Tag Archives: doodles

Since we’re here…I’m doing this now.

So this is one of my new enterprises.  Just thought I’d leave this here in case anyone’s having a greetings card emergency situation.  Y’know.  In case.

You can click for a look if you like.

That’s all for the shameless self – promotion  🙂  x

drawing room

etsy store

Sorry May, it’s been emotional but it’s time to move on…

Jobhunting is a blast

Jobhunting is a blast

Woah, things got a bit intense back there.   I gave myself a proper fright, however I live to fight (shuffle, complain, mess about, whatever) another day.  Which is nice.

It’s not all been doom and gloom though – My partner, family and friends have been amazing.  I could get quite emotional talking about it, so I won’t, but we have some nice stuff  lined up for the next few weeks to keep me chipper.  I have also faced down a few facts and I have finally resigned from my job since I know it’s really bad for my neurons (stupid neurons) and I want to break the cycle of mood swings I seem to have fallen into.   Seven years of toughing it out is enough.

On this basis, June is going to be all about the kind of employment out there that might not mangle the bipolar mind…since I shall be seeking it myself.  I’ve a couple of months before I actually leave work so I have some time to get steady again and work out properly what to do next.

I’ll be posting a little summary of May’s lessons, although I mostly learned that getting addicted to sleeping pills would be preferable to going crackers from lack of sleep (thanks Doc).

Peace x

Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain  ~ Carl Jung

IMAG0517

Jung was interested in images of dreams and fantasies.  So here’s a fantasy. My other fantasy is that my scanner is not broken, but that was even more boring to draw (though not as boring as photographing pictures and uploading them).

Clearly my fantasies are not so fantastical, here I am looking at the sea, getting a bit of peace… except that it’s where I live – not in the sea, just near it – that’s the fantasy part.

Anyway, after reading about Jung (who, coincidentally, seems to be referenced in a lot of the fiction I have been reading recently) and being a bit stuck for inspiration, I decided to doodle some dream images.  Talking about your dreams is a bit like discussing your aches and pains eg.  more interesting to you than anyone else – I’ll try to bear this in mind.

Jung’s analysis involved working closely with patients to investigate and understand the meaning in the dream-images they created; I take this to mean that he didn’t get too Freudian about everything (‘You dreamed about snakes!? Mwahahaha…’) but rather discussed archetypes and possible connotations based on the patients own thoughts and experiences.   The devil, as it were, is in the detail.

So, here’s a dreamscape in which I was telling off the owners of a tiger and a panther for walking the aforementioned big cats in my local park.  I refused to be placated when they showed me their we’re-allowed-to-walk-big-cats-in-the-park licences.

The panther didn't have a monkey-face in my dream, I just can't draw very well.

The panther didn’t have a monkey-face in my dream, I just can’t draw very well.

There are shades of the Jungian archetype The Shadow in those big cats… The dark self on a leash?  Crumbs.  That’s worrying.  However, Jung might have been more interested in the colour of the leash, or the breed of cat or even the ‘licence’ aspect of the dream, depending on the information I gave him.  Since he’s not around to ask I’m going to conclude that my sub-conscious has deep-held concerns about wild carnivorous creatures hanging around in public places.  Which are very sensible concerns to have.

I always sleep in the bath

I always sleep in the bath

And now for something completely different…and yet the same.  In this dream I woke up fully dressed in a bathtub as an old friend brought me a cup of tea. There’s a rather nice little plant on the windowsill there too.  Frankly I can’t make head nor tail of that one –  not a clue.  All I know is that I was really disappointed to wake up in actual real life without that cuppa.

I could go on with the dream illustrations and thrilling synopses but I’m going to leave that whole topic there for now.  It seems wise.  But I reckon there’s something cathartic about dream-doodling so I may not quit entirely…

For now though, I’ll leave you with a snarky doodle of PM David Cameron.

dave's plans

…and a finished version of another doodle.

Jpeg

Peace x

Challenge 4: Where has my cup gone? And other stuff.

pilgrims

Finally the cups took matters into their own hands and made their own way to the dishwasher.

I had to start (again) somewhere so here are this week’s eclectic (messy) offerings so far.  Behold my theory about where all the cups at work have disappeared to.  Really, they just keep vanishing.  We need, like, Scooby-Doo, man.

