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Angela Porter mhaw18 16 May 2018Today sees me do my third anti-stigma talk for Time to Change Wales as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) 2018.

I am tired this morning.  Each talk I do is emotionally draining. It also takes a lot of energy for me to keep up a happy, smiley and laughing mask when in public and not to get overwhelmed by my story and allowing aspects of it to re-traumatise me.

I put myself through this for some good reasons, and one of them is NOT attention seeking (which is what my narcissistic mother would say).

I really do believe it’s time for the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness comes to an end.  I know it’s not going to happen overnight, but little by little.  I tell my story to give people an insight into what it’s like to experience depression, anxiety, hyperperfectionism, hypervigilance, emotional flashbacks, being overwhelmed by choices in a supermarket, not being able to get out of my car when I go to somewhere I want to visit, being in fear of going to do a job I used to love when I was a teacher, and more, CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) is so complex.

I also want people to know that little changes in the work place can help people remain in work.

I want people to know that the social stereotypes of depression, anxiety and so many other mental illnesses are incorrect and that they lead to be people being stigmatised/prejudged and treated differently/discriminated against as a result of the urban myths that exist.

The more we can have conversations, the more people open up about what it’s like to experience mental illness, the more people will, hopefully, have a better understanding and the urban myths will lose their power.

Not only that, the self-stigmatisation that results in people not seeking help, acknowledging they are not thinking well of themselves, will result in people seeking that help and advice they need earlier.

On a more personal level, telling my story is helping me ‘own’ it, and though I still minimise the traumas I’ve experienced from a very young age, it’s helping me understand that they are not small little things that everyone goes through, as well as me understanding that it’s profound effect they’ve had on me that is the important thing as well as having counselling/therapy to help me heal from my past and have a healthier way of thinking about myself and living my life without avoiding all kinds of things for fear the same things will happen again and again.

I come home from a talk emotionally drained and tired; I either want to nap or just draw, or both, but not at the same time!

When I draw I like to just draw intuitively, drawing on my visual vocabulary of favourite shapes and patterns, and just let them flow onto the page. I can lose myself in that flow, I’m able to enjoy drawing familiar motifs and patterns and the intricacy of my work. Just letting things flow, drawing for the pleasure and contentment it brings me, the calmness that results, lets me put to oneside the anxiety I can feel when I’m creating for a particular contract, to put aside my hyperperfectionism and just go with the flow in a way that can be difficult when I’m drawing for a publisher and can add anxiety and frustration when I need to draw for peace and calm.

And that’s what this drawing helped me to do. Today, I hope I’ll be able to draw again, however after the talk today I’m taking a friend out for ice-cream and I think I have something occurring this evening too.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

Angela Porter mhaw18 14 May 2018

This year, in my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales, I’m giving (at the moment!) four anti-stigma talks to various organisations this week.

The aim of the Time to Change Wales campaign is to help to bring about an end to the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental health.  In my anti-stigma talk, I talk about the campaign and tell my own story of my mental health issues.

It’s not a secret, I have complex post-traumatic stress disorder (cptsd) that has resulted from constant trauma from emotional neglect, emotional and mental abuse from a very young age and that persisted throughout my life until the past two or three years.

EMDR therapy with a fabulous therapist is really helping me and my mental health is so much better than it used to be.

If I help just one person through my talks, then it’s a worthwhile exercise.

For myself, it’s helping me to ‘own’ my own story and to not minimise the effect the traumas of my life have had on me, on the way I think about myself, about how I behave to avoid triggers or more trauma, and to begin to live a healthier more rewarding life.

Art is not only how I make a living now, but it is also my therapy, my way of helping myself when I’m anxious or depressed or stressed. It helps me to find my balance again, even if temporarily.

Christmas mandala

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I enjoyed drawing and colouring the previous mandala so much, I thought I’d do another.  This was particularly helpful for me as I was rather emotionally drained yet emotional yesterday after doing a couple of anti-stigma talks in my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales, a campaign that aims to end the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental illness.

I started this yesterday, but it’s taken me much of today to complete it.

