A bit of a calming time was needed this morning before attending to my business of the day. I thought a mandala in blues, greens and purples would hit the mark.
I enjoy using a flexible ink pen ‘brush’ to achieve the varying line widths. This allows me to build up abstract patterns and textures quite nicely I think. I have a way to go to find my ‘voice’ with this style of art. The more I do, the more will become clear to me I’m sure.
I’m not sure that the design flows as much as in yesterday’s mandala. I wonder if that’s because I only put one rather geometric series of rings in the centre of the design.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I had a tough EMDR session yesterday. Today, I feel content and upbeat but I’m realising just how tired I am mentally, despite 10 hours sleep. Yesterday’s session had a lot of body processing going on. That means stored trauma is processed via physical sensations. Yesterday those included electric shocks in my leg/foot, side, arm, pains like hooks in my shoulders, a blunt pushing/stabbing force from my stomach up towards my heart, pain in my eye. Those are just a few I remember. The pain/sensations weren’t more than I could bear, though some came close to it!
30 or 40 minutes of this is enough in a session I find, and that little amount of time out of my day is worth it for the long term benefits it brings of helping me recover from CPTSD. The tiredness I feel will pass in a day or so.
I actually drew this one last night. My emotions were overwrought and I needed something that was calming and relaxing.
I used a digital equivalent to scratchboard art. I used my digital brushes to remove areas from the upper black layer to reveal the lower, coloured layer.
To create the more geometric areas I used the digital equivalent of fineliner pens. For the more organic lines, I used a flexible nib digital brush.
There is a kind of magic in revealing the colour hidden by the black darkness. I found myself working in a quite different way to recent mandalas; it’s going to be a technique I return to again and again I’m sure.
Digitally created using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
Monday is still EMDR therapy day for me. My emotional and mental health is generally the best it’s ever been. However, I’ve discovered that I’m still a bit too close to the edge of the abyss within which I was trapped for most of my life. I wore a well practiced mask so that few people really knew the inner struggles I had on a daily basis.
It was such a good mask that I mostly fooled myself, until I could no longer do so around ten or twelve years ago.
I thought everybody thought and felt the same way I did; I never knew any different. Now, however, I know what contentment is and what feeling happy is too.
Last week’s EMDR session floored me for around three days. I didn’t expect it to do so. Memories surfaced that I’d pushed away and they distressed me greatly. The emotional exhaustion was intense; all I wanted to do was sleep. That wasn’t possible – as well as having the Spectacular Sea Life colouring book to finish I’m involved in an intense project which requires a lot of focus and concentration of a different kind. It’s also provoking emotional responses in me that are causing me some difficulties. One of those emotional responses resulted in me running away from the internet to watch Star Wars and then to create this mandala.
I have learned how to self-soothe!
The realm of emotions is really tricky for me. For most of my life I numbed my emotions. It was a strategy that helped me to survive as a child and the unhealthy strategy continued into my adult life.
Through EMDR, I’ve discovered that I have emotions, some I never knew existed in me and I had no names for them. Which is odd, as I could always recognise those emotions in others!
Anyway, by becoming more self-aware of my body and emotions and dropping the protective mask I’m having to learn to put boundaries and barriers in place to protect myself. Learning to say no, or the clear equivalent of that little word, is not an easy task. However, I am learning.
Healing from CPTSD is a tricky process, but it really is possible! It takes time though. Well, in my case it has.
This morning, I needed the calming and soothing process of drawing a mandala.
The last few days have been manic, tiring and emotional. I’ve also had to use a lot of mental concentration on a project that involves me. All this has resulted in evenings filled with headaches and emotional vulnerability.
I’m aware of what’s happening to me, and I do take steps to make sure that I practice self-care and self-soothing.
Drawing mandalas is always self-soothing for me. The abstract nature of them means anything goes, within the foundation of rings and angles. Drawing repeating patterns and shapes is also a soothing activity.
Today, I chose to draw in black and white and add a grey, textured background. Some subtle shading in greys helps to add the illusion of dimension to the mandala.
I drew this mandala digitally, using my favourite tool triad of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. This made it easy to alter what I wasn’t happy with as I worked on the mandala. This removed a source of potential stress and upset and allowed the perfectionist in me to smile.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t any imperfections in the design; there are plenty of them! It just means I can fix the big mistakes quickly. I wish it were as easy to do that in life, for myself but also for others.
