Mandala WIP

Mandala WIP 03/07/19 ©Angela Porter|Artwyrd.com #createdonsurface #surfaceart #digitalart #mandala
Mandala WIP 03/07/19 ©Angela Porter|Artwyrd.com
#createdonsurface #surfaceart #digitalart #mandala

It’s coming along as I take a break from drawing coloring templates. Working on something like this clears my mind of the coloring template just completed and lets me start afresh on the next one.

I’m not entirely sure about the darker ring of motifs. However, I know there’s a point in creating art that things seem to be going horribly wrong. All that I need to do is to push through that, keep going, and it will turn out OK.

I am trying to work within a palette of greens, green-blues and golds. I want to keep my palette fairly simple. So far, it seems to be working out ok.

So, Angela, how are you doing today?

I’m doing fine, feeling quite content with that soft inner smile, though I woke with a horrible headache. I think that was due to an anxious time at a meeting last night. I often suffer something that is migraine-like as quite elevated anxiety gradually leaks away to return to my usual background level.

Oh! The joys of CPTSD.

Today, I’ve also noticed that I have a hair-trigger for increased anxiety. A knock at the door, voices outside have had me feeling very anxious and somewhat scared. Need to get my noise-cancelling headphones, I think.

I often listen to either music or an audio-book while I create art. I also love to listen to a book as I crochet.

At the moment I’m listening to “Revan”, book number 2 in the Old Republic series of Star Wars books, just in case you’re interested in knowing that.

Anyway, back to my emotional health.

Being able to cut out the noise of the scary world outside the relative safety of my home is something that I do need to do when my anxiety is provoked. I am aware that too much of that and I can have a strong startle response and even head off into the realms of hyper-vigilance.

So, my next task today is to go get those headphones and put a load in the washing machine before returning to do some more art today. I think I may need some lunch too.

Hello July!

July 2019 Colouring Template for members of the Angela Porter Illustrator's Coloring Book Fans facebook group ©Angela Porter 2019 | Artwyrd.com
July 2019 Colouring Template for members of the Angela Porter Illustrator’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group ©Angela Porter 2019 | Artwyrd.com

Can you believe it? Half of 2019 has passed to history. Time has flown by.

With the start of July I also have an exclusive coloring template available free to members of the Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans facebook group.

This is my way of saying thank you to those who follow my work, particularly the colouring books I have created.

If you’d like to download and colour, you need to be a member of the group and agree to follow the T’s & C’s.

I’m looking forward to seeing what members of the group will do with this one! I love to see the different colour schemes and media that they use to bring the drawing to life with the magic of colour.

To create this template, I started with a sketch on square gridded paper. It was a very basic sketch with just outline shapes, lines and so on. I then scanned it into the Surface Studio and completed this drawing using my Surface Pen along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

I had to include some of my favourite design elements – butterflies, stars, flowers, fungi, seed pods, arches and geometric patterns.

It was fun to draw, even the sketch was as I love to use a Koh-i-Noor Magic pencil to do the sketching with, one that has quite different colours in the lead so that I get a fair rainbow of colours.

I’m warming to sketching things out before drawing them in ink (either traditional ink/pens or digital) to give me a skeleton I can put flesh on in terms of details and patterns.

So Angela Porter, how are you feeling today?

I’m feeling contented. My stomach/digestive system is back to normal. All just in time for today’s EMDR session this afternoon.

That’s all I have to say about that today. I’m sure I’ll have more tomorrow post EMDR.

Be Brave WIP 30 June 19

Be Brave ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Be Brave ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Another 6 hours work done on ‘Be Brave’ since I posted yesterday.

I rather like the ‘tubes’ arcing off to the top right. I love geometric patterns. I also love playing with light and shadow.

In my home I have quite a few pieces of artwork from my AS and A level art days, some 15 or so years ago now. Three of them are oil paintings. They’re abstract paintings of patterns taken from rusty worm screws from a steam locomotive, some kind of gear thingy from a diesel locomotive (also rusty) and detail from an angel from the tympanum above the door to Malmesbury Abbey. Each one is done in a simple colour palette – magenta, red, orange and yellow for the locomotive parts and blues and white for the Romanesque angel abstract.

