If you've been following my work, you may have heard me talk about the 100 Days Project for quite some time now. For those of you that don't know what the 100 Days Project is, it's an annually-run creativity project that anyone can take part in! The project was started in 2011, and I've been taking part for the last three or four years. The rules of the project are simple: pick something creative to do for 100 days in a row, and record your daily efforts.
Last year, I undertook the bold task of creating a whole zine a day for 100 days straight. It was probably the most difficult creative challenge I've faced, but I was determined to have a full set of 100 zines by the end of the project, which I did! They were all displayed at the 100 Days Exhibition, which was such a rewarding experience.
Day 2 of the exhibition and people were STILL reading my zines. It made me so happy.
This year I've decided to do something a bit simpler - 100 illustrations in 100 days. I arrived at this idea because earlier in the year my therapist had me emailing him a drawing a day to let him know that I'd completed my daily journals. When I eventually stopped emailing him, the illustrations stopped as well, and I found that I really missed creating something everyday. So, naturally, I decided to pick it up again! And I'm really glad I did.
Three weeks in and I already love the collection of illustrations I have!
After a few years of doing the 100 Days Project, I've learned that it's good to set some restrictions. It certainly makes the process easier and a lot more interesting! Each of my illustrations are done on A5 card; starting with a rough pencil sketch, and then refined with fineliner pens.
My inspiration comes from everyday things, like how I'm feeling or what music I'm listening to. At the moment my therapist is on leave for four weeks, so a lot of my illustrations reflect my sadness around that. In a way, I'm using this years' project as a form of art therapy; I'm really trying to push my personal boundaries with the kind of art I'm creating. I want it to be raw. I want it to be honest. I want people to feel something when they see my artwork, because ultimately these illustrations are a piece of me. I always try to be open and honest about my struggles with mental illness, so it seems only fitting that my art reflects that as well.
There's some vulnerability in creating art that speaks true to the darkest parts of me, but it's also incredibly freeing. There's something really satisfying about seeing my emotions on paper; they're tangible, not just something inside of me. Of course there are days where I feel like I've missed the mark a little bit, that something I've created doesn't quite express what I wanted it to, and that's OK! I try to remind myself that it's part of the 100 day journey, and that I have so many more days to go; more opportunities to explore and create and have fun with it. Because at the end of the day, it's all about having fun!
It's only been three weeks, but these are some of my favourite so far:
You can also follow my progress on my project page and instagram, where I will continue to upload my illustrations every day.
I always love hearing what people think about the things I create, as well as answering any questions you might have, so feel free to leave a comment and let me know!
The other week I reached a major milestone in my mental health rehabilitation - I had my six month review, and applied to spend another six months in the Intensive Day Programme, which was approved! This gave me a great opportunity to reflect on the last six to eight months, as well as allowing me to plan what things I need to work on. In this blog post I'll try my best to summarise my reflections, my review, and my hopes for the next six months of my treatment.
TW: mentions of suicidality & self-harm // CW: long post
If you had of asked me two months ago how you thought I was doing, I would have replied positively. Up until a week ago, I'd felt like I'd taken several painful steps backward. I'd struggled to feel my progress on the hardest days, and thought that perhaps I was beyond help. Since the end of 2016 I knew that Segar House was my final chance at rehabilitation, and six months into the programme, I thought I was failing.
To put things into perspective, I'd written this in a previous blog post on February 4th 2018:
"...what I'm learning has made such a difference. I'm no poster child for mental health, but a year ago if you had of told me that one day I'd be able to face difficult emotions head on and not fly into a rage or hurt myself, I wouldn't have believed you. It's only been six months, but already I'm able to use DBT skills in difficult situations, practice regular self-care, and find creative ways to track my progress."
Then, on February 5th 2018, I attended the funeral of my Grand Uncle. It's from this day that I can trace my most recent suicidality and self-harm urges. It had been over a year since I'd engaged in any self-harm behaviour, and I fell off the wagon. It had been months since I'd seriously considered ending my life, and here I was lying in bed for hours making plans and writing final letters. My therapist wouldn't let me leave the building on two separate occasions because he feared for my safety - one of those times he ended up calling the Crisis Team and the Police. I went from being hopeful and positive about my rehabilitation, to wanting to give up completely; back and forth relentlessly, almost daily, for two whole months.
