Inspiration WIP

Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter |
Inspiration WIP ©Angela Porter |

Progress is being made slowly on this one, but still it’s progress. I’ve done a fair bit this morning before heading out for my weekly EMDR therapy session in a short while.

It’s giving me more opportunities to try different things out. Time and completion of the artwork will tell if they’ve been successful as part of the whole.

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

So, Angela, how are you today?

I’m ok. I’m feeling tired, but I’m ok.

My mood did brighten somewhat last night, and today it’s fine. Not as bright as last night, but still contented and not quite as ‘flat’ as in the previous few days.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s EMDR day. I know what we’re working on today, and I need a bit of help with that inner child that I mentioned yesterday.

It will all work out just fine I’m sure.

Inspiration – WIP

Inspiration WIP © Angela Porter |
Inspiration WIP © Angela Porter |

Today’s been one of those days where I’ve had to do some ‘adulting’ and it’s broken my day up a fair amount.

However, I’ve still managed to get some more work done on this artwork. You can just see the lettering in the top left corner; well, a bit of it! It does say ‘Inspiration’, hence the title of this work in progress.

I’m enjoying doing this. Mind you, I enjoy all my arty workings. I think I’m enjoying digital art as it’s also challenging me in different ways, especially when working with pure colour.

Those of you who are sharp eyed may notice some differences in yesterday’s posting. I managed to not save the full sized file without the work I did yesterday.

Ho hum. I got to rework it though, and it’s worked out just fine.

I can see progress being made in the way I work digitally.

I do have to remember to intensify the shadows a bit more in places though. As I’ve said before, I love to play with shadow and light and bring a sense of dimension into my work, often a rather crazy, almost impossible kind of dimension.

That’s part of the fun of it all though! It can be hard for me to see what I’ve done with dimension until I can freshen my eyes and mind up to it.

I also never quite know how a particular motif/section is going to work out until I’ve done it. I do work really rather intuitively.

What I’ve also noticed is that I’ve gained confidence in digital art for these kinds of designs. With the ‘Be Brave’ one I really doubted myself, doubted whether I’d be able to replicate the design (or at least something inspired by the line art) in colour and digitally.

I started to show myself I could.

That confidence I gained carried on into the monogram A I completed a few days ago, and increased some more.

Now, I have a confidence in completing this design that I didn’t have when I started.

I wouldn’t say I’m an ‘expert’, nor ‘proficient’ yet. But I think I’m on my way to proficiency in digital art my way.

I can also say I’ve persevered with this medium over an extended period of time. It was nearly three years ago now that I bought my Surface Book and started to dip my toes into the waters of the huge ocean that is digital art.

It’s been, and continues to be, a really interesting, creativity opening journey for me, one that will continue for a long time I think.

So, Angela, how are you today?

I am fine today. Content. I detect little anxiety within me. I’m a bit tired as it was so hot yesterday and into the evening that it took until well past midnight for the temperature to drop enough for me to settle down.

What helped was an amazing thunderstorm. I lay in bed, looking out of my window at the lightning flashes and listening to the rumble and boom of thunder. Heavy rain came, so heavy it was splashing through the window and onto my face. It was so lovely! I fell asleep to the sounds of thunder and rain …

Anyways, emotionally and mentally I seem to be in a good enough place. there’s still some negative beliefs about myself and some anxieties I want to overcome yet, particularly some to do with being able to go out and about by myself, even if it’s just for a cup of tea in a cafe or a walk in a park.

I’m on the way to getting there for sure! I’m so thankful that my therapist found the method we’re using in EMDR to work on these negative thoughts. It’s so powerful for me and it’s working for sure.

Not that EMDR hasn’t worked in the past; it has. I think the work that has been done has prepared me for this particular way of working. Gently helped me to move forward and build up some resilience along the way.

I smile when I think of this, of where I am now. I smile when I realise I can recognise the progress made too.

Healing from CPTSD is possible. It really, really is!

Mandala WIP and EMDR yesterday

Mandala WIP © Angela Porter |
Mandala WIP © Angela Porter |

I’ve been busy this morning. I woke and did some crocheting as my mind was waking up. After I’d come around enough and had breakfasted, I started work on my next colouring book and have one template completed. I then knew I needed a little break from templates; if I draw them too quickly one after the other they can become ‘samey’. So I thought I’d start work on another mandala.

