Art Therapy at Studio S Fine Arts

I took a big step for myself this weekend. I could wax prose on the subject, but I’m just going to get to the point: I posted my original art up for sale in my etsy store Wandless Wanderers where I also sell greeting cards and bath bombs. I honestly don’t expect anyone to buy it, but I’ve been pushed and encouraged by so many people that I figured I may as well post them just to get them to stop nagging me!

So I did. Yesterday I was filled with near paralyzing anxiety, going back and forth between posting and not posting for a really long time. I took a long sojourn to the beach nearby to sit, read, and think it through. All my thoughts went to the same conclusion: If I want to be an artist, I need to attempt to sell my art.

So I posted my art up in my shop, and it sold within minutes! I’m just kidding, it hasn’t sold. But wouldn’t that be a great way to end the story? Or begin it? Who freakin knows, I’m getting existentially off topic. The point is, I got over my fears and anxiety and did it!

One victory down, I figured I needed to keep the momentum running. I’d been contemplating attending a free art class a friend of mine was running. I couldn’t find anyone to go with me, so I was erring on the side of “calling out sick”, but overall I knew not going would have been a dumb choice. I was correct in that assumption.

Just getting from my apartment to the class was a major anxiety struggle. Everyone is outside enjoying the sun, so the roads were crowded and I ended up straddling cross-walks with my car more than once (and nothing induces driving anxiety in me like having pedestrians walking around my car, glaring at me for not judging the distance better). So by the time I arrived and parked my car, I was pretty amped up and not feeling too sociable. But I’d already posted on twitter that I was facing my social anxiety, and I couldn’t back down!

Thankfully, it was a small class, and the atmosphere of the studio calmed me almost immediately as I began looking at the example pictures and started thinking of color combinations in my head.


To begin, I used an exacto-knife to cut out pages from a dictionary. I chose pages specifically with the words “Joy” “Wander” and “Mental” in them. It took me a long time to come up with this arrangement (I wanted to make sure I was covering words such as “menstruation” and “Menses”).


Next I used a stencil and traced flames over the pages, ideally to represent the creative fire I have burning in me (or just fire, it’s art, it can be whatever you want). Then I painted a layer of liquid masking within the flames so that water color wouldn’t seep through. 


As you can see, I did not use enough of the liquid masking, so the color bleeds into the flames a bit. But I’m honestly happy with how this turned out. The colors are vibrant and they make the disjointed flames dance a bit more. I also love that you can still read the dictionary definitions underneath so you get a sense of the kind of person I am from the words I chose.

So, to sum up: I shook off my anxiety and posted my artwork on Etsy, plus I faced my social anxiety and attended a class alone. So… pretty good weekend, in my honest opinion.
For more up-to-date notifications about my art, anxiety, depression, thoughts on a Jurassic Park/Downton Abbey crossover, or even bad jokes, follow me on twitter @JoyPearson

Advertisements

Arguing with my brain

I frequently disagree with my brain, it leads to a lot of anxiety and moments of frustration. Here’s a common conversation we have on the daily:

Me: Today isn’t going well. I wish I had someone to talk to about it.

Brain: Why? No one cares.

Me: Sure they do! 

Brain: They’re only being polite.

Me: Well it’s nice when they ask how I’m doing and listen. Oh look! A friend is online! I’m going to ask how they’re doing and see if they can talk.

Brain: Good luck with that.

*30 minutes later*

Brain: How did it go?

Me: Fine… They’re doing really well.

Brain: Did they ask how you were?

Me: …no.

Brain: See?

Me: See what? They’re probably busy! 

Brain: Or they don’t care.

Me: Sometimes things spring up that need full attention. They’re probably focused on something important.

Brain: Yes they are, they’re focusing on not caring about you.

Me: I highly doubt that.

Brain: Then why didn’t they ask after you?

Me: I just said, they’re probably busy!

Brain: Busy ignoring you.