And now I'm here.
Despite being in the middle of a rough patch, preparing for my half-yearly review at Segar House allowed me to reflect on the fact that I actually have made progress, I just need to be reminded every so often. What I'd written two months ago was one of those reminders, and another reminder was the review itself.
Anxiously waiting for my review time in the group room.
I'd been mentally preparing for this review for weeks. My anxiety on the day was through the roof, but I was still able to tell myself that perhaps I was unnecessarily making a big deal out of something that wasn't likely to be all that bad. We all know that our anxious minds often have a tendency to not listen to that voice of reason, though! My individual therapist had reassured me the week before that in their eyes I was on the right track, but deep down I still felt as though I was failing. Who was I failing? Segar House? Myself? My family? I still don't have the answer.
As well as mental preparation, I'd also done some physical preparation for this review as well. I'd started keeping detailed notes on my moods, as well as the regular diary cards we have to fill out. This meant that I had specific dates for each of my 'meltdowns', specific dates for when my low moods occurred, specific dates for when I'd written my suicide notes (as well as specific dates for when I'd given those over to my therapist). I took all of this information and basically rewrote my entire Segar House Care Plan. I also wrote a full page letter requesting another six months of treatment, even including a comic from The Sad Ghost Club.
Looking back on all this effort I put into preparing for my review, I feel like perhaps I'd gone a little bit overboard. I'd let my anxious mind take over, and in some way I thought that all this preparation would compensate for the fact that maybe - just maybe - I was failing Segar House.
Long story short: I wasn't.
My review was so much more positive than I had ever anticipated. I was actually speechless for most of it, because I just couldn't comprehend the amount of positivity these five amazing therapists were throwing my way. It wasn't a full 20 minutes of them just complimenting me (although at the time it certainly felt that way), but it was 20 minutes of them encouraging me and reassuring me to keep heading in the direction I'm going. They praised my "out of the box thinking" and the creativity I bring to the programme, as well as the insights I have into myself. My favourite comment of the review goes to my individual therapist, though:
"I enjoy working with you. I enjoy being affected by you..."
*cue me just melting into a puddle on the floor*
Moving forward from my review, I know that I have a lot to work on. In terms of individual therapy, I want to continue to tackle my tendency to avoid emotions, my self-loathing and negative self-talk, and perhaps really delve into how my traumatic childhood has impacted me. In groups, I know that sharing my thoughts is not only beneficial for myself, but also seems to be beneficial for others as well, so I want to build up my participation in group a bit more. I'm hoping that working on avoiding my emotions will help me in group situations when I dissociate.
Overall, I feel like I'm in the right place at Segar House, and I'm committed to at least another six months in the Intensive Day Programme. And, with the guidance of the Segar House therapists...
The therapists really loved that I included this comic. via The Sad Ghost Club
Here's to another six months of treatment, and working on myself!
Any comments or questions about this post, Segar House, or the programme? Feel free to leave them below, I'd be happy to answer them!
Mental health journeys are tough. Whether you go it alone, or with loved ones by your side, the road to recovery is a hard one. One important thing that's always been with me throughout my own journey has been music. Music has a way of putting words to emotions and experiences that I never could, and so for this blog post I'll be sharing some of the songs and artists that have most helped me identify with my mental illnesses.
Maybe you will recognise some of these songs and identify with them yourself, or perhaps some other songs will come to mind. Feel free to let me know what music has helped you on your own mental health journey; I'd love to know!
TW - themes of suicide, self-harm, depression etc. // CW - long post
1. Halsey - Control
"I'm bigger than my body / I'm colder than this home / I'm meaner than my demons / I'm bigger than these bones / and all the kids cried out 'please stop you're scaring me' / I can't help this awful energy / God damn right you should be scared of me / who is in control?"
