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Archive for May, 2012

My brain runs away on me.  despite all the positive comments I get about my work with the elementary school kids, I had myself convinced that nobody was going to want to do these projects again with me.  Caused me no end of stress and what’s the end of the story look like?? Both schools had some minor changes to request and then said, YES, yes, yes! please, we’ll do this again next year.  Which feels so very excellent.  The weight has lifted off my shoulders and I again feel validated and valuable. Proud of myself for putting in the work and making art education a bigger part of my life.  I have been looking forward to the kids by the time the summer is over. I get excited to start working with them again.

This is what we did today – a continuation of the abstract art from an earlier post. the project that uses aerial river pictures to create abstract wall art.  The work these students completed was really quite cool.  I even remembered to take some pictures today!

Even the teacher got in on the fun this time ’round.

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Thank you

to those of you who read my last post and sent out good vibes and helping hands and words. I am grateful for all of you.  It was a scary thing to say all that.  … What if, what if, what if.  people are afraid of me; my friends just get awkward and stop being friends; nobody reads it; people tell me I’m full of shit and that I’ve no problems to worry about and I should just ‘Get Over Myself’; etc……..

I guess I just reached a point where it was more scary to not talk than to talk.  I now have a few more people in my world that know and are comfortable talking to me about anxiety, depression, suicide and self harm.  I am glad of that.

Also there are at least over a hundred people who now know what’s going on in my head.  I promise it’s not contagious, and I don’t want every conversation I have to be about my depression, anxiety or suicide thoughts, because ( I think ) part of getting used to this, is to talk about other things in my life and sort them out using the tools that i have been given by loved ones and professionals.  If I can sort out the other factors of my life, then I will be continually battling the demons in my head.

here are a few resources that I have found helpful:
NL Mental health Crisis Line – 737- 4668 (in the St. John’s area) or 1-888-737-4668 (toll free).

forgiving yourself, URL

Brene Brown’s Blog ; Ordinary Courage  – her videos are excellent to.

Brene Brown’s Book: The Gifts of Imperfection  – A great read for anybody, regardless of mental state.

Book: Thoughts and Feelings; Fourth Edition. By McKay, Davis and Fanning   – It’s a workbook with actual exercises and activities that have helped me dramatically. (even though I was truly skeptical of these things).

Having a (mostly)regular exercise schedule  – I run for ~20 min three times a week.  Amazing what a difference this makes.

the bloggess: depression lies

Also – if you’ve read through these….. a good laugh is always a good cure for mild mopeyness…. a good cure to turn around a sort of depressed, mildly anxious Rosalind.

My Drunk Kitchen   (the icecream one is hIlarious)

Tim Minchin is also good for a giggle.

 

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As you may know, I am currently being treated for depression and anxiety.  There is little talk about this stuff, and not being able to talk about it feeds the depression and the anxiety. Talking about it makes it melt, makes it understandable and bearable and fixable. Not talking about it makes it heavy and bull-ish and oppressive – not talking feeds the depression and the shit lies I tell myself on an hourly basis.  This is an attempt to talk about it. Depression is so very real and so very shitty, hopefully this will help me and maybe someone else.

I have an appointment to see a pyschologist in July to get a proper diagnosis. But for now, the drugs and the counseling are working pretty well.  I have triggers that are quite personal and don’t really feel like sharing them just yet. But there are triggers that set off my anxiety.  And if I’m not able to, or don’t try to stop the anxiety it builds into panic and then I start to get thoughts of self harm-suicide that is.

I’ve never attempted suicide, nor do I think I ever will, but I have seriously contemplated it.  So much so that one day a few weeks ago I called the NL mental health crisis line. (This is a 24 hour, 7 day a week provincial telephone crisis service for people experiencing mental health problems. Call (709) 777-3200 or Toll Free 1-888-737-4668).  After this call- a trip to the emerg at the Bona V. hospital to see a Dr. on call – then a ride to St. John’s lightly strapped to a gurny in the back of an ambulance on my way to the mental hospital for an emergency pyschiatric assessment.

I called the help line because I was in bed. crying. terrified that my world was falling apart (which it wasn’t – at all). I felt so utterly helpless and hopeless and unable to do anything positive to help my situation. I started thinking that I had no way out. I could either stand by and let my world break apart or stay in bed and cry for the rest of my life (Depression can be quite dramatic and it’s very difficult to not have those black and white thoughts – I have a problem with lack of grey scale in my thoughts – it’s something I’m working on).  I couldn’t bear either of those options and started to think of suicide, and this scared me more and I curled into a tighter ball in my bed, cried harder.  I was too afraid to get out of bed for fear I would hurt myself and too afraid to stay in bed and let my world fall apart.  So I called the lovely people at the end of the help line.  It was hard and sad.