Also behold my attempt at a *haiku, inspired by some of this week’s less tasteful mental-health related headlines.

HAIKU

* my daughter pointed out to me that I have the haiku wrong, that it’s 5,7,5 and refused to accept my ‘inverse haiku’ argument.  Considering it’s my job to remember this stuff it’s a bit embarrassing – plus I hate it when she’s right.

So here’s a ‘haiku’ haiku

Keep to the attic 

Dark words ignite bright torches

Flames and pitchforks come

Tadaa! (Hopefully the poetry will improve.  Or stop)

Oh, and a visual representation of how I’ve felt most of this week.

NOSEFIRST

meh

Despite a total lack of motivation to do anything but eat cake and slump, I’ve forced myself to go to the gym twice.  Thanks February challenge *raspberries*.  And since I’ve been over-tired and struggling to sleep, I’ve been listening to these to help me relax –  I may have posted them before, sorry about that if so.  If you can get past the slightly creepy voice this one’s pretty good for getting calm to-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBlWOJgiyGg

And this one’s just cute…if you like rivers and lanterns.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpotwRmX654

Personally I prefer Zopiclone for solving sleeping difficulties, but my GP rarely lets me have them *more raspberries* because people become addicted to them – I can’t think why…

Peace x

Best and Worst: February Challenge (and getting a march on March with the arts)

Art for art's sake

Art for art’s sake

I’m not really at my best today,  tiredness makes my brain wobbly and my inner miserablist more outer –  I can’t vouch therefore for the quality of this post 🙂  but I can assure you that it will contain information appropriate to the heading…

The Best of Feb

1) Yoga is good.  The have-you-tried-yoga people were completely right.  I’d like  to do a class regularly.

2) The more I have done the more I’ve wanted to do – when stuff like work hasn’t interfered with my grand plans.  Tsk.  Being motivated to exercise has led to my being more motivated in general.

3) Following on from the above, I’ve found that the more I do the more I can do.  And that applies not just to exercise.  Over the last few weeks I have been much more prepared to push myself a bit.  Which is probably a natural coming-out-of-a-depression progression, but the exercise thing has probably sped up the process.

4) I’ve felt a sense of achievement when I’ve thrown myself about a bit.  That can’t hurt.  Although stomach crunches do; this is a universal truth.  It’s made me a bit more chipper thanks to all those whizzy brain chemicals too – well it has when lack of sleep hasn’t turned me into a jelly.

5) Sorting out when to squeeze in a gym visit has made me think ahead more and possibly be a bit more organised.  Possibly. A bit.

And the worst…

1) Ok, this isn’t strictly a worst-about-exercise but more about me; I could have tried a bit harder and I’ve planned to do a few things that I haven’t quite managed.  Hopefully I’ll get around to those when I feel a bit more lively.

2) Squats hurt.  My thigh muscles went on strike in disgust.

3)  When a physio has told you not to lift weights above your head and you do it anyway there will be pain and you will feel stupid.

4) See 2.

5) In spite of upping my exercise levels by, ooh, 100% I am not yet all buff and beautiful.  It is possible that I will have to tackle my sweet tooth for aesthetic   purposes. Damn.

Overall this challenge has done me good and I’ve enjoyed it – even when it’s felt like a bit of a slog.  It’s not February’s fault that I’m experiencing a sleep glitch. Anyway I’m going to try for two decent sessions of exercise a week for the forseeable and maybe sign up for a (really tiny) charity run of some kind over the summer to help keep me on track.

As for March…well, a few things have inspired my next challenge…

The programme I listened to about The Dragon Cafe reminded me that art therapy is considered to be beneficial for those of us with mental health issues, although there’s not a lot of official research into effects and outcomes.  There are a few perspectives on it here and here and here.

So I’m going to give some artsy stuff a go, although I’m probably not going to see an actual therapist I reckon getting all creative on my own is close enough for now. Since I started this blog I’ve begun doodling a bit as you may have noticed, but it’s been a while since I really sat down to draw. I’m going to go old-school and get my pens and pencils out (and even my guitar) and try to create something new each week.  I know some amazing artists and musicians so this is quite daunting.  Which is a good reason to do it.  It’s got to be about having a go at things just because I enjoy doing them.  Hopefully I’ll learn some new stuff too.

