This morning, I focused on finishing this particular artwork. Colour completed, texture and glowing highlights added. All done and I think I’m quite happy with it. That’s right, I’m quite happy with it. There’s bits I could improve were I to do this again, or edit it, but I’m going to leave it as is for now.
There are some design elements that I want to add to my visual BuJo that I created as I worked with this and that I really love!
I managed to leave ‘white space’ in the design (though that became coloured), which is not something I find easy to do; I always seem to want to fill every available space inky creations. I do see the benefits of the white space for sure and it’s something I’m going to continue to add to my little, or not so little artworks.
Of course, I used Autodesk Sketchbook Pro along with my Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio to colour the design. I drew the design on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board with Uniball Unipin and Sakura Pigma Sensei pens, then scanned it in. The only digital editing done to the drawing was to remove some smudges and marks, and very minor completions of lines.
How are you doing today Angela?
I’m actually feeling quite content. Though a little tired as I couldn’t get back to sleep after waking a bit too early. I don’t think I’m going to be able to nap later on though as I have a bit of a busy late afternoon and evening.
Meditation the last three nights seems to have helped me greatly. It’s something I find easier to remember to do when I’m feeling more content than when I’m in one of those rough places.
I think that is because when I’m in a tough, low, sad place I don’t consider doing things that will help me, such as meditation. The inner critic takes hold and I neglect my well being once again.
I’m learning slowly to recognise it’s subtle attacks and suggestions to self-sabotage the progress I’ve made in my CPTSD recovery journey.
It’s sneaky though; very, very sneaky. Catching the inner critic in action isn’t easy, it’s easier to see in hindsight when my mood and emotional and mental resilience are increasing once again.
As they increase I can see how low I’ve been, so low that at times I’ve felt that I don’t want to be on this Earth anymore. Not that I’d do anything about that. I know those feelings pass eventually now and I’m well practiced in diversion tactics – art, Star Wars, sleeping, crocheting while listening to something on Audible.
Why I feel that way is complex. I just feel worthless, ashamed, useless, and lots of other things I cant describe.
I can see, now I’m rising up out of the low place I’ve been in, that it’s not me who should feel these things but all those who have acted and spoken in ways that have caused me trauma.
When I’m low, however, the inner critic repeats the messages of these people over and over and over again and again. Until, that is, I can break out of it’s hold on me and rise up from the low place I’ve been in.
I do know the inner critic isn’t as powerful as it once was, thanks to EMDR. However, it still pounces when I’m vulnerable in some way such as anxious when out and about on my own, when someone says something to me that either echoes the words/actions of my past abusers, or when I’m over-tired.
Instead of months and years of being controlled and abused by the inner critic I know weeks or days when that happens.
That’s real progress.
I know that part of the price I pay with EMDR is that I can be vulnerable for a while after it and that lets the inner critic attack. But with each session of EMDR I become that bit stronger and the inner critic becomes weaker.
So, today I’m content and that is good enough and a point of success.
I’ve spent an hour or two this morning adding some colour to this design. I’m using fairly bright and vibrant colours as well as making use of the way complementary colours vibrate against each other. There are some sections that are more pastel and even monochrome, but I’ll see how they blend into the design as I complete more and more of the coloring.
Instead of my usual golden tones for the outlines of arches and swirls I’ve used more coppery tones. Again, I’ll see how that works out as more colour is added.
Just in case you’re wondering, the design was drawn and hand lettered using Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board. I then scanned the drawing and am adding colour digitally using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
So, how are you today Angela?
I’m feeling better today compared to yesterday and a lot better than the previous couple of weeks. I think a meditation session last night really helped.
I’ve not had a regular meditation practice for a long while. The ironic thing is that I meditate regularly when I’m feeling fine, but when the CPTSD crashes in I don’t meditate, even though it can help.
Recently, I think the reticence on my part to meditate has been due to some rather emotional and distressing reactions to loving kindness meditations. Reactions that I’m not resilient enough to work with and resolve, not yet anyways.
I feel I have some more energy today as well, though there’s a lingering tiredness here as well.
It’s taken a week to get to a position where I feel fairly content, not so sad and lacking any oompf.
