A Wise Hedgehog with Important Messages

Today I created a range of motivational mental health related posters with a doodled ‘wise hedgehog’ and colourful mixed media design whilst at the Acute Community Unit.

I’m not sure where the combination came from, but out popped this first one with a message that I myself really need reminding of:

As well as one that sprung from a difficult conversation I had just had with the crisis team manager:

With 2 other mental health themed ones:

And one more to do with art/creativity:

After a lot of enthusiasm on Twitter and some requests, I have put these designs up for sale on Zazzle- whether you yourself would like a reminder of any of these messages or if you know someone whose day might be brightened by receiving one of these…Posters can be purchased from this link: https://www.zazzle.co.uk/thedoodlechronicles

Plus, if you buy in the next few days, you can get 20% off with the code JULYSAVINGS20.

Let me know what you think about my wise little hedgehog… 🙂

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Help with Emotions

Emotions are tricky little buggers. They really are.

And for some of us they feel down right impossible to cope with, understand, recognise and even simply to have. I struggle in many ways with emotions…others’ but mainly my own. I also give myself a hard time about that fact and expect myself to ‘do better’ or ‘feel the right thing’. Knowing this, and knowing that I’m facing a particularly turbulent time*, last week the crisis team manager had me do an exercise where I stood in the middle of a room surrounded by different sized pieces of paper and alotted emotions to those pieces of paper according to how much I was feeling them at the time. We then went through several different scenarios and changed the emotions around accordingly. This was to show me that even if I was being hard on myself and expecting to feel the ‘right’ emotions (e.g. happy or relieved that the placement is definite rather than scared or anxious) or feeling that I would feel one emotion forever, in fact recent history shows that emotions fluctuate massively in their presence or size and that I can feel many things at once without invalidating anything else that’s going on.

I found the exercise incredibly helpful (although it felt quite painful at the time) and today decided to recreate it in a portable and reusable form. I already have benefited from this – working out what is actually going on inside me rather than just a broad ‘overwhelmed’- and thought it’s a concept worth sharing in case anyone else wants to give something similar a go in any of its forms.

So here is a concept borne of the crisis team manager’s work with me:

This is in my visual journal but could be on a standalone piece of card or inside a diary or something similar, with very basic boxes drawn on the page, and colour-coded emotions cut out in card and blue-tacked to the appropriate box at that moment in time.

Let me know if you’ve used something similar or gave this a go!

*in the latter stages of preparing for a long-term specialist hospital placement, hours away from home/family/care team, in a locked and mainly unknown environment, after my last placement collapsed for financial reasons with just 28 days notice and after not fulfilling their promises/purpose

A Day in the Life (Visual Journal) – Mental Health Awareness Week

Days From Hell Approaching

Tomorrow: 11am Commissioner coming to gather evidence and talk to me to assess if they will keep funding my placement 2.30pm Meeting with CCs, placement psychologist, placement manager, senior keyworker and ODM of the company to review/assess/gather evidence ahead of funding panel Tuesday: 9.30am Funding panel that decides my future 11am Therapy, last before psychologist… Continue reading Days From Hell Approaching

Forget All That You’re Not

These beautiful words were shared with me today and I just wanted to pass this important message on…

…I hope you can take them to heart and try to remember all that you ARE rather than what you’re not.

What a Month of My Art Therapy Looks Like

Art therapy for me is a valuable and unique way of experiencing and expressing my thoughts, feelings and emotions – and sometimes a rare chance to just be a bit playful or make something a bit pretty, depending on what is going on for me at the time. I’ve been lucky enough to receive a month’s worth of sessions (once or twice weekly, depending on bank holidays and the therapist’s leave) which come to an end on Monday so I thought now was a good opportunity to reflect upon what I’ve created over the past month.

From the start of this batch of sessions, the Art Psychotherapist, who has worked with me before, decided that a great project for me would be for me to try to test out creating very large, free, uncontrolled pieces where possible as I tend to let perfectionism and anxiety hold me back into creating very small and controlled pieces rather than letting my time in art therapy tap into the more raw emotions. We’ve both been pleased with the results of this project and the difference we have noticed in me whilst I create these pieces. It has been freeing and a completely new experience for me.

So, what have I done? Below is a taster. Most of these are created on A2 or A1 paper, mainly using paint (whether that me using standard brushes, rollers, sponges, fingers, or even squirting straight from the bottle), but sometimes using pens or pastels or a mix of media. Some of it is much more a reflection of my internal state whilst others were more about trying to be a bit playful and have some fun. I hope this gives some insight into what Art Therapy can look like.

12/05/2017

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Self-destruction in clay form

15/05/2017

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Emotional pain exploding from the head, tarnishing the world
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Just flowers!
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My internal world

19/05/2017

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Mess, confusion, confliction – walled in by pain and darkness
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The mess and confusion of my internal world
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Playing with painting with my fingers on a very large scale
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A session’s work

22/5/2017

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The monster in my head
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Hand for scale of the monster in my head

02/06/2017

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My internal world: pain, fear, overwhelming thoughts & emotions, and torment – spreading and tarnishing the world around me

12/06/2017

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Playing to make a pretty mess
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Close up of a pretty mess
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Close up of a pretty mess
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Close up of a pretty mess
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My world: cold darkness externally enshrouding internal explosions
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Pretty, though…

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The suicide monster with a tiny me in its grips

I’d really recommend anyone who has the opportunity gives art therapy a go; it is nothing to do with ‘Art’ or ‘talent’ or ‘ability’ but about connecting to and expressing your thoughts/feelings/emotions or being a bit playful at times when that feels impossible. I hadn’t done any kind of art since the start of secondary school (and even then that was begrudgingly) when I first tried art therapy, and believe me I was beyond sceptical, but look at all that is has sparked in me since…!