I must say in advance though that this might be hard on the eyes and ears (singing is good for the soul… but sometimes that only applies to soul of the singer) so remember it’s art for art’s sake…*winces* and I’ll try not to share anything too tragic.

Peace x

Making tea is not a form of exercise. Sadly.

It's better when I don't hand-write these.

It’s better when I don’t hand-write these.

I tidied up an old doodle whilst procrastinating about going to the gym.  I’m currently holding a cup of tea so I’m safely in the green zone.

Anyway, I’m leaving for the treadmill right now (well, once I finish my cuppa).  There’s a yoga class on in a bit too but I’m not promising anything…

Comfort zone? What comfort zone?

I’ll begin with a confession – I only managed two gym sessions last week.  But I have reasons which are in-keeping with the spirit of this breaking B.A.D endevour…I have been chipping away at the old routine.  Wild eh.

My trip to London last weekend may have been a lazy one, but it still involved getting to stations and travelling on trains and even negotiating the underground (erk).  Now my friend in the big smoke is one of my favourite people in the world, but sometimes I just can’t do all of the above.  During periods of intense gloom I expend all my energy on the must-be-done stuff and then get stuck in a working/sleeping rut that is hard to shake off, even when the gloom begins to clear.   So not only was it brilliant to see her, my trip also felt like confirmation that the depression has really & truly lifted.

I was quite tired on my return, but surprised myself anyway by venturing out on a school night (another train!) to deliver my partner-in-crime some TLC and his suit; abandoned in my wardrobe since a wedding last year and required for his nan’s funeral (he scrubs up well, she’d have been proud).  This was hardly a mountain-climb of a mission…but staying out on a school-night means smashing the work/sleep routine which has only just begun to be cracked with interludes at the gym, writing this stuff here and having cups of tea at the dining table with my daughter.

Following this crazy diversion from the usual, at the end of the week I joined some lovely work-people on a dinner n’ karaoke night out.  I haven’t been to a work thing for a couple of years, so y’know, it was new.  Plus I’m scared of karaoke.  I love singing, I used to teach it, I’ve been in the quietest band ever (last gig, 2013 🙂  ) for years – despite all this I’m still scared of karaoke.  But I’d forgotten how much I love a good sing.  I’d forgotten how easy it is to care less about sounding like an angry cat with access to reverb once you’ve got hold of a microphone.  Ha! And I’d forgotten how nice it is to just hang out and be silly.   I have to psyche myself up for such things you see, I get a bit be-stranged when I’ve been hibernating for too long but it’s likely I think I’m more odd than I actually am.  Most of the time mildly eccentric probably covers it.  Most of the time.

The Platypus, one of nature's little oddities.

Darwin The Platypus, one of nature’s little oddities.

Anyway, I enjoyed myself.  Hopefully not at the expense of anybody’s hearing.

Finally, to round off the week, I managed to get involved with St Valentine’s day in a candles and dinner sort of way ( although if saints were my thing I’d be much more about St Jude…).  Even though I hate the generic tat attached to Februsary 14th it can only be good for a rubbish romantic like me to get a bit of a nudge from the calender as a reminder to do something nice…Aw  *vomits sparkly heart decorations*

So.  Yes. These are the things I did last week which didn’t involves being at the gym.  And they’re all to the good.  Hooray.  But I am going to meet my 3 sessions this week.  Even though Ben & Jerry’s is no longer on special offer, thus quashing my appetite for ice-cream, I still really need the exercise.  Just as soon as my gym socks dry.  Once I’ve washed them.  They’re all the way upstairs.  I’ll probably need a cup of tea before I bring them down.

Peace x

Challenge 2 Depression Hacks: From going outside to getting some exercise (Easy does it)

It's quite bright out here isn't it?

It’s quite bright out here isn’t it?

According to research, aerobic exercise encourages your amygdalae to get their groove on, helps your hippocampus get happy & lays some love on your limbic system ( *all accurate scientific descriptions). Which is good to know.  What is not so good is that, for some of us, at the very time these brain-parts most need this boost we are using up most of our energy doing necessary activities such as moving between the sofa and bathroom, and conserving the rest for visits to the kitchen and back.  Sweet irony of ironies.

