The dos and don’ts of self-care.

The do-s and don't-s of self-care © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
The dos and don’ts of self-care © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Dos and Don’ts

Yesterday was a quiet yet busy arty day. I worked on some projects, but by the evening, I had a hankering for ‘comfort art’ to soothe my fragile emotions. I’d seen a similar list on facebook and thought it would be nice to do one of my own. Naturally, I just had to add some embellishment in the form of my style of drawing. The drawing then needed some colour. So, I started to add colour.

After typing out the list using Affinity Publisher and printing it out, I used a 08 Uniball Unipin pen to add the drawing. Next, I scanned the design in and then started to add colour in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro using my trusty Surface Pen and Surface Studio, both from Microsoft.

My lines are a little less than perfect in the drawing. I’ve noticed a few tiny smudges and some places where the lines have overrun each other a little. I’ve left them as they are, this time.

I thought it might be a good idea to make the colouring a little less than perfect too; so I added a background texture.

About my art and my emotional state.

I seem to have started a lot of projects and not finished them of late. I’m not quite sure why that is. I know I’ve had a really tough time of it emotionally speaking over the last couple of weeks. I think that has a lot to do with it.

I have managed to settle down to get work done for a commission. The main artwork is now done, it’s just doing all the other stuff to go with it. Today isn’t the best day simply because I’ll soon have to sort myself out to go off to EMDR therapy; that’s likely to be emotionally distressing as there’s been a confluence of events in my life that have all triggered emotional reactions. I’ve also not had that much time to let the emotional waves calm. There have also been changes that need to become familiar too.

Today is the first time in a few days I’ve felt anything like settled. Yet I’m not settled fully. I keep having waves of fear followed by tears rising up for no apparent reason.

I think I know what the fear is about. The way I think and feel about a part of my life is changing. It had started to change before the experience, but now it’s really settling in. A yearning in me to ‘belong’, to have that sense of companionship, has been awakened once again. I’ve been given a taster session of what it’s like. So, I’m grieving the lack of that in my life, and fearful I won’t find it going forward. Kindred spirits are few and far between.

This is all part of the journey towards releasing trauma and healing from cPTSD. It’s also about replacing old, unhealthy outlooks with more positive and healthier ones. Grief is involved; even if the old beliefs are harmful, they have been a part of my life, and it’s still a loss. But go they must so something healthier can replace them.

Change is never easy, but it is necessary; for growth, for healing, for a better life.

You Matter by Nikita Gill – Artwork WIP

You Matter by Nikita Gill | Artwork by Angela Porter

After a few very tricky days with emotions and time away with a friend and his partner I finally got some work done on this, and also another project I have on the go.

Digital art – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio.

I’m really very emotionally fragile at the moment. Lots of things have stirred up things and it’s taking time for a settling to happen and me to find the new place of balance. The contentment is still there, but the waves on the surface are strong at the moment. Changes are happening and it takes time to settle into the new state of things emotional and mental. But settle they will, as will I. I have EMDR therapy tomorrow …

Mail Art – sneak peek

Mail art – sneak peek © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Making the mail art

I woke this morning and had a fancy to make a card along with a coordinating envelope. I’m going to be sending these to someone, so I didn’t want to show the whole design, so a sneak peek it is. I don’t think it gives much away about the mail art. I hope it doesn’t spoil the surprise for the recipient.

I used a pre-made card blank and envelope. The card is nearly 8½” x 4¼” in size and is plain white.

I cut a piece of Winsor and Newton Bristol board to 3½” x 7½”. I added some score lines ⅛” in from each edge and let them overlap to form little squares at the corners. To do this I used a score board and bone folder. I’ve never done this before, but it actually adds a nice touch. It also gives me an even border to work within, which is always useful.

My next step was to add colour to the top layer and the envelope. I decided to do some ink blending with Distress Inks. Here’s a list of the colours I used:

  • scattered straw
  • wild honey
  • crushed olive
  • candied apple
  • evergreen bough

Once I was happy with the colour gradient, I broke out my Uniball Unpin pens and started to draw the design. As I had a coloured background, I made use of lines and patterns to add texture and dimension.