"I paced around for hours on empty / I jumped at the slightest of sounds / and I couldn't stand the person inside me / I turned all the mirrors around"
"I've gotten familiar with villains that live in my head / they beg me to write them so I'll never die when I'm dead"
2. Linkin Park - Heavy (ft. Kiiara)
"I don't like my mind right now / stacking up problems that are so unnecessary / wish that I could slow things down / I wanna let go but there's comfort in the panic"
"I'm holding on / why is everything so heavy? / holding on to so much more than I can carry / I've been dragging around what's bringing me down / if I just let go I'd be set free"
"you say that I'm paranoid / but I'm pretty sure the world is out to get me / It's not like I made the choice / to let my mind stay so fucking messy"
3. Paramore - Hard Times
"all that I want / is to wake up fine / tell me that I'm alright / and I ain't gonna die / all that I want / is a hole in the ground / you can tell me when it's alright / for me to come out"
"hard times / gonna make you wonder why you even try / (hard times) gonna take you down and laugh when you cry / (these lives) and I still don't know how I even survive"
"walking around / with my little rain cloud / hanging over my head / and it ain't coming down / where do I go? / gimme some sort of sign / you hit me with lightening! / maybe I'll come alive"
4. My Chemical Romance - The Light Behind Your Eyes
"be strong and hold my hand / time it comes for us, you'll understand / we'll say goodbye, today / and we're sorry how it ends this way / if you promise not to cry / then I'll tell you just what I would say"
"sometimes we must grow stronger / and you can't be stronger in the dark / when I'm here no longer / you must be stronger and / if I could be with you, tonight / I would sing you to sleep / never let them take / the light behind your eyes / I failed and lost this fight / never fade in the dark / just remember / you will always burn as bright"
5. Thirty Seconds to Mars - Alibi
"no warning sign, no alibi / we faded faster than the speed of light / took our chance, crashed and burned / no we'll never ever learn / I fell apart, but got back up again"
"we both could see crystal clear / that the inevitable end was near / made our choice, a trial by fire / to battle is the only way we feel alive"
6. Johnny Cash - Hurt (originally by Nine Inch Nails)
"I hurt myself today / to see if I still feel / I focus on the pain / the only thing that's real / the needle tears a hole / the old familiar sting / try to kill it all away / but I remember everything"
"what have I become / my sweetest friend / everyone I know goes away / in the end / and you could have it all / my empire of dirt / I will let you down / I will make you hurt"
"full of broken thoughts / that I cannot repair / beneath the stains of time / the feelings disappear"
7. Eminem - Going Through Changes
"why do I act like I'm all high and mighty / when inside I'm dying / I am finally realising I need help / can't do it myself / too weak / two weeks I've been having ups and downs / going through peaks and valleys / dilly-dallying around with the idea of ending this shit right here"
"sleeping pills will make me feel alright / and if I'm still awake in the middle of the night / I'll just take a couple more / yeah, you're motherfuckin' right"
"wake up in the hospital / full of tubes / but somehow I'm pulling through / swear when I come back I'mma be bulletproof"
8. Avril Lavigne - Nobody's Home
"she wants to go home / but nobody's home / that's where she lies / broken inside / with no place to go / no place to go / to dry her eyes / broken inside"
"what's wrong, what's wrong now? / too many, too many problems / don't know where she belongs"
"her feelings she hides / her dreams she can't find / she's losing her mind / she's falling behind / she can't find her place / she's losing her faith / she's falling from grace / she's all over the place"
9. The Neighbourhood - R.I.P. 2 My Youth
"might be a sinner, and I might be a saint / I'd like to be proud, but somehow I'm ashamed / sweet little baby in a world full of pain / I gotta be honest, I don't know if I could take it"
"close my eyes and then cross my arms / put me in the dirt, let me dream with the stars"
"I was naïve and hopeful and lost / now I'm aware and trapped in my thoughts"
10. Shawn Mendes - In My Blood
"laying on the bathroom floor, feeling nothing / I'm overwhelmed and insecure, give me something / I could take to ease my mind slowly / just have a drink and you'll feel better / just take her home and you'll feel better / keep telling me that it gets better / does it ever?"