I enjoyed drawing the mandala. It has helped to soothe my fragile head and heart and has set me up for the rest of my arty, creative day.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’ve not written much about my mental and emotional health lately. It’s mostly been good. However, I’ve had some challenges with it and have had some weepy, teary times.
Previously, I’ve mentioned that I was looking at leaving therapy soon. I still think that will be the case, but these challenges have caused some flotsam and jetsam from my past to surface. They need to be processed and released before I consider leaving therapy.
I have so much to do in terms of work and other commitments that I really do need to schedule in that self-care time. Also, I’m aware that the challenges I’m currently facing could, potentially, harm my mental and emotional health. All the work of the past five years in therapy could, possibly, be undone. I can’t allow that to happen.
During the recent difficulties, I’ve found my emotions and thoughts harking back to the dark days of my poor mental and emotional health. I managed to stop myself falling into the bottomless, dark pit of despair and anguish. I recognised it was happening. Also, I recognised the trigger for this. It was strong enough to breathe some life into the pale ghosts of my past. Those ghosts have now been dispelled, but I know they can rise to haunt me at my vulnerable moments.
What scared me most was that I lost that awareness of inner contentment that has been present for many months now. It’s now back, once the ghosts had been returned to their realm – the past.
I’ve said it before, and no doubt I’ll say it again – emotions are the weather of my inner being. Things happen or are said that can stir up a storm. The storm opens a portal to the past and ghosts can find their way to trouble my mind and feelings. I’m now more aware of myself, my emotions, and how to cope with this weather. I’m back to a calm sea where the contentment isn’t shrouded by the shades of the past.
Being able to banish these ghosts myself shows how far I’ve come since my darkest days.
Happy Hallowe’en to you all and here is my last skully Inktober drawing for 2019.
The skull prompt was ‘duck’, so I just had to draw a duck-billed dinosaur (hadrosaur) skull! I’ve always had a love of dinosaurs and prehistoric critters, so it’s fab I can include one of their skulls.
I wanted to do a woodcut style skull drawing, but I wanted to use white ink as well as black. So, I used some digital craft paper to draw on. I think it’s worked out well, though some areas of highlights look a bit too geometric. I’ve also just realised that I didn’t add highlights/shadows to the teeth. Oh well.
The mushroom prompt was, quite appropriately, Rubroboletus satanus, and you can see outline drawings of the mushroom in the mandala.
The tangle pattern for today was Florz, and that forms the tiled floor pattern.
When I’d completed the mandala on the same kraft paper as the skulls, I realised that I needed a lighter background, so I just added a different kraft paper to the background.
Reflecting on Inktober
I’ve enjoyed Inktober this year for sure. Picking prompt lists that appealed to me helped a lot. I did start off trying out different ways of approaching drawing skulls and the like. However, I settled on combining the skull illustrations with a mandala. I’ve also discovered a great fondness for woodcut-style drawings.
I now need to work out what to do with my Inktober artworks. Some of them will become available as tee-shirts and other products in the days and weeks ahead; I do want to tweak some of them first.
I’m feeling a bit sad at it being over. Having a ‘brief’ to work to certainly helps to focus my sparkly, grasshoppery mind and takes me out of my ‘comfort zone’ (I absolutely hate that phrase!). I’ve certainly found a passion for skulls; so many more to draw, so many different angles too.
It’s the focus that has been the most helpful. This is something I need to sort out, I think. I do have themes for the colouring books I do, but I think I could do with a theme (or series of themes that repeat over a week) that will help focus my creativity outside of the book.
Inktober has taken over my creativity this month. However, I think I needed that to freshen me up.
So, I shall look forward to Inktober 2020, while doing my best to put into practice some of the things I’ve learned from this year’s challenge.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’m OK today, a bit tired and the grey, gloomy, damp weather isn’t helping much. I have used my light therapy lamp this morning; that did lift my mood somewhat, to be fair.
Yesterday was the toughest day, emotionally, I’ve had for a while. I was really feeling rather low. It had been coming, however, for over a week. I’m not entirely over it; I’m still feeling emotionally vulnerable and fragile today, but nowhere near as bad as I felt yesterday.
I do know what has caused the stormy weather; being aware of such things shows I’ve come a long way from the start of therapy for CPTSD. I also know that these storms don’t last forever, and that self-care and self-soothing is needed.
That will be the order of the day today. I do have an errand or two to run as soon as I post Inktober, and I do have something happening this evening. However, the rest of the day will be self-care, starting with making a hot, nutritious meal from scratch. I’m tending towards a veggie bolognaise, the leftovers of which can be turned into a veggie chilli for tomorrow.
