Browsing Tag


Art, Mental illness

~tortured artist feelings~

11 September, 2012

Illustration with purple clouds and the text “I’m so sad. What do I do with all this sad?” written in orange and surrounded by rain/ tears.

I’m really fed up with the tortured artist trope. People have said it about me since I was a teenager, and while it’s true that I am kind of a bit artistic and also depressed as fuck, the latter does not positively affect the former. If this were the case I’d be a lot further along in my artistic practice and career.

My craziness has affected me to the point where I can’t leave the house most of the time, let alone go to ~cultural events~ and network with local art people. Making connections is incredibly difficult for me. It’s not that I’m shy, I actually really resent being called shy, it’s that I am overcome with panic whenever I try to do certain social/ professional things. When I say panic, I don’t mean butterflies in my stomach. I sweat. I don’t perspire. Sweat rolls down my face, I get flustered, I forget how to form words and I get disoriented and dizzy. People don’t tend to react favourably towards a leaking, bumbling mess, and so I end up compounding panic with the fear of looking ridiculous. And so on and so forth. I only found out there was a name for this a few years ago, and it’s called Social Anxiety Disorder.

So I don’t go to art events, I don’t hang around with arty types, and I rarely get to immerse myself in discussion and critique. It’s frustrating. Every few months I descend into despair over my worth as a person who creates things, in addition to my worth as a human; but it’s balanced out by hypermanic episodes of frenzied sketching and creating. So it’s ok I guess. My psychiatrist says I might have Bipolar 2. I was put on Lamictal (lamotrigine) and for the first time I felt almost balanced, but now I am experiencing very familiar depths and all creating has halted.

This is my life since 15 and from now on, and that’s very difficult to come to terms with. I don’t wish to receive advice when I talk about my health (I want to emphasise that mental health IS health), I just think it’s important to talk about it instead of feeling ashamed. I try to talk about it, but it’s a struggle, because people’s responses pretty much always fall into one of the following:
* unsolicited advice (try this diet! meds don’t work!)
* redundant platitudes (chin up! be positive! it could be worse!)
* conversation terminated awkwardly (and usually the relationship)

So don’t do that. Thanks.

Illustration with text “Jam sandwich club” surrounded by jam splatters, a jam sandwich, jam donut, jar of jam and jam on a crumpet. A faint piece of bread is in the background.

What I am trying to do is be gentle with myself. I have started to learn ACT techniques, and it’s challenging remembering them but I’ve made a start. I wrote a list of steps I want to take towards sorting some of my drawing feelings out, and that made me feel less hopeless about my creative situation. My plan is to focus on research as well as technique, and to draw every day. Even if it’s simple.

So that’s what I’ve done for the last few days. I hope I can keep it up. These vector illustrations aren’t super slick or fully rendered but they’re something.

Illustration with two roughly cut out photos of manatees that look like they’re about to embrace with “Manatee hugs” above them.

People seem to like this one. You can download it to use as a desktop picture if you like!

Mental illness

Stitch and Twitch: Social anxiety and public crafting.

3 April, 2011

Over the last few months I’ve been coming to terms with learning something new about myself. I’ve been dealing with generalised anxiety and depression for many years but a few months ago I found out I was also suffering with social anxiety. I’ve never been into partying a lot (well, besides my early 20s and that wasn’t terribly enjoyable) and I score dead between Introvert and Extrovert on the Myers Briggs test. I just thought I was being introverted and stuff!

I’m afraid of using the telephone. Sometimes I don’t go outside because I’m afraid of falling over. When I go out I get terribly anxious, I hyperventilate, sweat a lot and stumble over my words. In the last year I started to withdraw into myself, not going outside and I even started falling behind on my work which is largely undertaken inside in the comfort of my own home. My social anxiety is strongly linked with avoidance so I will avoid seeing friends, taking calls (which must distress my mother!) and even responding to emails.

I’m seeing a psychologist and taking medication to help get me through years of pretty crippling anxiety, but it’s very hard. I wonder if there’s a line between just not wanting to socialise because I don’t get much out of it and being afraid of socialising, but these are things I am currently seeking therapy for. My psychologist suggested that I do at least one social thing a week, and after thinking about it and negotiating between all the things in my brain I settled on doing something that I like in a challenging environment.

