A bit more done on this work today and yesterday evening. As usual my tools are Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
So, how are you today Angela?
I’m tired. EMDR yesterday was very, very emotional and draining. The negative thought I started with was that I’m a failure. That went to I’m never good enough for anyone.
I was getting so emotionally upset (distressed) that my therapist voiced quite a bit of concern about me throughout the process and kind of called it to a halt to do something different, but still working with it all.
At the start of the session it was noted how well I was looking, and my therapist has a feeling she’ll be losing me soon … which is signs I really am making good progress. I also know that’s part of the therapy process, preparing the client for therapy coming to an end…
So, all’s good. I’m emotional today, but there’s that contentedness there, and not a lot of anxiety either.
I’ve had weird dreams overnight, and memories cropping up I thought I’d firmly locked away. They’re all connected to the negative belief, however. So, I suspect processing is still going on.
So onwards I go towards healing and being good enough. More importantly believing I am good enough.
Three years ago I spent time with friends from a school I’d taught at for 27 years. As I look back on my time there it mostly seems a distant memory.
My life has changed in so many ways.
Being self-employed as an artist, illustrator and author is a wonderful thing, it barely feels like work as it is something I love to do for pleasure as well as to contracts. I choose my own workload and what I wish to do for the day.
There’s no appalling attitudes or behaviour to deal with (well rarely).
Healing from CPTSD is continuing, and perhaps the source of so many, many positive changes for me.
Three years ago I wouldn’t have thought I would ever feel content with a really low level of anxiety. I rarely ever go to sleep wishing I wouldn’t wake up. That was a nearly daily occurrence in the several years marking my leaving teaching for good after two huge ‘breakdowns’ where I had nearly broken my mind and my will through struggling in work and with a sharply declining mental and emotional health.
Looking back on my life, my mental and emotional health were never good; it’s always been degrees of how bad they’ve been. The mask of smiling happiness and competence was constructed at an early age. I bought into the lie of that mask and it took my mind and emotions nearly breaking to make me face up to that fact that I had some serious problems mentally and emotionally.
I lost my ability to read. Rather, I lost my ability to make sense, process, and remember what I was reading. I could hear the words in my mind but they may just as well have been in an alien tongue. It’s only in recent months that my ability to read and take in what I’m reading has been returning. It’s still hard work, but I persevere.
For over two years I couldn’t drive past the school where I talked, even in night time. I now can. A sign of healing and progress I think.
Gradually, I’m finding the strength and courage to leave my home more often by myself, not just for appointments but just because I can. It’s slow progress, but it’s happening. I get startled into hyper-vigilance still fairly easy, and panic attacks can ensue and I go into full flight mode back to the safety of my car or home. They seem to happen less often though, but they’re still there.
There are still many things that need healing or strengthening with me. Such as finding the confidence and belief in myself to sell my art and promote it.
I still carry many negative beliefs about myself; they’re like a many headed monster that when one head is slayed another becomes visible that was hidden in the crowd of faces.
However, eventually there will be no place these faces can hide, no places for the negative beliefs to hide, and the end will be in sight.
I will get there. It just takes some time.
Thanks to my fabulous EMDR therapist, I’m improving all the time. Even when what seems like a backwards step at the time seems to result in more forwards movement given enough time.
Yes, in three years my life has changed noticeably, and for the better, I think.
About the art…
The little bit of art above is my newest work in progress (WIP). I couldn’t find my ‘Be Brave’ art yesterday and thought I’d start a new one. Today, ‘Be Brave’ was very obviously in the folder for July’s artwork. I just couldn’t see it for looking!
The swirly bits will be changed on this one. They’re not working out for me the way I hoped they would. I will work it out though.
Of course, I’m using my trifecta of tools – Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Studio and Microsoft Surface Pen.
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.
My current work in progress is a mandala. Also, I’m using my line art as a guide for the coloured areas which is quite different for me to do. No black lines in the finished design. Not a one will there be.
I’m working digitally using my trusty trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. I have also chosen a coloured, texture background for the design to sit/float upon.
Just as a guide, it took me an hour or so to draw out the mandala design. So far I’ve spent around 6 hours on adding the colour and so on – and that’s with the help of the symmetry tool in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro. If I’d had to do each section individually it would’ve taken me eight times as long!
You can see I still have a lot to do, so it’s going to be a long term project for sure.
I’m actually enjoying this one. It’s been rather soothing to do given that I’ve not been feeling too well with some kind of upset tummy. I’m still not fully well today but I am feeling a fair bit better than I did yesterday, thank goodness.
So, how are you feeling today Angela?
Other than still feeling not too well physically with some kind of dodgy tummy, I’m quite contented.
Contented is good enough I think. I’m being creative, quietly so. I’m enjoying listening to Audible (currently it’s “Fatal Alliance” the first in the Star Wars Old Republic series of books. This one is authored by Sean Williams) as I’m being artsy. However, as I type I’m listening to the Maroon 5 station on Amazon Music. I can’t write and listen to a book!
To go back to my mental and emotional health, I feel quite content and my anxiety levels are at the manageable background levels, which is barely noticeable unless I focus on them. That is good enough for me, though I do know that it doesn’t take much for them to be triggered.
The CPTSD hair triggers that lead to emotional flashbacks. Not clear memories of a traumatic event, the emotional memories of a series of similar events that tapped into the stored trauma of the first traumatic event, reinforcing the trauma again and again and again.
