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!
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!