I discovered I hated working with oil paints. They’re slimy and messy. I don’t like slimy nor messy (I think that’s why I’ve fallen in love with digital art!).

However, I remember the exhibition where these were show after the AS exam. I recall being puzzled why people were coming up and touching the paintings. So, I asked a friend who’d attended why she had felt my oil paintings.

She said they looked so three-dimensional she had to touch them to see how I’d achieved it and was amazed they were flat.

I hadn’t seen this 3D property of my artwork until someone pointed it out to me. Then, just like magic, I could see what others could see and why they were touching the paintings.

As I worked on the ‘tubes’ I remembered this experience. I know that I don’t see my work as others see it and it can often appear ‘flat’ to me as I know it really is flat! I don’t always see the illusions of depth that I create in my work, illusions I bring out mostly unconsciously as I add colour.

I think this memory cropped up as, like with the oil paintings, I’m working with pure colour – no black lines to outline the design elements.

As you can see, I am using a drawing of mine as the guide, the map for what I will produce in colour.

This is a difference in the way I usually work, that’s for sure.

The amazing mandala I completed a week or so ago now opened the door for this way of working. I did start with an outline drawing for the mandala, and it really was a basic line mandala. It gave me the basic forms and shapes. I then started to go to town on embellishing that basic design.

I discovered I really enjoyed working this way, not least because I realised my digital art skills had progressed enough for me to succeed.

Mandalas are one thing, but working on a drawing like this is a bit different for me. It’s full of self-doubt and worry it’s not going to work out. Because it’s not so symmetrical it requires thinking about what order I complete each design element.

It is, however, turning out ok. And I’m really learning a lot more about my favourite digital brushes, and new ones, and how I can get the effects I want.

I use a Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to create my digital art.

So Angela, how are you today?

I’m feeling content and I can feel a gentle smile inside me and a slight smile on my lips. Yes, I know that sounds weird, but it’s the only way I can describe how I feel today. Also, my digestive system has settled down as well.

Yes, there’s still the background ‘noise’ of anxiety, but it’s not as vociferous as it was just a day or so ago, and one heck of a lot quieter than it was last Monday post-EMDR.

I do have EMDR again tomorrow. The same thing may happen in terms of heightened anxiety and upset digestive system.

I have to say to gain days like today – days where I have that contentedness, that inner gentle smile – are more than worth the days of feeling not so well both physically and emotionally.

Even my bad days are nowhere near as bad as they were in the years leading up to my first serious ‘breakdown’. That is an excellent thing. I am progressing along slowly but surely on my journey to recovery from CPTSD.

Be Brave WIP

Be Brave WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Be Brave WIP ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Be Brave

A few more hours work on this entangled art. In the past day or two I’ve done an additional 6 hours, so I think that takes me to around 21 hours or so in total. It’s a long job, a big job, but an enjoyable one.

I’m definitely getting my head around working in layers, though I need to work on one motif at a time before combining the layers into one image and carrying on.

Now I know that you can have many, many layers open at once, but my brain just can’t cope with that. I can do one thing at a time, and that suits me just fine.

It does make it a bit more awkward if I want to go back and alter the colour, shape, pattern or something else on a particular design element. However that’s not an impossibility, just a tad more awkward.

I am, however, quite pleased with how it’s working out.

There are some colour choices I’m not all that happy with at the moment. However, I will let them be until more of the art is done. Also, I think they represent how I’m feeling on that day, and as this is along term project that’s likely to happen quite a bit.

Last night I was feeling a bit subdued, so some subdued, vintage-ish colours crept into the design. As doing art, being creative, soothed my not quite right emotions, the colours brightened. The elements I’ve added this morning are much brighter in colour, which reflect my current quite content emotional state.

Well done me for spotting this. I’d not really noticed how my emotions influence my colour choices before!

My tools for digital art are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

Be Brave Angela Porter

Finding that bravery to live my life as I’d like to and to know who I am without the effects of trauma is one of my goals.

I have enough courage to go to each EMDR appointment, even though I know how it could affect me for a few days afterwards. The effects pass and are part of the healing process.

