Quote about therapy

Artwork © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Trigger Warning – the following words contain some references to my past mental and emotional ill health.

I’ve begun to realise that I am as recovered from CPTSD as I’m going to be for now. So, yesterday, I made the decision, after lots of thought, that it was time to leave a month or so until my next session. The longest I’ve been without therapy is three weeks. This time it will be five weeks. It’s a test for me to see if I am as resilient as I think I am. Still, there’s also that little bit of a safety net that if I have issues I know, I’ll have a therapy session to sort out what to do next.

I know that in the future, as life experiences trigger some CPTSD reaction in me, I may need some more EMDR sessions to help me resolve the issues. Leaving therapy, for now, is necessary, but not without the possibility of returning as I need to.

How did I know I’d reached that point? Well, I recovered well from my hiccough, emotionally and mentally, over Christmas and New Year. Surprising well, actually. Even my therapist said that!

Nothing new has come up that needs to be processed it seems. I’ve had the feeling I’ve been groping around for issues to work on in therapy for a long while. Maybe I was ready a while ago but wasn’t quite prepared to leave that safety net of that one person who has always been there to listen, question me and help me to understand and heal myself. I feel I am ready to cut loose now, but suddenly, but gradually.

The soft inner smile, feeling of contentment and ease is present most days. I also have a feeling of what I can only describe as hope and optimism.
These feelings are my touchstones, the way I want to feel most of my days of the remainder of my life.

It still saddens me that it’s taken me until I’m 56 years old to discover them, to heal enough of the traumas of the past to allow them to be fully present nearly every day. I lived my life believing the way I thought and felt was ‘normal’ and that everyone was like this.

It took an emotional and mental breakdown to get me to accept that I was in a severe amount of emotional and mental pain and to seek the help I needed to heal that pain. EMDR has been that help, that therapy has allowed me to heal those wounds.

Sometimes things happen, and my emotions can overshadow the contentment and smile. However, I can still feel those touchstones, reminders that the emotional storm will pass and the smile will shine out once again. This emotional weather has happened a few times since I first discovered my touchstones, but the weather has always passed. Sometimes with the help of therapy, but more often by itself, given self-soothing, self-care and self-reflection.

I am so grateful to have had such a skilled therapist. Still, it’s now time for me to find new ways to engage with like-minded people, not in huge groups, as that would really cause problems for my introverted nature.

I’ve been having EMDR therapy for nearly five and a half years. It seems a long time, yet it’s not that long, really. A lot of commitment and work has been needed, but I’m reaping the rewards of my efforts.

The quote epitomises the way I feel about therapy now. In my darkest days, when I started EMDR. Linda, my therapist, has been that one person who has consistently been there to accompany me on this journey of healing and recovery from CPTSD. She has helped me discover that part of me that wants to experience life my own way, that part which is content, gently smiling, resilient, optimistic, more accepting of myself, kinder to myself, and much more I can’t yet put into words.

I’m not perfect; no one is. However, I’m as emotionally and mentally well as I’m going to be without living life. Only the ups and downs of life will reveal triggers for the remaining CPTSD. Some may never be revealed and not be an issue. Others I may be able to deal with myself, some I may need help from EMDR to process them and heal that still wounded part of myself.

It’s actually quite exciting. All I need to do is to transform that feeling of excitement and optimism into action such as a couple of nights away by myself and finding groups to join where there are like-minded people to begin with.

#Inktober52 – Week 1 'Flight'

‘Flight’ #Inktober52 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Jake Parker, the originator of Inktober, has come up with #Inktober52 – a year-long series of weekly drawing prompts.

I’ve completed Inktober in the last two years and really enjoy having a prompt list to work to, all for fun. It is crazy, full-on for that whole month. I most probably will do Inktober again this year, in October.

#Inktober52 will be less pressured as the prompt lasts a week, so plenty of time to think and draw. Of course, it could result in a series of drawings on the same theme each week.

The first prompt of the challenge is ‘Flight’. It took a little while, but then a flash of inspiration came, and I wanted to draw seeds that fly!

I do like botanical things a lot. And though this may not be way outside my usual themes of drawing, it’s still a good one to do. I also thought it would be nice to do a sketchbook page of drawings of these seeds, trying out slightly different ways of drawing with different scales and so on. Oh, and I got a little bit of hand lettering practice in as a bonus!

