This morning, I needed the calming and soothing process of drawing a mandala.
The last few days have been manic, tiring and emotional. I’ve also had to use a lot of mental concentration on a project that involves me. All this has resulted in evenings filled with headaches and emotional vulnerability.
I’m aware of what’s happening to me, and I do take steps to make sure that I practice self-care and self-soothing.
Drawing mandalas is always self-soothing for me. The abstract nature of them means anything goes, within the foundation of rings and angles. Drawing repeating patterns and shapes is also a soothing activity.
Today, I chose to draw in black and white and add a grey, textured background. Some subtle shading in greys helps to add the illusion of dimension to the mandala.
I drew this mandala digitally, using my favourite tool triad of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio. This made it easy to alter what I wasn’t happy with as I worked on the mandala. This removed a source of potential stress and upset and allowed the perfectionist in me to smile.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t any imperfections in the design; there are plenty of them! It just means I can fix the big mistakes quickly. I wish it were as easy to do that in life, for myself but also for others.
I enjoyed drawing the mandala. It has helped to soothe my fragile head and heart and has set me up for the rest of my arty, creative day.
So, Angela, how are you feeling today?
I’ve not written much about my mental and emotional health lately. It’s mostly been good. However, I’ve had some challenges with it and have had some weepy, teary times.
Previously, I’ve mentioned that I was looking at leaving therapy soon. I still think that will be the case, but these challenges have caused some flotsam and jetsam from my past to surface. They need to be processed and released before I consider leaving therapy.
I have so much to do in terms of work and other commitments that I really do need to schedule in that self-care time. Also, I’m aware that the challenges I’m currently facing could, potentially, harm my mental and emotional health. All the work of the past five years in therapy could, possibly, be undone. I can’t allow that to happen.
During the recent difficulties, I’ve found my emotions and thoughts harking back to the dark days of my poor mental and emotional health. I managed to stop myself falling into the bottomless, dark pit of despair and anguish. I recognised it was happening. Also, I recognised the trigger for this. It was strong enough to breathe some life into the pale ghosts of my past. Those ghosts have now been dispelled, but I know they can rise to haunt me at my vulnerable moments.
What scared me most was that I lost that awareness of inner contentment that has been present for many months now. It’s now back, once the ghosts had been returned to their realm – the past.
I’ve said it before, and no doubt I’ll say it again – emotions are the weather of my inner being. Things happen or are said that can stir up a storm. The storm opens a portal to the past and ghosts can find their way to trouble my mind and feelings. I’m now more aware of myself, my emotions, and how to cope with this weather. I’m back to a calm sea where the contentment isn’t shrouded by the shades of the past.
Being able to banish these ghosts myself shows how far I’ve come since my darkest days.
Yesterday evening, I took a combination of Tombow Fudenosuke, Sakura Pigma Micron and Faber-Castell Pitt Artist pens to a 6″ x 6″ piece of Strathmore vellum surface Bristol Board. I ended up with a black and white entangled drawing. This morning, I scanned the image in and added a kraft paper background and then some subtle shading and highlights in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.
After Inktober and my focus on digital art, it was nice to draw traditionally for a change. My mood and energy levels were such that I needed to slip back into the familiar, comforting entangled style of art to soothe my emotions once again.
This drawing worked out OK. However, I don’t feel it flows at all well, though that does reflect yesterday’s mood and mindset.
The part I really like is the rectangle towards the bottom left. I’m also fond of the arcs to the right. Actually, I like all the design elements, I’m just not happy with how they’ve been lumped together. Maybe I’m just being overly self-critical here.
It’s a sunny Sunday morning in the Valleys of South Wales. I think it’s going to be a quietly artsy day, with a trip out for some essential groceries in a short while I think.
A simple illustration of a toucan skull along with a mandala background. I turned down the brightness of the white patterns a tad; pure white was just too stark against the blue chalkboard background. Also, it distracted from the skull.
I drew this design digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen on the screen of a Microsoft Surface Studio (the digital equivalent of pen/brush/pencil on paper!).
I’m tired this afternoon. It’s been a busy day so far; also, I’m still reeling a bit from EMDR therapy yesterday. It’s all for the good, though – progress is being made, step by step. The fact I’m tired shows that good work has been done in healing my past traumas and changing how I perceive myself. I may have time for a nap before I dash out to do something this evening…
Armadillo skull flower? I thought I’d try a different number of skulls arranged around a mandala. They sure do look like petals of a flower. Armadillo skull is the prompt for today’s Inktober drawing from a list by Instagrammer @book_polygamist. I’ve also used the tangle pattern crescent moon from the list by @havepen_willdraw.
I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio as my tools.
I’m also enjoying using these grungy texture backgrounds, of which I am altering the colours as needed.
I can’t believe that Inktober is nearly over; just four more days remain. I’ll reflect on this year’s experience with my last Inktober drawing.
Today’s Inktober features a flamingo skull and a mandala.
I really can’t seem to get away from the woodcut style drawing at the moment. I am enjoying drawing in this style, and it is a bit of a challenge to work out which direction the lines and the thickness of the lines need to go in order to give that sense of dimension to the artwork.