I love to make things but it’s been a private thing for me up until now. I see the ways in which the crafting movement has enjoyed a revival and how crafty people have started to reclaim public space for making things. Knitting, crocheting, stitching and stuff. I went to a “Stitch and Bitch” night a few times years ago and wasn’t terribly confident about stitching but the social aspect was great. On twitter the other week I wondered aloud about holding a “Stitch and Twitch”, a weekly social crafting session for people with social anxiety. Wonderfully, a few people (pretty much my friends!) said they’d love to attend, so we’ve had a couple of meetings so far and it’s been great!

Today we went to Kerbside and took full advantage of the lovely mismatched vintage furniture, working on our own individual projects. The bar is actually a huge shed type structure filled with interesting stuff and good music, so even if the conversation lulled (another thing I fear!) it was filled with humming and concentration.

I didn’t have much of that concentration today and after unpicking a huge mistake in my cross stitching I switched to crocheting a necklace, then taking photos! Here’s lots of them.

A photo of mismatched seats lining a long table against a fence made out of lots of odd bits of iron fencing facing the street.

A photo of people sitting in mismatched lounge chairs in various floral tapestry fabrics.

A photo of a framed picture of Jesus on a wall next to a mirror.

An out of focus photo of Sonya's silver sequin jacket spangled with lots of silvery bokeh.

A photo of Nick working on his cross stitch.

A photo of lots of bangles on a pale skinned wrist, one is a coiled snake and the others are various big plastic and resin bangles.

A photo of Mem holding up her small Finding Nemo cross stitch in front of her face.

A photo of me taking a photo of my reflection in the mirror. Written on the mirror in white pen is "Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? And can I have their number?"

A photo of various glasses of cider on a table with Zoe and Sonya out of focus behind.

A photo of various crafty things on the table like cross stitch, crochet, scissors and a drawing.

A photo of some cream yarn and crocheting on a floral tapestry couch.

Mental illness

Taking care of business (and by business, I mean me.)

27 January, 2011

I have been sick in the last few months and it’s been very difficult to manage all the different parts of my life while also taking care of me. A few months ago my anxiety got to a point where it was making me withdraw from the world and it probably would have been a lot worse had Nick not stepped in and gently nudged me in the direction of the local GP. I decided to stop everything and focus on my health, my mental health, for the first time in a long time and I’m still working on it. I think I’ll have to work on it for the rest of my life now that I know that it’s not like a cold and it won’t be something I can get through by grinning and pretending I am normal.

I don’t like doctors because even though they’re supposed to care for us, I’ve never really felt like they care much about me. One of the reasons why my anxiety and sleep problems weren’t addressed sooner was because doctors didn’t pick it up. They wouldn’t let me testify for my body and would assume that I was lying or hysterical or non-compliant. Instead of treating me as an individual human being with a unique body, they would look at my body and refer back to the caricature of the fat body. I don’t need to go into details – you and I, we know all about it. I also have Type 1 diabetes and that adds a layer of complication and frustration around looking after yourself, being sick and going to the doctor to seek help. Many GPs and specialists have treated me like I am a criminal against my body, just for having T1D and being fat. They failed to listen to me or have empathy, and thus they failed me.

So when Nick told me that he thought I needed to get help, I protested. I put it off. I knew I’d be ignored again and again, and that it wasn’t worth the hassle. Yet one day I had a bad anxiety attack and Nick had no choice but to take me to a doctor. One I had never seen before. It doubled my anxiety, made me twitch and sob involuntarily, so by the time I was in the chair in the doctor’s office there was nothing for him to see except my anxiety. I’d been able to hide it for a long time because it was more important to keep up appearances for fear of people thinking I was crazy and treating me poorly because of it. This time I couldn’t. I had internalised our culture’s horrible attitude towards mental illness, kept quiet and tucked my crazy back inside; yet in that chair I felt the full injustice of my years of pretending.

This holiday season hasn’t been much different from any other, yet when people have asked me what I’m up to I haven’t had much to say, not because I haven’t been up to much but because I have been struggling with things that aren’t very difficult for people who don’t have mental illness. It’s dangerous when I tell people I have social anxiety disorder because most of them think that it can be cured by smiling, by lifting your chin up or by quitting your “fucking around” and just getting “back into the swing of things”. Just a PSA: these responses are distressing, offensive and even if well-intentioned, do sweet F.A to help the person you’re talking to. So anyway, I did a lot of creative story telling. Sorry family and friends, if you’re reading, but I just didn’t have the energy to walk people through a day in the life of. I want to help people understand, and that’s why I’m writing this, but I don’t have the spoons to educate you!

