Friday, May 27, 2011

Expressive Arts Carnival: Coping and Safety

I seem to have failed at getting to back to posting regularly but I am trying. Things are still a little tough, particularly with the Chronic Fatigue. I am exhausted all the time and my body hurts, I went and saw my doctor yesterday and she had me have more blood tests and I a special test I am going to have to travel to Sydney to get it done (that's about 4 hours by public transport). I also have to see another specialist for another opinion. I love that my doctor is so thorougher however I'm always scared these tests will find something worse than the Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia.

That is not what I want to write about in this post. I want to write about my recent Expressive Arts Carnival submission. This month's activity is about 'coping': Through drawing, painting, photography or any other visual means, create an image about mechanisms you have used to cope when you thought you could not.

It took me a while to think of how I do actually cope. For me breaking down and falling apart has never really been an option. There have been times when I have wanted to, but something inside just wont let me let go of the reins, so to speak. There have been times when I have dissociated for days on end and my parts have taken over and there have been times when I will withdraw from all my social circles but I have always been able to function to some capacity. For a while I was going to draw about my alts and how they have helped me to cope over the years, because I probably wouldn't have survived some of my experiences without them. However I wanted to focus on how *I* cope and not just my parts, and I realise I have many coping mechanisms in place that I never really acknowledged all that much.

When I am overwhelmed with emotions or when I need some time to myself to sort things out I will sit at my desk with my headphones on, and this is what I decided to represent here. Sometimes I just curl up and listen to the music and other times I will draw while listening.

The night I started this artwork I was in one of those moods where I was exhausted and triggered and I just wanted to escape. I put a Natasha Bedingfield album on and started to draw. We had a bunch of people over (which has become a regular occurrence) but I took the time I needed for myself and trusted my friends to understand and respect that. I am really proud of that, that I was able to take the time I needed for myself and that I put my needs before the feeling that I should be polite to our guests.

When I submitted this to Paul he commented he didn't know if I looked "lonely and sad... or whether you just want to be by yourself and escape". My housemate and friend said that the girl looks content. Honestly it is hard to describe how I feel at these times, I still feel the emotions that triggered me and caused me to turn to this however at the same time I feel a particular sense of calm and contentment. Its a certain type of retreat that allows me to sort through everything that has been going on while separating myself from it at the same time. For me, particularly when I draw in these moods, its when I make huge steps within myself.
Unfortunately last month I was not able to participate in the Expressive Arts Carnival as I was not up to drawing and I didn't get my artwork done in time. It was disappointing because it was a great theme and the artworks were amazing. I really suggest you check it out here. The theme was safety, and I actually did start to draw something for the carnival, it just didn't get finished in time. However I did finish it this month and I decided to share it here anyway.

When I started this artwork I was having a particularly hard time with threats from a person who has hurt me in the past. He was sending me sms', prank calling the house phone and making it obvious he was watching me and my home. I was terrified and safety really felt like an issue. Elmo, my boyfriend, has been wonderful about the entire thing. He respected that I was too scared to go to the police and he made sure I wasn't left alone, and just made sure I felt as safe as I could given the situation.

This picture isn't really a portrait of us in any way, it is just a couple that I sketched up, I am hopeless at making my art look like someone I know. However it is supposed to represent how safe Elmo has made me feel particularly when it comes to hugs. I have felt very lucky that I have Elmo in my life, particularly in time when we can really help each other through some hard times. I'm not confident that I would have been able to get through the last few months as well as I have without his love and support.

Originally, I was going to put these artworks into different posts, however I realised how much the to themes are related, well at least for me. To cope I have needed to find ways to face what ever is troubling me in a safe way. And my relationship to safety has changed based on how well I am coping with everything. I do not think I can completely separate the two themes. Letting Elmo in and being able to go to him for hugs was a huge risk for me however he has helped me to cope as much as my music and drawing. I don't feel that I am explaining the relationship between coping and safety very well however I am really tired and I might go into it more in another post.

On a slightly random side note, I am particularly proud of both of these drawings as pieces of art. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do sharing them.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


It has been over a month since I last posted and I feel bad for that. Not simply for the people who read this but more for myself. Writing this blog is extremely therapeutic for me - it helps me to really analyse what I am going through and help me to feel calmer. Margaret explains this as the thinking, logical part of the brain connecting to the emotional part of the brain and helping process things and calming the emotional part. It is why journaling is supposed to help so much. I have also been avoiding doing any art and this is also particularly unhealthy for me as art is a way of safely expressing how I feel.

The reason for all this is I have been having a particularly stressful couple of months. To summaries, Elmo fell and fractured his spine (he has a wedge fracture in his L1 for those of you who have knowledge about spinal injuries), I caught a nasty flu which exacerbated the Chronic Fatigue, I started getting flash backs in relation to a new and particularly nasty memory, and started getting pranks and threats from a man who has hurt me in the past. My house-mate, and good friend has also been particularly struggling with his own issues. Overall, the last 7 weeks have been more than a little difficult.

It can be interesting how things work out; this year I have become a lot closer to a wonderful group of people and started dating Elmo and now all of this difficulties have been dropped in my lap. Had it happened 6 months ago I don't think I would have coped however with the great support I have around me I have been able to get through with out completely breaking down (though there have been moments I have felt close). I am not saying that any of this is good, or even okay - more that it is amazing how the universe/God provides.

Before I began to write this post I entitled it 'Falling' because that has been how I have been feeling lately in a number of ways. I feel that I have fallen off the side of the planet when it comes to keeping in touch with people and keeping up with my blog and reading others. I was literally falling down I was so tired with the Chronic Fatigue (even managed to give myself a mild concussion one night and sprain my wrist). And I have been feeling like I am doing everything I can to not fall into all the emotions that have come with this new memory.

Things are getting better slowly. After 7 weeks in a full back brace, Elmo was given the all clear today to take the brace off, and is getting around just fine. I changed my mobile number and the threats seemed to have stopped (though Elmo is still being very protective). I am very slowly starting to get my energy levels back to where they were and I am not falling down any more. While I am still having a lot of nightmares and still struggling to come to terms with the new memory I am beginning to be desensitised to it and the number of flashbacks has significantly reduced.

I will be trying to write more often though my posts may still be short and irregular at the moment. But I do want to get back in the habit because as I said at the beginning of this post, it does help and when you guys leave comments it really is encouraging and does make a difference.

So to all those people who have regularly read and commented on my blog in the past, thank you, you have helped me get through some difficult times.