Well this has been an interesting few months! In March, in the middle of our huge sale, I left the studio not knowing that it would be the end of July before I returned. The plan was to focus on my side job (as a care worker) for a few weeks until this old pandemic business blew over, with my lovely friend and studio mate Sophie fulfilling your orders. So that’s what we did, except the weeks turned into months and I found myself honestly thinking that this was the end of House Of Bats.
In fact, it very nearly was. This pandemic has cost this small business hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds – wholesale orders stopped completely, sales dropping as we were unable to restock items or even to keep up with our social media posts and advertising. I’ll be honest, there were times I genuinely began drafting a ‘goodbye’ post. I just couldn’t see a way to keep the business going and frankly I had lost a lot of the drive I had. Working up to 70+ hours a week caring for the most vulnerable people, the thought of going back to designing and selling gothic jewellery seemed somewhat facile. This feeling grew, and soon putting on makeup seemed ridiculous, buying myself new clothes seemed pointless, and even having a relaxing bath with a nice bath bomb seemed an inexcusable waste of time. I mean, what was the point? People are suffering and I’m spending an hour soaking in the tub when I could just have a 5 minute shower and go back out there and help some more?
If you are familiar with House Of Bats you may recall our Abandoned Spaces collection, which is a series of glyphs/talismans designed around my experiences with depression. My depression is rooted in a strong sense of self-inadequacy. I am never good enough, never doing enough, everybody else is more worthy of love than me. These destructive thoughts were starting to take over again, but this time fueled by a genuine world crisis. Somewhere in amongst the long hours, the stress and the tears I lost myself for a while. The people I care for started to notice – asking ME if I was ok, if they could help ME! This snapped me right back – how could I care for others without first caring for myself? In the words of Ru Paul, “if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”. I took those long baths, I bought myself new clothes, I started putting makeup on again, and slowly I was feeling more and more like me. I started longing to be back in my studio, back working on all the new products I had planned pre-lockdown. I realised that without this creative outlet I was a shadow of my former self, and my care work was suffering because of it.
So here I am. Happier and healthier, and ready to move this business forward one little step at a time. This pandemic is far from over, people are still getting sick and dying and my little wobble here is in no way meant to diminish that. My experiences are a world away from the pain and anguish that millions of families are suffering around the world. But maybe you’ve experienced similar feelings in this strange time, and maybe knowing that you’re not alone will help.
Look after yourselves folks, I truly truly mean that.
Oh, and wear a damn mask.
Anna Bat x