This drawing is very much a work in progress. It’s being worked with black Unipin and Sakura Micron pens. When it’s complete, I will scan it in again, add a background, along with shading and highlights.
There’s some motifs in here inspired by fossils, others by flora and nature, and others that are purely abstract in nature.
Art is one of my self-care activities that help me manage my mental and emotional wellbeing. I mention this as it is World Mental Health Day #WMHD #WMHD2020 and, ironically, I need to do a fair amount of self-care today.
There’s plenty of information and advice out there on the internet. If you are struggling with your mental or emotional wellbeing, or if you just want to learn more about good mental and emotional health, ideas for how to look after it, then I’d encourage you to do a google and/or seek professional help.
We all have physical health and if something goes wrong with us physically, we don’t think twice about seeking out medical help and advice.
We all have mental and emotional health too. Yet too few of us will seek out help and advice when we need it due to the stigma and/or discrimination that cloud mental and emotional health.
It is high time that seeking help and advice for mental and emotional ill health was as natural and normal as seeking help for physical ill-health.
Deer skull, Mycena interrupta and inaflux tangle pattern.
Digital drawing done using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro with a Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio.
I’ve used a lot of geometric patterns in the skull to create depth and interest.
I kept the other elements quite simple and, for now, uncoloured. Mycena interrupta, the mushrooms, are a lovely blue colour.
Instead, of adding colour I used a copper background and added my drawing on top of it using the screen option. This has resulted in it seeming to glow a little. I quite like this effect.
There’s a very good reason I’ve not coloured this drawing yet. I am absolutely bushwhacked. I had a busy, nervy day yesterday followed by a long drive home mostly in the dark, heavy rain and high winds. I was too tired even to eat when I got in and was glad to go to my bed and sleep.
The Wales Health at Work Partnership Summit proved to be an interesting time. I was there to chat to people, along with Russell, the community outreach officer for Hafal who also works with Time to Change Wales to organise us champions, amongst other things, and Nicole, a newly changed champion from North Wales. I was also there to give a ten minute talk about my experience of mental illness while at work and the stigma, discrimination I faced as well as the helpful and not helpful things that were said or done. Russell said I did great, as did the other panel members.
So, I did more than my bit for World Mental Health Day.
I’m feeling really dozy again now, so I think I’m going to go and sleep for a while. It’s not just the two four and a half hour drives, not sleeping well away from home that has tired me out. It’s also the anxiety and stress and being with lots of people in noisy environments that has tired me out. It’s going to take today, maybe tomorrow, to recover fully. So, self-care is the order of the day for me.
This tiredness is worth it though. Plenty of people came to tell me how helpful they found my talk and how well I had spoken and I had given them things to think about.
Raising awareness of mental illness and that sometimes it’s the littlest things that can make the biggest difference to someone experiencing mental illness.
Today’s Inktober prompts were rat skull, Lactarius indigo fungi, and the cubine tangle pattern from Instagram lists by @book_polygamist, @nyan_sun and @havepen_willdraw.
What did I end up with? A very stylised drawing that is rather Art Nouveau in style.
I have to say that I absolutely LOVE the rat skull. I also am rather enamored by the Art Nouvea-y fungi and fronds.
Simple colours were needed for this design, along with a texture overlay that makes it look a little less ‘digitally perfect’.
Yes, I did draw this digitally, again using Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and a Surface Pen and Surface Studio from Microsoft.
I may not get tomorrow’s Inktober done, as I won’t be home until quite late tonight I think.
World Mental Health Day 2019
I’m currently sat in a hotel in Llandudno, having breakfast and getting myself ready to go and set up a table and take part at an event in a different hotel.
I’m going to be at the Wales Health at Work Partnership Summit where I’ll be talking to delegates but also taking part in the ‘Open Minds’ workshops in the afternoon, which is all about taking positive action on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.
I’m there as a Time to Change Wales champion, and so will be giving a short version of my mental health story at the start of the workshops.
Time to Change Wales is an all-Wales campaign that aims to reduce, if not end, the stigma and discrimination around mental illness by getting people to have conversations about mental health.
I’ve suffered poor mental health all my life, having developed cPTSD in early childhood. The rest of my life, until the past few years, saw my mental health decline until I had two big breakdowns. EMDR therapy has been the ‘magic pill’ for me, that is helping me to process and release the traumas of my past and replace the negative beliefs I have about myself with more positive ones.
If I had known what good mental and emotional health was, as well as what it wasn’t, sooner in my life I may have sought help sooner. The self-stigma I have experienced around my own mental health prevented me from recognizing I had a problem and also made it difficult for me to seek help.
