Tag: creativity

Getting ready for the day centre – trying to keep reaching out

I’ve had a really bad dissociative episode this weekend. After therapy group on Friday my mind just shut down and didn’t even seem to slide into my safe escape world. I was frozen and gone and my body wasn’t working either. I think I slept quite a lot and several times was locked into hallucinations, conscious but unable to move. This afternoon I started to be “here” again though I’m longing to escape into sleep. Every movement hurts so much. Returning from these episodes is scary. I’m fighting through fog to speak to anyone and I’ve lost so much time. Where have the last 2 days gone?

I forced myself to go out this afternoon and bought supplies I need for volunteering at the day centre tomorrow (I go every other week to do craft activities with a small group of elderly people). As I was leaving, I bumped into a neighbour who wasn’t well so I picked up a couple of things she needed too. This evening I’ve been preparing for tomorrow. I am dreading it and don’t know how I’ll be able to leave the house, I feel so bad. I feel guilty for dreading it because they need me at the centre and all the elderly people there are struggling with far worse than I am. By God’s grace the harder I have to force myself to go, the more love I will put into it, and in my weakness He is strong and He will lead me.

Tomorrow at the day centre we are going to make mini Christmas trees from empty squash bottles, tinsel and decorated card, and make stars for the top from felt and pretty buttons. If there’s time we’ll make paper stars (or snowflakes). Here’s one I practiced making with scrap paper just now. They’ll look much prettier tomorrow made from glittery paper.

20161218_204334.jpg

I thought it would be nice for people to have ornaments to take home. I particularly like the star because you can start with scraps and still make something pretty. It’s a bit like what I’m trusting in God to do with my life – bring something beautiful from the mess of my heart.

Ginny xxx

Trying to climb back up out of this ice

It has been a really full month. I feel disoriented realising it’s September already and so much of the year has slipped past. I so much want to write today but I’m feeling shattered and something else weird and disturbing. Just low and empty and I can’t find my thoughts or find the way out of it. I guess it’s just emotionally cut off. I was really upset, really anxious, then happy and something almost felt like it woke up part of my mind that is not usually there as I felt hopeful about something…..but then hallucinations and then with no warning, this. Never felt quite like this before and nothing that’s happened today explains it or touches why I’m feeling this way. I used to self-harm in this kind of state. Now I can’t even do that. It feels like I should sleep but sleep is far away. There isn’t even anything harmful in this state itself. It’s only inside me. So why is it so unbearable…. I don’t know how to wake up out of it. I’m trying to fight through by writing, trying to do any little creative thing, draw something, keep on grasping to try to find the so so many things I should be knowing I’m thankful for right now no matter how I feel, and even was feeling thankful for, really was, until a couple of hours ago.

I haven’t blogged for ages because so much has been going on this month and taken all my energy. I’m sorry. I know I owe replies… I haven’t been here and haven’t kept up reading or keeping in touch with everyone…through everything you’ve been going through. I’m sorry.

I’m trying to find the way back up. There are several topics I do want to write on when I can manage to process the words and get them down, and so many posts I want to get caught up reading and comments I know I owe replies to!

Ginny xxx

More cards – trying out some new materials

Feeling fairly useless as I do this week, I’ve tried very hard to do a little bit each day towards creating something good. I’ve been trying out some new materials for my greetings cards – different card backs and adhesive, for example. I focused on making photo cards as a friend had particularly requested some. She likes simple, un-frilly, photographic designs. It’s only recently I’ve started using my photos in my cards (usually I use decoupage, collage and similar) so I need to perfect my technique – a lot!

20160816_100620.jpg

It took me ages because of the pain but I’m so happy I persevered. There’s still a lot I need to streamline but I was pleased with some of the results; even more so when I showed them to my friend today and she was delighted. She’d even like some more. It really encouraged me and made me thankful to be able to do something nice for a friend.

20160816_173326.jpg

It’s helpful for me as well to make them for friends and get honest feedback so that I can improve and see what kind of designs are popular.

It’s a long range goal at present but one day I’d like to take part in a craft fair selling some of my creations. I think it would be hard for it to be truly profitable financially once my time is taken into account – doing it with the precision and finish I want to is labour-intensive – but I’d get a lot of enjoyment from it. Letter-writing is another favorite of mine though I don’t do as much as I used to as writing can be painful at present. Knowing that sending and receiving cards and letters can bring people lots of pleasure, I’d enjoy selling affordable cards. Many of those available in shops locally are incredibly expensive, maybe over £3 or even over £4 each, and that’s just too much for most people, especially once postage is factored in, and puts people off writing to friends and family.

