ADHD with some wonderful cartoons, they had a safe space set up before, during and after the performance with drinks, biscuits and well-being activities which was run by a mental health practitioner. Art with Heart really thought this through by taking advice and making sure everyone had a what they needed. Big love to them for that. Also the set looked was decorated like my bedroom… coincidence? I think not.

I didn’t particularly expect to be emotional or learn anything from this play, I merely wanted to support the performance and enjoy it. But I was wrong. From the moment I opened the programme I was on the verge of tears, seeing this illusive disorder treated with importance that it should be was the centre of attention. Throughout the performance I really was tearful, it felt like my life was being played out in front of me. There was so much I could relate to and I even learnt a few things especially about the brain which I wasn’t aware of.

The section of the performance that was a real moment for me was about the diagnosis of ADHD from going to the doctors, being assessed, told it’s long and expensive process that might not be worth it and then the horrible battles you face then a wait to see specialists. The feeling of being stuck and overwhelmed amongst many other aspects brought up in the performance were really relatable and whilst I was emotional there was a huge amount of hope, pride and joy throughout the night.

One of my favourite moment was Sarah highlighting how ADHD made her ready to smash the bullshit button and stand up for you no matter what. The fact she loved protests and standing up for what’s right. That is me all over, the reason I write this blog, write on the huffington post, give my time to charity, sign endless petitions and attend protests whenever I can. It’s validated my passion, strength and ability to be a mouthy, persistent and angry human ready to hold anyone to account who does wrong.

I could say so much more, but I don’t have the words. The tour of this wonderful performance continues with five more dates; Halifax June 21, Salford June 24, Bishop Auckland June 28, Washington June 29 & Liverpool July 1. Please grabs tickets and get out for a funny, moving and compassionate look at ADHD in a beautiful way. I don’t know the plans for the show after this but I truly hope they can take it forward and share it with many more people because it needs to be seen.’

James reflects on what he needs after the performance.