Indeed, my mental and emotional ill health would cause physical ill health in me when I was ignoring the stress, depression, anxiety, fear, hypervigilence, and other symptoms of cPTSD.
If I can change attitudes, make people more aware of what good mental health is, help people to recognise that they too may be suffering and then seek help, then I’m doing a good thing. Oh, and of course getting people to talk about mental health, thus beginning to break down the stigma.
So, today is a good day for everyone to ask those they meet not just to ask ‘How are you feeling?’ and accept the first answer given, but to repeat the question, ‘No, really, how are you feeling?’ to let them know you really are interested in them it’s ok for them to tell you that they’re not ok.
So, Angela, how are you today?
I’m tired. I never sleep well away from home and I did have quite a broken night’s sleep.
However, I am also quite pleased with myself. I managed to stop at a Starbucks on the 4 hour journey to Llandudno for something to drink and eat. I then had a good walk along the sea front and pier after booking into my hotel and having a mug of tea. Then, I actually went to an Indian restaurant by myself to have an evening meal!
Maybe it was out of sheer necessity I went out. However, I could’ve just picked sandwiches or some such at a Sainsbury’s local a short walk away. But I didn’t.
I also didn’t feel all that awkward in the restaurant. I did wish I’d brought my Kindle along so I could read while waiting to be served throughout my visit. I do have the Kindle app on my phone, but I didn’t have a good enough signal in the restaurant to download the book I’m reading.
I am also feeling a little anxious about today, which is only to be expected. I’m going to a strange place, talking to people I don’t know about something that is important but that also can provoke an emotional response in me.
Today’s #inktober2018 prompt is ‘Flowing’, so I knew I had to incorporate ripples into my art for today. I also wanted a blue-green colour scheme, so I used Distress Inks and an ink blending tool to colour an A4 piece of Bristol Board from Frisk.
After drawing pencil lines to allow me margins, I set to work with a range of Uniball Unipin pens to draw my design.
I started with the wavy lines in the bottom left corner and just let everything flow out from there quite intuitively, as is usual for myself.
It’s taken me quite a while to do; I think I started it around 7:30am and it’s now nearly 3pm. Sheesh, that’s nearly 8 hours! Here was me at the beginning of Inktober stating I was going to do little drawings and so on.
However, there’s a dual purpose in today’s art.
Although I’m not doing anything specific for World Mental Health Day (#wmhd #worldmentalhealthday #wmhd2018) I am taking care of my own mental and emotional health by creating this drawing.
Yesterday was a tough day for me emotionally. In my role as a champion for Time to Change Wales (#ttcw) I gave an anti-stigma talk to HR people in a college, both of which triggered some quite strong emotional flashbacks for me.
A couple of hours after that talk ended, I had my weekly EMDR therapy session which resulted in some strong and painful releases of trauma stored in my body as well as some emotional flashbacks of trauma in my childhood that I’d dissociated from.
So between the two, I was emotionally exhausted yesterday evening and night and I woke up headachy and tired today.
Part of my self-care for my emotional and mental well-being is being creative and it just so happens that Inktober’s prompt was a perfect one for today, yet again.
When I get lost in my artwork I enter a state called ‘flow’. It’s a kind of meditative state of calm, peacefulness. My self-talk (which is often so very negative) is either quieted or loses it’s power over me. It’s almost like I’m outside of time and space.
So, the approx 8 hours of drawing (well more like 6 or 7 as I had a break to meditate mid-morning and took a short time out to get a veggie bacon sandwich for a late lunch) had just flown by.
I’m still tired, but there’s a peace there within me that wasn’t there when I woke.
Creating a drawing that is rather intricate is something I don’t get to do often when I’m working on coloring books, but it is definitely something that soothes my sore emotions and mind.
Not only is it time that the stigma and discrimination around mental health is brought to an end, it’s time we all looked after our mental and emotional health as much as we do our physical health.
I have a couple of chronic health problems and during my regular checkups I’m asked about my mental and emotional health as it’s known that people can develop mental ill-health when they live day to day with a chronic illness.
I know from personal experience that when I don’t take care of my emotional/mental health I become physically ill, so the state of our mental health, emotional health and physical health interact with one another, of that I’m sure.
So, try everyday to take the time to do something that lets you relax and find joy and peace in doing. There are so many things that people use for this – drawing, coloring, painting, playing music, gardening, walking, cooking, exercising, dancing, singing, meditation, mindful activities, taking a relaxing bath by candle light, a massage, a cup of tea somewhere with a beautiful view, a walk in the surf’s edge on a sunset beach, yoga, tai chi….the list goes on!
What do you do for your own mental and emotional self-care? What do you love to do where you can find yourself in ‘flow state’ or a meditative state that gives your mind a rest?
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.
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.