Zentangle

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I found these four artist’s cards yesterday with some of my first Zentangle drawings.  I made these almost two years ago while in a mental health respite centre.  They are dated and given titles on the reverse.

6/11/15 Mourning into dancing (bottom right)

10/11/15:

Every tear is precious (bottom left)

Growth is messy and beautiful (top left)

Beauty in the Now, not Yet (top right)

I was in respite on an important birthday for Eldest.  Hope felt hard to reach, hard to hold on to.  The guilt of my daughter going through this milestone birthday with a very poorly mum.  It wasn’t hospital, at least.

Through a haze of sorrow, I found there was immense tenderness within me. Firstly, towards Eldest – this helped me find the energy to make a trip into the local town and buy ingredients for birthday cupcakes topped with her favourite American candy, (Reece’s pieces and Reece’s peanut butter cups!)  A support worker took time the evening before her birthday to help me make them.  The conversation was gentle.

On the day, we opened presents in my small respite bedroom and I was able to take some leave for the morning.  I was there to hold her hands while she had her ears pierced, and to buy her some pretty silver studs.  A landmark celebrated, not as we would have hoped, but together.  For better, for worse.

Compassion towards myself was beginning to grow.  I can see it now in the Zentangles.  I knew that this was a time of tears, of mourning, of mess.  I felt it deeply, but I knew there was the capacity for beauty in me, in the way I was living this illness.

 

Today, almost two years later, I met staff newly recruited to the community perinatal mental health team here in Devon.  As part of their induction, I had the opportunity to talk them through our story of postnatal illness and beyond, and to help them reflect on how a mother’s mental health impacts upon the whole family; dad, baby, siblings.  When I talk to staff, I use a photo-story, with pictures of both my beautiful girls as babies and as they have grown.

Finding the Zentangles was the right timing; growth is messy.  Today it felt beautiful.

 

 

 

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Repair

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I am intrigued by this quote. Little One and I found it today on a mosaic bench in the garden of the Thelma Hulbert gallery.

We had spent an unexpected, peaceful hour looking around the Evolver Prize exhibition and playing with oil pastels in the cafe.  It repairs something in me to take time to enter Little One’s sensory world.  Her favourite painting had row upon row of tiny details in watercolour – dogs, cats and birds hidden among the busy gardeners Emma Burleigh: The Ashley Vale Allotments

My drawing took on a familiar shape. Lines of blue-toned pastels forming an almost complete circle, arching back and wisping away.  This wave-like shape has appeared many times as I paint in the solace of psychiatric hospital art rooms. Repair. The same icon, a completely different space.

I still don’t see myself as an artist, perhaps a creative.  There is repair in the words I type, the inner journey I write about.

My favourite artwork was Donna Peek: In Search of the Divine State  Encased in each capsule of the oval pill-packet were miniscule Russian dolls.  In the opposite packet were icons of womanhood.  It made me think a lot.

Each day I press three different shaped tablets out of their blisters and into a pill dispenser.  There’s energetic Venlafaxine, somnolent Olanzapine and, moderating it all, Lamotrigine.  A lot of fine-tuning of life, work, screen-time and dosages is needed to keep things in a good state.  The “Divine State” was tempting all those years ago… but steady is better.  Steady allows for repair.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone

Matte red lipstick

Pointed flats

Masking the trepidation within

Champagne flutes, prosecco

Intense spring sun in the courtyard

We are here to celebrate

Motherhood

Healing

Beautiful scars

We tell stories, tears flow

In all of us lives an intimate knowledge of loss

Here in this safe harbour

We are strengthened again

To face the open sea