A few more fish.

A few more fish © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com
A few more fish © Angela Porter | Artwyrd.com

I’ve had a productive morning and early afternoon.

First, I revamped my anti-stigma presentation for Time to Change Wales. It now has nowt about my childhood and so on, just info about CPTSD, the stigma I’ve faced, and helpful/hurtful things said and done.

Of course I’ll give a bit of info about my life too and how CPTSD impacts me every day of my life so far, as well as how that impact is lessening thanks to the help and support I recieve via EMDR therapy.

Then, I turned my attention to these cute and colourful fish. I needed something cheery and happy after sorting the presentation out – it did have me feeling a bit emotional, and art is always a self-soothing, self-caring activity for me.

So, I’ve added some more fish to this illustration.

This is quite fun to do, as well as an experience where I can explore and learn more about how digital art can work for me.

I think I’m getting there, little by little, with the digital art.

My tools for digital art are a pencil sketch on paper, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Studio and Microsoft Surface Pen.

I now need to go and do some ‘adulting’. I have to brave a shop to get some lunch!

Mandala WIP and thoughts about CPTSD and stigma

Warning – there are triggers in the CPTSD section of my blog today.

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

A little more work done on this mandala before I start back on a colouring template or two today.

It’s progressing quite nicely, though colour choice for latest ‘ring’ was an issue for the ‘shell-like’ green arc. It was a blue, but that didn’t seem qutie right, so I changed it for a green with a hint of blue. I’ve not quite finished with this section yet, but I want to let it ‘sit’ for a while and I can come back to it with fresh eyes.

I had thought the previous, darker ring was going to be a mis-fit. However, now I’ve added this latest ring, the darker one gives some much-needed contrast, and a bit more dept too. The inner part of those pointy arches makes me think of windows with a view out on the starry sky. Of course, the pointy arches make me think of gothic arches in churches and abbeys, with a more modern, sci-fi feel perhaps.

It’s not quite finished yet. But working on it one section at a time and then taking a break really helps me to see what I’m trying to do.

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

So, how are you doing today Angela?

Gently contented

I’m doing ok I think. I am feeling tired though due to not quite a long enough night’s sleep. I have that gentle contentedness with me again today, which is a good thing.

See, EMDR can cause upset, but all of these days of that quiet contentedness and a greater self-awareness are very much worth the difficult minutes, hours, days or even weeks after sessions.

This too shall pass.

Quite true. The fallout from EMDR does pass as processing continues or as my body needs to come down from an emotionally distressing time in some way. Sometimes that takes just a few hours or overnight. At other times it may take a couple of days or longer.

A small price to pay for days like today where I have that gentle contentedness. I’ve had precious few of them throughout the entirety of my life, most of them have been in the past few months or so thanks to the work being done in EMDR.

Warning – The following sections may contain triggers concerning abuse, narcissistic abuse, childhood abuse

Just forget about your past.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been told this by well-meaning people who have no understanding of CPTSD at all. I try to explain why it’s not possible, but they just seemingly don’t get it.

I think people think I spend all my time replaying my past memories over and over and over. Nothing is further from the truth.

Yes, I make statements about what has happened to me. That doesn’t mean I constantly play the events over and over again.

What plays over and over again is the anxiety, the fear, the feeling of being unsafe that these traumas have created in me, that live in me still. Various events can trigger an emotional, behavioural and/or thought-process responses from the anxiety, fear and unsafe feelings I carry all the time.

Also, I have very few memories from my past, particularly my childhood. I’m aware of some of the negative beliefs I have about myself. I get emotional flashbacks. But I have very few memories of situations that have contributed to these things.

How can you forget about a past you can’t remember?

With CPTSD the body, feelings, thoughts and behaviours are stuck in the past. Even now, no part of me feels safe in this world very often. Maybe when at home. Sometimes when I’m out and about with a companion. Rarely when out and about by myself.

Everyday life is fraught with danger for me. Maybe the danger is not real, but my body, my emotions believe it is and so my mind reacts accordingly.

Every single day of my life for as long as I can remember, right the way back to the few earliest memories I had as a child.

One of my earliest memories is of being a toddler and living in Cheshire. The back garden of the house backed on to a wheat field. I can remember going through the fence or hedge into the field, just to the edge where I actually was quite safe, to watch the combine harvester in action. As it was moving towards me, I became so scared I was frozen to the spot and was screaming in fear. My mother shouted at my older sister for not watching me, she came and shouted at me for daring to leave the garden. I can’t remember if my mother and sister argued, but I remember a lot of anger and fear with me. I have a memory of being told to stop screaming and crying or I’d be in trouble.