Eventually, I was driven to the hospital in Bona V. where the Dr. was not comfortable sending me home and wanted me to go see a prof. mental health Dr..  and she wanted me to go in the ambulance.  Once the attivan kicked in, I was ok with this theory and that’s what I did.

What happens in my brain???? My Amygdala is misfiring, (too often and too strongly) cort. and adrenaline (hormones in the fight/flight complex).  Also, my thought patterns are fucked. and I mean proper fucked.  I’m at a stage in my life where I can’t trust anything I think. Nothing.  My feelings are subject as well as ALL my thoughts.  This is hard to believe even on good days and I’ve only balanced that tight wire a few times successfully.  For example:  My husband comes home from a week long trip away and says ” Hey! How are you? What did you do while I was gone?”  A regular person with a regular thought process would hear “Hey! How are you? What did you do while I was gone?”  As in, I’m curious, I’d like to know because I’ve been gone for a week.

I hear “Hey! What the fuck did you do while I was gone? the dishes aren’t done, you lazy bitch. the house is a fucking mess, I bet you didn’t even get the fucking paperwork done either did you?  You’re lazy and ugly and boring, why the fuck am I with you.”  Which is really hard to listen to, I believe these thoughts, I become defensive and challenging and angry.  And it doesn’t matter what the next sentance is out of his mouth I’m already fighting with him and calling him names.

It’s fucked up. It’s bullshit. And it’s. in. my. head.  ALL the time.

I have a journal that I use and it helps, I have a running schedule that works when I use it, I have counselling appointments almost every week. I like my counsellor – thankfully.  I also have talking to people, that I don’t do very often.  It’s not something that generally pops up in conversation. I have a few friends that know and ask specifically about my mental health and it’s nice. I find it difficult to explain what’s going on, but it is good to talk about.  I talk to my husband regularly about this situation and my parents are finally in on it and they’re good to talk to as well. if nothing else they listen well.

So if I said I was going to do something and I didn’t. I’m sorry I may have just spent 2 days yelling at people that I love and that’s exhausting, terrifying and remorseful.  It usually takes me some time to come back – as it does, I’m sure, for the people I’m yelling at.  But I’m still here, and I’m still working on it.  working on hearing the things that are said, instead of assuming something else. Working on writing in my journal every day. working on recognizing my anger as a substitute for a different emotion that I am avoiding confronting (there are lots of these), working on seeing the positives in situations,not just the negatives.  Working on controlling MY thoughts, MY words, and MY actions.  Taking responsibility for myself, works, deeds and thoughts not anybody elses.

 

as a late edition to this – I also want to say that I’m not always out of control. Sometimes I feel great. And by great I don’t mean happy, I mean able to deal with my thoughts and feelings in a healthy, productive, sane way.  It’s not having the negative thoughts that’s my problem, everybody has negative thoughts. it’s the believing them that’s the problem. Some days I do, some days I don’t.

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I’ve done it!!

I have successfully integrated an art project where the finished product is abstract art – And the kids love every minute of it!!!

They have a section of social studies where they learn about mountains, rivers etc.. as well as different points of view – for example, an aerial view of a river.  This type of image has been my favorite for, well, forever.

The project goes like this: I give each student a picture of a river taken from above.  They in turn decide which parts to use, trace them and cut out this pattern piece. (it turns out that when you’re 9 years old, it’s necessary to decide first, trace the line and then cut.  cutting without decisive lines becomes confusing, scary and frustrating – at least from my experience with them).

 

These pattern pieces are used a unit for their final image.  They trace the unit multiple times to create a complex picture.  Some of them go straight to symmetry, some really dig the long, windy, river type shapes you can get by joining the units end to end, some to radial patterns, borders are common…. all sorts of things turn up.  I do my best to facilitate more drawings, I always ask them what they like the most and least, and to use that info to inform their next picture.  This tends to be a one on one process, which is excellent.

 

I do my best to impress upon them that there is no right or wrong way to go about this.  I get lots of questions like this ” Is this right? Do I have to do it this way? Do you like this? Can I do this?” To which I answer with my own set of questions “Do you like it? would you like to? It doesn’t matter if I like it, do you like it? OR I’m not answering that question, what’s important is if you like it. Would you like to do that?”

It seems they’re searching for the ability to make their own decisions, but should check just in case.  They are often very happy with being able to make up their own minds.

I go back for two more days to finish this project, we’ll make stencils and print the positive and negative of their images, then practice putting lines in there and then finally adding these lines to the final product with needle and thread.  I’ll post more pictures when I get them.

 

I love facilitating this kind of project. Don’t get me wrong, it’s exhausting answering 25 little questions every 5 minutes – to which my answer is almost always – do you like it – or some form of this. We practice problem solving a lot, and their personalities definately come out in their work.  The teachers tend to be blown away with the work their students do with their time with me.  Also, I’ve been taking the time to volunteer to hang the work in some of the schools, and this has made an even bigger impact on the staff and students in the school. Which feels really really good.

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