I’ve been on a few different meds over the past two months and I haven’t yet found the ones that are right for me. It’s difficult when health conditions intersect; at the moment I’m figuring out which tablets can help me sleep and reduce my anxiety while still giving me the energy to go about my daily life (let alone working life!) without mucking around with my diabetes. It’s hard. Luckily I am now seeing a fantastic doctor, the doctor of my dreams even! (Hi Dr C, if you’re reading this!) I started seeing her based on Nick’s recommendation and instead of rehearsing my concerns and fearing what the doctor is going to say, I’m able to feel like my doctor respects me AND I can have a laugh. Oh my god is it incredible to have a doctor with a similar sense of humour!

So there it is. All laid out and kind of ugly, but that’s what I’ve been up to. I’ve been looking after me. It has meant that I’ve let things go and I’m trying really hard to get things in order – like some necklaces that haven’t been posted, I am so so sorry and they are coming to you soon! I haven’t been answering emails, they have scared me for the last six months and I feel really really horrible about it. There’s this perfect version of me in my head: I’m super organised and on top of everything, super nice and gregarious while standing up for myself too… but I fall short a lot and then I feel wracked with guilt and shame. I want to stop this because I’m sure it’s not nice to have a friend who is more concerned with being perfect and ok than having fun; more importantly I want to feel better in myself.

Giving yourself a treat is often seen as naughty and indulgent but it’s actually very important I’ve found out. For a long time I have worked so hard for other people, oftentimes until I cry, thinking that it’ll get me places. We’re taught that success is about denying yourself in favour of maintaining a killer work ethic – but it really is a killer. I have suffered several lapses in mental health over the past 10 years and each time I blamed myself for not being good enough or hard arsed enough. I never really considered that I might need to treat myself better. In fact, it wasn’t until I read about self care within the fat activism and social justice realm that I realised our cultural narrative around success has been built on a foundation of complete bollocks. Burn out isn’t just a thing for corporate folks, it happens in every sphere of life where you find people working passionately.
A photo of me looking into a bathroom mirror holding a DSLR. I'm wearing a black and white striped long tshirt under a pink pinafore with a white half doily brooch. My hair is now white-ish blond with an undercut and a long top and my sunglasses sit in my hair.
So in the last week I was able to do a few things for myself: I cut my hair (with Nick’s help) and I booked a couple of nights away down the coast. And damn the world if the world doesn’t like it, because I loved it.

Mental illness

Sometimes it’s a struggle to manifest fance (manifance?)

29 September, 2010

This past few weeks I have struggled. Not just with blogging but personally too (and I’m waiting on some blood test results that might return an outcome I’m NOT keen for.) Lots of bloggers seem to cover up all the bad bits and present the shiniest and most palatable version of themselves to the world, and while it’s nice to appeal to aspiration and positivity but I think that it’s important to be truthful and raw too. I think that trying to be positive all the damn time puts a lot of people off blogging too; I’ve encouraged my husband to blog the struggles as well as the victories as he starts his own blogging endeavour, but I struggle to share my feelings when I’m feeling low and asking for help is especially difficult. It’s harder for me to do this more recently because as my readership increases, so does the percentage of people who aren’t very fond of me and often I feel like admitting my flaws and failures is just providing free ammunition. But then I realise that the percentage of warm, supportive and considerate readers basically swamps the haters, and I want to be able to share vulnerability because yannow, I’m a human being too!

Photo of a bougainvillea branch against an unpainted wood fence; the flowrs are bright fucshia.

So in the spirit of being raw here’s a list of things I’m struggling with right now:
● My blemished and scarred skin;
● the impending humidity of summer and worrying about how I will manage not to look like a melting wax effigy of myself in the next six months;
● feeling like a failure in comparison to others even though we are in completely different fields;
● going to my sister’s wedding and feeling like an odd-bod;
● not being tanned even though I have never tanned and have little interest in being tanned, but wanting to just because I am the whitest person in my whole family and the wedding photos will look odd;
● being fat in Brisbane in summer because despite what the news says about an obesity epidemic, fat people are NOT everywhere and I usually feel like a sideshow attraction whenever I am around people who are not my friends;
● a depressive episode that seems to be stretching languidly over a number of months, making me think that I might need to go on meds again;
● the cost of treating my diabetes, having to find money for a MRI for my high heel damaged foot and a possible hypothyroidism diagnosis;
● feeling like I am drowning in emails;
● etc.

