I have, finally, finished this particular drawing. I managed to keep to my challenge of leaving some white space in the design. I did let the design spill over the pencil guidelines I’d drawn for the size of artwork. I then digitally trimmed it within those lines before applying the black and white borders. I do like to define the space within which my drawings and designs reside, that’s for sure. It’s like a window into my imagination, my mind, my intuitive creativity, how all the little things I have observed and imagine just blend and meld into a crazily layered, intricately pattern and yet flowing design that is always quite pretty.
You can’t have too much pretty patterns in this world I think.
I think it’s too detailed and fussy as a coloring template, though I may add some colour to it at some point in time. Before I think about doing that, though, I have an idea for another drawing with some hand lettering on it.
The drawing is a little less than A4 in size (US letter). It has been drawn with Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board.
My mental and emotional health
Monday I spent mostly in tears after the busy week and the emotional upsets of Sunday. In therapy we just talked about what happened and how I was feeling and thinking about myself and that I need to be a lot kinder to and caring of myself. It was also suggested I need to be a lot more accepting of where I am on my healing journey and not beat myself up for not being able to get out and about much by myself, even when I may want to.
I came home and slept until 2am, then went back to sleep a couple of hours later and slept through until mid morning yesterday, which was then followed by a very quiet day at home crocheting and drawing before yet another nap in the afternoon.
I slept for many hours last night too, and I’m still feeling exhausted. With exhaustion I am emotionally fragile and vulnerable too.
So, much of today will be spent quietly. I do have to head up to Hereford this evening, however. I’m debating whether to go a little early so I can spend a little time at Kilpeck church – my favourite church in the whole wide world. A tiny two celled Romanesque church, almost untouched by time. I’ll see how I feel as the day progresses and whether I manage to find a little oompf. After all, the church has been there for nearly one thousand years, I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere soon!
What a busy week last week was for me. It’s taken a while for me to add any significant work to this wip, but it’s beginning to become a bit more ‘fleshed’ out. My challenge is to leave some white space in the design. We’ll have to see if I can actually manage that!
This is being drawn with a combination of Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board. The paper is A4 in size (approx US letter), just so you have an idea of the size of the design.
Mental health awareness week and an example of stigma I’ve experienced
What a week it was. I wasn’t as busy this year as last year, but it still took it out of me. I find looking after stands for Time to Change Wales a lot more stressful than doing the talks about my CPTSD and how stigma and discrimination has affected me.
By Thursday afternoon I was absolutely and totally poleaxed. So tired and exhausted in a way I haven’t been since, most probably, I was teaching! Mind you, I suspect I’ve been that exhausted since, but not for such an extended period of time.
It all started with the lead up to EMDR therapy last Tuesday. EMDR was quite distressing and left me exhausted emotionally and physically. I then had no time to recover before the stands on Weds and Thurs.
Friday I had to prepare for something I was doing on Saturday and that took every little bit of strength I’d recovered to do that. I enjoyed the preparation, but I didn’t take much time out to rest and recuperate from the previous days.
I woke at stupid o’clock (aka 3.30am) on Saturday fretting and worrying about my task for the day. So that had me exhausted yet again. The task worked out well, thankfully, but I was even more exhausted on the way home. I managed to throw some food together, which I didn’t really eat as I was too exhausted to eat. I slept for three hours, woke for a couple of hours (long enough to watch Return of the Sith) and then went back to bed and slept through until nearly 9am.
I did feel a lot better and had it in my mind to visit the National Museum in Cardiff to spend sometime with rocks and fossils in the Evolution of Wales exhibition with my sketchbook. I was all fairly excited about this and made my way there. I had a lovely couple of hours observing and drawing. I then realised how tired I was again. So, I thought a cup of tea and a little something to eat may be needed. I drank the tea but couldn’t bring myself to eat anything. I went back to the galleries, wandering around the natural history galleries. I suddenly started to get all emotional at the sight of animals stuffed and on display, and the gallery where the whale and leatherback turtle are finished me and I thought it was best I went home.
Which I did, cooked myself a relatively healthy meal, which I managed to eat and then just flopped in front of the TV until it was time for me to go out in the evening for a kind of meditation class.
And something happened in the evening that triggered a visceral and emotional response, something totally unexpected. I couldn’t stop crying for a good two hours. I definitely have food for thought. One of the things that got to me was the statement ‘you don’t need therapy, you just need to get out of your head and into your heart’. This from someone who knows nothing of my life story. Then it felt like people I’d known for a long while and who know my story were agreeing with this statement and that person.