Me: Okay, you know what? I am a good person! I care about others and I like hearing about their days! Even if they don’t have time to ask about me, much less remember, at least they know that I care about them and I genuinely mean it when I ask “How are you?” So why don’t you shut up, and let me enjoy my friendships!

Brain: …

Me: …

Brain: … They still don’t care.

Me: SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!!!

Anyone else have this argument with their brain? Logically, I know that my friends care and love me. But my brain likes to lie to me and make me feel unimportant. Having a mental illness makes it hard to trust in other people, but it makes it impossible to have trust in myself. 

I spoke to my close friend, Sarah Fader (CEO of Stigma Fighters, follow her on twitter @thesarahfader) and she gave me some damn good advice, “Sometimes, you need to just ask for what you want and not give a fuck about the consequences.” Hell fucking yes. It’s not easy to do, but I’m making a conscious effort to voice my feelings and to ask for what I need from others. 
Follow me on twitter @JoyPearson for more up-to-date arguments I have with my brain.

Thoughts on a Desire to Write 

I want to write.

I really do, but blank pages keep blocking me from pulling through.

So I’m reduced to this,

Stream-of-consciousness lines,

That don’t really make any sense.

This is how I write when I can’t,

Skipping lines to start new sentences,

Hoping the next one compliments the prior.

However now looking at this post,

I’m feeling no more, but less than a writer

(Anyone else see the rhyme there?

No? Just as well, I’m not writing for a prize).

I’d hoped to write something strong,

A long prosaic piece on the super powers of those called ‘mentally ill’

But documents lost and motivation strayed

Somehow sucked all my time away

(Did that rhyme? I don’t know anymore,

I’m just gonna keep writing a little more).

I’d apologize for this post being out of place

But this is my blog to begin with.

So enjoy my thoughts, 

As I write the way my mind wanders and strays,

Maybe my words will get better,

Maybe someday….

Follow me on twitter @JoyPearson for even weirder stream-of-conscious posts. 

Icing on a Cake

These are dark times…. Yeah I never thought I’d ever use that phrase seriously. It’s hard for me to write it without hearing Bill Nighy’s voice from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One. But it’s honestly the atmosphere that is the world right now…

I’m not going to dive into the specifics of the last week, I think we all know what happened, and we all are feeling things on a multitude of levels that makes it hard to function properly. I have always read about those momentous historic moments in text books, like the assassinations of JFK or MLK or Hitler’s rise to power, and empathize on a shallow surface level with the grief the nation felt during those times.

I now realize I never truly appreciated the depth of sadness and disappointment that spreads throughout an entire nation. I was too young when the Twin Towers fell on September 11, it took weeks for the devastation to sink into my elementary educated mind. Now I am in my mid-twenties, and truly experienced the full force devastation that was the November 9th, 2016 election.

It’s been a day by day process. Breathing is a real effort in most moments, I often stop and stare blankly as I contemplate the new low this nation has been brought down to. I rest my hand over my chest as pain pulses there knowing a person full of hate and violence against so many is now elected into our highest office.

Yesterday I felt was the lowest, as I approached my friend’s house in the dark and suddenly slipped over a patch of moss and fell hard to my knees, “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck” I loudly drawled, not even caring that the neighbors were currently heading to their car next door. I limped into my friends house and while dressing the scrapes on my knees, I cursed, “This is just the pissy icing on the shit-cake that has been this week!”

I was angry last night when I limped to bed, struggling to get comfortable when my knee was bandaged up and swollen stiff. I was frustrated and exhausted, anxiety still clinching a part of my chest as my leg throbbed.

Today was a step up, calling it ‘better’ is too much of a stretch when I can’t even tell someone “I’m good!” when they ask “how are you?”. My leg is still sore and I spent most of the day alone, but like every day since Tuesday I went out and saw that the world was still spinning and everyone was still working. I see so many people actively working for the better, to be better and take a stand against the hatred and violence.