I’m not entirely sure I’ll have the confidence to go out during the day. Mind you, it’s a bank holiday here in the UK so it’s likely to be busy on the roads and anywhere I may like to go. I’ll see how I get along today.
The line art for this particular entangled drawing is now done and I’ve started to add colour and texture.
The magic of colour is to bring the design to life, to really accentuate the layers by adding depth and dimension. It’s also very much a personal expression of the colours I like and how I like to put them together.
I finished drawing the design with Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol board earlier this morning. After scanning the drawing into the ‘puter, I edited the image and cleaned up smudges before starting to add colour. My tools for this are my usual trio of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen and Microsoft Surface Studio.
I feel a little inspired to start another drawing in this particular series of inspirational words along with entangled art. As well as leaving some white space. I can now see the value of white space in my art. It helps to define various areas of the design. I also like the way the design seems to float above the background too – another bit of magic.
I still like to create areas of dense pattern, but I’m seeing the value of balancing them with either white space or areas of simpler pattern.
I know that the use of colour will help to separate out the different motifs and patterns within those denser areas.
And how are you feeling today, Angela?
I’m actually not too bad today, so far at least. I’m feeling calm, a tad tired, quiet but quite content. I’m actually quite happy with my artwork and not doubting myself with this particular design as I was yesterday. That’s an improvement on the past few days for sure.
I seem to be rising up from the trough of the tsunami that resulted from some emotional triggers that has overwhelmed me during the past two weeks or so (or maybe even my whole life – though that could be a very complex image of many, many tsunami, storm waves, freak waves that have resulted in CPTSD … but lets keep it simple for now!).
No need to rush climbing that wave though; give it time for some of the energy it carries to dissipate so it shrinks in size and the journey up will be a little easier and a lot more stable I think.
So, being gentle to myself is what I’m trying to say with that rather muddled metaphor.
Gentle means self care, accepting that where I am now is good enough, and not to put so much pressure on myself to do things that I’d like to do but perhaps am not quite capable of at the moment due to my proximity to the trough of the ebbing tsunami.
Today I think that means art, working on a lovely shawl I’ve been crocheting (which is in ombre shades of pink from a delicate pink to a deep cerise) and I’m awaiting the delivery of some bluetooth, noise cancelling headphones which will be great for guided meditations, music and audiobooks – both at home and away from home.
I’ve been working on this one over the past couple of days, when I’ve felt up to it.
I’m fairly pleased with it, though I’m not sure I should’ve added the upside down mushrooms. I guess if they really don’t work with fresh eyes then I can always remove them using some digital wizardry.
I wanted to use the words ‘The magic of colour’ as a nod towards my coloring books and the people who bring my drawings to life by adding colour; they really do work some magic!
As lovely as the black and white line drawings are, even with shadows added, it is colour that really brings them to life for sure.
But there’s another kind of magic that goes on when people lose themselves in coloring or creating, and that’s the magic of relaxing and giving the brain a break from thinking.
I get that when I draw or colour.
My challenge to myself in this one is again to leave some white space.
The drawing and hand lettering has been done with Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board (A4 in size, roughly US letter size).
There’s more to be done with this drawing yet; I particularly want to incorporate some of the patterns and textures I’ve observed and recorded during my visits to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and Kilpeck Church near Hereford.
How am I feeling today?
I’m flat. Tired. Lacking oompf. Part of me is content enough but part of me is sad. It’s weird, but that’s how it feels.
I’m still experiencing the ripples/waves from the tsunamis of therapy and the person trying to tell me I don’t need therapy last Sunday. I really don’t want to leave my home today.
If that’s what I need to do to look after myself, then I need to accept it’s ok to stay at home.
I am tired as well as I had an evening out with some friends – a pub meal and chitter chatter until nearly midnight. Even though it was with a small group of people and it was a nice evening I’m absolutely drained today.
So, to take care of my emotions and mental health I need that quiet time again. I may play my flute, crochet, draw, read. I may also nap later on as I’m so tired. I’ll see. Napping may make me be up until the wee small hours.
So that’s how I am this day. A weird mixture of contentedness and sadness. This healing journey from CPTSD is full of weird twists and turns, ups and downs, but on the whole it’s definitely moving forwards and upwards. EMDR is really my panacea for CPTSD.