"help me, it's like the walls are caving in / sometimes I feel like giving up / no medicine is strong enough / someone help me / I'm crawling in my skin / sometimes I feel like giving up / but I just can't / it isn't in my blood / it isn't in my blood"
"looking through my phone again, feeling anxious / afraid to be alone again, I hate this"
11. Mike Shinoda - Crossing a Line
"I don't know how to warn you / for what I'm gonna say / 'cause you're holding so tight to / what I'm taking away / I got demons inside me / so I'm faced with a choice / either try to ignore them / or I give them a voice"
"and it's keeping me up at night / worried it's not alright / holding back things you don't know / and it's keeping me up at night / worried it's not alright / you're not gonna like where this goes"
"and they'll tell you I don't care anymore / and I hope you'll know that's a lie / 'cause I've found what I have been waiting for / but to get there means crossing a line / so I'm crossing a line"
12. Halsey - Devil in Me
"I won't take anyone down if I crawl tonight / but I still let everyone down when I change in size / and I went tumbling down tryna reach your high / but I scream too loud when I speak my mind"
"I don't wanna wake it up / the devil in me // gotta wake up / come back to life"
13. Paramore - Fake Happy
"I been doing a good job of making 'em think / I'm quite alright / but I hope I don't blink / you see it's easy when I'm stomping on a beat / but no one sees me when I crawl back underneath"
"oh please, don't ask me how I've been / don't make me play pretend / oh no, oh what's the use? / oh please, I bet everybody here is fake happy too"
"I know I said that I was doing good and that I'm happy now / I should've know that when things are good that's when I get knocked down"
14. Kansas - Carry on my Wayward Son
"carry on my wayward son / there'll be peace when you are done / lay your weary head to rest / don't you cry no more"
"once I rose above the noise and confusion / just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion / I was soaring ever higher / but I flew too high"
"on a stormy sea of moving emotion / tossed about, I'm like a ship on the ocean / I set a course for winds of fortune / but I hear the voices say..."
15. Linkin Park - One More Light
"should've stayed / were there signs I ignored? / can I help you / not to hurt anymore? / we saw brilliance / when the world was asleep / there are things that we can have / but can't keep"
"if they say / who cares when one more light goes out? / in a sky of a million stars / it flickers, flickers / who cares when someone's time runs out? / if a moment is all we are / we're quicker, quicker / who cares if one more light goes out? / well, I do"
16. Kesha - This is Me
"I am not a stranger to the dark / 'hide away,' they say / ''cause we don't want your broken parts' / I've learned to be ashamed of all my scars / 'run away,' they say / 'no one will love you as you are'"
"but I won't let them break me down to dust / I know that there's a place for us / for we are glorious"
"when the sharpest words wanna cut me down / I'm gonna send a flood, I'm gonna drown them out / I am brave / I am bruised / I am who I'm meant to be / this is me"
17. The Neighbourhood - Afraid
"keep on dreaming / don't stop giving / fight those demons / sell your soul, not your whole self / if they see you when you're sleeping / make them leave it / and I can't even see if it's all there anymore so"
"you're too mean / I don't like you / fuck you anyway / you make me wanna scream at the top of my lungs / it hurts but I won't fight you / you suck anyway / you make me wanna die"
"being me can only mean / feeling scared to breathe / if you leave me then I'll be afraid of everything / that makes me anxious / gives me patience / calms me down / let me face this / let me sleep / and when I wake up / let me breathe"
18. K.flay - Little Bit Crazy (Made by Monkeys Remix)
"did you ever think that just maybe / we're supposed to be a little bit crazy / can it be? / we're really this mentally diseased?"
"as I stare at an ink blot / thinking why I think the thoughts I think / paying 20 g's a year straight to my shrink / to analyse me on a couch / and while he's zoning out / I'm tuning in to my inner child / so that explains why I get wild / on the weekend drinking no tomorrow / sleep around to ease my sorrow / and it all relates to what happened in second grade"
"I am told there is a name for what is wrong inside my brain / and that fact alone makes me feel like I'm hardly that insane"
19. Mike Shinoda - Over Again
"we rehearsed it for a month / I'm not worried about the set / I get tackled by the grief at times that I would least expect / I know what I should be doing when I'm singing but instead / we'll be playing through a song and I'd remember in my head"
"how do you feel? / how you doing? / how'd the show go? / am I insane to say the truth is that I don't know? / my body aches head's spinning this is all wrong / I almost lost it in the middle of a couple songs"
20. Halsey - Angel on Fire
"and I'm faded away / you know, I used to be on fire / I'm standing in the ashes of who I used to be / and I'm faded away / you know, I used to be on fire"
"'cause I'd laugh and drink and talk about things / and fall in love in my back yard / now it's my own anxiety / that makes the conversation hard / and nobody seems to ask about me anymore / and nobody ever cares about anything thing I think / and nobody seems to recognise me in the crowd / in the background screaming, 'everybody look at me'"
Do you have any songs that helped you relate to mental illness? Let me know in the comments!