I’m watching my favorite celebrities push for change and speak out against the unfairness of the election and the tyranny of hate that threatens the nation. I see my boyfriend and friends all donating to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Atlantic Street Center, and more charities in hopes of making a positive change. Safety pins are everywhere as we open ourselves to strangers and let them know that we are there for them and will comfort them in these times of fear and violence.

I’ve read about it in text books and novels, I’ve seen it in films and television; it is always when it takes a hard hit that goodness rises up, stronger than before and enforced by the actions of benevolent compassionate beings.

So I’m going to recite my favorite sayings now so you can hopefully get inspired like I am to get out there, do some good, push for change, and use your voice for the better: Be the change you wish to see in the world. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Consideration is a big deal, it costs us nothing. We are trapped by our own perspectives, make the effort to see the world through the eyes of others, not just your own. You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.

Follow me on twitter @JoyPearson for more non sequiturs and bad poetry

A glimpse into how my mental health works

I lost my phone. For some people, this is a huge catastrophe where lives are at stake and state secrets are about to be revealed from the archives hidden deep in the recesses of undeleted text messages taking up data space. For some, it’s a minor inconvenience that means getting a shiny piece of new technology. I consider these the two extremes for phone loss.

Me? I am neither extreme, I just feel like a failure. This is how I feel any time something small goes wrong. Today when I discovered my phone was missing, I was chill. I calmly went back to the classroom I work in and looked through, then I went back to my car and sifted through my purse and between the seats, nothing came up. Now I’ve got pressure on my chest, something is wrong and it’s my fault. I go back again to my classroom to search once more, this time with more drawer slamming and doors being flung open and closed harder.

I go back to my car again, wondering if my coworker accidentally took it. I ease a bit thinking that was a real possibility, which then took the pressure off my chest of my failure. I started driving home, only I started realizing that I had no alarm clock in my apartment. My phone had always been my alarm. Pressure on my chest again, I’m a failure because I never thought to get a basic alarm clock to keep in case of power outages.

I get home quicker than usual, more to do with my speeding through yellow lights so I could get to my computer and email my coworker and boss. My computer is linked to my text messages, so I contact my boss and ask him to check in with my coworker. She doesn’t have the phone. Fuck my life.

Pressure increases, tenfold this time. I stomp out of my apartment and down the stairs into the underground garage, this time tearing my car apart looking for my phone. Cracks, crevices, pockets, I even looked in the trunk even though I hadn’t opened it in well over a week. Pressure spreads from my chest to my head, I can feel my eyes heat with the potential of an anxiety attack, but I shake my head hard to ignore the sensations of tears building.

I get back to my apartment and take to my laptop with more key slamming and cursing under my breath; I can’t access my iCloud account to use Find My Phone. Cue hyperventilating and pacing. My hands are combing and gripping my hair as I try to keep breathing through the pressure, but failure has set it’s nasty claws in. How could I be so irresponsible? How could I have not had it in my purse when I left? Why don’t you have backup plans for this? Why don’t you have a landline? Why don’t you remember your iCloud security questions? Why are you so thoughtless and stupid?

My boyfriend, who’s just landed after having been in London for the weekend, is doing all he can to make it seem like it’s no big deal. I know it’s not a big deal. I know there are hundreds dead in Haiti, I know Donald Trump is spreading rape culture, I know Black Lives Matter, I know there are refugees taken from their homes trying to find a place to live in a country where ‘charitable christians’ want to turn them away. I know there are a million worst things going on right now than the temporary loss of my phone. It’s not about my phone, it never was. It’s about the fact that I have never been able to allow myself to make mistakes without punishing myself internally.