*Ok, this is a lie, you can find the proper science-y stuff here.

I’ve been thinking about this as I fight the good fight for fitness, so when I spotted an article on Facebook, hailing exercise as a good way to tackle depression I wondered why they had paired it with a picture of a well-kitted-out glossy haired sprinter.  Come on now I thought know your audience.  It’s one step at a time people.  Being outside and running and looking all sprightly?  They’re  massive things when you’re dogged by the black dog. Let’s break it all down a bit…

Hmm...definitely more trees out here than in the kitchen.

Hmm…definitely more trees out here than in the kitchen.

FIRST STEPS:   A reasonably achievable aim is a short walk around a park, or  a short shuffle down a street with some nice trees if you don’t happen to live next to a park.  If this is a step too far then you could aim for a slow walk to the shop looking forwards instead of at the pavement.  You don’t even have to go into the shop…but you could take your hood down.  And if you’ve yet to crack simply going outside (never mind moving around out there)  & you’re really lucky like me you might have a lovely friend who will assure you that you don’t have to stay outside for more than 10 minutes, then drive you to a large pub garden, sit with you at a table away from other human life forms and let you look at trees and ducks and stuff in silence for as long as you’re able.  Then take you home. Usually well after your 10 minutes has elapsed.

NEXT STEPS:  Unless you were an athlete before the black dog bit, you are as likely to hit a sprint during the throes of depression as you are to find a unicorn in the cupboard when you go to find your trainers.  There are exceptions of course and if you can work up a run, go for it.  If you’re like me that’s not going to happen until you’ve managed to shrug off your dressing gown for a good day or two, in which case you could get active indoors to start with.  I’ve looked up a few sites where you can follow an instructor without worrying that you will have the added worry of an audience if you flake/panic/need a nap after 2 minutes.

You could try this not- so- glossy but calm and gentle yoga-for-beginners   or this low-impact vid  which is quite sweet and involves some clapping – a cheery kind of activity I suppose.

If you feel a bit more lively a chap called Jared has put together this selection of zumba videos  which I’m struggling to watch more than a few seconds of because my laptop is being temperamental (eg. s***) but I thought I’d leave them here anyway because there’s links to a few other workouts on the site if these don’t float your boat.

Personally I managed to get moving now and again with the very-smiley Davina’s High Energy Five Workout DVD, mainly because it was the only workout DVD I owned.  It’s brutal in parts but the 5 different sessions are 15 mins each. I did one session of a day. Sometimes.  Mainly I just did the warm-up 🙂

MOVING ON:  You might be able to skip straight ahead to this or you might need time on the above to help you work up to it.  Communicating effectively with other humans is a necessary part of overcoming or recovering from depression, so any activity that brings you into contact with your fellow life forms is good.  Start with something short and gentle, but try a class, you’ll only encounter small talk, nobody’s going to start asking probing questions – unless you turn up in your dressing gown, which I would advise you not to.

Obviously I am only an expert in my own breed of black dog so this is all based on my experiences, the key is to be kind to yourself and do just enough to feel a sense of achievement.  The ten minute rule’s a good one though…

And just so you know, I’m not trying to distract from my own fitness antics.  I’ve managed two gym sessions so far this week.  I’m trying to build up the time I can spend running rather than simply wiggling uphill on the treadmill.  It would be lovely to tell you that I am a glowing picture of health, but in truth my bones hurt and I look knackered.  Mood’s pretty chipper still though.

I’ve been checking out  http://fitnessista.com/work-out-with-me/ and I think I’m going to give it a go starting from tomorrow, wish me luck.

That is all.

Namaste

A gym success and a lamictal lament

Garfield was right; a calorie IS a measure of how good food tastes.

Garfield was right; a calorie is a measure of how good food tastes.

You don’t need the details of my gym visit.  The main thing is I went and I feel good for it, although I’d feel better if I’d managed not to consume a fair amount of ice-cream when I got home, there are after all a few dresses I’d like to be able to breathe freely in again.  I like to think that the gym/ice-cream combination has had a positive effect on my mood however, so overall I made good choices.