I’m not looking for solutions or advice really, it’s just a relief to let these anxieties out to reduce the echo inside my brain.

Photo of water in a pool, the light is dancing on the gently rippled surface and the water looks a deep greeny/ blue.

To be fair, some good things are also happening too:
● I’ve cut back on commissions because even though I like drawing things for people, I feel like I don’t have enough time to focus on my personal work and develop my skills;
● the first meeting of Aquaporko BNE, a fat femme synchronised swimming team;
● I ordered more fat necklaces and hope to create a new design to be cut in acrylic soon;
● plans for camping with friends;
● exploring some lovely Lush product samples that Fran sent me;
● discovering Mylanta can be used as a face mask to draw out zits and reduce oilyness;
● some people really like my illustration and design work and that’s nice.

The other week I was having a fantastic discussion on Twitter about the culture of positivity and how damaging it can be, especially when different issues intersect with this societal demand to be unfailingly upbeat and happy and positive. My own particular beef with it is that as a person who suffers depression there is always someone around to tell me to “cheer up” or keep my “chin up” and, you know, if it was as simple as just being happy I would. Because it’s a real effing larf to be depressed and struggle to do even the most simple daily activities. It’s hilarious when people tell me I’ve got excuses for everything. If I could just wave a wand and cut that terrible “behaviour” out, I’d be a winner for sure!

So, I guess this is me extending my middle finger to that culture of positivity as it effects the bloggersphere. Sometimes I am so immobilised by worry I can’t move. Sometimes I am so sad I can’t brush my hair. Most of the time I am so fearful of how people will respond to my experience with mental illness that I do not talk about it. I want to shrug off that shame because it does nothing for my health.

(Hitting Publish on this is the scariest thing.)

A Beautiful Life

Thank you, Yoko

23 March, 2010

This quote comes to me at such a good time, because I have been grieving my uncle and feeling quite sad about everything. I love the way Yoko Ono approaches life and her statements resonate deep within me.

Question: Is there any way to get rid of depressed feeling? lost my loved one 9 months ago, i don’t know how i start or what should do first.

Yoko: As you know, I lost mine in a very cruel way. So I think I understand what you are going through. First, you have to thank the fact that you are still alive. You look around the nature which are alive. Budding branches. A shining river. The light that shines on everything which shines on you, too. Nature is busy being active as usual. working So you cannot be sitting in your room. You want to go outside, and tune into that. Because you are part of nature, too. In the mirror in the morning, you should try to smile. Keep smiling every day. Soon you will be able to smile, naturally from your heart. Then from the tummy. Then with your whole body. Say thank you, whenever you have a chance to say. Even when somebody is mean to you. Just say thank you. If anything good happens in your life – even a small thing – just say I’m glad. If you did something awkward, just say oh, that was bad. And move on. Thank you, I’m glad, that was bad. It keeps you moving and moving out of the terrible sadness you experienced.

This is similar to how I’ve dealt with sadness and loss in the past, so I was heartened to be reminded of it again. I hope it can help you, if you need it!


Wherein I review my first pedicure

25 February, 2010


I just had my first ever pedicure and it was THE WEIRDEST EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE. Nick and I decided to pamper ourselves after all our intrepid plodding last week, and surprisingly Nick was the one who was enthusiastic about getting a professional to tend to our sore feet. I was less into it because it takes a lot for me to let someone into my personal foot bubble of space.

Being pretty terrible at small talk I like to avoid most feminine-oriented beautification services (please see chapter 4: My Fear of Hairdressers) and I was quietly terrified when Nick looked up a place to get our marital mani-pedi. When the technician (I think that’s the proper job title!) put my feet in a warm bath that vibrated I started to get into it, but then she snuck her hands in the water and started rubbing my heels. Cue the freak out.

As more of the 75 minutes of pedicure torture ticked over I awaited the next attack on my poor unsuspecting feet. Exfoliation, massage (I actually liked that bit), some foot… shaving with a pumice paddle, a bunch of oily moisturising stuff slathered from toes to calves, and then… the paraffin wax. I thought my blood was going to boil in my veins, it was so hot! After it cooled it sort of felt nice, despite the squicky feeling of stuff between my toes. After having some time to myself while the wax set I grossed myself out by thinking about how much dead skin had been sloughed off in that little room. Ew. Finally it was time for some polish – a pale pink.

