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.


Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear you've been having a rough time. I love your artwork. It's beautiful. I also love music, and have found a lot of peace in music. Thanks again for sharing your work with the Carnival. :)

Haven said...

Hello! I'm Haven. I just found your blog and I empathize so much. I have dissociative disorder but not DID. Your writing is powerful and I look forward to reading more.

Oh! And thank you for posting about the Expressive Arts Carnival! I've actually been looking for something like that =)

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