When I was happy with the design, it was missing something. It needed some colour or shading. I decided to add some colour with Copic markers, being mindful of using colours that would work harmoniously with the background.

My final step was to add some dots of gold glitter to add some ‘bling’ to the card.

My attention then turned to the envelope.

First, I added some pencil lines to help me keep my hand lettering level and neat. I then used a black Tombow Fudenosuke pen to brush letter the recipient’s name. I then used a grey Tombow Fudenosuke pen to add shadow to the letters.

I then used a Uniball Unipin 08 pen to add the address. For this, I used simple capital letters for the hand-lettering.

My next task was to draw the design on the envelope. I used some elements from the card for this, plus a couple of extra ones. I also added texture and shadow with lines.

My final task, after I’d written my name and address on the back of the envelope, was to seal the envelope art with a thin layer of Distress Micro Glaze, carefully avoiding the area where stamps will be affixed. The Micro Glaze creates a waterproof layer so the Distress and Tombow inks shouldn’t run if they get wet.

Once the recipient has the card, I’ll post a full image of the mail art, carefully obscuring their information.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m ok today. I’m a tad tired, but I don’t seem as emotionally fragile as I have been. There’s still a bit of ‘flatness’ or ‘heaviness’ inside me, but the contentedness is of equal or greater intensity.

Today I need a quiet day at home; the last week or so has been crazy busy with either emotional upsets occurring or commitments I have to keep. The next commitment I have is on Thursday evening, so I’m going to make the most of the time I have to myself. Creating mail art was one activity in self-soothing.

I doubted that I would find this more settled state any time soon. That it’s appeared today is a real bonus. How long it stays for I don’t know as I know what is in my diary.

I’m not going to worry about that, well not much. I’m going to enjoy the contentedness and Use my quiet time to soothe my still fragile emotions.

Yes, I feel mostly content, but I also know that it won’t take much to provoke me to tears and some emotional distress.

One thing we talked about in therapy on Monday was the need for me to protect myself in situations where I’m emotionally vulnerable. I’ve had a lot of time interacting with people over the past few days. I now need time to relax, breathe, re-energise.

I enjoy being with people, but it also drains me. That’s one of the consequences of being an introvert. When I’m socially exhausted, it makes me more emotionally vulnerable than I usually am. So, I need time to recover from this.

I will recover. Nowadays, I always do given enough self-care and self-soothing time.

I also am self-aware enough to know that to start important projects is not a good idea at this time. It becomes all too easy for me to find fault with everything I do and for me to end up spiralling downwards into a mood where I am harsh to myself.

It is still hard to be kind to myself on days like this. There’s a nagging voice that I should be doing this or doing that and not indulging myself in activities that help me to heal. Other inner critics join in, telling me I’m worthless, useless, a failure, unloveable then join in, sensing the vulnerability in me. So, I’m learning to ignore that voice, even if I still feel a little guilty. As I feel better, refreshed and re-energised and more emotionally resilient, the inner critics become inaudible once again.

So, as hard as it is to accept that I need to be kind and to spend today doing what will help me heal, this is precisely what I am going to do. And that starts with me writing a letter to accompany the mail art. I also want to create some designs that I can print to colour and use to create greeting cards.

You Matter – a poem by Nikita Gill

You Matter by Nikita Gill; Artwork by Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
You Matter by Nikita Gill; Artwork by Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

The poem.

I was reading ‘Your Soul is a River’ by Nikita Gill this morning and this particular poem struck a chord with me. I thought it would be nice to use it to create some art to frame it.

It’s taken me a few attempts to get this far today; and I’m not entirely happy with what I’ve produced. However, I shall persevere later today; first I need to go out to do some provisions shopping and to have a very late breakfast. Actually it’s more like a very late lunch!

I produced the words with the border in Publisher. I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and a Microsoft Surface Studio to do the artwork.

So, Angela, how are you today?

The poem reflects rather well how I’m feeling about myself in the moments when my emotions overwhelm me. I am rather emotionally fragile and vulnerable at the moment.