I used my usual trio of digital tools – Microsoft Surface Pen, Surface Studio and Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. I seem to be sticking to a colour palette of greens, teals and yellow-orange.

So tell me, how are you today Angela?

I am tired but content. I had enough sleep, I’m just emotionally tired after EMDR yesterday. It turned into a rather emotional session.

My therapist, Linda, tried a different way of accessing past trauma with me. She asked for a negative belief I have about myself, the first that came into my mind. It was I’m unloveable and unimportant.

The next step was to ask me to focus on that belief to imagine myself as a young me and what’s the first memory or image that pops into my head.

I instantly became scared as I ‘saw’ in my mind an image of a snarling, angry, red and black face that was my mother’s. I literally backed away from it on the couch I was sat on. I felt sick and I thought my heart was hammering wildly in my chest, but it wasn’t.

The strength of that image and my emotional and physical response to it took me and Linda by surprise and we worked with that.

Other memories cropped up, as well as another negative belief – “I hate myself”.

At one point I could hear my mother’s voice telling me I’m a liar. I actually told that voice to be quiet as I’m not liar and this is my story not my mother’s.

I realised that my mother gave the appearance of being kind and caring in public, but not out of sight of others. This is a new realisation for me. Being called a liar is not.

I had all kinds of weird aches and pains in my body including a hot, heavy pain on my shoulders that was weighing me down.

At the end of the session I practically fled. Now I can see that’s a flight response from me.

I had thought of taking a walk after the session, but all I wanted to do was to get home to safety.

I was really tired yesterday evening and I still am today. However, I really am feeling quite content. My digestive system seems perfectly fine as well, which is a good thing.

I’m sure we’ll be continuing with this next week. As distressing as the process is, it’s about removing the constant, daily distress and unhealthy thoughts, feelings and behaviour that have dogged my whole life. The trauma keeps me stuck in the past. It’s time to release the trauma so I can live the rest of my life without those limitations.

CPTSD and me #PTSDAwarenessDay

PTSD Awareness Day ©Angela Porter|
PTSD Awareness Day ©Angela Porter|

It’s no secret that I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, CPTSD. It has stemmed from being ignored, put down (“You’re stupid, fat, ugly, no one wants to be your friend”), and bullied daily inside and outside the home from a very young age.

I was groomed by a family member when I was around 7 or 8 years of age. I had other traumatic experiences of a sexual nature then too.

I had no one I could turn to talk to about this as the person you’d usually turn to for help, the mother, was one of the people perpetuating this.
There’s so much more I could tell you, but I think you get the gist.

I continuously lived, and continue to live, feeling unsafe in the world. I’m constantly anxious. I used to rarely notice this anxiety as it’s the ‘normal’ background level I know. Nowadays, thanks to therapy and EMDR I’m more self-aware and recognise it’s there.

I had to admit to myself that I needed help with this when I was away from work for nearly a year with severe anxiety and depression. An occupational health nurse, who worked with people with PTSD, said I was a classic case of CPTSD and suggested EMDR.

I realised I couldn’t live my life the way I was. I had become too scared to go out of my home except when I had appointments or at night to go shopping. I was hiding away from the world, staying in my house where I felt relatively safe.

I am still like that many days. However, I have more days where I can get out and about. Not only that, but I have more content days than days of discontent and sorrow.

EMDR therapy is helping me to recover, slowly but surely.

I’ve had people questioning me, yet again, whether EMDR therapy is any good for me because of the upset tummy I get after it, as well as the exhaustion. They questioned, whether I really needed it. This annoyed me as I yet again had to explain what my life is like daily and why I no longer wish to live with the constant fear and anxiety that limits what I can do.

I wear a well practised mask of confidence and strength that belies what lies underneath. I think this is why people try to tell me that therapy isn’t doing me any good and I don’t really need it. I think they think I’m lying about my past, the trauma I’ve experienced and how deeply it’s affected me and the way I live my life.

Can you all stop trying to tell me what I need and what I don’t need?

You aren’t walking in my shoes, with my inner critic repeating the constant criticisms given from my mother and others. You aren’t living with my emotional fragility or the constant increased anxiety, even fear, I feel when around people.

When I have bad days you think it’s the therapy that causes it. It’s not. It’s that therapy opens up trauma that I continue to process in the hours or days afterwards. Sometimes that processing is via an upset digestive system, sadness, increased anxiety, emotional exhaustion and fragility.

