It's been a while since a blog update! As i've written many blogs about feeling stressed and angry it feels nice to be posting one about how i've started to fight back against that again! I'm still exhausted, however I'm also now a more positive level headed version of myself. I will not pretend that everything is rainbows and butterflies as life is still complicated, however it's much more peaceful. I now realise I want a quiet life, still creative but in a steady and soft way.
I feel like I’m probably repeating myself and my feelings in my blogs without realising! Which means I should start re-reading them I should probably set aside a day for that, I’ll probably cringe a lot and sigh but I know that will make future blogs more readable! I hope whoever reads this one find it’s either helpful or likes the art!
I’ve been doing little bits of artwork. I’m trying to slowly get back into my flow, if you have read some of my other blogs you will know how hard I find it when I’m not creating work. The creative balance is a tricky one, in the past I’ve tried to do too much now I worry I’m doing to little. I used to take my camera everywhere with me and capture everything, now It more or less just stays in my home studio, I do really need to take it out and about with me again as a test of motivation. I will never be a landscape or wildlife photographer, although saying that I have some decent images I’ve taken of the great outdoors, it’s just not really ’me’. I like to lock myself away dig deep into my feelings and pore that out into a photograph. That’s my ‘style’, it’s who I feel I am as an artist. And I do feel more like an artist these days which is a positive. These pieces are inspired by being ‘triggered’ and finding out how to ‘rest’ which has also inspired this blog entry. The lighting and editing isn’t amazing, I’ve played it way too safe, (again) I really need to start mixing up my lighting and posing more, however the images say what I wanted them too. It’s how I feel sometimes, when I feel stressed or ‘off’. Especially when something has thrown me, like I’m almost complete, almost who I’m meant to be, it’s like there is something in background being pulled away or I’m fragmented, I guess we all feel like this from time to time so working out how to control this is important. I really liked the colours in these pieces, although I did find consistency a little difficult. I used dead flowers once again for the texture of the overlay, I really like the detail and find them beautiful to shoot, I feel they complement my images well and the composition all fits.
So triggers are a real thing. Who knew right, and apparently I have loads. Including some of my own artwork. Fun. I’m also generally not feeling depressed at the moment. Yay. My body is starting to feel more normal, I generally feel lighter as if someone has taken their foot off my chest it’s a real physical feeling. Like I’m finally being given a chance to catch my breath again. Happiness feels nice it’s like a tickling feeling inside my chest, it’s also kind of warm. I feel completely different physically and mentally. Of course I’ve had some stressful and low moments still, controlling my moods has always been difficult when I feel my feelings I feel them intensely. At the moment I’m still battling with my anxiety a bit. Big waves crashing in and out, having a new baby is intense so lots of deep breaths and self grounding techniques needed. I’m currently on maternity leave, I’m using my time wisely that’s when I’m not running around, changing nappies and tending to someone’s needs. I’m trying to look after myself a little better, well I’m really making the effort to try. I did the grown up thing and booked a doctors appointment and actually got seen. I learnt that doctors don’t find joking about your mental health funny and I might have ADHD but it will take at least 18 months to find out however I made it to 31 without medication for it, so if I do have it I can wait longer, with the NHS I doute i'll ever get an assessment.
It’s been a while since my last counselling sessions…Looking for a new counsellor is how I imagine online dating to be like. You read their profiles, see what they have to offer, think to yourself “could I invest my time and money in this person” then overthink your email to them and wait for a reply. And OMG they start getting back to you, they want to meet me and get to know me. What do I wear, how do I speak… will I meet the ‘one’ that will fix me. I’m being picky, I think I owe it to myself. I wasn’t in the headspace to find my last counsellor myself as I was just too stressed and overwhelmed, luckily my place of work helped me out with this, I feel that now I’m more confident and able to make these decisions myself, which feels like progress. I either make decisions too impulsively or I can’t make them at all, logical thinking can sometimes go out the window so I’m making a pros and cons list to decide who to pick!
There is really so much good in the world but that’s so hard to see when we get in a mess mentally. Riding it out can just take forever, and then of course there’s always the feeling of how long will this more positive less stressed version of myself last… and that is why counsellors, medication, talking and taking care of our well-being is so imperative for long term wellness because ups and downs will always happen and like so many other people (maybe even people reading this) I still need to find my tools in dealing with my downs. Being mentally well is like most things in this universe, it’s a spectrum.
So how do we work out what our triggers are? Trial and error I guess and becoming more ‘self aware’. I’ve only just started working on this, I’m trying to not get stressed so will posting this blog trigger me? I’ll find out I guess, can add it to my list then… someone check in on me maybe, joking I won’t reply. Which leads me to a trigger, being overwhelmed by notifications and texts. I have most of my social media notifications turned off anyway, I did that just over a year ago. It was a big help, but I get loads of messages it takes me a while to message back, so they can really pile up and this makes me stressed. Also sometimes I do just generally forget! I have alarms on my phone to remind me to read them, but this doesn’t always help. However as I’m feeling good now and I’m working my way through this. So Yeah don’t be offended if you have a friend who isn’t getting back to you they are probably recharging their brain and need a break, it’s a reel thing we do sometimes, and we are not proud of it… I used to be around people as much as possible, all part of my staying as busy as possible plan, but now I don’t feel the need in fact I much prefer my own company and just being around my family. Also I’m still feeling so exhausted after the past few years so my energy feels precious now.