That’s one way in which CPTSD is different to PTSD.
As I become more aware of my emotions and what can trigger an emotional response I’m more able to manage how I interact (or not) with the world until that trigger no longer affects me.
All part of self care which is so important.
My recovery from CPTSD is a work in progress, something I won’t stop until I’m good enough in terms of my mental and emotional wellbeing as well as my relationship with myself.
I drew the design on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board using Unipin pens and then I’ve added colour digitally, as well as a rose gold coloured and textured background.
I chose pink as a fairly dominant colour as Brett loves pink so much.
Oh, to colour I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
So Angela, how have you been?
I’ve been quiet on social media over the past few days. I’ve needed some quiet time to myself, which has involved an awful lot of crocheting. I’ve not even done anything much that has been arty either.
The reason for this is that I’ve not been feeling all that well. Nothing serious. just not well. I had a migraine on Sunday that took all day to go and left me exhausted.
Also, I’ve not been feeling right in my digestive system/stomach for a few days. This happens on a fairly regular basis (monthly) but this time it was rather unpleasant.
Last night, it hit new highs as I woke hot, sweaty, nauseous and headachy. Thank goodness it was rather chilly here in the UK and I had the windows open. The cool air was pleasant as I lay uncovered. It all passed eventually without me being sick, however I still feel yeuchy today and very, very tired.
Yesterday I had EMDR and that was an interesting session that left me rather tired later in the day. Another inner child made their presence known and I had help to communicate with them, which was so much easier after last weeks session. This child was all to do with loud voices, arguing voices and being startled and upset by them. So, we did some EMDR work with the emotions that came up from that child. A lot of body work was being done with pains around my body as the trauma was being processed with EMDR. Also, lots of memories of raised voices, harsh voices, argumentative voices…and just noisy environments.
I’ve known for a long while that I can be triggered into startle or panic mode when I hear a sudden loud voice or noise around me. I try to remember to take noise cancelling headphones or earphones with me so I can listen to music and not hear such sounds when I’m out and about, especially when I’m feeling rather fragile.
Saturday I flinched and became a bit panicked as I was talking to someone while waiting for a meeting outside a building in my local town. Sunday evening someone spoke quite harshly to me. I don’t think they realised it, but the response in me was one of upset and to withdraw from the situation, permanently.
So, we work with this in EMDR to heal those traumatised parts of me represented by these children.
Hmm, I wonder if these different aspects of me from times when I’ve been traumatised are coming forward so easily because I have so few concrete memories of events.
Either way, as crazy as it may seem to you, it seems to be helping me, and that is all that matters as far as I’m concerned.
Three more hours work done colouring this drawing in digitally. Slow process, but an engaging one, especially as I’m still exploring how different brushes and effects work. Slow but I think it’s coming along quite nicely.
I do need a bit of a break from it now for a little while, however. More tea is needed and it’s about lunchtime.
Drawn with Tombow Fudenosuke and Lamy fountain pens on Winsor and Newton bristol board. Digitally coloured using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
So, how are you today Angela?
This section is becoming a regular feature on my blog, isn’t it?
It’s important for us to talk about our mental and emotional health and recognise how they are in the way we do for our physical health. I hope that when I share little bits of my continuing tale of recovery from CPTSD it may help to break down the stigma and discrimination that there is around mental health and wellbeing.
Today I’m feeling ok, content. That’s all I have to say about my emotional and mental state today – contented.
There’s rather a lot of purple and teal-blue in ths one, as well as greens. I do have trouble with colour from time to time, it has to be said.
This was drawn with Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol board. I then added colour using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, a Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio.
So, how are you feeling today Angela?
I’m actually feeling quite content, almost happy I think. My mood has been improving over the past week or so, but it’s really headed towards contentedness in the pass couple of days for sure. It’s a welcome place to be in for sure.
I got myself off to Hay On Wye today. It was a quick visit for me. I wanted to go to Bartrums to get a new Leuchtturm 1917 dot grid notebook and came away with a lovely pastel coloured Lamy fountain pen in Mint. Oh, the Leuchtturm is in Pacific Blue, which is a petrel blue. I also wanted to pop into Satori to look at the crystals, minerals and jewellery there. I did come away with a piece of Atlantisite- a combination of yellowish-green serpentine with inclusions of purple stichtite. I also picked up a piece of sunstone. Why? Because I liked them, a lot!
What surprised me, though, was how I found myself walking tall and proud, looking at the world around me and smiling.
When I’m in a not so good place emotionally/mentally, I tend to hold my head down, try to shrink my nearly 6 foot tall and rather hefty body into a smaller space so I may avoid being noticed. To that end I also avoid eye contact with people.
Today I didn’t do that. I faced the world almost boldly for me.
I really would like this feeling to last, or if I have a dip, for it to return again soon.
I have experienced feeling like this from time to time in the past, but not for a goodly long while, and not in a way that I’ve really paid attention to it.
The anxiety I have on a day to day basis was there, but just a faint background noise. It didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to do, though I have to say it was a close call as I was deciding whether to go to Bartrum’s or The Pencil Case in Cowbridge. Bartrums won out because I wanted to visit Satori too.
Anyway, today has been a nice day to have a point of reference as to how I’d like to feel for the rest of my life, mostly. I know that being like this every moment of every day isn’t likely to be realisitic; things happen in life that knock our emotions, we all have emotional weather. However, to be able to return to this place would be a good thing when that weather gets stormy.