I am exhausted – emotionally and mentally. I’ve had a heck of an emotional week and yesterday was perhaps the most emotional day of all. No EMDR was done in therapy, but lots of tears were shed as I tried to work my way through what has caused the upsets.

Some of it is very obvious. But some of the triggering events have no apparent link to the past.

No apparent link; there’s something there which I can’t bring up or face at the moment. I’m fearful of it because it is something either unknown or something I have to face the truth of. It’s a difficult truth as I’ve told myself a story to deal with the painful experiences I’ve had throughout my life. Discovering I’ve been lying to myself is not easy, even though it has been a coping strategy, trying to make things more pleasant than they really are.

It’s a common coping strategy amongst survivors of trauma.

It’s a necessary process, for how else can I heal from the past?

It’s another one of those processes that is like surgery, but instead of removing or fixing a physical part of oneself that is damaged or broken it’s all about the mental and emotional processes that are damaged by trauma in the past.

No surgery is without some kind of pain, but the pain is endured as the result will be a better life with less pain.

Therapy is surgery for my damaged emotions and beliefs about myself; this surgery is necessary for me to heal from CPTSD.

My touchstone.

Yesterday, I talked about a lot of things with my therapist. One of those things was the recognition that I now have a mental and emotional state that I know I can return to. It’s that state where I feel content and optimisitic, a state of mind and emotions that I’ve not really experienced much in my life.

I know how that feels; even though my emotions are all higgledy-piggledy at the moment I can still sense that inner contentedness and hints of that optimism.

Where do I go from here?

Self-care and self-soothing is the order of the day today. I do need to sleep, but I don’t know if a nap will help or just throw my sleep out tonight.

I know this will pass; it has before, it will again.

It’s all just a bump in the road I’m travelling in my journey to recovery from CPTSD. This is NOT my destination; it’s just the wrong leaves on the tracks.

Monday Mandala

Or, mandala Monday?

Monday Mandala 19 August 2019 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve spent a little time this morning working on this rather sunshiny mandala. It’s not finished yet and I’ll think I’ll keep the sunrise (or sunset) colour theme for the rest of it.

Digital art using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I am feeling tired today. I woke with a headache and tried to sleep it off and woke again with it still there. I’ve taken some Anadin extra, but it’s still faintly there.

I’m feeling tired emotionally too. I’ve had a couple of things happen this past week that have caused some quite visceral emotional reactions. Some of these events I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, others I’m not at all comfortable to share, not even with my therapist, not yet that is.

I constantly feel on the point of tears, and I know what has been the trigger for that. I also thought I’d got past it, but obviously not. That disheartens me a little. It may be there are different facets to this particular collection of relatively recent events.

Oh, the joys of living with CPTSD. It’s not described as complex for no reason at all.

Despite the tearfulness and some fearful anxiety, I can still touch that inner contentedness that I have cultivated. The contentedness is the ocean; the tears, anxiety, fear, the stupidity I feel, as well as other emotions I can’t label yet, are the waves on the surface.

Waves come and go. Sometimes the ocean surface is as calm as a millpond on a still day. Sometimes it’s as turbulent as tsunami rising onto a beach.

The surface of my ocean of contentedness is somewhat choppy, perhaps verging on stormy, but far away from being at the level of a tsunami.

I do have EMDR therapy soon; there’s a very good chance it’s going to be a rather emotional session. I just hope it doesn’t add energy to the waves that are currently forming upon my inner ocean. Given how emotionally fragile and vulnerable I feel at this time, I won’t hold my breath!

Mandala 15 August 2019

Mandala © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Mandala © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This is definitely a ‘not sure about it’ verging on the ‘I hate it’ work.

It was doing great until I added that grey area, and it all went to pot I think. I do struggle with colours at times that’s for sure, and it’s gone downhill from there.

I’m kicking myself for combining all the layers at that point. I’m working digitally, as is my preference for mandalas. I could leave the various ‘rings’ as separate layers until I’m finished. Or I could just save versions of the work as I go along. However, I didn’t. Maybe I’ll remember to do this in the future. Mind you, I won’t be holding my breath on that one.