I’m currently still in the stage of coming out of a two year meltdown were every few weeks I feel even better, but as I get batter I realise how much work I still have to put in to keep myself more relaxed long term. I also have the overwhelming urge to apologise to everyone who had to encounter me during my tricky time. Sulking around, stressed, dragging my feet isn’t a great look, we all do this from time to time I do this with angry music blasting in my ears. A bad habit and not helpful. I’m currently listening to more upbeat tunes! Sometimes little changes can help.
Social media is a tool not a weapon. I know this. I really do. However stressed out me clearly likes to vent and well any platform will do right?! I’ve even managed to turn a photography blog into a loaded weapon a few times, and yes I fired those shots for sure right! Social media is extremely triggering for many reasons to us all in some way I’m sure. It’s also addictive, it gives us dopamine the rewards hormone so it’s tricky when you grew up with it, we have all been there at some point in our life doom scrolling at 2am for some focus or a distraction. It’s a hard habit to break but sometimes we need a distraction I guess, I’m trying hard now to cut down what content my brain consumes. For these images I muted the colours to express how social media can make us feel dulled down and how it's draining sometimes, the last image where i'm holding up the reflection of some flowers shows the beauty in it, because social media isn't all bad! It also holds opportunity, education and friendships. I use social media a lot for my day job and don't find that side of things particularly stressful which is interesting to me.
I shared some blogs that didn’t shine the best light on people, I live with the consequences of that. No regrets on what I shared, my only regret is waiting so long to tackle and admit it because now I don’t get my justice or closure. I always used to think to myself if I just got an apology I could probably just forget about it all, I understand now even the most heartfelt honesty apology wouldn’t be enough. It’s down to me now too continue to make myself better and happier. Realising that I don't need to play the part of pretending anymore is oddly empowering! So perhaps I needed some of the uncomfortable experience I’ve dealt with lately to realise all this. Perhaps my blogs have became a coping mechanism and I don’t feel like I should apologise for that.
What people think is a trigger to us all, we all care what people think to a certain degree. I’ve seen some people treated poorly due to their mental health problems and I’ve had to listen to the uneducated opinions of the cruel. I hate when people say talking about our mental health is attention seeking because know one actually wants anyone to think about them right? Or is that just me? I don’t really want to cross peoples minds I imagine most of us just want to be invisible a lot of the time… so when we do open up and get slapped with that statement it stings. People who open up about mental health want support not attention. Two completely different things. I hate it when people say things like “don’t live in the past” and “you need to get over it” what I wish people would say is… “it’s ok to be upset, it was upsetting just don’t let it become you” and “well done for trying to get over it, I can understand why it’s hard” but it’s fine, it’s about having a better mindset I guess so these things don’t bother me as much.
Being lazy is stressful, ok I know now i'm not lazy but I got my first job at the age of 12 and I’ve worked ever since. I had it instilled into me very young that your worth was measured by work. Earning money was being productive and needing rest was lazy. With the pressure of school, my household job rota and my weekend job I got use to being tired from a very young age, it just became normal. My earning would go towards the household income to pay rent or “keep” as it was called. Not paying this was completely unacceptable, I once lost my wallet on the way home and had a physical punishment for doing so, (physical punishment is now illegal in Wales which is amazing!) Despite all this I actually really enjoyed my first job, I stayed in my first job until I was 18 I worked with my friends and learnt many valuable life skills. However I do feel this has played a part in my anxiety, I also remember feeling like a burden because we were “expensive to feed” money was the route of many arguments in the household growing up. Now when I’m not busy my mind gets messy, I see resting as being unproductive and myself as lazy. This isn’t me bitching about my childhood, been there done that I just believe this is one of the reasons why I have made myself over busy throughout my adult life burning myself out, this is behaviour I’m working on. Unlearning a mindset is hard, however I do recognise all of this has made me a better parent and more self aware.
Since I've touched on my childhood again (sorry), making a mistake is stressful for me. Spelling and grammar, grrrr those typos... we ALL do it, I feel like I’m constantly making mistakes in all that I do which is frustrating because I clearly like to write. I’ve had homework ripped up, been called names and had stuff thrown at me all for being difficult or not understanding and not at school in fact the kids at school were always really cool about my dyslexia, I always had friends, still I would feel the constant anxiety and embarrassment because of it. I remember sitting in class thinking “please don’t pick me to read anything out. Please. Not. Me” only one teacher used to do this to me, my old English teacher in year 10 not great memories, he also claimed I needed anger management… he really didn’t like me for some reason I always got the feeling he felt that I should have been in a lower set, although I’m now growing to realise that most of my insecurities and flaws are more in my head and less in anyone’s else’s. However still feeling like I’ve messed something up can be triggering! Maybe I’m always destined to feel like I’m 15 in my head! Regardless of all this I did enjoy school however college was were I started to feel more like the person I was going to be, art college was the first place I felt at home It just felt like a safe place and so inspiring I also enjoyed Brecon college. I actually really like learning… as long as it's of interest to me! I can also read well in my head and as long as no one is watching me. Which have inspired the images belong.