One small misstep, and my anxiety is all over me. The other day a coworker kindly corrected the way I was communicating with a special needs student. It wasn’t a major mistake I was making, it was a simple correction of rhetoric to use, but in my chest and mind I felt like I’d ruined this students life. I beat myself up for the years of psych classes I had taken where I’d learned proper communication with special needs students, I cried in the bathroom because I feel like a terrible instructor and role model.

On the outside of these moments, I recognize that I am simply a human making small normal mistakes that others have. I see that I’m not a failure, but in those moments of common missteps, my anxiety’s smoke chokes me until I can’t breathe. The bitch is standing behind my shoulder whispering “Oh look at that, you fucked up again. How original.” And there is literally nothing I can do to stop it.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for me when it comes to mental and emotional health problems. Most people have written me off as a drama queen, unfortunately I went through most of college with little to no help when I and a friend were being bullied. The few times I tried explaining what I was going through, I got as far as “The people in the drama department are-” and almost always I would get some variation of the sarcastic comment “Drama in the drama department! How surprising!” Because people didn’t take me seriously then, I now struggle to tell people when I am upset or hurt because I’m afraid they’ll once again write me off as being dramatic. How is it just being dramatic when it’s reducing me to tears in a bathroom at work? What about when I’m lying awake in the middle of the night going through every single thing I fucked up that day? How is that just being dramatic?

Of course I’ve stopped telling people when things get to me. I excuse myself politely to have a moment alone, which is really all I need mostly. I can get a handle on myself and step out from the darkness I easily find myself falling into, but talking about it is a whole different story. Thankfully through this blog I’ve been able to feel more open and honest about my feelings and struggles. I’ve always found I can process my feelings more deeply and successfully when I can write out what I’m going through and what it’s making me feel. The fact that people happen to read and relate to what I write on here is just a lovely compliment, as I really never expect anyone to take what I say seriously.

My mental health makes it near impossible for me to deal with mistakes I make, no matter how big or small. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop making mistakes, nor that I am a failure as a human being. It just means that I work harder than most at forgiving myself and moving forward, and I take a lot of pride in that. So for those of you who also feel like complete utter fucking failures, you’re so not alone. I’m right there failing with you, albeit with a little more style perhaps.

This is how a heart breaks

I lost my best friend today. I realize that makes it sound like he’s dead, he’s not, he just blocked me on Facebook so we’re no longer in contact. I lost him. In the worst possible way I can imagine.

It’s hard to be there for someone who doesn’t really want or need you there. It’s even more impossible to be there for someone who won’t tell you when they need you. I like to think I’m magical with my tarot cards, but I’m far from telepathic.

He’s struggling, hard. Lots of things going on in his life making it hard to slug through. I get that and I see that. I want to help him through that.

I’m a smiles come first kind of person. I love to make people laugh and smile, my name is Joy so naturally I work to pass along positive vibes, especially to the people I love. Being serious doesn’t come easy for me, because I learned early on that serious things often gave off negative vibes that I wasn’t happy being around. So when someone needs a serious conversation with me, they have to warn me beforehand so I can get into the mindset of taking someone seriously.

When people have serious conversations with me, I’m more often quiet and contemplative. I like to take in whats being said and process it first, otherwise my foot will shove itself in my mouth and I will make an inappropriate joke and then I’m the asshole. So it takes a few steps for me to participate in serious interactions and conversations.

When I see my friends struggling, I want to be there for them. I love and care for them too much not to want to help them through their pain. But this time, he didn’t want me to be there for him.

I can’t type out what exactly went wrong, because that’s a private and painful moment that needs to be kept between the two of us (and my therapist). I also can’t type it out because I’m not even sure what actually did go wrong. All I really know is that I wanted to be there for someone who didn’t want me to be there for them. At least that’s what I’m interpreting on my side here.

No one told me the absolute agony of losing a friend because you’re too there for them. My other best friend, Amy, held me as I sobbed about how badly I wanted to help him and be there for him, but every way I knew how to do that was upsetting to him. Amy made the age old, yet still very true, point that you can’t make someone want to be friends with you, and that if you’re trying your hardest and doing the best you can for that person and they make you feel unwelcome in return, than that’s not someone you want in your life.

