Three years ago I spent time with friends from a school I’d taught at for 27 years. As I look back on my time there it mostly seems a distant memory.
My life has changed in so many ways.
Being self-employed as an artist, illustrator and author is a wonderful thing, it barely feels like work as it is something I love to do for pleasure as well as to contracts. I choose my own workload and what I wish to do for the day.
There’s no appalling attitudes or behaviour to deal with (well rarely).
Healing from CPTSD is continuing, and perhaps the source of so many, many positive changes for me.
Three years ago I wouldn’t have thought I would ever feel content with a really low level of anxiety. I rarely ever go to sleep wishing I wouldn’t wake up. That was a nearly daily occurrence in the several years marking my leaving teaching for good after two huge ‘breakdowns’ where I had nearly broken my mind and my will through struggling in work and with a sharply declining mental and emotional health.
Looking back on my life, my mental and emotional health were never good; it’s always been degrees of how bad they’ve been. The mask of smiling happiness and competence was constructed at an early age. I bought into the lie of that mask and it took my mind and emotions nearly breaking to make me face up to that fact that I had some serious problems mentally and emotionally.
I lost my ability to read. Rather, I lost my ability to make sense, process, and remember what I was reading. I could hear the words in my mind but they may just as well have been in an alien tongue. It’s only in recent months that my ability to read and take in what I’m reading has been returning. It’s still hard work, but I persevere.
For over two years I couldn’t drive past the school where I talked, even in night time. I now can. A sign of healing and progress I think.
Gradually, I’m finding the strength and courage to leave my home more often by myself, not just for appointments but just because I can. It’s slow progress, but it’s happening. I get startled into hyper-vigilance still fairly easy, and panic attacks can ensue and I go into full flight mode back to the safety of my car or home. They seem to happen less often though, but they’re still there.
There are still many things that need healing or strengthening with me. Such as finding the confidence and belief in myself to sell my art and promote it.
I still carry many negative beliefs about myself; they’re like a many headed monster that when one head is slayed another becomes visible that was hidden in the crowd of faces.
However, eventually there will be no place these faces can hide, no places for the negative beliefs to hide, and the end will be in sight.
I will get there. It just takes some time.
Thanks to my fabulous EMDR therapist, I’m improving all the time. Even when what seems like a backwards step at the time seems to result in more forwards movement given enough time.
Yes, in three years my life has changed noticeably, and for the better, I think.
About the art…
The little bit of art above is my newest work in progress (WIP). I couldn’t find my ‘Be Brave’ art yesterday and thought I’d start a new one. Today, ‘Be Brave’ was very obviously in the folder for July’s artwork. I just couldn’t see it for looking!
The swirly bits will be changed on this one. They’re not working out for me the way I hoped they would. I will work it out though.
Of course, I’m using my trifecta of tools – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Studio and Microsoft Surface Pen.