 

Abstract and stylised flowers

Angela Porter Spring Flowers Watermarked SmallAngela Porter Bright Flowers Watermarked

I’ve had a couple of busy days, including a Time to Change Wales anti-stigma talk with the South Wales Police.  The talk wiped me out for a day or so, it always does as I get very anxious and emotional in telling my story.

So, I’ve been relatively quiet on the artsy front, but I did get these two abstract, stylised floral images done.

I rather like the bright colours, achieved using Kuretake’s Zig Clean Colour Real Brush Pens and a water pen.  I like both the white and black outlines, though I do prefer the black; they make the image look more like stained glass.

Both of these designs are available on products from both my Vida collection and my Zippi Portfolio.

A nice change of pace and way of creating from my more usual entangled drawings with tiny details done with fine pens and a whimsical quality.

 

14th October 2017 Update

New Book and a Competition!

I’ve spent time working on a few more DoodleWorlds colouring templates for a book I’m going to self-publish, most probably in November 2017.

I’ve gone ‘old school’ on these – pen and paper – simply because drawing on the screen was starting to irritate me just a bit.  Also, a change is as good as a rest for sure!

The coloured artwork on the covers is going to be provided by the winners of a competition running on both the facebook group Angela Porter’s Coloring Book Fans and the Colorist app.

So, if you fancy having a go at colouring in the template to be found in either the facebook group on on the Colorist app, then head on over there – closing date is midnight on Hallowe’en.

Here’s a sneaky peek at one of the new templates for the book.  I used my Chameleon Pens to colour this one in.

Vida Collection

I’ve added some new items to my Vida Collection, typically ‘Angela’ style abstract art focusing on line and colour.  The collection includes scarves, tops, wraps, leggings, bags, jewellery, cushions/pillows and tapestries.

Later today I’ll be adding new leather products to the collection, including passport holders and baggage tags.

 

 

 

 

Time to Change Wales and World Mental Health Day 2017

Although I didn’t do anything in particular on Tuesday 10th October 2017 for World Mental Health Day (other than re-tweet and re-post relevant articles that is), I did do an anti-stigma talk on Thursday 12th October 2017.

I delivered my talk and story to a group of front-line police officers who were receiving training. It seemed to go well and be received well.  I’ve not read the feedback forms though, nor am I likely to, as even if 99% of them are positive, the 1% that may not be all the positive or says I made no change is the one that I’ll focus on and will end up worrying and fretting and being hard on myself…

What did surprise me was how anxious I was when I woke and on my way to, during and after my talk, far more than I’ve been before.

Gnawing stomach, shaky, hypervigilant, cold sweaty palms, unable to speak in order…

I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to be like that, or that was how I lived every day of my life for many, many years while I was still a teacher.

Well, not quite like that – it was worse back then, a lot worse!

Echoes of it reminds me of how far I’ve come, how much better I am now.

Of course, after the talk and driving and getting home, I had the post-anxiety ‘crash’ where I felt shaky, wobbly, my eyesight was still very acute, and a headachy tiredness grew.

A huge mug of tea, a couple of Jaffa Cakes, and an afternoon sleep with cat cuddles saw me a bit better in the evening, but I was still emotionally drained.  So, I too it easy, ordered a take-away, though I didn’t have much of an appetite.

Friday I was still a little wobbly, but today I feel more like myself again.

Art always helps me calm and ground, so that has been my therapy, and will continue to be so I’m sure.

Mixed Media ACEOs, and updates

ACEOs_28May2017_AngelaPorter

Mixed Media ACEOs/ATCs

I’ve spent the last four or five hours creating this set of four ACEO/ATC cards.  It’s been a while since I did any mixed media work, but I felt the need to get a bit messy.

Each card measures 2½” x 3½” (approx. 6.5 cm x 9 cm) with the substrate being some fairly thick Kraft card.

I started by using some yellow Frog Tape to hold the cards together so I could make the background at the same time.

I started by applying PaperArtsy Fresco Paints to the kraft card until I had a finish I liked.  The colours I used were Cheesecake, Rose and Sherbet.