I drew the seeds with a mixture of Uniball Unipin, Faber-Castell Pitt Artist and Tombow Fudenosuke pens on ClaireFontaine dot grid paper.

After scanning my illustrations, I removed the dots, added a kraft paper background, and used a rough chalk brush to add some shadow and light to some of the seed pods. Add that hint of shadow and light does seem to bring them to life for sure.

I enjoyed creating this page of illustrations. I needed some time to relax and destress today. Yesterday turned out to be a bit of a day. The engine warning light went on in Binky, my SmartCar along with a quick flash of a malfunction warning when I turned the engine off. Luckily I wasn’t far from home and managed to get back quite safely.

A call to Mercedes, then to Smart Assist and within an hour, an AA patrol was at my home to see if they could find and rectify the issue.

It turns out there’s an error in the turbocharger (yes, I have a turbocharged SmartCar).

The patrolman did his best to work out what the problem was, but with no luck. So, he towed Binky to the Mercedes dealership and garage in Cardiff to be fixed. Luckily, Binky is still under warranty, so it should be repaired free of charge.

Before doing that, the Smart Assist cover also provides me with a hire car for three working days, and he arranged for that for me too.

So, by around 4:30 pm, I’d been given an almost brand new hire car to use until late on Tuesday at least, and I was on my way back home to try to breathe, calm and destress.

I worried about driving a car that is much bigger than my SmartCar. However, I surprised myself at how confident I was. Mind you, I’ve not been anywhere where I have to park the hire car in limited space!

Unfortunately, the anxiety this caused is causing me to worry and get scared of all kinds of random stuff. I woke up stupidly early worrying about things I don’t need to worry about!

When this happens, it shows me just how far I’ve come in my CPTSD recovery. So, despite the elevated anxiety, it is already fading as the day proceeds. Creating art has helped with that.

Calming Mandala

Calming Mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd

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.

Monday Mandala

Monday Mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

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 musings

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.

Inktober 2019 – Day 31

Inktober 2019 Day 31 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

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!

Evening Mandala

Evening Mandala ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

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).

Inktober 2019 – Day 23

Inktober 2019 Day 23 ©Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

Frog skull, Morchella (morel) fungi and Abundies tangle pattern from Inktober prompt lists by Instagrammers @book_polygamist @nyan_sun and @havepen_willdraw.

I decided I’d use the frog skull as a framework for some tangle patterns. It’s not so easy to pick the skull out, but it is there in the centre of today’s illustration.

I felt the need to add some mandala rings around the design, though I’m not sure that was such a good idea. Still, Inktober is about drawing and reflecting on what is created rather than aiming for something complete, polished, perfect. This reflection on artwork is what leads me to improve my art. Inktober also pushes me just a little to try different styles of drawing.

So, I’m not so happy with today’s offering. But it’s good enough.

So, Angela, how are you today?

Tuesdays are often post-therapy self-care days. I certainly need such a day today. I am absolutely exhausted after yesterday’s very emotional session.

I didn’t do any EMDR, but there were discussions about some issues that had arisen for me in the past week. One of which is preparing to leave therapy sometime in the near-ish future. This is both a good thought and a sad thought. Also, it has to be my decision when to leave therapy. Making decisions is not easy for me.

Some of the time was spent talking about the book I’m reading ‘Will I Ever Be Good Enough?’, which is about the daughters of narcissistic mothers. There are some issues from that which will need some working on before I leave therapy.

I came home from the appointment absolutely exhausted. I stopped off at the local Sainsbury’s for some tea before doing some shopping, as well as to wait out the crazy rush-hour traffic. I kept nodding off as I sat in the cafe.

When I did get home, I put my shopping away, got another drink and went to bed and fell into a deep sleep. I managed to stay awake for a couple of hours before the exhaustion overtook me once again, and I retired to bed.

I slept well; however, I am shattered today, as well as being emotionally drained, fragile and vulnerable. Even though I feel like this, that gentle contentment is present within me. Indeed, it was present during the emotionally distressing moments in therapy yesterday.

So, today is a self-care day, starting with my Inktober drawing for today. I’m just about falling asleep as I type, so I suspect I’ll have another mug of tea and then return to bed to sleep some more.