This week couldn’t be more different to last week, meteorologically speaking! This week has been all grey clouds, cold breezes and spots of rain. Last week, on the other hand, we were experiencing high summer with blue skies and glorious sunshine. Wow, where did that succinct summer come from? Is that it? I’m hoping not, because I was loving it!
The hot weather didn’t see me sunbathing and lounging with cocktails, but rather, spending several hours in the car on a multitude of motorways. All in a good cause though – I was heading off on a long planned trip to visit friends of mine who have moved recently and, having given them a while to settle in, I was going to spend the night and have a good old catch up. There’s nothing quite like it, is there?
Whilst I was there, we arranged to go along to see the Katie Piper show ‘What’s in my Head?’. I know that Katie wouldn’t want me to describe her as brave, strong or heroic in the way that she handled the aftermath of the acid attack that changed her life forever. I know she wouldn’t want to be described in those terms because she said as much during the course of her one-woman show, but the fact is that she is all of those things in my eyes.
The show isn’t about what has happened to Katie per se, although we do find out details that are pertinent to the discussion during the evening, like how she has to wear breathing tubes in her nose otherwise her nostrils will close up, that she was blind after the attack but is now partially-sighted, and the fact that her throat is constantly trying to close up on her because she screamed during her attack and swallowed some of the acid. Rather, it is about how she has coped with the aftermath of it and how she has developed ways to be the best version of herself. Her purpose in putting the show together is to try to show us, the audience, that bad things happen to all of us and that there are ways through it. It’s not preachy or didactic in any way; Katie herself explains that she hates feeling like she is being preached to, so instead, we were all taken on a journey through the inner workings of Katie’s head, as well as the interior of her downstairs loo!
“Her downstairs loo?”, you may ask, but believe it or not, it plays an important part in her daily life because it is in there that she finds a sort of sanctuary and a place to hit the ‘reset’ button on her positivity. Its walls are covered with positive affirmations, pictures and posters promoting wellbeing and uplifting thinking. Katie even takes us on a tour of it by showing us a video piece she recorded prior to the show. In fact, during the interval, we were all invited to visit Katie’s loo, which had been reconstructed and placed in the foyer for us to write down our own positive thoughts and stick them on the walls!
It was a revealing evening but also a fun one, with Katie transforming from an elegantly-dressed celeb girl, to a superhero with a cape, to a regular ‘at home’ girl in the clothes she is most comfortable in – namely her P.Js. The whole evening was an insight into Katie the survivor (never the ‘victim’) of an acid attack, Katie the mum (she appeared in the show in a Lycra superhero outfit just 14 weeks after giving birth to her second child, and as she says herself, doing that was brave!), and Katie the celebrity (she explained that the best part of red carpet events is the dressing up and getting ready, while the actual events are mostly a let down, with the majority of celebs scanning the room to find someone more famous to talk to!). We also found out about Katie the charity founder and mentor, and for the duration of the tour, we see Katie the woman, who, like many other women, has a multitude of hats to wear, sometimes struggles to juggle her busy life, and does all this whilst dealing with her ongoing health issues.
It may sound odd to say about a show that, at its core, is about the brutal attack upon and disfigurement of a young woman, but it is actually celebratory. It’s about triumph over adversity, positive thinking and sharing coping mechanisms that we can all use in our lives.
The show made me pause and reflect for a moment on my own life. I have never had to deal with being brutally attacked or being seriously disfigured. I am one of the fortunate ones, having been involved in an accident as a very young child from which I emerged unscathed but two of my siblings were very badly burned and scarred. It got me thinking about some of the things they have gone through and what anyone who has had to deal with that goes through. More than anything though, I come back to Katie’s main point that we all have our own struggles and issues. Some people’s may seem worse, some may seem less than ours, but we all have to deal with them and if we can find those coping mechanisms, like making our lives more connected to others or by harnessing the power of positivity and affirmations, then maybe, just maybe we can find our way through this crazy thing called life and even manage to enjoy it!
Stay positive. Stay connected.
Until next time,