The whole process was a little bit shocking to me, having never participated in such an experience before. Once I tuned out a little bit and had a giggle at all the hilarious comments on the Grill’d blog post I started to feel like I was being rightfully pampered. I’m sorry to the lovely woman who professionally tended to my feet, I’ve totally forgotten your name, but seeing as you’ve handled these feet I feel we are the most intimate of friends now.

A Beautiful Life, Art

Urban Grind and Mental Health Day

10 October, 2009

All up in yr Urban Grind

Today I put some of my work up at Urban Grind in New Farm. Urban Grind are wonderful about supporting local artists and connecting with the community, and I’m really appreciative that Morgan let me put my work up!

All up in yr Urban Grind

Today is World Mental Health Day, and the theme this year is:

Making mental health a global priority: scaling up services through citizen advocacy and action.

I advocate for complete openness about mental health issues, including my own. I hope in some way it helps other people feel that it isn’t taboo, and think of mental illness as a medical condition – just like Juvenile Diabetes (which I also have). I’ve encountered people who suggest “getting off your arse and making a change” and those who say “oh but it’s all in your head” and they’re really dismissive, simplistic and often unproductive suggestions, in fact, I feel personally that they encourage those who suffer from mental illness to not talk about their condition.

So, in the spirit of breaking taboo and stigma: I’m Natalie and I suffer from depression and anxiety. I’m interested in living a wonderful life, but sometimes it’s hard to act out a wonderful life when your brain tells you other things. Sometimes I am sad for no reason. Sometimes I panic about things that other people do without a problem. It doesn’t mean I’m less of a person, and it doesn’t mean I’m less worthy of respect or medical care.

A Beautiful Life

30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know

17 September, 2009

Illness by sctag1015

This week is National Invisible Chronic Awareness Week in America, and even though I’m international I thought this questionaire would be helpful not only for myself, but for readers of my blog!

1. The illness(es) I live with are:
Type 1 diabetes (T1D), depression and anxiety with a little tendinitis (and arm cysts!) thrown in

2. I was diagnosed with it/them in the year:
T1D – 1998
Depression and anxiety – 2001
Tendinitis/ RSI – 2007

3. But I had symptoms since:
T1D – a few months before being diagnosed (generally you don’t let that shit slide or else you get dead!)
Depression and anxiety – since 1995
Tendinitis – since about 2005

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is:
Having to interrupt my day to jab myself and eat on a schedule, being a slave to doctors (currently my beef is that they will only give me 1 repeat of insulin so I have to keep going back!)

My depression isn’t as severe as it used to be, I think learning coping mechanisms has helped me a lot in my day to day life. Surprisingly, my anxiety has been largely ignored by the doctors and shrinks so I’m still doing unproductive things like not answering calls from numbers I don’t recognise, putting my phone on silent for weeks on end, having trouble going outside by myself, etc.

I have to wear a wrist brace when I’m working, and if I really aggravate my arm I can’t work for days on end. It interrupts my workflow, and affects my ability to consistently earn money. It also makes me feel pathetic and useless when the pain is at its worst.

5. Most people assume:
I’m fat because I have type 2 diabetes. No. I’m probably fat because I give myself too much insulin, which results in fabulous to low Hb1ac levels (the coating of sugar on my blood cells) and weight gain. T1D sufferers who are very skinny (as a result of rapid weight loss, not natural body weight) likely have very high Hb1ac levels, which leads to diabetes complications like blindness and kidney disease. I will likely meet my end with a stroke or heart disease, maybe even an amputated limb.

People assume that I’m useless and aloof because of many of my anxiety symptoms. When I was a child and teen, people used to get so frustrated with my avoidance tactics and would reprimand me because I would refuse to call places when they asked me to, or because I was socially awkward.

When I wear a wrist brace out in public people are generally nicer and more helpful. Which is surprising considering when I had a bung foot going to Melbourne in December, I had to use a walking stick and some people were rude and inconsiderate. On the flight down, many of the families with children waiting to board encouraged me to get on the plane first but I was nearly bowled over by some impatient special snowflake who didn’t have any trouble walking, nor did he have children!

6. The hardest part about mornings is:
Having to wake up at a timely hour to have my insulin. If I don’t stick to a schedule, everything gets screwed around a bit.