What a busy week last week was for me. It’s taken a while for me to add any significant work to this wip, but it’s beginning to become a bit more ‘fleshed’ out. My challenge is to leave some white space in the design. We’ll have to see if I can actually manage that!
This is being drawn with a combination of Tombow Fudenosuke and Uniball Unipin pens on Winsor and Newton Bristol Board. The paper is A4 in size (approx US letter), just so you have an idea of the size of the design.
Mental health awareness week and an example of stigma I’ve experienced
What a week it was. I wasn’t as busy this year as last year, but it still took it out of me. I find looking after stands for Time to Change Wales a lot more stressful than doing the talks about my CPTSD and how stigma and discrimination has affected me.
By Thursday afternoon I was absolutely and totally poleaxed. So tired and exhausted in a way I haven’t been since, most probably, I was teaching! Mind you, I suspect I’ve been that exhausted since, but not for such an extended period of time.
It all started with the lead up to EMDR therapy last Tuesday. EMDR was quite distressing and left me exhausted emotionally and physically. I then had no time to recover before the stands on Weds and Thurs.
Friday I had to prepare for something I was doing on Saturday and that took every little bit of strength I’d recovered to do that. I enjoyed the preparation, but I didn’t take much time out to rest and recuperate from the previous days.
I woke at stupid o’clock (aka 3.30am) on Saturday fretting and worrying about my task for the day. So that had me exhausted yet again. The task worked out well, thankfully, but I was even more exhausted on the way home. I managed to throw some food together, which I didn’t really eat as I was too exhausted to eat. I slept for three hours, woke for a couple of hours (long enough to watch Return of the Sith) and then went back to bed and slept through until nearly 9am.
I did feel a lot better and had it in my mind to visit the National Museum in Cardiff to spend sometime with rocks and fossils in the Evolution of Wales exhibition with my sketchbook. I was all fairly excited about this and made my way there. I had a lovely couple of hours observing and drawing. I then realised how tired I was again. So, I thought a cup of tea and a little something to eat may be needed. I drank the tea but couldn’t bring myself to eat anything. I went back to the galleries, wandering around the natural history galleries. I suddenly started to get all emotional at the sight of animals stuffed and on display, and the gallery where the whale and leatherback turtle are finished me and I thought it was best I went home.
Which I did, cooked myself a relatively healthy meal, which I managed to eat and then just flopped in front of the TV until it was time for me to go out in the evening for a kind of meditation class.
And something happened in the evening that triggered a visceral and emotional response, something totally unexpected. I couldn’t stop crying for a good two hours. I definitely have food for thought. One of the things that got to me was the statement ‘you don’t need therapy, you just need to get out of your head and into your heart’. This from someone who knows nothing of my life story. Then it felt like people I’d known for a long while and who know my story were agreeing with this statement and that person.
Added to that was I was told I should trust to the love of my family.
Really? Just further proof they know nothing of my life and the family I was born into. Love? Well, if you mean destroying someone’s sense of self, their confidence, everything about them is love, well then I guess they were right.
They have no idea that I’ve tried self-help program after self-help program in the past 20 years or so, to very little positive effect. I was told I can do the work by myself. So no, I can’t. I’ve tried again and again and finally I had to accept I needed help in the form of therapy.
I’m actually feeling quite angry about this, I really am.
I got quite vocal when I told the person they knew nothing about me, about the abuse I’d suffered as a child. When I said that they said ‘I knew it, I just didn’t want to say’. Then, they went on to say ‘but you don’t need therapy for that, you just need to trust yourself’.
How? HOW? How the feck can I do that when all my life I’ve been told i’m wrong, I’m thick, I’m stupid, I know nothing, I’m useless, I’m an embarrassment, everyone else is better than me, I’m unloveable, I’m ugly, and everything else.
The whole message of my childhood is that I shouldn’t trust myself, that I’m always wrong and stupid.
Another example of the way mental ill-health is stigmatised by those who think they understand but don’t really. There’s so much prejudice about having therapy or counselling in society, even from people you’d expect not to have that prejudice.
This has shaken me somewhat, but my resolve to continue with EMDR is stronger now, this morning. I realise that people don’t want me to change, for whatever, that they think I’m good enough and ‘lovely’ just as I am.