I don’t want to go and change the grey areas; I really don’t have the motivation to do so. Also, to edit that digitally would be really fiddly and awkward and I know I’ll just get myself into a bit of a state. I’m frustrated with myself for being a twit and not saving the mandala in layers.

On reflection, I now know that my emotional state last night affected my work.

The bright purple, pink, yellow and green central section really reflected my contented, optimistic mood rather well. Then, I went out to visit friends in the evening, and something happened that triggered me into full flight mode. I almost ran (and I don’t do running, ever), straight to the safety of my car and I drove away.

One of them phoned me as I was driving home and persuaded me to return. I had to sit in my car for a long while, just crying until I was ready to return. When I did return to them, floods of tears happened again.

I’m self-aware enough that I now understand what my flight was all about. Also, I’ve gained an insight into what I’m processing in EMDR, which is going to be of value in next week’s session.

I can’t believe how suddenly I flew away. I had no chance to ground, breathe, think through things logically. It was a very visceral reaction.

An hour or so later and I was laughing and smiling once more. However, I can see from this mandala that my mood was severely affected as I worked on those grey areas last night before bed.

I don’t think I can save this mandala now.

Whatever I have added to it just doesn’t work. I’ve tried changing the background colour and darkness/lightness with no luck as well. So, it’ll be one of my rare pieces of art that won’t be finished.

Working on the mandala did help to soothe my emotions before I retired to bed, so it’s not all negative. I think that’s why I can now leave this as it is. It’s served its purpose for me.

Actually, thinking about it I have quite a few pieces that I’ve not finished and am now not likely to do so for various reasons. This particular mandala, however, is one that shows me just how much my art can reflect my emotional state.

That is something new for me; it’s not often, if ever, my emotional state is reflected in my art. Looks like that’s changed! Or, at the very least, I’m just aware of it now.

So, I’ll start with a clean state, metaphorically speaking. I also think I’ll create a limited palette to use with the next mandala. That may help me with my colour issue at the moment.

Also, I’m awaiting delivery of my Chameleon Fineliner pens in a couple of hours. So, I know I’ll want to ‘play’ with them. I suspect some art with pen and paper will be appearing on the blog tomorrow, even if it’s just a sheet of experiments with the fine-liners both in drawing and hand-lettering and handwriting. Maybe there’ll be a dangle design too. At the moment I don’t really know myself.

So, I’m going to get myself another mug of tea and ponder what I want to do artistically/creatively for the rest of the day. I also need to write about last night’s flight and process it as best as I can.

Oh, I used my favourite digital art tools for this – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

Abstract Reef WIP

Abstract reef WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Abstract reef WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This morning I decided I’d like to use one of my recent reef drawings and re-work it in colour. You can see my progress so far above. The coloured background makes a world of difference to how the design looks as I work it. I also have quite a fondness for teals, turquoises and purples for the background to my artwork. I also favour a darker background that makes the bright colours I like to use in my art ‘pop’ even more.

As it’s digital art, I’m using my favourite trio of tools – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Studio and Microsoft Surface Pen.

I’ve decided not to go with black pen outlines on this one. I’ve still not fully worked out why I shy away from them when I’m doing digital art, yet I’m more than comfortable to use them in my traditional drawings.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m feeling quite upbeat today, if still a bit tired. This week has been a weirdly busy and draining one. Between horrible abdominal cramps and broken nights’ sleeps, being startled while out, and long conversations with various people about problems going on in their lives I am feeling a bit tired too, but surprisingly content and upbeat.

I’ve also had a chance to reflect on how far I’ve come in counselling. How much better my mental health in the form of thoughts and beliefs about myself are. I am closer to being ‘good enough’ or ‘more than good enough’ to live the life I’d like to than ever.

I still have work to be done. There are still some negative beliefs about myself that on the surface don’t seem much of a problem, yet during EMDR they turn out to be much more powerful and distressing than I realised.

I make progress, and that is all that matters. Each step forward is a step towards my goals for myself.