7. My favorite medical TV show is:
I don’t really like watching the real life shows, but I like Scrubs.

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is:
Insulin pens :D

9. The hardest part about nights is:
Having hypos at 3am and having to get up and force carbs into my face when I don’t want to eat.

10. Each day I take [?] pills & vitamins.
I’m really bad with taking pills and/ or vitamins!! I’m lucky in that pills aren’t really a part of my health care regimen, even though a multi-vitamin probably wouldn’t hurt!

11. Regarding alternative treatments, I:
Certain people have tried to convince me that my diabetes can be cured with homeopathy and a raw vegan diet. Righteo!! If there was a bona-fide cure I’m sure I’d have a mailbox stuffed with excited proclamations from Diabetes Australia/ Queensland!

I want to get hypnotised and see if it helps my anxiety. I’m very curious about it because I have a few people close to me who have been helped by it.

I’ve tried a course of acupuncture for my tendinitis and while it provided short term relief for a matter of hours, it really wasn’t the relief I was looking for (IE: LONGTERM!)

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness and a visible one, I would choose:
I really have no experience having a visible illness, besides wearing a brace in public occasionally. I can’t conceive of a life without diabetes – sometimes when I have dinner with friends I find it strange that they don’t whip out their insulin pens and jab themselves when I do. Most of the time, people don’t even notice when I inject myself!

So yeh, short answer: I can’t choose, and I don’t know differently.

13. Regarding working and career:
Having hypos in the workplace can be very embarrassing sometimes, because a low blood sugar attack can make one look quite drunk and disoriented. Many workplaces I’ve been in I’ve had to simply wait until I could excuse myself to get sugar – which is completely unfair, I know.

Having an anxiety disorder and working has been challenging, but generally it has helped me confront things that I would have put in the “too hard” basket.

14. People would be surprised to know:
That I would be dead if insulin wasn’t on the PBS. It’s expensive as it is, but it’d be 20 times more expensive if it wasn’t subsidised by the government.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality is:
I’m going to die younger than Nick and my friends.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness was:
Go overseas. I’m still not sure how I would manage it, with the time zone changes and what not… it’d royally screw up my insulin regimen.

17. The commercials about my illness:
There are very few commercials about T1D. Usually it’s scare tactics about T2D (which means that people assume I have T2D).

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed:
I miss not giving a shit about when I eat or what I eat.
I miss the strength I used to have in my wrist.

19. It was really hard to give up:
Smoking. I’m still weening myself off them and I’m not the type to get all sanctimonious about it. I actually really enjoyed smoking as a way to alleviate some of my anxiety!

20. A new hobby I’ve taken up since my diagnosis is:
I’m trying to do new things in my creative practice that don’t involve such intensive use of my wrist. Right now I’m making rosettes out of ties.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again, I would:
Go traveling and eating.

22. My illness has taught me:
How to be a control freak.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say (about my illness) that gets under my skin is:

24. But I love it when people:
Look after me when I’ve had a hypo or panic attack. It makes me feel like less of a freak.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is:
I usually just say to myself that tomorrow will come like yesterday came, and pretty soon it’ll be next month. It really helps me feel like there will be a future when I think the world is going to end.

26. When someone is diagnosed I like to tell them:
Ask me anything.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is:
How little some medical professionals know. Like, when I’m in hospital getting hourly obs – THE NURSES ALWAYS COME IN AND PRICK THE TIP OF THE SAME DAMNED FINGER.

a) Don’t stick the tip or the pad of my fingers. There are helpful nerves in them! Lance the side of my fingers where there aren’t as many nerves to damage.
c) OW! That hurts! Rotate those injection sites.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was:
Get me orange juice or something similarly sugary. There’s no one time, it’s not a standalone occurrence, but my friends and loved ones always know what to do!

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because:
I never really considered that I have invisible illnesses, but I do. I always like to imagine I’m a normal person, but I’m not. That’s a delusion that healthy people don’t have to suffer.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel:
Thankful and a little weirded out, considering this blog is so public! But I think it’s important to talk about our health, especially about depression and anxiety.

Disclaimer of sorts: This awareness week was started by a Christian ministry, and while I am an atheist I think it’s important to make people aware of chronic invisible illnesses. I also think it’s important to treat them with medical science, not just prayer – like in the case of the diabetic 11 year old who died because her Christian parents refused her medical treatment, preferring to pray for her healing rather than providing her treatment.