This is a small price to pay to be able to what I’d like to do, such as go out drawing, walking, having lunch in a cafe.

I find these things hard to do as nowhere is safe for me except home. Rather, that’s what the CPTSD caused by repeated trauma has me believing.

Processing that processing the trauma, replacing the negative beliefs about myself with more positive ones will allow this to happen.

I’m trusting that there’s a watershed in my healing journey where I’ve processed enough trauma that I can overcome what anxiety remains.

I think I’ve had one watershed in my journey – the one where I now feel content on most days. That’s progress!

Be Brave – Entangled Art WIP 25/06/19

Be Brave WIP ©Angela Porter 2019 | Artwyrd.com
Be Brave WIP ©Angela Porter 2019 | Artwyrd.com

A bit more done this morning. Another 2.5 hours today for a total of 15.5 hours. Some hand lettering has been done today as well.

It’s coming along, slowly but surely.

I don’t think I’ll be doing much more today. I’m not feeling too well. More about that below though.

As usual, my tools for digital art are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m not feeling too well. I woke up in the night all hot and sweaty with a very upset tummy again.

I was ok before my weekly EMDR therapy session. I think this bout of illness is linked to EMDR. It turned out to be a rather surprising session.

I had a bit to talk about with my therapist, Linda, to do with interesting bits of the book I’m reading “The Body Keeps The Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk who is one of the foremost experts on traumatic stress.

For real change to take place, the body needs to learn that the danger has passed and to live in the reality of the present.

“The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk

Linda and I had a little chat we had about how important she thinks it is that I blog and talk about my CPTSD and how trauma in my life has affected my life so much.

Our scans had revealed how their dread persisted and could be triggered by multiple aspects of daily experience. They had not integrated their experience into the ongoing stream of their life. They continued to be “there” and did not know how to be “here” – fully alive in the present.

“The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk

She said she thinks its particularly important as people assume that PTSD/CPTSD can only come from major traumas in life, sexual abuse, physical abuse. We talked about how neglect from birth – emotional and physical – can be traumatic and can cause problems with relationships with others and the self, and how it sets up the patterns for the negative beliefs about oneself.

I certainly did experience emotional and physical neglect and I never really had somewhere that was safe. I do now. I live alone. My home is my sanctuary, my safe place, and I rarely invite people into my home. Even though my home is safe for me, noises outside – doors slamming, car horns beeping, loud voices (even happy ones) can provoke a startle response in me. This is relevant to what happened in EMDR this week.

Scared animals return home, regardless of whether home is safe or frightening. I thought about my patients with abusive families who kept going back to be hurt again. Are traumatised people condemned to seek refuge in what is familiar? If so, why, and is it possible to help them become attached to places and activities that are safe and pleasurable?

“The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk

It’s not just having a safe home that’s important for me. I can feel safe here. However, leaving my home can mean I feel unsafe, anxious, on edge and this prevents me from doing things that I’d like to do. Simple things like going into a cafe for a cup of tea, or into an unfamiliar shop, to get out of my car in an unfamiliar place and walk around, to name just a couple.

I never felt safe at home or anywhere else for as long as I can remember.

That one thing has had a huge impact on my life, and though I now have a safe place, there’s still so much to work on when I attempt to venture into the world and interact with it and with the people that inhabit it.

Anyway, back to yesterdays therapy session.

We went on to continue EMDR processing of the traumatic event that we were working on last week.

Lots of pain/feelings in my body as the trauma was being processed. The front door to the building was slammed and the noise caused me to become startled. Linda was really surprised at how strong my startle response to the noise was, especially as this hadn’t happened before. She asked how long I’ve had startle responses; I informed her for as long a I can remember. She checked back on a PTSD questionnaire (not the right word but I can’t think of what that is now) I’d done a number of years ago now and the startle response was there.

I was instantly on edge, anxious, wide eyed and hypervigilant and we did some calming and grounding exercises before going back to the orginal memory.

It was obvious that the memory we were working on was being flooded by the startle response. So the EMDR was brought to a close for this week.

We did some calming and safe space work before I left.

