Monday musings

Angela Porter 28 August 2018

It’s been a little while since I’ve done an illustrated quote. Today, I was drawn to one by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and even though it was written over 200 years ago, it still has relevance in our time.

I printed the words out and then used Ohto Graphic Liner pens to draw the illustration around it. After scanning the image in, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro to alter the colour and add my watermark.

A nice way to spend a damp, sometimes drizzly Monday morning here in the UK. The schools return, the teachers at least for their day of training/preparation for the return of their students in the coming day(s), the interminable meetings where so much information is passed on it’s hard to retain it, let along digest it!

I do not miss this one bit. I loved teaching – the actual teaching, helping pupils to grow and develop, not only as little scientists but also as human beings and in confidence and self-belief.

I do not miss the huge number of meetings, the constant change, the challenges of behaviour/attitudes that changes in society have wreaked, the homogenization of teaching strategies…and so much more.

I’m feeling grateful this day that I get to do what I love, to make a new career from it, to continue to help people through my colouring books, and in other ways too.

I was once ignorant of the fact that I could do something else with my life, I thought I’d be a teacher until I reached retirement age, and that I would struggle more and more with my mental health and emotional health over time. I was also ignorant of the fact I had depression, anxiety and more – willfully ignoring the signs, denying that it was a problem, that I was just tired, or it was the result of a verbal attack or poor behaviour or even a physical threat at the end of my time teaching.

I was ignorant as I chose to ignore the facts of what was happening to my mind and emotions.

It must have been a terrible thing for those who truly knew me (not many, one maybe, thanks to the carefully crafted mask of happiness and jollity that I wore all my life when with people, very different behind closed doors with no one around to observe) to see how I was plummeting downward, to have me dismiss their observations with the excuse ‘I’m just tired’ or ‘I’ve had a tough day’ or ‘So and so did such and such yet again today and it got to me. I’ll be fine after a good night’s sleep’.

Eventually I had no choice but to get help, to have months and months away from teaching so that I could recover just enough to return and last another eight months.

I know now my ignorance of my own well being wasn’t out of innocence about mental health issues; instead it was borne out of the messages I had as I grew up from the mother, from society, that to have depression, to be anxious, was a shameful, weak thing and there was something wrong with you if this was you.

I stigmatized myself, and prevented myself from getting the help I needed for a long time.

I was ignorant as I willfully ignored the facts, the evidence that was right in front of me, staring back at me whenever I looked in the mirror. It wasn’t innocence. I knew about mental illness, mental ill-health, depression, anxiety, but I refused to consider that was what was wrong with me.

Ignorance, ignoring the facts, the knowledge or applying it as it didn’t suit what I wanted to believe.

To give myself a bit of a softer time, I’d never known anything but depression and anxiety, ever that I can recall. So, to me, the worsening state of my mental/emotional health was just me being worn out by the day, the week, the term (semester) or academic year.

It took a very skillful and understanding GP to help me see that I needed help, and I took it, and still am with my weekly therapy sessions.

That’s a personal example of why I don’t see innocence and ignorance as the same thing with reference to the quote.

Monday motivation

Angela Porter 2 July 2018

I had a lovely, artsy, creative, relaxing time drawing the bottom design for this quote yesterday evening and this morning. It’s kind of a throwback to when I started drawing this kind of intricate art before I started doing all the work for colouring books, where the images have to be a fair bit less complex.

Unipin pens from Uniball, along with a blue-grey coloured pencil and a blender pencil from Derwent were the tools I used to create this.

I didn’t hand-letter the quote; I chose to use Serif’s Affinity Designer to add it instead, though I’ve not worked out how to get the text to follow a curve…yet. I will.

The quote is something I try to apply in my life. I’ve struggled with being a hyper-perfectionist all my life; learning to accept that something I produce is ‘good enough’ is something that is easier for me, though still not easy.

I cringe when I look back on earlier work.

Recently, I was approached by a lovely lady about using some old artwork of mine for her business branding logos and so on. I looked at it and knew I just had to re-work it; I recognised that my skills and style have developed and evolved a little, and I wanted to do the best I could now.

She seems to be really happy with the artwork, and I’m much happier with it too.

It’s not just in art that these words have meaning though.

It’s no secret that I am working in therapy (EMDR) at healing what I can from the CPTSD I’ve experienced all my life, especially the way it limits my life. Learning to accept that I’m good enough as a person is very difficult. Progress is slow, but it is progress.