Not all is well in the healthy-body-healthy-mind hood though.  One thing I failed to remember -not- to- forget -about is just how much my skin hates exercise.  Or rather how much my skin on Lamotrigine (Lamictal) hates it.  Lamotrigine makes you sweat pine needles.  Really *cue tiny violins in background* and don’t talk to me about spots.  Lamotrigine is a wonderful world away from the cosh-to-the-head of other mood-stabilisers, in my bitter experience, but it does do weird stuff to the skin.  I suppose there are worse things though.  Suicidal depression and mind-altering hypo-mania being just two of them.

Anyway, having not bored you at all with any of these things I’m off to bed with headspace (I’m still doing it! Go me!) and some mint-tea.  Rock n Roll.

Of course I prefer tea to wine *weeps quietly*

Of course I prefer tea to wine *weeps quietly*

Final Thoughts on the January Challenge – I am a zen master and a teller of cheeky lies (only one of these statements is true)

Ok, I’m not a zen master, it’s only been a couple of weeks, but I do feel a little more calm and collected.  Here are my five best and worst discoveries, realisations and cogitations from Challenge 1 – a meander through meditation and mindfulness

Jpeg

First is Best

  1. I have remembered that am not a brain in a jar.  Forgive the cheesiness of the forthcoming statement – I feel more in touch with my physical self.  Although not enough to have stopped walking into door frames and table edges, my spatial awareness still does not seem to extend to registering  where  my shoulders and knees end and other objects begin.

    My brain.  The Platypus situation needs some explanation.  Another time I promise.

    My brain. The Platypus situation needs some explanation. Another time I promise.

  2. I have learned that there are loads of meditation techniques out there.  Since my natural cynicism is generally outweighed by my curiosity (the kind that did for the cat)  I’ve tried to reserve judgement until I’ve learned a bit more/tried it out.  There have of course been times when I should have listened to my inner cynic, but y’know,  it’s been a learning curve.
  3. It is wonderful to not think about anything, even if I’ve only managed it for about ten seconds of a day.  I can’t think of a time before now when my brain has shut-the-*@£!-up.  Even when it’s all mushy and miserable it likes to go on about it.  A bit of not-thinking is bliss and worth the surprising amount of effort.
  4. I have noticed little and lovely things more, although I stopped to photograph a spotlight of sunshine falling across some grass the other day and decided that it was possible to take things too far.  Plus I am a pretty terrible photographer.

    A step too far?

    A step too far?

  5. This blog has got me writing and doodling again.  And I have been inspired, informed and entertained by other blogs, articles and essays along the way.  Long may that continue.

Worst

  1. My boss is never going to think that stopping to be in the moment is a valid reason for being late to work.  No matter how lovely the birdsong/ river sparkle or angle of sunlight I have been enjoying.
  2. Mindfulness is a discipline really, and that takes work.  Which is fine, it’s just a bit tougher than I realised.
  3. It can be hard to stay awake during some of the exercises.  You’re supposed to stay awake to benefit.  Sigh.
  4. I have an aversion to pipe-music.  Just sayin’.
  5. There are individuals and organisations out there offering theories, resources and services that involve parting with a lot of money.  And  they are targeting a demographic (ie. me) that is often vulnerable to promises of psychological relief. Maybe some of these truly are brilliant and life changing (I admit, I didn’t spend any hard cash finding outbecause I am a cynical, wallet full-of-moths creature)  and I am horribly wrong.  But in my humble opinion there’s a world of difference between spending a bit of cash on an App, CD (they still make them you know) DVD or book that will teach you something and signing up to an expensive course that promises to make you a wealthy and healthy zen master if you invest in various talismans along the way.  Unless you’re loaded, in which case…well, have a go and let me know.

To conclude: I’m going to try to continue investing a little time in mindfulness and other forms of meditation.  Even the guided sort involving tinkly bells and waterfall sounds in the background.  I think I’ve discovered a few things to store away for the dark days too – if I can be bothered to remember.  Depression makes you forget to be bothered to remember things doesn’t it?  Like how to get dressed or form sentences.

layering

But, like I seem to keep saying, I am going to try.

Namaste.