Pregnancy triggers SO many stressful emotions, It was intense and I was also intense. Having SO many appointments being touched all the time. Gross. It was every other day and just too much for me, ok it was a complicated pregnancy and normally they are not like that. My head is so much clearer now all of that is over and done with. It really couldn’t be helped either, I needed all the check ups it just had a really negative effect on me I’m glad it was a short term need.
We also had to take a trip to Cardiff a few weeks back, Lunar has a lot of appointments and will do so for a while. It was odd being back in Cardiff the drive there felt strange oddly nostalgic and new at the same time. It wasn’t even that long ago we were in hospital, technically if everything hadn’t of gone so well we could still be there now. We are so lucky, and I keep reminding myself of that. I also feel it every time I look at Lunar. Driving into Cardiff itself made me nervous, we drove past the park we walked around while trying to keep our heads clear for Deryn. We pulled up into the large car park like so many times before. Walking to our appointment was both lovely and stressful. It was sunny there were children playing in the hospital grounds and families walking around (again inspiring mixed feelings). The walk to the hospital was different from all the others of course because we had Lunar with us, safe and well. This was nothing like the the night time walks back to my accommodation while Lunar was in hospital. I remember how I felt I was sore, usually crying, exhausted and frustrated we are now a million miles away from were we started.
It was strange being back inside Noah’s ark. I couldn’t stop thinking about how It smells the same. It was surreal, the appointment itself was great, Lunar has a hernia that we are hoping will sort itself out over time, she’s being monitored a lot still and we have loads of appointments so she’s being well looked after, I have many feelings form our time up in Cardiff it was a lot to process and go through which is also why i'm looking forward to some counselling sessions again soon.
The most triggering thing I’ve ever done was opening up because here is the cold hard truth what some people will never have to wrap their heads around when you open up about something traumatic and get triggered your brain takes you back. Bam. Just like that, you trigger yourself without even realising it, you are thrown back into an irrational, impulsive, angry mess. It doesn’t matter how much time has past or how you dealt with it when keeping it in, I opened my mouth and my brain was 15 again. Just like that. That’s how it felt and unfortunately some of the time it how I acted, like the grumpy pissed off teenager that I once was. Wasn’t a good vibe to have while pregnant, especially during such a stressful pregnancy. I should of planned it all a little better, I can admit that however It wasn't healthy to keep it in I was going to have to start dealing with it at some point!
Well-being and self care, isn’t a bath and cup of tea. Yeah ok this can help but that’s short term, mental health wellness is long term work, and hard work too. It’s having a good long look at your lifestyle and unhealthy coping mechanisms, bad habit that need breaking. I’m currently evaluating and taking a break from different genres of music and tv programs that could be problematic for me because of my sleeping problems. I’m finding this difficult however it’s all part of the process I know that once my mindset is stronger and everything continues to get back to normal some parts of my life will get to return, however I’m now for the time in my life FULLY open and willing to get on top of everything even if that means cutting out parts of my life, I started this last year with curtain people unfortunately that wasn’t enough. Sleep, so yeah sleep isn’t my friend. Nightmares, overthinking all that fun stuff however they are slowly (very slowly) improving! So I feel all the work is starting to pay off. Having a healthy body really does make a difference, hate to one of ‘those’ people but exercising and eating well has a positive effect on mental health. However this isn’t always easy is it, it can be hard to get this started, who wants to do a load of sit ups and eat spinach when the mood is low and you just want to stay in bed, it’s difficult. I’ve started to meditate again, I use headspace. People think of meditate as sitting in silence, it’s not like that at all, my head is never silent but with meditation I try and calm myself down and focus a little more. It’s a really difficult task, I envy people who can do it easily but I recommend it to anyone who needs help relaxing. So yeah getting there for sure, my next task in the coming months is to work on a healthy work-life balance and keep up a good level of creativity... without getting too triggered!
It's also #StressAwarenessMonth the tools and techniques I use work for me but everyone is so different. It really is trial and error and working through difficult feelings to get on top it all, understanding what trigger us and why is a great help but again this is different for everyone!
Useful link for meditation Headspace
Thanks for reading... sorry for the typos!
I really like blogging, It feels very 'me' and it's great to do something we love right!? I've wanted to do this style of work for years but I really wasn't ready to open up about my art work as I am now.
I'm really finding my voice and this has given me a deeper reason for creating! However having my own voice doesn't feel like enough. We all have stories and struggles that are all different. Art for me is about connection, awareness and story telling, and I believe that together there is so much awareness to be spread.
Sound like something you may be interested in? Great! Let’s tell some stories together!
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