And that’s where the agony comes in, I want him in my life. He’s my person. He changed my life after I graduated University and my life was spiraling rapidly out of control. He got me to go seek a psychologist, he texted me every day until I made my first therapist appointment, he listened when I was hurting and wanted to make it all die. He doesn’t know it, but he saved my life that summer. And now he’s gone.

You can’t make someone be your friend, you also can’t make someone stay your friend. It’s just so hard and painful that he doesn’t want to be my friend because I want to be his friend too much. It’s a form of rejection I never considered happening in my life.

My anxiety’s smoke is attempting to suffocate me, trying to convince me that I’m better off not being friends with anyone because I’ll annoy and bother and upset them. She’s obnoxiously whispering in my ear, “You’re unwelcome, you’re unwanted”. It would be so easy for me to nod my head and say, “You’re right, let’s fly to asteroid B612 and help the Little Prince dig up the baobabs.”

But that would be selfish and wrong and irritatingly stupid. I have other friends and people who love and care about me. I have many who welcome my love and friendship, they know it’s unconditional and I am there for them. I’m comforted knowing I’m not going to be all alone, but I’ve still got to go through this heartbreak.

I don’t think I’ve ever really had my heart broken before today. I’ve had nasty break ups, I’ve had infuriating girl fights, I’ve taken on entire university departments. None of those things prepared me for real heart break. Being cut off for wanting to be a good friend is the worst possible form of heartbreak I have ever experienced.

So in the words of Rob Thomas, “This is all I can take, this is how a heart breaks”

Writing on and off screen

I started a bullet journal. I know it’s a huge fad thing that’s happening right now, and I can see why. I’ve been using one for a little less than a month and already there are positive changes. I look forward to filling in my habit tracking charts every day, I have specific symbols assigned to meanings behind every note I make every day.

I can go on forever about my journal and new habits, and I’ll undoubtedly will in a future post. Right now I just feel like explaining why I feel I need it.

It’s simple really. There are a million things I want to shout into the void; 90% of those times I want to scream at the void in a temperamental tantrum form that isn’t unlike a small child. But I don’t, because unlike a lot of people on the internet, I recognize that the internet is not a private journal nor a therapist. Someone will read my words, and I don’t want them to be hurt if I don’t mean it.

I started this blog as a place to shout into the void, and I plan on continuing with this thing until I run out of weird crap to spew, but there are some things that are meant to be placed on the quiet pages of a moleskin notebook rather than posted carelessly where anyone can read it.

Privacy is important, crucial if you ask me. I always feel for celebrities who are clearly uncomfortable with the amount of attention that is drawn to their personal private lives. While I wouldn’t mind reaching ‘celebrity status’ some day, I wouldn’t ever want my private thoughts and feelings out for the world to scrutinize and pull apart. So I have a journal now. A place where I can place wild thoughts at a moment’s notice to leave to gestate while I determine whether it’s something I’m ready to share with the world or remain private.

My journal is my way of taking control of my smart mouth and my insane choices. Writing down a stupid thought or idea in my journal is healthier and safer than shouting it out to the world where someone might misinterpret my meaning and feel hurt.

So if it seems I’m not posting as often on here, it’s because I’m being more cautious and conscious of my words and my feelings. The last thing I want to do is unintentionally offend, dishearten, depress, trigger, or generally hurt someone by a thoughtless post I didn’t think twice about before clicking ‘publish’. I’m taking my time to digest the words I’m thinking of saying before rapidly dancing my fingers along the keyboard to make a hasty statement.

Have patience with me, as I am learning to have patience with myself. I’m forever appreciative of the small following I’ve gathered on here so far, I would never abandon something I know has the potential to be a great part of my life (or at the very least I’d try my damnedest to hold on).