20160816_100257.jpg

This year I hope to have time to make Christmas cards too.

Ginny xxx

Walking this Borderland #13: Tangled!

(For an explanation of the intention of this series please click HERE. )

In learning to sit with different emotional states, I’ve discovered that tactile, sensory experiences are important for me. I find warmth, softness, different textures, tastes and so on soothing and a major way of soothing and coping with anxiety and distress. Creativity and surrounding myself with an environment that feels safe and contains pleasant sensory experiences is a necessary part of staying stable and well for me. 

It’s not surprising then that I find certain objects are good for aiding self-soothing. One habit I fall into when I’m anxious, upset or emotionally uncomfortable is scratching and pulling at the skin on my arms, hands and sometimes face. Often, until it starts to bleed this is an unconscious thing, though it can also be something I’m aware of but irresistibly compelled to do in response to psychotic thoughts about evil inside me or mental images of having to cut things out of me.

Meet my new toy – it’s a Tangle.

20160812_142932.jpg

The Tangle is a bendy, twisty, small plastic form, made of lots of smaller sections connected together so it can be stretched out, bunched up, wrapped round and twisted into different shapes between your fingers. It has a smooth, pleasing texture. It’s very light and little, easily fitting in your pocket or bag. I’ve started carrying this with me and in times I’m likely to start scratching – when I’m waiting for something or when I’m nervous, for example – I hold the Tangle and fiddle with it. So far it has worked well to reduce the unconscious scratching.

20160812_142950.jpg

I’m sure no end of other objects would also serve this purpose and I also use a special pebble and a tiny stuffed animal toy for similar purposes.

Now, on the subject of Tangled, here’s another kind of “Tangled” – one of my goddaughter’s favorite Disney songs (from the movie of that name) which I have to admit is quite uplifting, for all it may be cheesy. We all need a bit of happiness sometimes and this scene is quite magical.

Ginny xxx

“At last I’ve seen the light” from Disney’s musical “Tangled” sung by  Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi.

31 Days of Summer Lovin’ – Day 7: Refresh

img_7059-4

Hmmm.  This was a tricky one. I couldn’t find a suitable photo. So this is a slight cheat but it’s late and I have a long day tomorrow including my first 1:1 therapy since the PD Service took a 2 week break in therapy sessions for the summer.

Whilst staying at my friend’s we went to a great craft store and I took the opportunity to refresh 😉 my card-making and craft supplies. I bought this set of pastel and metallic gel pens.

20160807_223952.jpg

I think I’ll use these for some of my colouring books as well as in card making.

Good night to you all! 🙂

Ginny xxx

As ever, for details acknowledgments of this challenge created by Soul Seaker, please sehere.

31 Days of Summer Lovin’ – Day 1

img_7059-4

Thanks go to Cathy Lynn Brooks – your responses to this challenge prompted me to take part. Big thanks also go to Soul Seaker  who created this challenge – I don’t know your blog well yet but definitely will be exploring it!

The challenge was designed for July but I did not see it soon enough so I decided to do it for August instead. I’ve tried some photo challenges before and not been very good at keeping up with them. Let’s see if I can do better this time! I will take a picture every day and endeavour to post daily too but I may sometimes need to upload a few days at a time depending on my schedule.

Today is Day 1 – Outdoors. This plant grows in my friend’s garden. She gave me an off-cut which I was able to plant in my little yard and it’s the first thing I’ve grown myself! Curiously, in my yard the flowers are deep pink whereas hers are this soft lilac colour. We think the little plant must be greatly affected by differences in soil acidity.

1470065200817311791747.jpg

Ginny xxx

My latest creative projects

This week has been demanding with two medical appointments, an assessment for a disability benefit I am hoping to claim, meeting with my support worker, taking documents about my changes of circumstances (now signed off from work) into the housing office, catching up on filing a massive stack of paperwork which keeps pouring in thick and fast at the moment as I am sorting out different Benefits claims, and a difficult situation in relation to my therapy group, which I’ll post more on shortly.