Listen to all of these songs and more on Spotify:
Tēnā koutou, and welcome to my first blog post of 2018! January has already come and gone, and I spent that month nervously wondering what I'd possibly write a blog about. 2017 was such a whirlwind of a year; I moved out of home and moved in with my partner, we got our first 'adult' car, went to Semi-Permanent, started intensive therapy, made 100 zines in 100 days, did a cool print project with Neck of the Woods, did some more work creating illustrations for The Wireless...
Any one of these things would be great to focus on for a first blog post. But what I want to write about is what I've really been doing (and working super hard on) for these past 6-12 months: therapy. So just a quick *trigger warning* as I may mention some stuff I've been dealing with (don't worry, nothing too heavy though!)
In early 2017 I began the contracting phase of entering the Intensive Day Programme at Segar House. At this point I had been seeing a therapist every week for a couple of years or so, done a couple of groups, and had been medicated for depression for a bit longer than that. I was still experiencing intense anger, intense lows, and self-destructive behaviour. So when my then-therapist suggested the Intensive Day Programme, my heart leapt with hope. I knew there was a pretty long waiting period, and one of the conditions to even get in was that I had to be self-harm and suicide attempt free for at least a month. So in December 2016, I made the decision to stop. I knew this programme was it for me. I was going to give it all or nothing.
Fast forward to today: I've been in the programme for about six months now, steadily doing various groups four days a week. These groups range from learning DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) skills, to 'mentalising' and mindfulness, as well as seeing a therapist weekly. It's not 'work' in the traditional sense, but it is exhausting; having to sit and talk through your emotions four days a week. But what I'm learning has made such a difference. I'm no poster child for mental health, but a year ago if you had of told me that one day I'd be able to face difficult emotions head on and not fly into a rage or hurt myself, I wouldn't have believed you. It's only been six months, but already I'm able to use DBT skills in difficult situations, practice regular self-care, and find creative ways to track my progress.
By December last year, I'd made some pretty amazing breakthroughs with my individual therapist. I'd realised that perhaps I had lost the will to live. I wasn't eating, wasn't able to get up out of bed on the weekends, and wasn't even able to shower regularly. Basically, all the things that show I'm engaging in life, I wasn't doing. With that revelation, my therapist brought up that perhaps I didn't feel worthy enough to live, and that really struck a chord. He said, "all you have to say to yourself is 'I am enough'." So, naturally, I turned it into something creative and set up an instagram account to track my daily self-care through mundane photography. I also track the food I eat via bullet journal, and once I've finished filling in all my diary cards and tracking sheets, I email my therapist a little doodle to say that I've done it. Every small achievement counts.
I always try to be very transparent with my mental health struggles and rehabilitation, but I think one of the hardest things for me is when people ask me, "so, what are you doing now?" I would love to tell them the truth, but there's still a lot of stigma out there. "Still freelancing," is one of my answers. "Just working on my craft stuff, nothing too exciting," is another. I always tell other people that seeking help isn't anything to be ashamed of. In fact, it's probably one of the hardest things you could ever do. If only it was easier to take my own advice!
So, that's what I've been doing for the past year or so. It was really hard making the decision to give up looking for full-time work in favour of doing full-time therapy, but if I'm honest, I think two years of constant rejection from jobs in my field was a huge contributing factor to my downward spiral. That being said, I've been fortunate enough to work on a few cool projects during my rehabilitation so far. And who knows, maybe some more will come up this year!
So we're almost at the half-way point for the 100 Days Project, so I thought I'd take this time to share some of my favourite pieces of work that I've done in the past few weeks.
Day 7 - The passing of Gene Wilder. I'd had this song stuck in my head the whole day, and since I kept seeing news stories about his death, I felt compelled to add my own small tribute.
Day 9 & Day 11 - It was safe to say that after I finished watching Stranger Things, I became a little obsessed, especially with El. *throws waffles into the woods* FOR ELEVEN.