The second ring from the centre of the mandala is formed using today’s tangle pattern – Ratoon. The fourth ring out has stylised drawings of the birds’s nest fungus (Cyanthus striatus). The rest of the mandala I just let flow as it needed to.
The colours I used for the mandala are from the plumage of flamingos. I needed a dark background for some of the colours to show up well, so I used a grungy texture which I coloured a murky, algae-green. The skull appears to be resting in the mandala thanks to the way I’ve used the colours.
This is, again, digital art, drawn using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
The Inktober prompt lists I’m using come from the Instagrammers @book_polygamist (skulls), @nyan_sun (mushrooms) and @havepen_willdraw (tangle patterns).
I share memes about mental and emotional health, not because I’m struggling myself at this time, but because in the past, I either have or would have found the words and information useful and I know others will find them helpful in their now. I still find them interesting, useful and helpful myself too.
At present, my mental and emotional health is the most resilient it has ever been. I have discovered what inner contentment feels like for the first time in my life. I’m also starting preparing myself to leave EMDR therapy in the coming months.
I have emotional weather like every human being. Some days I’m chatty and smiling and laughing. Other days I’m quieter and more subdued. Those days have always been there, but I wore a mask as a way of protecting myself. The mask wasn’t the authentic me. Very few people have got to see the authentic me, especially on my bad days. If you have seen me like that, then it is because I have trusted you to see me as I am at that time.
I rarely wear that mask any more. It’s exhausting to keep on. However, people who are used to interacting with me only via that mask think there’s something wrong with me, or that I’m experiencing mental ill-health.
That is not the case.
Now I rarely put that mask on. The introverted part of me, the part of me that is happy to sit and listen and observe what is going on and being said. Not the mask that talks and talks, barely pausing for breath, all to avoid questions being asked of me that could lead to me being upset. The mask I wore to try to stop people working out that I had very poor mental and emotional health.
People are making assumptions that because I’m quiet and attentive that I must be mentally ill again. There’s going to be a lot of challenges for me as I leave the mask on going forward. It’s already started to be an *interesting* time.
I am not mentally or emotionally un-well. In fact, I am the most well, mentally and emotionally, than I ever have been in my life.
That doesn’t mean I will never experience emotional weather and tough times again; the shifting sands of emotional and mental wellbeing are all part of being human.
What it does mean is that I no longer feel the need to wear that mask all the time. That I feel able to let it drop where I feel safe, secure and comfortable.
It also means that I am able to prevent my gloomy days from spiralling down into a dark pit of deepest despair.
I also am more aware of the person I really am; not the mask I wore to try to fit in, be noticed and survive around others from a very young age.
It’s not easy to let that mask fall. It confused people who have only known the mask, they think I have changed. I am the same person. I just no longer want to wear that mask now that I’ve discovered the parts of me that were buried way, way back in my life.
That I feel safe enough in this word to remove that mask, to show myself and my emotions to others is a testament to how far along my CPTSD healing journey I have come.
Today’s prompts are cockatoo skull, Marasmius (parachute mushrooms) and Pixiose tangle pattern. I’m using Inktober 2019 prompt lists by Instagrammers @book_polygamist, @nyan_sun and @havepen_willdraw.
I’ve returned to the woodcut style of illustration for the cockatoo skull; the contrast betwixt the bone and beak made it a natural choice for me. Also, I do like drawing in this kind of style.
As my emotional weather is on the drizzly and gloomy side, I opted for the soothing qualities of mandala drawing for today’s illustration. I don’t know why I chose to have four skulls as part of the mandala; it just seemed a good idea at the time. However, it does work out quite nicely. The spacing means I can still draw the skulls fairly large, yet have plenty of space fo the mandala to show through.
Today’s tangle pattern is a filler design, so I thought adding it in panels would work well and this formed the first ring. I also wanted to add in some tropical flowers, so the second ring has stylised flowers forming it. It was then I remembered about the fungi and so added them as the outer ring.
For now, I’ve left the design in black and white with a coloured background. I may return to this mandala at another time and add colour and more line work. For now, it’s good enough.
To create the artwork, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
So, Angela, how are you today?
I said that my emotional weather is still gloomy and drizzly. I really don’t feel I have the oompf to do anything much today. All I want to do is sleep, and when I want to sleep all the time, it’s one of my warning signs that something’s not right emotionally. I’ve also had some of the old inner critics and thought patterns rearing their heads once again, causing a lot of tears. It seems I’m not as resilient as I think I am when doing what I can to help others.
I can still sense that contentment within, but the emotional weather seems to be clouding it somewhat today. I have used my light therapy lamp, which helped a little, especially as the weather outside is mirroring my emotions today.
I know what’s caused this change in my inner weather: therapy and a couple of recent events.
I managed to put a smiley face on to go to a meeting last night, but I was so tired after it, even though I’d slept for a couple of hours in the afternoon.
I do know this is not permanent. I’m processing some recent and less recent traumatic experiences.
So, I will do what I can to get some work done today, work that doesn’t require much in the way of focus. I do believe I have some sketches for my Spectacular Sea Life Designs colouring book scanned in ready to be inked. I think I can manage that today.
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.