Friends, always

Friends, always © Angela Porter 2019
Friends, always © Angela Porter 2019

Two pals sitting in a galaxy of bright yellow celandine stars. Two pals that happen to be my two favourite animals – cat and raven.

Drawn with a Lamy fountain pen on Rhodia dot grid paper then edited and coloured digitally using my trifecta of Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Simple colouring for a simple but sweet, cute and whimsical image.

Self Care Kitty #2

Self Care Kitty #2 © Angela Porter - Artwyrd.com
Self Care Kitty #2 © Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

I don’t know about you, but watching a beautiful sunrise or sunset lifts my spirits somewhat. Sometimes the experience makes me cry, sometimes with the beauty of it, sometimes releasing some of the stuff going on inside of me. Either way, I find myself relaxing and breathing more easily as I watch the sun set or rise.

It’s something I don’t do often enough. Not just watch the sun rise or set, but spend time in nature. Walking where I can hear birds sing. Paddling in the surf where sea meets land. Feeling the wind in my hair.

When I need to do it most is when I’m least likely to do any of these things. People scare me. Being on my own with people around when I’m emotionally and mentally vulnerable scares me. Being on my own where there’s no people around scares me. Growing up I was always scared and anxious. I always tried to get away from family to somewhere where there was no one who could pick on me. Yet when I got somewhere I’d be so nervous and anxious and scared that I’d end up returning home and then usually hiding away in my bedroom.

If I think about going out to watch a sunset, walk along a beach, sit in nature and draw/write when I most need it to soothe my emotions and mind, the inner critic pipes up in my mother’s voice saying ‘why do you want to bother to do that? what’s the point of it?’ That voice still has power at these times, the times when I really do need to ignore it but don’t have the strength to do so.

I need to fight back. I’ve never fought back, well rarely. I have rarely had ‘no’ in my vocabulary. After over fifty years of life, that voice still has power over me, still robs me of what strength I have.

It’s on notice though – I’ve just recognised you and have worked out what you are doing and your time in my head and heart is now limited.

It’s Friday, so today is both furbaby friday and dangle day, so it’s quite fitting that I have, once again, combined a furbaby and a dangle in one design. I drew the design on Rhodia Dot Grid paper using Uniball Unipin pens and then digitally coloured it using the usual Microsoft Surface Pen and Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Looking at it now, I think I missed an opportunity to attach the dangle to the cat’s tail. I also didn’t add shadows, and I’m not too sure about the circles on the cat’s coat. Also, the cat looks rather ‘flat’.

‘A Dangle A Day’ is a tutorial book I wrote and illustrated to show how you too can create dangle designs and was published earlier this year.

Mandala 21 March 2019

Mandala 21 March 2019 © Angela Porter
Mandala 21 March 2019 © Angela Porter

I’ve had a day. My mood is quite low still – sad and teary – and not feeling that I’d be able to do work for the book at a good enough standard. Also, my quick errand this morning turned into a 3 hour marathon!

After cooking a veggie-rich pasta I tried to settle to work, but ended up creating this mandala.

Part way through the process, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro encountered unspecified problems and had to shut down. I managed to recover the image, but it saved it at a resolution of 100dpi. So any chance of me uploading this to RedBubble or Society6 has gone unless I choose to re-draw and re-colour it.

That’s frustrating and a little disheartening. I’m too tired now to think about it.

I’m not sure I’ve chosen the right background colour. I’ve also realised I’ve not added highlights and shadows either. Maybe I’ll return to do that another time.

I used the usual trio of Microsoft Surface Pen and Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Now, it’s time to put the recycling out for collection tomorrow and then watch The Crimes of Grindlewald. I missed it in the cinema so … time to watch a DVD of it.

Self care #1 Spend time with a friend

Self-care #1 ©Angela Porter 2019
Self-care #1 ©Angela Porter 2019

A cute kitty to start the day with a bit of advice for self-care.

More of something for me to work towards – reaching out to a friend when I’m having a tough time with my mental/emotional wellbeing. Still a valid bit of advice.

I’m still not quite right today, feeling emotional and fragile still. I still need to get some work done, after an errand or two this morning. I think it’s a day for lots of tea and also drawing with pen and paper so I can sit in/on bed and work.

I still don’t know how EMDR could’ve floored me this week. It all seemed so gentle and nothing much came up during the session. Lots of body stuff for sure, but no memories or insights at the time. I seem to be stuck in emotional flashbacks and all I can do is hope that it’s processing trauma as part of it all.

I know this will all pass in time. I know I’m working towards healing myself with help from Linda, my EMDR therapist. I know that there are steps backwards which are really steps forward as trauma is released and processed outside of the EMDR session.

So, today it’s errands then it’s settling down to be creative and to take care of myself. Lots of tea. Lots, and lots of tea.

Pawsome pals – you are not alone in this

You are not alone © Angela Porter 2019
You are not alone © Angela Porter 2019

Yesterday I had a pretty grim day after EMDR on Monday.