Apart from feeling a little more anxious than usual, I felt ok on my drive home, other than I was aware that my body was still processing trauma in the way I experience it during EMDR – so odd aches, pains, sensations. Linda did tell me to be prepared for this happening as the startle response had really upped the ante on the processing and has brought forward new stuff to work with, even if I don’t know what it is at the moment.

However, as time went on I started to feel more anxious, extremely exhausted, and rather teary.

I still feel that way now, even though I also feel quite content at the same time.

The contentedness is that ocean that is me, the other feelings are the weather that causes waves on the surface of that ocean. The weather is rather stormy today.

Doing art helps me to be more aware of that contentedness, that’s for sure, which is why I focus on doing art on days like this, or at least on creative ventures.

Having an an upset stomach after therapy is quite a common occurrence for me, and Linda tells me it happens to a lot of her clients. It’s part of the continuation of the processing and/or the heightened anxiety that I experience in EMDR and in the startle response and I feel that anxiety in my stomach/abdomen strongly.

It’s always there and it’s part of the reason I tend to overeat; if I’m overly full I feel uncomfortable from food not from the anxiety I feel.

So, I’m feeling exhausted today, my digestive system is feeling tender, fragile, and still a little (maybe more than a little) yeuchy. A quiet self-care day is in order I think with light food for sure. I suspect a good sleep will be on the cards too.

As much as I find comfort in doing art, there comes a time when I become dissatisfied with all that I do, and I reached that point with my ‘Be Brave’ WIP. I think a day of crocheting hexagons and adding them to the blanket I’m making for a friend may be in order, and watching something on TV or DVD that soothes me, so that may be Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or the like. It may be that I listen to an audiobook, though I tried doing that earlier and I kept having to rewind as I couldn’t pay attention to it in the way I’d like to.

Be Brave -Entangled Art WIP 24/06/19

Be Brave - Entangled Art WIP 24/06/19 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
Be Brave – Entangled Art WIP 24/06/19 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

This morning I’ve done a little more work on this artwork. I’ve spent around 2 hours, so that’s a total of around 13 hours so far.

As usual, I’m using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to complete this work digitally. As always, they’re a pleasure to use.

So, Angela, how are you doing today?

I’m ok today. I slept well last night and woke feeling refreshed. I’m about to get myself sorted to head out for my weekly EMDR therapy session.

I’ve not done the adulting I need to do sooner rather than later. I’ll sneak up on myself to do it soon, just not NOW.

Other than that, I’m quite content and wondering what EMDR will bring today. I know we’re working on a memory from my childhood and the emotions and beliefs about myself from then. It seemed quite an innocuous memory, but it was a lot more distressing than I thought. Not the single memory but the layers and layers of repeated incidences of a similar kind of thing throughout my life.

It’s part of the tangled web entangled around my painful self-conscious ways.

It’s always surprising to me how I’ve minimised how events have affected me and pushed them aside into the big box full of unprocessed traumas.

That box is gradually emptying. As this memory may be the root of many other instances where it’s emotional trauma has been re-experienced and reinforced then processing this one means the rest are as well.

Be Brave – Entangled Art WIP

Be Brave - Entangled Art WIP © Angela Porter 2019|Artwyrd.com
Be Brave – Entangled Art WIP © Angela Porter 2019|Artwyrd.com

I’ve spent another 3.5 hours on this design today, bringing it to a grand total of 10.5 hours just on working in colour. The design itself took around 2 hours to draw out.

I’ve cropped the image to show the coloured parts. I still have an awful lot to do.

I really am finding my way with this still. Mandalas are one thing, but entangled art is something else. I seem to be trying all kinds of techniques, texture brushes and so on here. Eventually I’ll work out how I like to work on such images.

I can see where my shading has been heavy handed. In other places I’ve not done a good job with texture brushes.

It’s very much a learning process for sure.

Colour is also a bit of a problem for me it seems. I’ll work it out, maybe. Time will tell.

I did say yesterday this was going to be more of a learning experience for me than anything else, and so it’s proving to be for sure.