Day 14 - Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb! If you haven't seen The Runaways, watch it. This is also an amazing song to just 'lose it' to.
Day 15 - Some words of wisdom from Neil deGrasse Tyson. Also one of the first days I got back into using my wacom tablet. We are all made of star dust <3
Day 16 - I wish I was good at taking my own advice, but I don't think anyone is really! I always need to remember that any and all progress is good progress.
Day 18 - I created this with dead flax that had collected on my boyfriend's father's deck, while my brother was busy painting my boyfriend's car bumper. It was a gorgeous day, and I remember looking at the flax thinking, "I can make something with that." This was the outcome!
Day 24 - The only person who didn't like this was my father. He still thinks it's bad to swear on social media, but I guess that's parents for you! The irony is the ugly word itself and how it's adorned with pretty flowers. That was my aim, anyway.
Day 31, Day 34, & Day 37 - In one way or another, these three somehow relate with each other. One of my most favourite days was the day I got my semicolon tattoo, and joined Project Semicolon. This week consisted of a lot of self-care and reminders. I also started working more on my zine DemonDays, which is a collection of comics depicting the conversations that happen between myself and that demon called Depression.
Day 42 - I was getting emotional over not having donuts for a while. Small things...
A reminder that you can follow my project fully on my Instagram, and also on my 100 Days Project page. I will also be creating a separate page on my website for the full collection. Almost 50 days down! I'm so happy with my progress, because the last time I did this project, I only managed up to Day 19. I have the best support around me, and I'm really proud of some of the work I've managed to produce, even in the darkest of times! Onwards and upwards!
So I recently joined BriefBox™ and managed to make my first submission. Never did I think I'd get a glowing remark from one of the sites' co-founders, or get featured, but I managed both!
BriefBox™ is an expanding database full of practice briefs for designers, and is a great way to get some design practice in and boost your portfolio! If you haven't already, I really urge you to check it out and have a play around. There are so many amazing briefs awaiting your creative talent!
This was my first submission; a visual identity for a painter and decorator. I've already updated my portfolio with it, but you can check out the original post here.
For those that don't know, I'm participating in this years' 100 Days Project! This project is a simple creativity project that requires one thing to be done, everyday, for 100 days.
Today marks Day 7 on the calendar! Here are my updates from the past week, and you can follow my ongoing progress right here. I also upload my progress on Instagram and Twitter :)
If you're also taking part in this project, don't hesitate to send me a message so I can follow your 100 Days journey as well!
It's been a long time coming, but I finally got around to opening up my Etsy store! There are only a couple of listings right now, but there are so many things that I want to create and share with you all, so hopefully my store expands a lot over the next year or so!
The first item I put up for sale were my Chunky Tassel Marbled Bookmarks. I have so many of them just sitting there waiting to be bought, so head over to my store! I'll be making things constantly until I manage to find myself a full-time graphic design job (it's been a year and a half already *sad face*) so keep an eye out! I'll be updating what goes into my shop here too, so you'll never miss out on new things!
I got to experiment more with paper marbling the other day. I say experiment, because I don't quite think they're up to selling standard yet! I'm really loving the blues and pinks, but I can't wait to use more colours. There's a bit of yellow, green, and black in there, but I'm still yet to refine the process!
Here's some photos of the final creations. Still a lot of learning to do, but hopefully I'll be able to combine this DIY technique with other sketches and typography I've been working on! I'm not sure what I'll do with these ones, but let me know what you think of them :)
I'm constantly on the hunt for little DIY projects that can enhance my craft abilities. You've already seen some of the stencils cards I make, as well as some sketches and things that keep me busy. But I thought it was about time I did something a bit messier, and something that wasn't so... controlled. Long story short, I discovered how to make marbled paper out of shaving foam and food colouring.
I won't take all the credit for this amazing DIY hack; I followed the instructions here. These were honestly so fun to make, and I have endless possibilities for this craft. I could seriously spend a whole day doing this!
The best thing about this is that each time you do it, what you'll get will always be different. You never quite know what the finished product will look like, and that element of surprise is always fun to explore. Maybe have a go yourself and see what wonderful paper marbling magic you can create!
Welcome to my blog! This is where I post recent things I've been up to, mental health updates, and other cool things! Thanks for stopping by!