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Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

I find that one of the hardest things to do is put myself out there, in any form I feel it makes me vulnerable and my fear of being disliked or ridiculed or looked down on has stopped me doing a lot that I’ve wanted to do. I’ve grown a lot in the last five years or so, since I discovered my independence and strength as a single mum, but breaking through those fears and barriers has been and still is very hard. This blog is ‘safe’ for me. I can express myself and share a bit of myself without worrying about the reaction I will get or having to deal face to face with anyone which is where most of my bad experiences have stemmed from. Starting making a few youtube videos was a massive step for me as I’m incredibly nervous about sharing my voice and my face with the world (ok, so I’m still working up to the latter). Sometimes I wish I didn’t have these anxieties, I wish I didn’t care and I was normal like anyone else. That I didn’t dread making or answering the phone when I don’t know who’s on the other end, that I didn’t feel sick going somewhere new or being around people I don’t know.

And yet, unless we’re brave and put ourselves out there we will never go anywhere. We have to take a chance and hope for the best and try not to berate ourselves too much if it doesn’t go as planned.

I’m not always strong, I don’t think anyone can be all the time and sometimes when we take those brave steps forward it leads to us having to retreat. This last month has been really rough for me, filled with a lot of stress, fear, doubt and frustration and has consisted of me edging forward, not even stepping, but just inching along before running a mile back to hide, lick my wounds and recover from the exhaustion that seems to accompany being brave. Last week in particular was a real low point. I put on a brave face of course, to the outside world I daresay I looked fine but inside and at home when the doors were closed I most definitely was not. I had to do something though, I had to put myself out there and try to inch forward even though it felt like I was waist deep in treacle making progress near impossible while my arms and head flailed and cried and shouted in frustration.

I’m not in such a dark place today, I’m still not feeling like I’m surrounded by rainbows and unicorns but I’m not surrounded by blackness either which means I need to heal a little more and then start the excruciating process of edging forward again. I’m reminded quite well of a line from one of my son’s Thomas The Tank Engine films, funnily enough it’s been replaying through my mind for a while to remind me to be brave and put myself out there. In the film Percy is scared of monsters in the dark when he meets an engine called Gator who he first mistakes for a monster. Gator teaches Percy a thing or two about fear and how running away isn’t brave or going to deal with the problem. It might feel safe but the problem is always going to be there and eventually you have to face it to be free. Percy does manage to face his fears in the end and he realises that being brave doesn’t mean not being scared. Being brave is doing something even though you are scared.

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The Shell.
Empty and worthless,
Lost without purpose.
The shell remains,
Waiting aground.
To somebody’s eye,
Roaming from high.
The shell is seen,
It’s beauty found.

Do you know those times? When you feel like a shell? Empty of anything worthwhile even yourself? I have those feelings often, it’s part and parcel of my struggles with depression. Sometimes I am able to manage them, other times they take over, sucking my strength and leaving me wondering what I have to offer the world. I have dreams, aspirations, things I want to achieve and find in life but when I feel like a shell all those things become hopelessly out of reach.
Then, some days, when you’re feeling your lowest, unable to see what you offer and the beauty you have inside of yourself someone comes along who says the right thing in a world full of wrong things. Like match to a candle wick the light catches on and against all odds you realise that if nothing else you do offer something. Even on the days you can’t smile yourself you have brought something to that person. They see something in you that makes them smile, something good and light and worth mentioning and it’s the best thing anyone could give you at that moment.
There’s a connection there, a reminder that you are one of many and that people do care. That your hopes and dreams aren’t above your reach when on the days you feel small you have someone, even the most unlikeliest of people… sometimes a complete stranger, to give you a boost and lift you up towards them.

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Despite all that’s been going on I have still been working through the Journal Fodder prompts though I have become lax about blogging about them. So here comes an uber post to get things caught up.

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First up we were thinking about being more present and mindful, something that is wonderfully beneficial to do but very difficult to remember, particularly when you are a worrier.

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I had randomly glued in an old to do list sheet from my filofax ages ago to this page so it inspired me to use a list structure for remembering to BE MORE PRESENT.

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Playing around with this page was calming and a real exercise in being present, as a result I found myself doodling in the corner and creating something I liked as a logo idea for my business.

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Following on from that the topic turned to what we say to ourselves, whether we berate or encourage. Now I try to talk the happy talk to myself but as someone who struggles with depression this is easier said than done. More often than not the gremlin in my brain takes over and pushes fear, doubt and hatred into my mind for myself.

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I created a window on this page into the next one which worked out quite nicely for several reasons. The first being that when I’m trying to deal with myself it often feels like I am trapped inside and looking outside, the second being that the next page became a page about playing like a child again (which is amazingly therapeutic when you have mental illness as it lets you retreat into a safe place) and third because from that safe place over the page we can see into the workings of my mind. They are not separate things you see, they are connected and the window in the page connects them.

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So the play page became one of colouring, hand prints and me allowing myself to be a princess once in a while. It was a lot of fun to do and helped me to get out some negativity, which is always a good thing.

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You see, my art journals are never meant to be pretty. Occassionally I create things in them that I like but I’m not the kind of person that works in them to show them off or display the pages or create something fantastically beautiful to share. I knew people in Uni whose sketchbooks I was incredibly jealous of as each page was a beautiful work of art in itself. Mine were never like that and I realised that for me my sketchbooks/art journals were for getting stuff out so I could get on with life and creating without all the rubbish being on my mind. They are a way for me to work through all the crap in my life and usually that involves me taking all the mess and throwing it on the pages to get it out and make some sense of it.

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Interestingly the last three pages became double spreads despite the fact I had moved myself onto singles for the Journal Fodder exercises on the whole. This one is about bringing the magic of love and being there for someone, just being there with no expectations, to lend them support, an ear to listen and a hug. Around the me part on the right I later added the people that are there for me, no matter what, like magic.

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Over the course of this week my mood has been getting progressively worse. I could feel it about half way through that I had a downer coming my way, I knew my depression would flair up and this time it has surfaced in a crisis of self faith.

I had been working so hard making and listing, trying to find a couple of places to settle for selling my work all the while getting confused and disheartened by what I found. The issue was only impacted when I started doing the number one negative thing a creative person can do and that is compare themselves and their work to others.

I stopped loving my work and started telling myself that it is childish and garish compared to others. The more I did this the more frustrated I became and instead of loving my unique individuality I had to fight the urge to destroy everything I had been working on.

I should really have taken a break when this happened but I ploughed through, making myself feel worse and worse. It was when I woke up this morning still feeling this way that I decided enough was enough.

Anyone who has dealt with depression will know it is an ongoing battle. I found myself playing around with ideas this afternoon but not feeling happy and content with what I was doing so I turned to my journal. It helped. It’s a place where there’s no pressure to perform or create something that I need to try to sell.

That’s when I realised I had been too focused on making things to sell. It sounds silly really because of course I’m going to be focused on that when I need to make a living out of my art work but I was letting it take over and as a result it sapped all the enjoyment and passion I had. I had started trying to fit myself into a mould of what I felt I should be making rather than what I wanted to make and felt called to create. I lost faith in myself and my own guidance, my abilities and what I want.

To myself I say this… I’m sorry.

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