Added to that was I was told I should trust to the love of my family.
Really? Just further proof they know nothing of my life and the family I was born into. Love? Well, if you mean destroying someone’s sense of self, their confidence, everything about them is love, well then I guess they were right.
They have no idea that I’ve tried self-help program after self-help program in the past 20 years or so, to very little positive effect. I was told I can do the work by myself. So no, I can’t. I’ve tried again and again and finally I had to accept I needed help in the form of therapy.
I’m actually feeling quite angry about this, I really am.
I got quite vocal when I told the person they knew nothing about me, about the abuse I’d suffered as a child. When I said that they said ‘I knew it, I just didn’t want to say’. Then, they went on to say ‘but you don’t need therapy for that, you just need to trust yourself’.
How? HOW? How the feck can I do that when all my life I’ve been told i’m wrong, I’m thick, I’m stupid, I know nothing, I’m useless, I’m an embarrassment, everyone else is better than me, I’m unloveable, I’m ugly, and everything else.
The whole message of my childhood is that I shouldn’t trust myself, that I’m always wrong and stupid.
Another example of the way mental ill-health is stigmatised by those who think they understand but don’t really. There’s so much prejudice about having therapy or counselling in society, even from people you’d expect not to have that prejudice.
This has shaken me somewhat, but my resolve to continue with EMDR is stronger now, this morning. I realise that people don’t want me to change, for whatever, that they think I’m good enough and ‘lovely’ just as I am.
Maybe that’s the case. But EMDR for me is more about helping me to find that courage and confidence that I want to have to continue to go to museums and abbeys and cathedrals by myself to just draw and enjoy the sights and sounds. To be able to walk in nature alone. To not feel that I’m putting my life on hold for someone who will ‘rescue me’ and do these things with me.
I’ve put my life on hold for way, way too long hoping someone will come and ‘rescue me’.
I’m the only one who can do that. But I need help to learn how to do that. If I can’t drive a car, I find someone who can teach me. If I can’t learn how to trust myself, to become confident and so on then I need to find someone who can help me learn. That person is my lovely EMDR therapist.
I’m typing all this with tears in my eyes as it really did upset me, and still does, and I’m a bit angry about it too.
I will continue with EMDR. I will continue healing, little by little, even if part of that process are the days of absolute emotional exhaustion and the pain that comes along with realising how I’ve been hurt in the past. The pain is because I never processed the hurt properly, believing it was all I deserved, that it was ok to be spoken to or dismissed or ignored as that’s all that I knew growing from the earliest days I can remember.
I have to do what is right for me. Not do what other people think I should do for whatever reason they think that. I’ve lived my life through the messages drummed into me by those who were supposed to love and care and nurture and those messages have stopped me from being the person I would now like to be and have led to some severe episodes of deep depression and anxiety so bad I was off work for nearly a year in the first instance, and after several months the second time I never returned, a decision I do not regret as I can focus on recovery from a lifetime’s CPTSD and also focus on art and learning to live the life I’d like.
“I can do this” – reprise
So the message hand written on my artwork is so appropriate given the events of yesterday evening.
It makes me more determined to continue EMDR, which is the only therapy/counselling that really works.
I’ll do my best to push last night aside and continue to move forward now, which I have to do soon as I have therapy this afternoon!
Just like I will show my mother and others that they are wrong about me I will show others the same.
This morning all I want to do is stay in bed. I’ve had to get up though; I’m looking after a stand for Time to Change Wales at the Engineering Department in Swansea University later today. All part of World Mental Health Awareness Week, you know.
I’m absolutely shattered. Drained. Emotionally whacked out. Emotionally fragile. So tired. So very, very tired.
I want to curl up in bed and either draw or read or crochet or just watch faff on YouTube or sleep.
However, I won’t let anyone down and I will wend my way to Swansea to take care of the stand for a while today.
Yesterday’s EMDR session focused on the content of my blog post yesterday about my own body image and how I think and feel about myself. I had a particularly distressing time of it, so much so my therapist said ‘enough for today, I’m bringing this session to an end’ when we’d barely started the EMDR part of it.
The lump in my throat that was stopping me breathing, talking was painful, as was the literal pain in my heart. I get a lot of somatic responses during EMDR. Often quite painful, but bearable in order to release the stored trauma.