I’ve been really needing some calming time amid all this. Colouring is still my go-to calming activity at the moment. Also, I’m continuing making greetings cards and have got together some photos to use to make some for a friend who has requested some. It’s lovely to do them with a particular person in mind and I’m happy they are good enough that someone would actually request them.

Here is a picture I’ve just begun colouring, from a book called “Secret Garden” drawn by the amazingly talented Johanna Basford.

owl for M.jpg

My step-brother graduated last week, so I made him this little card with stars on the front, putting to good use some of the materials my friend kindly gave me for my birthday the other week:

congrats 1.jpg

This week I need to tidy and organise my card materials, as everything is thrown in a box together and I am sure there is quite a bit I’m not making good use of!

I’m thankful that I have these hobbies which I can still do fairly much unaffected even when my physical health isn’t great.

Do you have a favourite hobby that helps you relax?

Ginny xxx

Cards and crafts

20160630_085426-1

I’ve been trying to devote a bit of time each week to something creative. I find it’s encouraging to be able to make something pretty even when you’re not feeling good. I’ve been making some greetings cards again. A colleague is fundraising for the charity Tommy’s , which does amazing work and research to help those who have suffered with a miscarriage or stillbirth, and I’m going to sell the cards for donations to this cause.

20160630_085622

Not very good images I’m afraid;  I should try to get some better snaps.

20160630_085826

I took the pictures used in the photographic cards. As I think I’ve posted about before, taking photos is another activity I enjoy and it helps me focus on all the good things in the here and now. So it’s nice to be able to use the images this way.

Ginny xxx

Why did the goose cross the road, and other stories

Q – What’s the difference between a Scottish man with a slight cold and an English man with 7 days’ holiday?

A – One has a wee cough, the other has a week off.

I hear you groan 🙂 That was one of the first jokes I learnt to tell as a child. (The other was what do you call a lavatory that keeps coming back to you? – A loomerang. Yep sorry about that. …)

Moving swiftly on! I’ve just had a week off myself and go back to work tomorrow. It was exceptionally bad weather until Sunday afternoon. On the news they said it was colder in my region one day last week than it was on Christmas Day! That same day my bus was delayed because there was a flock of geese that had escaped onto the main road and caused pandemonium. The bus driver said it was a shame it wasn’t really Christmas as we’d have got rid of the problem quite quickly (goose anyone?!)

My friend came to stay for two nights. She was my first overnight guest since I moved to my flat over a year ago. It’s a big step on for me that I was able to have someone stay over. My anxiety has always previously been so high that I could not cope and had to be able to escape from company after a few hours. I did have times I struggled and I was very tired from trying to make sure I stayed “okay” but we had fun together. My friend is in her eighties – she’s my friend L’s nan and I’ve been blessed to come to know her family over the past few years. They really make me feel like an adopted family member. I’m so thankful for all of them. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like as we don’t live very close by anymore but still the friendships have stayed strong and readers of this blog will know that true lasting friendships are rare and precious to me.

Also in my week off I’ve been able to make an effort to get on top of housework and clear my very tiny garden which I had not cared for properly since the winter. I am not a gardener and don’t enjoy it but I’m thankful for my outside space and try to keep it tidy. It really is very small.

Dad came to visit yesterday afternoon.  We had a coffee and walked through the park in the sun back to my flat. We had pasta bolognese for lunch (second in my Ten Dishes challenge) and a good talk in the afternoon. He’d just been on holiday with my step mum which they’d enjoyed. I’m thankful that I feel closer to my dad again now and more able to be curious about his life and express how things really are in mine.

This coming week I need to start a creative project. One of my colleagues is retiring at the end of this month. My other colleagues and I are putting together a scrap / memento book as part of her leaving present. We are going to decorate a page each for her. Some people are sewing, some embroidery, some photo collages – I’m going to put together some decorative text and decoupage based around one of her favourite songs. Updates to follow!

I hope you’ve had a good day. What do you like to do in your holidays?

Ginny xxx

 

 

 

My rescue box – update

A while ago I posted about making up a “rescue box” as a tool to help me cope in times of crisis. You can read more about the principle and how the box helps here and I’d strongly recommend reading that before reading this post. In brief, the Box is a way of putting together in one place, easily visible and quickly accessible, the things that will help you cope when you are feeling bad. For me feeling bad tends to mean very upset, crying, struggling with voices and other hallucinations, and re-experiencing traumatic memories. The Box is not a cure for how you are feeling and is not meant to make the emotions go away. It isn’t intended to be a way to suppress them. Having said that, it is to some extent distraction, and a way to access tools to lower your very heightened emotional state so that you can then be more able to cope, to think, or to avoid impulsive actions that may be harmful to you. The CPN who explained the idea to me recommends it as a tool for BPD sufferers. I would imagine it could help people dealing with a variety of other situations / conditions too.