So, tell me Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m ok. I’m quite content verging on almost happy. I woke looking forward to working on this artwork even though it’s going to be a source of many challenges for me. Perhaps it’s because of the challenges I was looking forward to working on it.

And I have, as frustrating as it is when I see the colours I’ve used and wondering what on earth I was thinking. I just hope this is one of those points I get to when doing art where I think I should just give up as it’s horrible.

I’ve found that if I persevere at these points, after taking a break to freshen my eyes and mind, that things aren’t as bad as they seem.

After all, if the worst comes to the worst I can just start over!

Maybe I really should use a fairly limited palette of colours that I think work harmoniously together and that may help me with colour.

Anyways, I’m mostly content. I’ve had other challenges in my life in the past day, not least of which was deciding to abandon my lost souls skull shawl that I was working in very fine yarn. I’ve switched to a thinnish DK yarn using a 4.5mm needle and I’m much happier working with it. The other yarn is gorgeous, but I think I’ll find another project for it, maybe a knitted one.

I can either give up on things too easily or stubbornly persist even if they bring me no pleasure. So, to make a conscious decision that I was frustrated and fed up with the fine yarn and to abandon what I had already done was a step forward.

I also had a decision to make about an event happening in a couple of months time. There’s a lot of conflicting emotions around it, but I’ve said a tentative ok to it. I have time to work on the conflicted emotions in EMDR and to find coping strategies for myself.

I also have some adulting to do tomorrow. I have to contact my bank about online banking and the fact that my password etc just doesn’t work anymore, all so that I can view some correspondence they’ve sent to me via online banking. There’s some other bits and bobs too, such as deciding whether to renew my RAC membership after the debacle of a recovery of SmartooDeetoo last year. I do have SmartAssist with Binky so I think I’m ok if I break down as the car is under warranty. But tyres and so on … definitely have to make that decision.

It’s hard to change from something I’ve always used. That causes a huge amount of stress as I’m convinced people will be horrible to me about it, that they’ll get ranty and nasty on the phone, or will make me feel guilty about leaving.

Thing is, they never do. Me saying no is a problem still in so many situations. It’s all to do with the CPTSD, with the past traumas.

The emotional and mental fallout from these events spills over into ordinary, everyday events that have nothing to do with the traumas of the past, other than the fears of rejection, of being pressurised to do something I don’t want to do and so on.

Ah, more grist for the EMDR and therapy mill it seems. And a bit more self-awareness going on. Yay, go me!

And so the process of healing continues, bit by bit.

Be Brave – WIP

Be Brave WIP © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Be Brave WIP © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

I thought I’d try out my newest digital art skills on an entangled design of mine. I thought that the ‘Be Brave’ design would be appropriate. I am being brave with my art. I’m also brave through returning to EMDR therapy time and time again even though it’s caused me some considerable distress. The same is true for me telling my story for Time to Change Wales. I’m also being asked to be brave in another area of my life at the moment too.

I’d never describe myself as brave. I tend to hide away from people and avoid situations that I’m scared of in some way. I find it hard to make decisions and ‘adulting’ can be a problem too.

Art is something, however, that I am learning to be a bit more brave with, especially when it’s something new/different for me.

This entangled drawing is causing it’s own problems in re-creating in a similar way to how I did my last mandala. My tools are my usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.

I will persevere. So far I’ve invested around seven hours of work into the coloured portions of this image. I also I’m trying out some ideas but also working with similar ideas/techniques to those I used in the mandala. So, this artwork is likely to end up a bit more of a hodgepodge that usual for me.

However, it’s an opportunity for me to embed the skills I’ve used, to try out new ideas as they come to me, and also to see the progress I’ve made.

I can already see it with the first motif I coloured in (the one that appears to be at the top of the pile) compared to the later ones.

I’m enjoying it, even though it’s slow work for me. There’s no rush to get it done and I think I now need a bit of a break from it.

I’m feeling rather contented today. I finished crocheting a shawl this morning so now I have just two projects on the go – a stash busting blanket made out of hexagons, and a lost souls skull shawl which I’m doing in rather fine yarn and it’s going to take me some time to complete. Again, there’s no rush for the shawl.