Yesterday, though, the pain was almost unbearable, probably unbearable.
Leaving the session, though, after some work on grounding and spending time in my safe place I felt ok.
When I got home though, I just wanted to curl up in bed as I was exhausted. And that exhaustion intensified through the evening.
Along with that I got a seriously upset stomach, which can happen after EMDR where I quite literally am expelling the faeces of my life after expelling some of the emotional and mental trauma during EMDR.
I had a really poor nights sleep even though I was shattered.
My tummy/digestive system is still tender and unsettled this morning.
All this occurred as a result of one memory I have as a toddler.
So, I’m fair reeling from it all and so sad about so much. So, so much.
I know this is all part of the process to release and heal the traumas I’ve had that have led to CPTSD. I know it won’t last for ever now and these feelings will pass in the hours and days that follow.
I know a day of self-soothing, self-care would be ideal, but I have a commitment to Time to Change Wales today and I don’t break commitments lightly. Indeed, it may do me some good as it looks like a sunny day and out and about in the sunshine does help my mood for sure.
‘I Can Do This’ WIP
I started this one late last night when I was tired but couldn’t settle down at all. I did a bit more when I woke this morning.
I hand lettered (not very well) the words ‘I can do this’ to remind myself that I can do this work in EMDR, that I can release trauma and face things that I’ve avoided much of my life, or not told hardly anyone about how I feel about myself, my body, always trying to put a brave face on things.
It’s tiring to wear that brave face and I’m not sure I can today, I’m already way too exhausted. Time to let the mask down again perhaps.
Anyways, the WIP has the hand lettering on it as a message to me that I am capable of doing the work in EMDR, but also as a message to any one of you who may read my words that each and every one of you is also capable of doing what you need to do to find mental and emotional well-being, a well-being that is at least good enough.
I’m drawing this on A4 (approx US letter size) bristol board using a mixture of Tombow Fudenosuke, Sakura Pigma Sensei and Uniball Unipin pens. Unusually for myself I’m actually pencilling in the basic outlines of shapes! How strange…
However, that pencilling in the scaffolding for my drawing may be symbolic that I also need some scaffolding and support in terms of my mental and emotional well-being at this time.
I have no idea how this will turn out yet – both the art and the EMDR – but I will persevere as and when I have the energy and time to do so. I don’t know if I’ll pack it up to take with me to the event today or whether I’ll take my crochet. Either drawing or crochet does help soothe me.
Another drawing today. Approx 6″ x 6″ (15cm x 15cm) drawn with Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens.
Therapy day today
I’ve been struggling a little the past couple of days. I’m feeling quite emotional and I’m rather anxious about being out where there are people.
It’s World Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is body image. That theme is provoking some emotional upset with me.
Or maybe it’s that we started working on a situation when I was visiting somewhere and I ended up in full flight mode.
It was late lunch-time and I was really hungry. So, I went to cafe I’ve been to in the past. When I got there I couldn’t go in the door. I was convinced I was so fat that I’d not fit and if I did I’d not manage to anywhere in there.
I turned tail and dashed back to my car and drove nearly 100 miles home without stopping for a drink or food. Luckily I had a bottle of water in the car as I was really thirsty.
Since I was six years old and I broke my leg I’ve been overweight ever since. I’m the best part of 6″ tall and I’m uncertain of my dress size as I tend to buy clothes that are a bit too big for me in the belief they’d hide me. I’m probably somewhere between a UK size 18 and 22 – it depends on the style of clothes and the type of clothing.
Any ways, I was horribly bullied as a child – about my weight, about my appearance, about me being me. I was an easy target for bullies, they sniff out a victim and it matters not how old you are. I’ve been bullied throughout my adult life by people of all ages, genders and backgrounds.
These people included my mother, her father and other family members. I grew up believing I was stupid, fat, ugly and that no one loves me or would love me, that I’d never have friends and I was never as good as anyone else, just to name a few of the negative beliefs I still carry about myself, even if there is evidence to the contrary.
So, it was quite natural that I developed a lot of social anxiety and would hide myself away even as a child.
There were times when I was put on diets. My mother forced me to go to weight watchers when I was about 9 or 10 years old. Every fad diet that came along, she put me on it. I remember one which involved an inch of cucumber and one hard boiled egg three times a day. I was handed these things, told to eat them and then go up to my bedroom while everyone else had a proper meal.
