Saturday, 2 December 2017

Emotional Amnesia - What is it?

“Emotional Amnesia” - being unable to remember how it felt to ever feel any different to how you feel now. 
 
I feel like my friends and I talk about this concept all the time but it’s not really a term that’s used in healthcare. I think its something everyone experiences from to time to time, especially during bereavement and other upsetting times. However I think it’s even more experienced by people in the mental health community and those who have experienced trauma and/or received a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder / Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. Sometimes I feel it can be helpful to know that this is a real concept, that when in deep emotional pain, you may experience emotional amnesia. And that’s ok. 


(I do also realise that some people may have never felt ok in their life, but there may have been times when the suffering was less.)



Saturday, 26 August 2017

what is pill shaming?


I feel like this is one of my most important drawings. 

I wrote a bit on instagram about this drawing, but thought I would extend it a bit on my blog. I really struggle to write so bear with me!


What is pill shaming? 

For me I think it is people thinking that if you 'work hard enough' you don't need medication for mental health problems. But also not only mental health problems, but other invisible conditions which mean individuals need pain medication or sleeping pills. I feel like this makes you feel like you haven't tried to be better and to be more 'well'. This doesn't help and only leads to people feeling like they have to hide taking medication, and internalizing that mental health problems are your fault, through being lazy, fat, 'unhealthy', and not exercising enough. This kind of behavior and thinking also promotes the idea that mental health problems can be changed from within. Whilst this might be true for some people, it totally ignores outside structures which impact on mental health (check out the Un-Recovery star) like racism, homophobia, trauma, poverty and unstable housing. I really think that by telling someone to be 'healthier' and cut down or stop medication or just making them feel bad and at the same time ignoring the bigger picture when it comes to mental health and chronic illness is pretty shitty behavior. Bordering on abusive.


A bit about my story:

I don't talk directly about my own health and mental health in depth much online because I'm quite a private person. But here we go. I  have had mental health problems on and off over the years and have tried quite a few different medications before finding one that works. I also have endometriosis which has cause quite a lot of pain and made me quite ill. 
I found a medication for my mental health which helps. I remember talking to a mental health colleague and telling her that I take a medication which helps me. She said "those pills scare me, I mean, just have a healthy diet, cut out gluten and refined sugars." I was so shocked I couldn't actually say anything. Normally I am quite direct about my opinions but I felt like I wanted to cry because I actually eat a fairly healthy diet (by that I mean I am veggie and I eat three meals a day, eat carbs, protein and veggies which works for me but may not for others) and I have tried so hard. But why do I 'try hard'? I feel like I am always trying hard. Mental health and pain medication is the only medical treatment you are told to try hard not to be on. 
 I have also not taken medication at times because I worried about poisoning my body with something which isn't natural. Which leads me onto people who believe that 'natural' remedies are a good idea for everyone. They can be for some people, but some people actually need medication for their brains to function.
I have been to events organized by certain anti psychiatry organizations where people have talked about how awful medication is. This is also so dangerous, this also fed into me thinking that I don't need to take medication. It might be fine for them, but promoting a 'psychiatry is evil' is also very dangerous. I could criticize psychiatry all day but at the end of the day, some people need the medical treatment.
I have endometriosis. Up until I had my first surgery 4 years ago and had treatment to stop my periods, I was in awful pain. When I was 28 I was on mefanamic acid, tranexamic acid and tramadol for 'period pain' and that only slightly helped. I had to take it otherwise I couldn't work. I had severe pain*, which was caused by internal bleeding from endometriosis. Some of my organs were stuck together too, eg my ovary was fused to my bowel. I also have endometriosis in places in my body which is untreatable due to the physical area. Tramadol is controversial and I was lucky that I had a doctor who would prescribe it. (Side note, tramadol is can be toxic with certain SSRIs and anti-psychotics). Pain is invisible most of the time to other people, so no one should question anyone elses need. (Be careful with opiates as they can be physically addictive and then you need more to get the same pain relief.)


Pill shaming in bullet points:

- it's ok to take medication for mental health problems 
- it's ok to take medication for mental health problems LONG TERM 
- it's ok to take medication for mental health problems long term WITH NO PLAN TO STOP 
- please don't insinuate that you can reduce medication by having a 'healthy' diet (whatever that is) or by doing exercise 
- please don't emphasize the side effects and risks of psychiatric medication 
- don't ask someone when they will cut down
- don't say "well if you loose weight / gain weight you could come off it"
- don't persuade people to cut down or stop medication. This includes the anti-psychiatry movement.
- family members; support your loved one! 
- healthcare professionals; learn about mental health and pain medication. Work side by side and don't make people feel crap about being on medication.