I have quite a large collection of crocheted shawls now and I think I need to let some of them go to new homes. I know which ones are really ‘me’ and which ones were part of my learning process. I’ve enjoyed making each one of them, but I don’t need them all that’s for sure!

Amazing Mandala – Finished!

Amazing Mandala © Angela Porter – Artwyrd.com

Thoughts about the mandala

I finally finished this mandala today. I think I’ve logged somewhere around 35 hours on this image. I think that makes it the longest I’ve spent on any art project.

I have learned so much about how I can work with digital tools. I’ve also learned far more about my abilities and how I can express myself, particularly through digital art.

Although I find looking at the mandala rather strange now. That may be due to the closeness that I’ve worked with it, or the combination of colours not being too pleasing to me at this time, or the choice of backgorund colour. I don’t know for sure.

I’m am pleased with myself for persevering with the project, even though there are parts I’m not at all sure about, as I’ve mentioned.

I never, ever thought I would turn my hand to digital art.

Yes, I enjoy digital drawing; the beauty of Microsoft’s Surface Pen and Surface Studio are that they make drawing digitally so similar to drawing on paper.

However, this is the first time I’ve really ‘painted’ digitally, where I’ve worked in colour without black outlines.

It marks a huge step forward for me, as well as a coming together of things I’ve learned along my way. Not just digital things, but my observational skills, drawing skills, general art skills.

Lots of different aspects of my artistic/creative journey seemed to have gelled together in the past week or so, and I am really pleased about that. I’m more pleased that I’ve recognised this and gone with it.

About me and art

What I’ve come to realise more and more lately is that I like to create art that is pretty, beautiful even maybe. That is my whole drive in being creative. I enjoy making art that is pleasing to the eye, colourful, and full of intricate details that fascinate and call upon the viewer to spend time looking carefully at all the sections of the artwork.

There’s no hidden messages in my art. You don’t need to ‘understand it’. All I’d like it to do is to make you smile, to bring a little bit of colour and beauty into your life. I’d like it to be something that can give you a break from the harshness of life. I’d also like it to be something that you never tire looking at.

That may not be what many people think art is, but that’s what it is for me. Adding a little more prettiness, maybe beauty, colour and smiles into the world.

Is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m fine today. A bit tired, but fine. It’s been a warmish sunshiny day and I’ve been out to Cowbridge with my friend Liz for icecream at Fablas. And fabulous it was too! A well earned treat I think.

Yesterday I had my Time to Change Wales champions hat on as I gave a talk to around 100 people from Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) at the University of South Wales in Treforest as part of the pledge signing ceremony.

An anti-stigma talk involves relating information about mental illness, stigma and discrimination and then I tell my story of mental illness (CPTSD) and the stigma and discrimination I’ve faced. Mostly it’s been self-stigma, telling myself I’m weak, pathetic, useless for having anxiety and crying and being depressed or having panic attacks and absolute dread and so on.

Yesterday, I noticed how anxious I was before I left home to go to give the talk. I’d not really noticed this before and it kind of jolted me a bit. Either I’m becoming more self-aware or my daily background level of anxiety is diminishing. I do hope it’s both, but particularly the latter!

These talks leave me rather emotionally exhausted and a nap was required yesterday. I could do with a nap now, but that would really mess up my sleep tonight as it’s early evening here in the UK as I type this.

I’m still tired today, despite sleeping well last night.

I do these talks as the I think it’s important to lead by example and open up about the struggles I’ve faced. I hope that it will encourage others to be brave and open up, or even admit to themselves that they’re struggling with their mental and/or emotional health.

I also hope it helps to increase understanding and awareness of what it’s like to have a mental illness, what poor mental health is.

If only I’d known more when I was young, maybe I would’ve sought help sooner and I wouldn’t have ended up having two really bad and lengthy bouts of severe anxiety/depression.

There are quite a few of us champions, all with different stories to tell around our experiences of mental illness and the stigma and discrimination that goes with it.

It’s always nice when people come up to me to share their stories, often quite shyly, or to ask more questions. It always amazes me that people think I’m really brave in telling my story.