A Beautiful Life

Yoko Ono’s Smiling Face Film

7 August, 2009

My husband and I seem to disagree when it comes to Yoko Ono: I think she is wonderful and I admire her work as an artist but Nick being the avid Beatles fan thinks she split up the band (yada yada ya whatever). When I saw the the SMILING FACE FILM by Yoko Ono group on flickr I decided to submit after browsing through several pages of all these smiling faces, with different smiles, and different faces.

I’ve not had the happiest of weeks, being very busy and stressed. Today the maternal figure in the passenger seat of the family roadtrip that is my usual shrieking, forever accelerating brain turned around and yelled at me: IF YOU DON’T BUCKLE UP BACK THERE, WE’RE TURNING THIS CAR AROUND. So I decided to cheer the frick up. It started with me considering the notion that it might be ok to laugh about things. So I did. And then I found more things funny, and soon after that… the car-full of passengers in my brain did settle down, buckle up and quit whinging about when and if we were going to get there yet. We haven’t quite gotten to the sing-a-long portion of the trip, but I’m sure in no time the paternal figure will slip a cassette of the Grease soundtrack into the dashboard and start hamming it up to the doleful sounds of “Sandy“.

How To… SMILE by Yoko Ono

I told you to smile when you are feeling down.
However, there are steps you should know.
First you go to the mirror and smile to the mirror in anyway you can.
You probably will not feel any different.
Smile a few times that way.
If that is not enough, smile a few times every morning when you see the mirror.
That won’t do much, either, right?

Because there is a way to smile and change not only your mood, but make your body healthy and young, and change your life for the better!

1) Smile just by twisting the ends of your mouth up. That doesn’t get you anywhere, I bet. But that’s a start.

2) Smile with your eyes and mouth. That’s better. Your smile will make somebody feel good, maybe. Add a little giggle, and they will either think you’re crazy or like you for it.

3) If you really want to smile so it will make yourself feel good as well – you have to smile from your heart and your lungs. Don’t worry, if you are ending the smile with a quiet sound like ummm.

4) The next step will make you feel still better. Smile from your solar plexus. This has an added benefit of making your solar plexus healthier, and active.

5) The next step is to smile right down from your stomach. When you do this, make sure to breathe deeply and pull your stomach muscles in as you smile.

6) The next step – yes, there are more steps! – you should smile from your knees. Again, just pull your knees in – as you pull your stomach in – at the same time you use your lungs, heart and solar plexus. You’ll see that by then, you are smililng with your whole body. You won’t forget to smile with your eyes and mouth at the same time. It will happen anyway. That’s how you will get the true benefit of smiling.

How about giving a smile to others? Should we forget that? Don’t worry. They’ll notice your smile. Only, this time, you’ll feel good, too. Very, very good!

I love you! yoko

Yoko Ono
24 July 2009


La donna mascherata

23 June, 2009

La donna mascherata

A new piece (or, drainting! A drawing and a painting) for exhibiting, hopefully, if KILN still want me to participate in the Illustrators show coming up soon! I usually know I’m on the right track if a new piece scares the crap out of me, and this lady sure scared me on several occasions! Despite studying art at university, lots of fine art skills escape me and I usually feel quite incompetent beside other artists because I am mostly self taught. Her skin colour really worried me for a while, but I just ended up layering the colour a bit, and it came good. Horah!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we hide ourselves in public, to become normal or to blend in. From my early teens I wore make up religiously because I had terrible acne, and it got to a point where I couldn’t answer the door without having a full face on. These days, while I love my cosmetics, I’m a bit more relaxed about “putting on my mask” but you’ll never catch me in a social situation without being fully made up and dressed ridiculously. Because, you know, people might find out… that I have… flaws!

Externals aside, I’ve also had a lot of practice at covering up my various idiosyncrasies. It’s easy for me to say I have experience with depression, suicide and anxiety but harder for me to go in to details because I am so used to people trivialising my fears. Mostly, I’m scared of phones and of falling over in public when I’m out by myself. And because of those fears I come off as quite aloof (I’m pretty hard to catch on the phone!) and I only ever go out when I’ve got someone with me, so in the case I fall over I’ve got someone to laugh about it with me! I mask a lot of my anxieties with a huge laugh and a big personality but lately I’ve been feeling quite guilty about it. This work is one of my ways of coming out as hiding.

So there, that’s my story about being a masked woman. What masks do you wear?