I promised an update about my box once I had put it together, so here goes. I’m new to this technique and I’m sharing updates as I go along.

I made my Box by covering a cardboard packaging box in gift wrap. I’ve started to stick some pretty things to the outside of it as well – a flower, some Hello Kitty stickers because they make me smile, a few little snippets of encouraging text – and I’ve put a little plastic pouch on top with a pretty card and a message from a dear friend. I’ll continue decorating the box with more sensory, pretty, attractive things and things that have a meaning for me and remind me of good times. I think this increases the likelihood the Box will be in my mind and be an appealing thing. (Half the problem with coping strategies, I find, is remembering to use them when the hard times come – often the distress can be so consuming I just don’t think of how to access helpful tools and techniques! Anything that helps me call them to mind has to be a plus!)

rescuebox

The contents of the Box is very much a personal thing, of course, as different things will be important to each of us. In case it’s of interest, here are some of the things I keep in mine (you can see them in the picture).

  • A couple of little stuffed animals – I’ll freely admit I am very childish! 🙂 I find them comforting and have quite a collection. To be honest, Bunny is usually next to me on the sofa, not in the box 🙂 and I collect “ty” Beanie owls and my-little-ponies. I guess stuffed toys also give a soothing tactile experience when you hold them, which can be useful for BPD sufferers. As a soothing sensation increases, the unpleasant sensation of very heightened emotion may reduce (again, I explain this better in my earlier post).
  • For similar reasons, a little bottle of scent. It’s soothing and distracting and if you are trying to control your breathing, the pleasant aroma can help you be aware of exhaling and inhaling.
  • A coaster, to remind me – make a soothing cup of tea! Drink it really focussing on the warmth and taste.
  • A special smooth, flat pebble from the beach, which is calming to hold (feeling the cool, polished surface) and which reminds me of the happy day on which I collected it.
  • A CD – at the moment it’s a CD I like with songs that lift my mood. This is a new one for me to try and I’m not sure which way it will go. When I am not in crisis, I enjoy listening to music. Putting on particular kinds of music and even dancing to it (well okay that’s a strong word – bouncing, at least!) can really pick me up. I’m not sure what kind of effect listening to upbeat music when I feel absolutely dreadful will have, but I’ll give it a go! It’s a way of trying to take an “opposite action” i.e. forcing yourself to do something “happy” or good for you when you are feeling sad and bad about yourself. The idea is this may in turn lift your thoughts. So listening to happy music and making myself move around to it might help lift my thoughts and feelings. Equally, at times music that expresses some of the anger or sadness I’m feeling can help as a way of “letting it out”.  I think I am going to trial both and then put together a playlist of favourite tracks specially for times I’m feeling down. Good job I live alone so there’s nobody to suffer for the fact that if I sing along I sound like a mouse with a particularly bad chest cold 😉
  • A favourite book I know well, which encourages me at the very hardest times, and some prayer cards with very short prayers. I can read over passages of the book, or say the prayers in my head, to repeat a hopeful and loving message to take the place of spiralling panicky thoughts, or the voices I hear telling me that I’m evil.
  • A few cards and a pen, to remind me – could I write a note to a friend? I.E., something nice to take me “out of” my own mixed up head, to force myself to do something positive, thus acting against the negative thoughts in my head, and making somebody else happy too?
  • A ball of wool – could I do something creative? Make pom poms? Do some cross stitch embroidery? Colouring?

I’ve tried to include a mixture of things that are happy and soothing of themselves (eg the stuffed animals, the scent) and things to encourage me to do something positive (eg the cards or the music). I’m also going to add to the box some pictures of my family and my close friends and my godchildren, basically people that matter to me, as a reminder of reasons to keep going and all the good things and good times that I can be thankful for – all things that can so easily be eclipsed in times of extreme distress.

So, that’s my Box! I hope perhaps this might be of interest…. I’m new to this and I will post another update about whether / how I find that it helps me.

Do you use any kind of toolkit like this to help you in the hard times? What would you put in your rescue box?

Ginny xxx