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Signed up for a course!

I posted a few weeks ago about what I might do in the future and then an email dropped into my account with a newsletter from LDComics. They advertised a 5 day, in person course in August for “Graphic Novel Your Life” at the House of Illustration in London. It said it was suitable for all levels of experience so I signed up!

Obviously now I am regretful and can’t imagine why I did!! It has given me a whole new focus to feel anxious about. Not least where shall I stay? Will it be really hot in London? (Don’t do well in the heat in the city) Will I show myself up in front of people who are all better draughtsmen than me?

On the subject of anxiety I came across an article the other day “How to be your own therapist” in the paper (from a book by Psychologist Owen O’Kane) I was in therapy many years ago in my twenties as part of my Psychotherapy training and found it helpful but didn’t continue once I stopped work to have a family. All this recent stuff (of the last 8 years?) I have done sort of myself, using my massage therapist as a helpful sounding board.

So I picked out a few points which I found relevant to me.

Letting go of Perfectionism

He relates this to being told as a child “don’t express emotions, don’t upset your parents, be good, be perfect”

Well that ticks all my childhood boxes!

He suggests that “showing up and trying can be enough”.

I’m very aware of this trait in myself, however catching it and tackling it is a whole different job!

You don’t have to feel happy all the time

He says that tendencies to anxiety or low mood are usually underpinned by certain beliefs:

feeling unsafe and feeling unloveable.

If you grew up as a child not feeling safe, that leads to anxiety in adult life, growing up not feeling loved or nurtured leaves a sense of “what is wrong with me” which leads to low mood.

Again, tick, tick.

He says that people block out these uncomfortable feelings, maybe with alcohol or drugs (in my case by retreating into my imaginary world and headspace).

So he suggests rewriting the script that “now you are safe, now you are loveable”

Learning to soothe

Finally he says that in order to manage difficult emotions we use 3 systems: threat, drive and soothe.

Threat (anxiety) keeps us safe, drive keeps us moving forward, (both of these need to not be overdone,) but we often neglect the soothing.

How to activate this, it’s all about the internal dialogue, tone and the way we speak to ourselves.

All this has been interesting. As I work on Zine 4 I’ve been working on depicting the bubble I lived in most of my life which protected me by detaching me from the outside world. It was a safe place but ultimately means a life half lived, cut off from joyful things as well as painful ones.

Since trying to leave that safe place I’ve been VERY aware of those twin moods of anxiety and low mood. In fact every morning I wake with one of those two emotions and have to move through them to get on with my day. So my task actually is to learn to live more comfortably with them, accept their presence, they are old friends who I’m stuck with!

And I need to work on that internal voice, the one that sets VERY high standards in everything, work, principles, appearance, I could go on and on.

I always like to end on an up note so I think I will finish by saying that since leaving my safe place I have truly become more aware of a lot more positive stuff. I have a low level general calmness and contentment on a day to day basis. I feel emotionally closer to many of my family and friends (and have distanced myself from a few others). At times I have caught myself feeling actually, randomly happy!

So it’s all good, onwards and upwards!

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