Even now, I get anxious at the thought of that memory. I can feel the fear of that younger me; not just the fear of a big, noisy machine heading towards me, but the anger around me. I don’t remember being comforted, reassured, calmed. I just remember anger from those present.

I do know that there have been many other instances in my life where I’ve been in that kind situation again – where I’m scared and I freeze, but don’t scream or speak out. I learned at a young age not to speak up or scream as that just made the people I looked to for caring or safety angry.

I remember a small number of these instances, but so many more have been ‘forgotten’ by locking them away where I can’t access the memory itself. It’s a self-protection strategy that happens. It’s not a deliberate action. It’s what the mind does to protect itself.

However, the conscious mind may not be able to access them, but the body, emotions, instinctive reactions, behaviours certainly do remember them.

So, does this explain, a little, why I can’t just forget about my past and move on? I hope so.

The stigma surrounding mental and emotional suffering.

Would any of us tell someone who has broken a leg to just forget about it, not get any treatment, and continue to go about their lives as if nothing has happened to them?

Of course we wouldn’t.

Well, not unless you’re someone like my mother who wouldn’t believe I’d hurt my leg and made me walk around for three days before calling the doctor. I remember the doctor yelling at my mother that I should have been taken to the hospital A&E straight away as I’d broken my leg. I seem to remember being in trouble for breaking my leg and getting her into trouble with the doctor.

Oh, I was blamed for her being shouted at too. Everything was always my fault. That’s what happens when a narcissistic mother makes you a scapegoat.

Anyway, caring, compassionate, loving people wouldn’t hesitate in taking a child for medical treatment or encouraging an adult to seek medical help if they needed it.

Yet some of the same people who’d encourage medical treatment for a physical illness somehow think that with an injured mind or emotions you should just get along with life as if nothing has happened.

The emotional distress through anxiety that I feel daily doesn’t go away just because I ignore it.

Anxiety stops me from doing things I want to do because I get so scared that I just can’t do it. I freeze. I need to retreat to my safe place which can be my home or my car.

Putting a brave face on is like putting a sticking plaster over a manky, infected wound. The wound now looks better, but underneath it’s festering.

Emotional and mental damage done by trauma is the festering, infected wound that hasn’t been treated properly. They don’t go away on their own, in the same way a broken leg won’t heal properly without treatment.

It’s not the memories themselves that are the problem. It’s the behaviours, feelings, responses that come from trauma damaged mind and emotions that are the problem.

I wasn’t ever helped through any trauma in my life, ever, as I was a child and into adulthood too. I was never helped to learn healthy coping strategies, to understand what happened, how to feel safe again. I was never helped to be resilient.

I learned unhealthy coping strategies that I still use. I also learned to wear a protective mask of happiness, confidence that belied the very scared, insecure, unloved, self-hating person within.

EMDR therapy is helping to undo the trauma and replace it with healthier ways of thinking about myself and living my life.

EMDR isn’t a sticking plaster for me, it’s like the hip-height plaster cast that I needed for three months to help the broken bone in my lower leg to heal. It would’ve taken less time and a shorter cast if I hadn’t been forced to walk on my leg as if there was nothing wrong.

I absolutely believe it is time that society starts to change the way they think about mental and emotional illnesses. The suffering they cause to the people who experience them is no less great than for physical illnesses.

This is one reason I include my journey to CPTSD in my blog, along with my art. I tell my story to help some people gain understanding. I tell it to let others know they’re not alone. I tell it to let people know it’s not just the big traumas in life that can affect someone – war, major accidents, life threatening events, rape, sexual abuse, physical abuse.

The constant daily actions of emotional neglect, emotional and mental abuse, bullying, scapegoating, an environment full of conflict and drama, can all take their toll on a person, especially a child who hasn’t had the help to learn the tools to be resilient.

It wears away at a person like the gradual drip, drip, drip of water on stone can wear a hole in it over time.

A child being abused by it’s parent(s) doesn’t stop loving it’s parent(s), it stops loving itself.Shahida Arabi

I’m guilty of minimising the effects my upbringing has had on me. Until fairly recently I thought everyone was brought up in a home just like mine and I was weak, pathetic, useless, a whinger, a complainer, for thinking it had affected me, and a liar for thinking this had really happened.

I’m only just becoming aware of the gas-lighting done to me. Recognising the ‘you’re a liar, you’re just attention seeking, don’t bother me with your nonsense’ self-beliefs created in me has having come from another isn’t easy.