The next step was to add some Windsor and Newton Modelling Paste through a couple of stencils (one was the dot fade stencil by Tim Holtz, the other a mini dragonfly stencil by Creative Expressions).

Once the modelling paste was dried, which I hurried along using a Tim Holtz Heat Tool from Ranger, I watered down some Alchemy Waxes from Imagination Crafts  (white gold, tulip and apple green)and used a paintbrush to colour the dragonflies.  I then used the wax and a piece of Cut and Dry Foam from Ranger to apply some of the waxes over the dot patterns.

Once I’d finished applying the wax, I wasn’t happy with the result on the dragonflies, so I used Daler Rowney System 3 acrylic paint in Rich Gold to re-colour them. I was much happer with the results, especially the dragonflies that I’d coloured pink/red.

The next step was to have a furtle through various coloured diecuts I have in my stash.  Every now and again, I spend a day cutting out various die cuts (mainly cogs, flowers and foliage, but sometimes other things too) and then colouring them to add to my stash.  It saves on time when I have the urge to do some mixed media work. It also makes use of my rare urges to do die cutting, which I find a very tedious process.

After a good furtle, I found some cogs that would work on two ACEOs that had just the dots on the background. I couldn’t find anything I’d want to add to the dragonflies; I was just happy with them as they were.

The die cuts were applied with Cosmic Shimmer Acrylic Glue from Creative Expressions, then some Vintage Photo Distress Oxide Ink with a wet brush was used to add shadows.

I used a Quickie Glue pen from Sakura and Gold Superfine Embossing Powder from WOW to add some gold dots and to areas where there was no embossing paste.  Following this, I edged the cards using a piece of Cut and Dry foam and black Archival Ink from Ranger.

 

I then chose some words from the Tim Holtz Chit Chat stickers and glued them down with the Cosmic Shimmer Acrylic glue, and used a damp brush and a China Black Inktense pencil from Derwent to add shadows around the stickers.

The very final step was to add some sparkly gems, and they were done!  Once all is dry, I can add my information to the back and so on, and I have some ACEO cards to use on other mixed media projects or in my art journal.

Other arty news

Over the past week I’ve been keeping myself artfully busy learning a bit more about Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and how it works for me; you could say I’m building up a relationship with it.

For now, I’ve been drawing LOTS of mandalas!  I’m keeping them back from t’internet as I hope to publish them (some are already spoken for by the Colorist app), and other people asked if I was going to make some available for purchase.  So, I’m building up a collection of them for that purpose – either with a publisher, or I’ll self-publish if necessary.  I’ve also done a couple more small mandalas that work nicely as designs to be coloured and made into greetings cards, kind of like digital stamps.

Talking of digital stamps (digi stamps), there are some ideas rattling around my noggin that I’d like to try out, so there’ll be more news on this later on no doubt.

It looks like I’m going to be doing a colouring book of spooky templates in the near future, so if anyone has any ideas for ‘spooky’ or ‘eerie’ then feel free to share!

I also have a few ideas for written books rumbling around my noggin; however, it’s really hard for me to do something with them as I doubt myself so much, think they’re silly ideas, and so on.  The ideas aren’t wholly in my noggin, I do have notes on them on the ‘puter which need tidying up…but I’m finding it difficult to do this because of all my self-doubt and self-criticism. I just need to keep saying to myself, ‘But you have recorded these ideas so they are there for you, so you have made progress).

Other things going on in my life

A week ago, I finally had the hedge at the front of the house removed, as well as the back garden completely cleared.  My garden is tiny, but it’s amazing how much space was hidden by the cotoneaster and forsythia!  I do have some clean up to do, but there’s no great rush on that.  I also need to consider what to do with the back garden.

The process of getting this done has caused me great anxiety, but there was an ah-ha moment when I realised that some voile panels in the windows in my front room would help me to feel ‘safer’ and more ‘private’ while letting in daylight.  For a long time I’ve hid behind curtains; well, I still am, but at least I can see out through the voiles even if people outside can’t see in!  Why I didn’t think of this a long while ago, I don’t know, but thank goodness I did!