So, I’d better get this social media stuff done and get on with my day!
A simple illustration of a toucan skull along with a mandala background. I turned down the brightness of the white patterns a tad; pure white was just too stark against the blue chalkboard background. Also, it distracted from the skull.
I drew this design digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio (the digital equivalent of pen/brush/pencil on paper!).
I’m tired this afternoon. It’s been a busy day so far; also, I’m still reeling a bit from EMDR therapy yesterday. It’s all for the good, though – progress is being made, step by step. The fact I’m tired shows that good work has been done in healing my past traumas and changing how I perceive myself. I may have time for a nap before I dash out to do something this evening…
Yesterday afternoon, I arrived home from EMDR therapy feeling very emotionally drained, fragile and vulnerable. Creating art is one of my self-soothing activities, particularly mandalas.
I’d downloaded a pile of new backgrounds in the past couple of days and wanted to make use of a chalkboard background. It was so dark I knew I needed to make the mandala full of light and colour.
This was a somewhat symbolic choice as my long journey to recovery from CPTSD has been about bringing light into the dark places of my trauma damaged psyche. EMDR has helped me turn the dark into light in terms of my mental and emotional health.
I really enjoyed creating this mandala. Usually, I work with black on white; here I started with colour – the abstract ‘flower’ ring close to the centre. I wanted the colours to glow against the darkness, so I chose lighter shades of aqua and violet. I even added some glowing golden seeds or pollen grains, which is also metaphoric for the personal growth I’m going through in my healing journey.
I then used a white, chalky pen ‘brush’ to draw patterns inside this ring and around it. I decided the white was too plain, so, to break up the white, I blended soft colours into it.
Finally, I added the ring of mushrooms. These had to be my favourite colour – purple. I added some dots to the mushroom caps in lime-green, which is kind of a complementary colour to purple. My last step was to add the stylised foliage behind the mystic mushrooms.
This mandala really helped to soothe me, and it was a pleasure to create. It gave me a break from Inktober and other work that’s ongoing too.
Talking of Inktober, I will be getting Day 29 done later today; I have some things that need doing first.
Oh, the mandala was created digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio (the digital analogues of pen and paper).
I share memes about mental and emotional health, not because I’m struggling myself at this time, but because in the past, I either have or would have found the words and information useful and I know others will find them helpful in their now. I still find them interesting, useful and helpful myself too.
At present, my mental and emotional health is the most resilient it has ever been. I have discovered what inner contentment feels like for the first time in my life. I’m also starting preparing myself to leave EMDR therapy in the coming months.
I have emotional weather like every human being. Some days I’m chatty and smiling and laughing. Other days I’m quieter and more subdued. Those days have always been there, but I wore a mask as a way of protecting myself. The mask wasn’t the authentic me. Very few people have got to see the authentic me, especially on my bad days. If you have seen me like that, then it is because I have trusted you to see me as I am at that time.
I rarely wear that mask any more. It’s exhausting to keep on. However, people who are used to interacting with me only via that mask think there’s something wrong with me, or that I’m experiencing mental ill-health.
That is not the case.
Now I rarely put that mask on. The introverted part of me, the part of me that is happy to sit and listen and observe what is going on and being said. Not the mask that talks and talks, barely pausing for breath, all to avoid questions being asked of me that could lead to me being upset. The mask I wore to try to stop people working out that I had very poor mental and emotional health.
People are making assumptions that because I’m quiet and attentive that I must be mentally ill again. There’s going to be a lot of challenges for me as I leave the mask on going forward. It’s already started to be an *interesting* time.
I am not mentally or emotionally un-well. In fact, I am the most well, mentally and emotionally, than I ever have been in my life.
That doesn’t mean I will never experience emotional weather and tough times again; the shifting sands of emotional and mental wellbeing are all part of being human.
What it does mean is that I no longer feel the need to wear that mask all the time. That I feel able to let it drop where I feel safe, secure and comfortable.
It also means that I am able to prevent my gloomy days from spiralling down into a dark pit of deepest despair.
I also am more aware of the person I really am; not the mask I wore to try to fit in, be noticed and survive around others from a very young age.
It’s not easy to let that mask fall. It confused people who have only known the mask, they think I have changed. I am the same person. I just no longer want to wear that mask now that I’ve discovered the parts of me that were buried way, way back in my life.
That I feel safe enough in this word to remove that mask, to show myself and my emotions to others is a testament to how far along my CPTSD healing journey I have come.