Maybe it is brave. But if I don’t tell it how can things change if people are unaware of how mental and emotional ill-health affects us? I’ve lived it. I still am living it. All the champions have lived it and many still are.

Telling our stories is powerful; not just for the audience listening and perhaps getting an insight into mental health they’d never had before, but also for us.

We should never be ashamed of having mental or emotional ill health. Yet many of us are or have been. I’m not ashamed that I’ve broken bones or had the measles or mumps or chicken pox or other illnesses. I’m not ashamed I have asthma.

It’s high time we stop being ashamed that we have a mental illness. It’s high time society stopped being afraid of people with mental illnesses or judging people unfairly because of them. It’s high time that mental and emotional illness are viewed in the same way as physical illnesses.

I’m now tired and have lost my train of thought, and so this blog post comes to an end.

Amazing Mandala – nearly done

Amazing Mandala-nearly done ©Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Amazing Mandala-nearly done ©Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

Yup, that’s right. I’ve nearly finished this mandala. I’m on the last ‘ring’ of the design.

It’s rather busy, as designs go, but that’s also typical for me.

I’ve learned a lot about creating digital art that reflects my style. I’ve also learned a lot about my own creative expression too.

This is also a piece of art that has taken me the longest to create in terms of hours or work put in to it. I didn’t keep track, but I estimate it’s taken me well over 20 hours to do, maybe a lot more.

I’ve yet to settle on a background colour/texture. I found the green I had used wasn’t working given the minty greens of the leaves in the penultimate ring. So, for now, I’ve settled on a grey. When I finish the outer ring I’ll play around with different colours/textures until I’m happy.

Of course I’m thinking ahead to my next project of this kind and my mind is going to my usual entangled art. This is going to be an interesting experiment for sure! However, if I can create a mandala that looks like this, I can work with a sample of my entangled drawings and work out how I can do similar for them.

As usual, my digital tools have been Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Surface Pen and Surface Studio from Microsoft.

So, how are you feeling today Angela?

I’m feeling fairly content today. A little tired, but content.

I had EMDR yesterday and though I was left feeling rather tired in the evening, I left the session feeling quite content.

That word crops up a lot – content – but that’s how I feel. And content is a good feeling to me.

More work was done with the inner child as well as EMDR on the feelings/thoughts that came up. This is surprising to me, but it also seems to be helping with stored trauma.

I also started reading a book recommended to me by my therapist. It’s called “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk. I’ve only read 30 or so pages, but out of the several sections I’ve highlighted this stands out:

We have also begun to understand how overwhelming experiences affect our innermost sensations and our relationship to our physical reality – the core of who we are. We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present. … For real change to take place, the body needs to learn that the danger has passed and to live in the reality of the present.

Bessel Van Der Kolk “The Body Keeps the Score” 2014, Penguin, page 21

The body needs to learn that the danger has passed.

Part of cPTSD is living in a near constant state of anxiety. It is easy for something to happen that provokes the flight/flight/freeze response. Levels of stress hormones constantly flood the body. These hormones can wreak havoc with the functioning of the body and can cause long term health problems. I don’t know too much about that…yet. But I will.

This put in black and white what the purpose of EMDR is about – releasing trauma that is stored in the mind, brain and body.

I know that EMDR is working for me. I am so much better nowadays than I have been. Not just in comparison to the darkest days of my two big ‘breakdowns’, but to the majority of my days.

I have a lot of work to do yet, however. The anxiety that having to do some ‘adulting’ this morning showed me that. The bit of adulting I’ve done was to get a new quote for motor insurance. The quote from the brokers I’ve used for years had gone ridiculously high. So after one call I had a quote for one-third of the quote from my old brokers. After sorting the new insurance out, I then had to phone the brokers to cancel the renewal.

To do this I had to quite literally sneak up on myself, catch myself unawares and just do it. If I’d thought too much about it I would’ve got so anxious I wouldn’t have been able to make the phone call. Not only that, I would most likely develop a horrid headache and upset stomach too that would preclude me from doing anything else today.

Just one example of how anxiety causes a problem for me in everyday life.

I can now not worry about adulting again today!

Instead, I can ‘art’, read, crochet or do anything else I might care to do.