Maybe that’s the case. But EMDR for me is more about helping me to find that courage and confidence that I want to have to continue to go to museums and abbeys and cathedrals by myself to just draw and enjoy the sights and sounds. To be able to walk in nature alone. To not feel that I’m putting my life on hold for someone who will ‘rescue me’ and do these things with me.
I’ve put my life on hold for way, way too long hoping someone will come and ‘rescue me’.
I’m the only one who can do that. But I need help to learn how to do that. If I can’t drive a car, I find someone who can teach me. If I can’t learn how to trust myself, to become confident and so on then I need to find someone who can help me learn. That person is my lovely EMDR therapist.
I’m typing all this with tears in my eyes as it really did upset me, and still does, and I’m a bit angry about it too.
I will continue with EMDR. I will continue healing, little by little, even if part of that process are the days of absolute emotional exhaustion and the pain that comes along with realising how I’ve been hurt in the past. The pain is because I never processed the hurt properly, believing it was all I deserved, that it was ok to be spoken to or dismissed or ignored as that’s all that I knew growing from the earliest days I can remember.
I have to do what is right for me. Not do what other people think I should do for whatever reason they think that. I’ve lived my life through the messages drummed into me by those who were supposed to love and care and nurture and those messages have stopped me from being the person I would now like to be and have led to some severe episodes of deep depression and anxiety so bad I was off work for nearly a year in the first instance, and after several months the second time I never returned, a decision I do not regret as I can focus on recovery from a lifetime’s CPTSD and also focus on art and learning to live the life I’d like.
“I can do this” – reprise
So the message hand written on my artwork is so appropriate given the events of yesterday evening.
It makes me more determined to continue EMDR, which is the only therapy/counselling that really works.
I’ll do my best to push last night aside and continue to move forward now, which I have to do soon as I have therapy this afternoon!
Just like I will show my mother and others that they are wrong about me I will show others the same.
This morning all I want to do is stay in bed. I’ve had to get up though; I’m looking after a stand for Time to Change Wales at the Engineering Department in Swansea University later today. All part of World Mental Health Awareness Week, you know.
I’m absolutely shattered. Drained. Emotionally whacked out. Emotionally fragile. So tired. So very, very tired.
I want to curl up in bed and either draw or read or crochet or just watch faff on YouTube or sleep.
However, I won’t let anyone down and I will wend my way to Swansea to take care of the stand for a while today.
Yesterday’s EMDR session focused on the content of my blog post yesterday about my own body image and how I think and feel about myself. I had a particularly distressing time of it, so much so my therapist said ‘enough for today, I’m bringing this session to an end’ when we’d barely started the EMDR part of it.
The lump in my throat that was stopping me breathing, talking was painful, as was the literal pain in my heart. I get a lot of somatic responses during EMDR. Often quite painful, but bearable in order to release the stored trauma.
Yesterday, though, the pain was almost unbearable, probably unbearable.
Leaving the session, though, after some work on grounding and spending time in my safe place I felt ok.
When I got home though, I just wanted to curl up in bed as I was exhausted. And that exhaustion intensified through the evening.
Along with that I got a seriously upset stomach, which can happen after EMDR where I quite literally am expelling the faeces of my life after expelling some of the emotional and mental trauma during EMDR.
I had a really poor nights sleep even though I was shattered.
My tummy/digestive system is still tender and unsettled this morning.
All this occurred as a result of one memory I have as a toddler.
So, I’m fair reeling from it all and so sad about so much. So, so much.
I know this is all part of the process to release and heal the traumas I’ve had that have led to CPTSD. I know it won’t last for ever now and these feelings will pass in the hours and days that follow.
I know a day of self-soothing, self-care would be ideal, but I have a commitment to Time to Change Wales today and I don’t break commitments lightly. Indeed, it may do me some good as it looks like a sunny day and out and about in the sunshine does help my mood for sure.
‘I Can Do This’ WIP
I started this one late last night when I was tired but couldn’t settle down at all. I did a bit more when I woke this morning.
I hand lettered (not very well) the words ‘I can do this’ to remind myself that I can do this work in EMDR, that I can release trauma and face things that I’ve avoided much of my life, or not told hardly anyone about how I feel about myself, my body, always trying to put a brave face on things.