It felt like a punishment not love. I was excluded, yet again, from the family, and when the diets didn’t work or I ‘cheated’ due to gnawing hunger and the need to emotionally feed myself something, I was yet again a failure, useless, good for nothing, and embarrassment.
At the same time, everyone else in the family was praised for having good appetites and eating huge meals, and I was given completely the opposite message.
I have always been an emotional eater. There was never love and affection for me, only loathing and ridicule and scapegoating and negative messages. Food would help me swallow down the emotions so I could keep a happy smile on my face, even though inside I was crying and screaming and wishing myself dead.
I grew up believing I was ugly. I grew up hating my body. I grew up unable to do anything about my emotional eating, my weight as whenever I did I felt like I was punishing myself again and again and again. I tried diet after diet after diet. About the only thing that has worked was finishing with the long ago ex! Without him my weight plummeted quite naturally and I eventually was at the thinnest I ever have been in my adult life, around a UK size 16 to 18.
I am often ashamed of myself, of being overweight that I avoid leaving my home, going out where there are people, scared of what people might think or say to me.
I’m embarrassed to eat in public when I’m by myself often. Even if I’m hungry I can find it really hard to go into a cafe that is really familiar to me. I may be brave enough to pick up something I can eat while sat in my car or driving.
The odd thing is that if I’m with a friend or my sister I can manage to go out and eat, even somewhere that’s not familiar. I find some bravery.
But when I’m by myself the story can be very different. At it’s best I’m able to venture into a new cafe in a new place and have something to eat. At it’s worst I end up in full flight mode and cut my visit short to head back to my car and then home – both safe places for me.
I rarely have ever spoken about this to anyone. In this day of ‘fat shaming’ and the hyper-judgemental face of society projected in the tabloid press, TV, the media in general and social media in particular it is very difficult to speak out,, especially seeing the way people who do speak out against the stereotypes and stigma and discrimination that abounds.
You see, there’s a story behind each person. You have no idea why they are overweight. It’s rarely as simple as eating too much and not being active enough. You have no idea what inner battles that person is having with themselves, what they believe about themselves, why they’re unable to change things because are other more painful things that are being buried by literally swallowing them down with food.
Perhaps this is why it’s so important to speak out. To try to change the tendency to make a sweeping judgement about someone and to try to see past that and try to understand that they are fighting battles you know nothing about, how hard it is to put a brave face on and step out into the world and act with confidence even though, in my case, I just want to run back to my safe home.
It tires me out everytime I go out into the world, even when I’m with people I love, as I battle to keep my smiling face, to hold back the tears and the anxiety, to do the things that so many people take for granted.
It’s only in the last week or so I’ve recognised a bit of the depth of my issues with my body and how I see myself. It’s the focus of EMDR therapy at the moment, and it’s not likely to be an easy one to do. I was shocked last week at the number of memories that have come back relating to the one episode of flight mode that cover not just recent times but right back to my early years.
My goals for this phase of EMDR are that I can view myself a bit more kindly, with some more compassion and understanding for myself. I can show other people this, always have done. However, showing the same for myself is a whole different kettle of fish.
I don’t judge other people by their appearance, but self-judgement is sometimes crippling. An internal struggle, battle that is invisible to others.
I’ve only touched the surface here of how I’m affected by this. I have a lot more to uncover and release and to change how I think and feel about myself. I think I can do enough so I think I’m good enough as a person.
Good enough. That’s my main goal. To view myself as a good enough human being and to have a good enough life full of rich experience, whether that is being able to leave my home to have a cuppa in a familiar cafe or to travel to further afield places that are new to me and to be able to leave my car and explore them.
To undo some if not most or even all of the damage to my mental and emotional health throughout my life that has led to me developing CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder).
It’s been a funny kind of day today. I’ve been quietly busy with art, as well as tidying up my home and dyson-ing and so on. My sister and niece are visiting soon for a ‘chip night’, which essentially involves them picking up some chips from a local fish and chip shop, coming to mine to eat and chat and catch up on life for a couple of hours.
In between I’ve managed to draw this little design, and it is little being approx 15cm x15cm (approx 6″ x 6″). Drawn using Unipin and Tombow Fudenosuke pens on bristol board. I then added the shading digitally. I may go on to add some colour at a later time.