The thing is, that these bad days are a small number of the totality of the days of my life and they lead to a greater number of days where I am content.

They are a small price to pay for a future life where I live a mostly content life with no anxiety, except in appropriate situations. A life where I and my body have learned I am safe, that my past is finally my past and not being relived everyday through that constant anxiety and fear.

Why would I not want to go through the bad post-EMDR days to get to the life I’d like to live?

EMDR is working for me, even though there are times when I’m not too good after it.

Think of it as surgery. If you have surgery you’re not very well for a while afterwards. EMDR is surgery on the trauma of the past. The processing is the healing taking place, although its painful, it’s necessary.

You wouldn’t tell someone who needed an appendix removed not to go through with it as they’ll hurt as the wounds heal would you?

You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer not to go through with chemotherapy as they’ll feel awful afterwards, would you?

Trauma, whether a major event or the constant day to day trauma of abuse and neglect damage us on an emotional mental and even physical level with chronic illnesses being linked to long term stress. EMDR is the surgery that helps to release, process and heal the effects of the traumas I’ve experienced in my past so that I can move forward rather than stuck in the past.

Does that make it clearer?

I need EMDR therapy to heal from my past and gain the life I would like, a life where I’m not ruled by the constant fear and anxiety that developed as a response to never feeling safe anywhere from the time I was born.

My therapist often tells me I’m brave for coming back to EMDR again and again when I know what I’m likely to experience. She wonders after each extremely emotionally painful session if I’ll return.

I always do.

I’m prepared to put the work in and to accept the days where I feel poorly after EMDR as I can see they are part of the journey to a better life for me. A life where I have a better relationship with myself and the world around me.

I’ve lived my whole life in emotional and mental pain. I want to live as much of the life that remains to me without that emotional and mental pain.

Can I make it any plainer than that? I don’t think so.

About the art…

Art is often very soothing for me, especially when I’m feeling fragile or distressed. Today’s art certainly has soothed me. I woke with a dreadful headache. The headache is now easing off somewhat; it’s leaving me rather tired though.

I thought I’d do a little something for #PTSDAwarenessDay, so I made use of my Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Now I’m working out which tools I like, what effects I can get and the settings I like to use my digital art is speeding up just a little. Mind you, this is simpler than the ‘Be Brave’ wip I’ve shown in previous posts.

Entangled Monogram F

Entangled Monogram F ©Angela Porter 2019 -
Entangled Monogram F ©Angela Porter 2019 –

I drew this a little while ago and thought I’d show it today. Another in my Entangled Monogram series. I’m up to H now, though I’m not happy with them all, this being one of them.

I’m not sure if it’s the rather thick outline around the F, or the complex pattern inside the F, or the disjointed pattern to the top left of the letter.

Drawn on bristol board with Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens.

Mandala 10 March 2019

Mandala 10 March 2019 ©Angela Porter 2019 -
Mandala 10 March 2019 ©Angela Porter 2019 –

After a day of drawing templates for the book I’m working on, I thought I’d spend a little time relaxing by drawing a mandala, and this one is the result.

I’m gutted though; I managed to make a mistake on saving the full sized, layered file, so I’ve lost my high res version. Ho hum. I could always redraw if necessary I suppose. This one wouldn’t print out at all well – way too pixelly.

That’s not the only thing that went wrong today. My combination microwave-fan-grill oven also broke. So, I’ve ordered a new one for delivery this evening.

Add to that and my wrists, fingers, hands are still aching … and I’m going to go and give them a rest as soon as I’ve finished posting this around and about the interwebs.

I do have a busy week coming up with anti-stigma talks for Time to Change Wales, various appointments and other stuff. I have to use the time available t me to prioritise drawing templates for the book (they all have to be finished by the end of this month). So, if my posts are more sporadic than usual, that’s the reason.

Despite the problems in not saving the file correctly and the oven breaking down, I haven’t had any kind of tearful or angry meltdown. It’s not all that long ago where things like that would absolutely floor me. Today, I weathered them quite well, though there was a bit of a flap and panic around buying a new oven and trying to remember what brand I’ve had that has been the most reliable and long lasting. I’m still thinking did I really need to order one and have it delivered today? Well, given my busy diary this week the answer is yes!