We need to stop categorising some traumas as worse than others.

What is important is how deeply a person has been affected by the trauma producing experiences, experiences where they feel unsafe.

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!

CPTSD and me #PTSDAwarenessDay

PTSD Awareness Day ©Angela Porter|Artwyrd.com
PTSD Awareness Day ©Angela Porter|Artwyrd.com

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.

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.

Summer Solstice Dangle Design

Summer Solstice Dangle Design © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com
Summer Solstice Dangle Design © Angela Porter 2019 Artwyrd.com

It is the Summer Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, the longest day of the year and from here on in the days will slowly get shorter. Still, it’s lovely to have daylight well into the evening with the sky still being fairly light at 10pm or so.

Yesterday evening I had a bit of an idea to try creating a dangle design on parchment, and this is the result. I needed a bit of a break from digital art after the hours and hours spent on my most recent mandala.

Parchment craft, or Pergamano, is an old craft and a lot of the work done, while beautiful, is really not my style. So I thought I’d try my style of art with it.

I used some ball tools to emboss the parchment with my design and then to add some shading. I drew the design directly onto the parchment with the embossing tools.

I started with the stylised flowers and worked out from there. Once I was happy with my design, I added a simple dangle consisting of round, heart-shaped and diamond shaped beads with a tear-drop bead to add some weight to the dangle.

I then added colour with some Kuretake Zig Writer pens on the reverse of the design. I chose colours that remind me of summer – the mature greens of summer foliage along with the bright colours of tropical flowers. I thought these would work well for the Solstice. Of course the hearts needed to be pink and I added some teal-blue to the small diamond beads for a bit of variety.

On top of the dots around the design I added tiny dots of gold glittery loveliness using a Uniball Signo glitter gel pen. I also added some tiny dots in the centres of the stylised flowers.

To give an idea of the size of this design, the black paper behind the parchment is A4 (approx US letter) in size.

Adhering the parchment to the black paper was a problem as glue shows through, so I had to use some tiny dots where the white lines were thick enough to disguise the glue.

I really think that the white lines of the parchment create something that is equally as lovely and maybe a bit more delicate than my usual black line art.

The uses of this design are many – greeting cards, note cards, framed artwork or used in Bullet Journals, journals, planners, scrapbooks, and more. In fact, I may replicate the design for my July cover spread in my BuJo.

If you’d like to learn more about drawing your own dangle designs, then my book “A Dangle A Day” is, perhaps, a good place to start.

So, Angela, how are you feeling today?

I’m feeling quite content today. Tired still, but content.

It seems the anti-stigma talk for Time to Change Wales and the anxiety I had around doing it on Wednesday has taken it’s toll on me just a bit. I do know, however, that I will recover in the fullness of time for sure.

This is part of the emotional/mental weather that is part of life. Beneath this weather is a calmer, more content Angela. I find this version of me from time to time; indeed I’m content in myself on many more days than I am discontented. Even with the bout of anxiety on Wednesday there was still a sense of being content.

It’s a strange thing to feel both at the same time. A bit like feeling the firm ground beneath my feet as a wild wind is buffeting me and trying to blow me down. I can feel that firm footing even when my emotions are a bit on the wild and windy side.

That’s progress on my journey to recover from CPTSD. Even more progress that I can recognise and describe this feeling.

This realisation makes me smile.

It’s progress, but it’s not where I want to be. I want to be able to go out and about without being scared of my own shadow. To be able to travel to unfamiliar places and actually get out of my car when I don’t have an appointment of some kind. To be able to go into an unfamiliar cafe or eatery when I’m by myself when I’m hungry and thirsty. To not go into full flight mode when something small has spooked me. To not be startled by loud noises. I want to be able to reach out to people without fear of rejection or to allow people into my home. To have all kinds of relationships with healthy boundaries where my needs and boundaries are respected by myself. To be able to go shopping without being overwhelmed by the choices available so I end up leaving without getting anything that’s needed.

These are but a few of ways that CPTSD affects my life and that I’d like to change through the healing journey I’m undertaking with the help of EMDR and therapy.

I’ve never been anything other than this permanently scared, extremely self-conscious person. Different events and places result in different levels of fear/anxiety in me. Even sat here, at my familiar desk, I feel anxious about writing about it.

The progress is that I recognise it now. I have identified it. Although it’s still there, it’s slowly being dis-empowered. Slowly means it’s being done properly and that I have time for the new level of anxiety or the increased self-awareness has time to become familiar to me before the next step forward is made. Familiar means it’s the more healed me. Healing bit by bit.