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  • Writer's pictureLucy O'Donovan

The seed was planted, the cRxeate. seedling grew!

I've been thinking lately that I always wanted to be a vet. Why? I loved animals and wanted to help them, simple as that. Became a vet. Didn’t really enjoy working as a vet and wondered whether I should have done medicine and become a psychiatrist, as I loved thinking about the brain. While I was doing my PhD, I picked up a book in a second hand bookshop An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison. It blew me away. The relationship between mental illness with a spark of brilliance? Undeniable. Became a neuroscientist. Whilst researching brain injury in Melbourne I had a traumatic brain injury - oh, the irony. To cut an entire decade short, I became a mum. During that time, I read and watched endless documentaries about serial killers: Jeffrey Dahmer, Doug Clark, Carol Bundy...realised I’d have liked to have been a forensic scientist. Very recently I saw Professor Dame Sue Black on the tv, bought her book All That Remains and that's it. At the age of 44 I've realised what I would love to have done. Forensic anthropology.

As all this swapping and changing went on in my life over all of the years, there’s always been one thing that remained unchanged. I sketched, I painted in watercolour, I painted in oils, I did art therapy as a patient and in an adult workshop and I did woodcut prints. I did art all the way through my life except while I worked as a vet. I’ll be honest – I was a new grad, in an unsuitable practice and struggled to hold it all together. It felt there was no room in my head for anything else but survival.

Afterwards when I was doing my PhD learning molecular biology techniques, I felt that everything in my life was either black or white. Positive results or negative results. I longed for degrees of grey in varying shades. That’s when I first opened some tubes of oil, started experimenting and I stumbled across a passion in my life that still remains.

When Jo and I met online to make cRxeate., it felt like a meeting of all the things I feel passionate about: vetting, scientific research, creating. Since my brain injury I’ve been searching I suppose for my new identity, a new person almost. The hard working, disciplined researcher who painted at night and went out drinking with friends had changed. I’m now a mum, a house keeper, a cook. You could almost say a kept woman – which isn’t the way it used to be. My husband and I used to be equal on every level, including our salaries. But an idea, an outline of my future life has started to emerge from that initial phone call I had with Jo. Maybe I can be an artist, run cRxeate., look after my boy Jack and perhaps even do a part time job as well!

The process of getting this online project going has involved many types of learning; designing the website, online drawing techniques, making new and existing contacts, juggling self-inflicted deadlines and very importantly for me, developing a friendship with Jo. I don’t want to be dramatic here, but it’s certainly given me some hope and motivation after my brain injury.

My hope is that cRxeate. will bring people together in similar circumstances, share our thoughts, our motivation, our inspiration. I hope it will make people feel less alone in their situation. There was a time whilst vetting, when my feelings of solitude and pressure and stress were tough to live with. My reaction was to commute long distances in order to go out drinking with my friends for escapism. I’ll be the first person to admit how unconstructive that was - it simply added to an already full life. Now I look back I maybe should have stopped, thought carefully about the changes in my life and quietly created art. Maybe that was a better way to deal with what was on my plate, who knows!?

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