Pill shaming badges can be found here: etsy 

______

* funny story, I compare all pain to my experience of period pain. In 2012 I got a sewing needle stuck in the heel of my foot. The pain was not as bad as a period pain so I went out dancing on it until 3am. I went to hospital 2 days later and had to have surgery to have it removed!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

#boringselfcare - why I did this project

(Please note when reading this, I am not a writer and have dyslexia so really struggle to articulate what I think clearly. )

For a really long time I have felt, and still feel that the way the term 'self care' is used on the internet alienates the people for whom struggling with self care actually affects them day to day.
Self care seems to mean, on the internet anyway, activities you only engage in as a luxury, like the classic; fancy bath bombs or buying fancy crystals. Often activities which cost money, are only nice things or only available for able bodied people. For me I think even the way 'self care' term is used, it insinuates you have to do it yourself, shaming an alienating those who need actual people and carers to do it for them (for what ever reason, physical, emotional and/or neuro diversity etc.) This is not my understanding as a mental health professional at all. Self care refers to all the activities we need to do day to day and the 'self' bit doesn't mean you have to do it yourself.

I've felt so confused by how the internet has completely changed the meaning. Someone said to me it was 'white feminism'  and/or 'tumblr' which came along and changed the meaning. I kind of agree.

I really wanted to create something which separated itself from the internet version of self care and give it a new name. I came up with '#boringselfcare' mostly because I was drawing all the boring things I either find difficult when unwell or can't actually do. Again, I was never insinuating that the activities are merely just boring, sometimes they are ok, sometimes shit, sometimes simple, sometimes awful, sometimes essential....maybe I should have thought of a better name.

I created the 'asked for help' illustration because so many people, myself included at times, need help to do the most basic self care.


I feel that the hashtag is not for everyone. It's for people who struggle day to day. It's for people with mental health problems, chronic illness, disability etc, not for able bodied and people without mental health problems to post selfies with the hashtag.  I have stopped looking at the hashtag now though, I found too many people using the hashtag in a way I did not want.

It's strange the way the internet changes the meaning of terms, definitely still at work, when you use the words 'self care' everyone knows what it means, people needing to do the most basic activities.

The internet needs to stop using the term 'self care' in such problematic ways and I feel a bit sad that the 'boring self care' meaning may eventually, if not already, be taken and used in a way I never intended.


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

being creative - my 6 top tips

Being a creative person is hard. I don't mean for this to be a moaning blog, but more to highlight just how much has to be 'right' in your life to be able to fulfill your creative potential.

1. Money. There is a reason why there are so many artists who come from a rich background. Most people have to work a day job, often full time, pouring energy into that which leads to less energy for creative projects. Not having money to buy materials is also frustrating.

2. Health. Feeling tired, being physically ill or horribly depressed to name a few, means it's a challenge to have inspiration.

3. Routine. It can be difficult to build art into your week.

4. Skill. University  and courses are expensive, so not always accessible to learn new skills or keep skills up to date.

5. Finally, environment. I don't know about you, but after moving out of my parents house, for 10 years my desk was in my bedroom. I really struggled to make work in the same place I slept.


 

So here are my top tips for being creative:

1. Make a workspace. Decide what works for you even if that is your bed. Set it up so that when you feel creative or have inspiration, you can just sit down and start. So you don't have to waste energy setting up or getting stuff out.

2. Set a time in the week for being creative.  Difficult, but once you start it starts to become a routine.

3. Write down ideas on your phone. I often feel like I have zero inspiration and no ideas especially if I am feeling low, anxious or stressed. I seem to forget. I have a long list on my phone now, so I can just pick one idea to draw.

4. Watch YouTube videos, go on pinterest or Instagram. I find they can help motivate me.

5. Find some friends to have a crafternoon with! I love to make a 'zine in a day' with my friends using the 'one piece of paper' zine fold. (Find out how to do it here.)

6. Finally, don't beat yourself up if you're struggling.



Sunday, 16 July 2017

return to blogging and more

Hi everyone. I have been thinking for a long time about blogging and vlogging. Vlogging is slightly too scary for me right now, but reactivating my old blog seems like a good idea. It also gives me a chance to explain ideas a bit more and to share other content which I can't share on Instagram.