It’s tiring to wear that brave face and I’m not sure I can today, I’m already way too exhausted. Time to let the mask down again perhaps.
Anyways, the WIP has the hand lettering on it as a message to me that I am capable of doing the work in EMDR, but also as a message to any one of you who may read my words that each and every one of you is also capable of doing what you need to do to find mental and emotional well-being, a well-being that is at least good enough.
I’m drawing this on A4 (approx US letter size) bristol board using a mixture of Tombow Fudenosuke, Sakura Pigma Sensei and Uniball Unipin pens. Unusually for myself I’m actually pencilling in the basic outlines of shapes! How strange…
However, that pencilling in the scaffolding for my drawing may be symbolic that I also need some scaffolding and support in terms of my mental and emotional well-being at this time.
I have no idea how this will turn out yet – both the art and the EMDR – but I will persevere as and when I have the energy and time to do so. I don’t know if I’ll pack it up to take with me to the event today or whether I’ll take my crochet. Either drawing or crochet does help soothe me.
I drew the template with Fudenosuke pens from Tombow on Bristol Board from Winsor and Newton. The paper is A4 in size (that’s approx. US letter size).
I’ve started coloring it digitally (Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Microsoft Surface Pen, Microsoft Surface Studio), as that’s what I’m enjoying at the moment.
This month I’ve gone for my signature entangled style of art, but using the Fudenosuke pens, which I’m really enjoying using, gives varying linewidths and heavier lines and a more graphic feel to the art.
It’s free to join the group, there are some terms and conditions attached to the template use. If you’d like to download and colour the image then pop along to the group and you’d be made most welcome!
I’d also love to see how you colour this template. Yes, really, I would!
This morning, I’ve spent a pleasant four hours or so drawing this A5 design for the month of May.
It combines some hand lettering along with my signature style of entangled art. I’ve included plenty of floral motifs as here in the Northern Hemisphere the world is filled with flowers, especially on the trees.
Of course I’ve included more abstract motifs that are inspired by seedpods and patterns found in nature and architecture and so on.
I drew the design on white Bristol Board by Winsor and Newton. My pens of choice today were Tombow Fudenosuke, Sakura Pigma Sensei 04 and 0.1 Unball Unipin. Also, I’ve used some digital wizardry to add coloured paper as the background, along with my watermarks.
This would be lovely in a BuJo I think. I think it would be lovely in a planner, a journal or diary.
It’s perfect for colouring, as long as you’d be happy to colour across sections that have fine lines in them.
I think if I was more confident with metallic inks and either dip nib pens or fine brushes I’d’ve liked to do the lettering in metallic gold or copper. Of course, I could’ve done the lettering, scanned, laser printed it and then added the patterns around the lettering. I didn’t think of that until now though! Duh!
I’m fairly happy with adding ‘auras’ around the lettering to separate it from the entangled design around/below it.
I’m not sure I’m happy with the design spilling out over the edge as it has done; it doesn’t feel balanced to me, but other than that I’m quite happy with the design. Of course I could edit the image to even up the edges, but it is what it is for now.
EMDR was quite gentle yesterday but lots of body work occurring. During EMDR stored trauma is released through pains and other sensations in the body. Yesterday I had eyes that hurt, part of my head, my throat, my thumbs and wrists. I had a lot of pain where I broke my leg when I was six. Lots of prickling as well as electric shocks in various parts of my body.
I actually felt quite upbeat, if a little tired, when I left the session. But by late evening I was really tired and feeling a bit teary and lonely.
I’m tired today. I didn’t sleep too well last night. I had hoped to go out for the day today, but I really wanted to stay home and draw and I think I’ll be back in bed before too much longer. I really am tired.
One thing that I was asked about, without me mentioning it first, was what I was going to do about getting out and about a bit more! I’m sure my therapist must read my blog. Just joking, I know she doesn’t!
I need to make a list of places I’d like to visit. Familiar places to revisit to ease me back into getting out and about by myself. Then ones not so familiar that could involve some time away from home too.
I will be going out later this week. I have something to do this evening and tomorrow, however. Another reason I am having a quiet day today. I’m not just tired; I know that I’m also emotionally fragile still.
I am determined to heal as much as I can from the CPTSD and to do the things I’d like to do that the inner critic sabotages way too often.