I’ve done a couple of anti-stigma talks for Time to Change Wales, and I’m seriously wondering if I’m really making any difference as my story is so bland and ordinary … after all it’s not a dramatic tale to tell, and I really don’t think it’s anything people haven’t heard/seen on TV on the soaps and so on…so I’m really feeling quite downhearted about that at the moment.

I know it may very well pass, but at the moment … it’s difficult….my therapy?  Art of course!

 

Art and my healing journey

 

 

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A page of floral sketches from my sketchbook.

This is a little bit of a different blog post from me.

As I’ve mentioned before, I experience CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder), which presents itself in many ways, including anxiety, depression, and a low self-esteem.

I’ve had lots of counselling over the past eight years or so, and for the last two and a half years I’ve had a lovely therapist who specialises in EMDR therapy.  It’s taken a long while for me to get to the point where I believe that such a gentle kind of therapy works, and works for me.  It’s still a slow process…but progress is being made.  A major change in employment nearly a year ago seriously helped with that.

Last week, my counsellor suggested I read a book called ‘Tapping In’ by Laurel Parnell.  In the book, Laurel Parnell describes how the process of bilateral stimulation by means of tapping the knees or outer thighs can be used to reinforce a safe place, helpful guardians and other tools to help during both therapy and everyday life.  My own therapist has successfully used it to reduce anxiety during a dental appointment as well as aiding in sleep.

She suggested I read the book and we do some work on the resources I need before continuing with EMDR as the last few sessions have left me rather upset, fragile, and, unsually for me, unable to find my ‘safe place’ at the end of a session, so that I can leave the fragile and upset state behind.

So,  yesterday we worked on my safe place, with me coming up with a new one and ‘tapping in’ the contentment, peace and safety I feel when I imagine myself there. The bilateral stimulation from alternating taps to the outer knees, helps to reinforce the feeling of the place, and actually helps to intensify it.

I have no problem imagining places I can go to in my imagination; I’ve used guided meditations over the years for various purposes.  When it comes to me coming up with my own imaginary places, it never ceases to surprise me what these places are like!

The other thing that was suggested after I’d verbally described my place, was to spend time over the week drawing/painting/creating images of this place, as well as practicing the process of tapping in my safe place and using it to help me manage my current high anxiety levels.  (My anxiety intensified greatly yesterday, not as a result of counselling, but by the decision to hold a ‘snap general election’ and my worries about what is happening in this country, in the world, which then gets transferred to worrying about finances as I’m now self-employed, and so on and the constant chatter of anxiety winds itself up if I’m not careful).

Me being me, I get to it almost straight away…starting with these mandalas

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Mandalas based on the feelings I get when I’m in my ‘safe place’.

Carl Jung used mandalas to represent/express the current state of the self:

“My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which was presented to me anew each day…I guarded them like precious pearls….It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation. ” – Carl Jung

So, I started with some abstract, intuitive mandalas to try to express the feelings I have when I think of my safe place, when I remember the feelings I have when I’m there.

Next, I wanted to draw some kind of representation of a view from one of the windows of my place.  And this is what I came up with, though the view changes all the time!

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Yes, I know water isn’t yellow, but in my inner world it can be!  It also shimmers with gold and has lots of shining gold and blue ‘dots’ in it.  Lots of happy creatures and colours there, all entertaining me … diverting my attention away from my anxiety.

Yes, I use art to help me manage my mental health.  When anxious, doing art helps me become less so; when depressed, art lifts my mood.  I’m sure the inner critic chatters away even when I’m ‘arting’, but the art takes my attention so the critic’s voice can be ignored.

Oh, before I drew anything, I took time to write a clear description of my safe place, as words are how I build up mind images.

I’m looking forward to ‘tapping in’ help for creativity, amongst other things… I’m also looking to intuitively drawing and creating some more of the living things that I can see from my safe place – all friendly and protective of course, nothing scary allowed there!  Which suits my tendency to rather whimsical, cutesy, artistic style.

So, I’ve shared a little of my ‘safe place’, but I’m keeping a lot of details to myself – no offence, but I don’t want any gate crashers there!