Do you follow me on instagram? I've recently gained quite a lot of followers by talking about mental health and inventing a hashtag #boringselfcare . I want to blog a bit more about that another time in a bit more detail.

I also just want to say, I am not a writer at all. I probably won't say a huge amount or write in a clever articulate way, I will be sharing visual work, music I like, artists I rate and also just day to day stuff.

Last night I went to a party. My friends were all quite excited and intrigued to talk about Instagram and politics. One of my friends said, after a couple of drinks 'hahahaha you have more followers on Instagram than Theresa May, you should draw her crying whilst looking at your account'. So I did!



I also did a time lapse of me colouring it in



What I have been listening to:

Green Light by Lorde
Fuccboi Salute by Miss Eaves
Ironic by Alanis Morissette
G.O.A.T by Princess Nokia
What's Up by 4 Non Blondes
BBHMM by Rihanna

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Gillian Anderson prints



Last week, Gillian Anderson tweeted a photo of herself by Chris Buck with the quote "I thinks she said blow me but it all went sideways..."  I couldn't get the image and tweet out of my head so I drew it. I decided to draw the whole tweet combined, something I do sometimes for fun. Partly to poke fun at myself, sometimes to make a bit of a commentary on the way we can interact with people at this point in time. I find it so interesting the way I can draw anyone who is online and tag them. The drawing then seems to also become about the interaction (or no interaction) with them. I often think that when I draw a portrait of someone, I am really drawing a portrait of myself, saying things which I cannot say. Again.....making fun of myself....probably poking fun at my non-existent love life. (LOL)

 Little did I know that Gillian herself would reply asking for a print.....I have decided to make 25 limited edition prints. Signed and numbered. Gillian will have one and Chris Buck, will have another making 23 available to buy. I will not make any more, ever.



What a strange week it has been...

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Friday, 11 March 2016

Fuck Anxiety patch

I am super happy about this patch. It was one of the first things I designed this year. It taught me how to design. But it also helped me open up....about anxiety. It's awful and it's hidden. So many people are so disabled by it but often too ashamed to talk about it. Often faced with " get over it" or "I can do xxx why can't you?" leaving the person feeling utterly shit.
This is based on Richey Edwards tattoo from the Manic Street Preachers. Anxiety is not freedom. It's paralysis. 

Buy my patch here







Friday, 4 March 2016

Endometriosis, period pain and starting a new movement

I have decided to start making some information on the medical condition Endometriosis. Most of the information on the internet is not inclusive, often transphobic and is heteronotmative. It's often pink, gendered for "women sufferers", even though the colour for endo is yellow! Information is often about getting pregnant and whilst for many people with endo, this is extremely distressing however the symptom that is under treated is PAIN. 
So here we are, the first page I have made. An introduction. Please share and print and such. No more embarrassment. Period pain is real and it hurts. ‪#‎endometriosis‬ ‪#‎endo‬



Thursday, 25 February 2016

Crafternoon - Jewellery workshop



Facebook event: here

Femme Crafternoon is a jewellery workshop open to femmes, queer femmes and other babes to gather, chat, get to know each other, make friends and learn how to make an awesome necklace which you will be able to take home with you. You are welcome to bring your own craft to the event if you prefer.

Please read:

When: 5th March 2016 - tickets will be announced soon.
Where: DIY space for London. Wheelchair accessible, gender neutral accessible toilets, vegan cafe. Accessibility information is here: http://diyspaceforlondon.org/about/ 
Cost: £4 - This is a non profit event. I am volunteering and the cost is to cover materials.
How: There are 10 places for the jewellery making workshop. However if you would like to come and hang out with your own craft, you are most welcome. I will only have enough materials and tools for 10 people to make jewellery.
What: I will teach you how to make a sparkly choker with a charm. If you prefer necklaces to be longer, this is doable. I have a number of different charms but if you have your own, for example from a broken necklace, you can use this if you would like! All fastenings are silver in colour. I have a wide range of ribbon colours for the choker itself.
Allergies: please note that I have bought items which state they are nickel/lead free but I cannot guarantee this 100%.

Safer spaces: No sexism/racism/homophobia/ableism/transphobia/fatphobia/classism/TERFS etc will be tolerated.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Formation

Ahh the Beyonce new video is amazing so had to draw. 
Formation by Hannah Daisy