I really was down, miserable and feeling very, very alone in this world yesterday. A day where I felt I was unlovable. A day where I felt I didn’t belong anywhere. A day where all the past rejections and hurts were bubbling up without any specific memories attached to them, just the emotions, the emotional flashbacks that come with CPTSD.

These are feelings and beliefs about myself that I lived my whole life with. Life just added more and more of the same to them, reinforcing them, even when evidence came along to show it wasn’t true. It’s so hard when I’m stuck in these flashbacks, in this frame of mind to find let alone believe anything that is contrary to the old messages.

Those old ways of thinking about myself are familiar. Not comfortable, but familiar and more powerful than the more positive ones I’m working on replacing them with. It’s like they have a life of their own and pounce on me when I’m at my most vulnerable, and after EMDR on Monday and yesterday I was vulnerable.

I still am somewhat vulnerable to them today, as I am everyday to an increasingly lesser and lesser degree.

It’s on days like these, as I recover from them, I’m able to see a little of the progress I’m making through EMDR, something that makes me see it’s all worthwhile. Even on days like these when the old inner critic finds another bout of fading strength it’s worthwhile persevering with EMDR and working towards the maximum possible recovery from CPTSD.

I still haven’t learned that trick of reaching out to people on days like this. I still believe I need to struggle along alone and isolate myself. It’s I still think I’d be a burden to them and I don’t want to worry them and I don’t want people to think I’m an attention seeker or making it all up. I avoid phone calls, messages and I try to avoid social media as that can provoke the flashbacks or intensify them.

Most of the time, when I’m not stuck in the past, I’m actually quite content when I’m by myself. I draw and create with a gentle smile on my face and inside my heart. Life feels soft and gentle.

But on days like yesterday life seems harsh and hard. I’ve never learned to reach out to people for company or help on days like these. During days like these I never think to reach out either, not until the feelings and thoughts of the emotional flashbacks recede.

Then … then I start to wish I felt I could reach out. Which I now won’t do as the need has mostly passed.

I am still emotionally vulnerable and fragile, nowhere near as bad as I was, but still fragile. The flashbacks are receding. I may have some waves and ripples left from the storm that has almost blown itself out. I weathered the storm once again, I can weather the tail end of it now.

Yesterday I drew these pawsome pals. In the midst of emotional flashbacks I feel very, very alone, more so as I isolate myself at these times. For me, I think this is more of a goal. That I reach out and/or let people into my life. I learned how to put a brave, smiley face on at a very young age. Letting that face drop is not easy. Not easy at all.

Whiling away the time…

Whiling Away the Time (c) Angela Porter 2019
Whiling Away the Time (c) Angela Porter 2019

Yesterday turned out to be a different day than I expected.

The anti-stigma talks I was booked in to do didn’t happen. No one knew about them. So, I drove to some services not far away for a wee, tea, something to nibble and time out to relax and draw.

Then, I wended my way to Neath for lunch in forty-six, a cafe in Queen Street that I love for it’s quirkiness. I finished the drawing over lunch, and the result is above. I used various Pitt Artists pens from Faber-Castell, grey Uniball Unipin pens, and some coloured pencils. I wanted to work in monochrome, but I also wanted to experiment with scanning a monochrome drawing in and adding colour to it digitally. I tried that last night, but my mood plummeted and well, I abandoned the idea for now.

EMDR therapy followed lunch and then a drive back home.

I thought the therapy was quite gentle this week, though there was lots and lots going on in my body. We haven’t quite finished processing the memory I’m working on at the moment. Maybe next week will see it finished. I felt tired and a bit spaced out when I left EMDR, but positive and hopeful on the way home.

However, when I got home, after preparing a vegetable stew and putting it on to cook, my emotions crashed in on me.

I was so disheartened with myself, my art, my life. I felt so sad, so tearful. I was so tired too. Emotionally tired, mentally tired.

I didn’t know why I was bothering to do art, to draw coloring books, to write words, to speak up about mental health and my journey to achieve some measure of healing from CPTSD. I felt so lonely, so alone. I didn’t believe my own story, that I was making everything up as an excuse for being overweight, for being a failure, for being useless at everything I do.

I’ve not felt this disheartened for many weeks, time. The suddenness surprised me. No warning. No gradual decline that I could pick up on and work towards halting it.

I ended up going to bed early to escape these thoughts and feelings.

I woke up this morning feeling a bit better but with a horrible, horrible headache behind my eyes. I feel the pressure to complete the book I’m working on before the end of this month, but I’m not sure I’m in the right place to continue with it.

I suspect EMDR has shaken some stuff loose… and I need to give it time and space to be processed and released. I’ll have to see how I go with drawing later on, when the headache tablets kick in, to see if I can do anything today.

I need to tell myself I have time to complete the requisite number of illustrations, plus a couple extra so choices can be made. That it may be better to take a day to find my balance again.