Creativity and Mental Health

For me, creativity is a massive part of expressing my feelings when it comes to my mental health. Creating abstract representations of my disorders or how I feel allows me to release the negative thoughts and create something interesting in the process.

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Hope (2015) 

mha designs

Mental Health Awareness Designs (2014)

I draw, paint, write – anything and everything! It’s the most therapeutic thing in the world; I can sit in complete silence and not have one thought pass through my head for hours when I have a paintbrush in my hand.

Does anybody else have any methods to relieve stress and negative feelings?

Empty Spaces

A piece of writing I found today, written in 2008 (aged 16) – whilst suffering with a depressive episode

Me, around the same time this piece was written

Me, around the same time this piece was written

Sitting in an empty space is the only time you can gather your thoughts and allow your imagination to run wild.

This is where the best ideas can come to you, everything starts making sense and things seem much clearer than they did when there were other voices and interruptions in the way. But those four plain, cold, white walls can either be a blank canvas of inspiration, or they can be a lack of distraction from the demon inside you; filling your brain with negativity and pain. The secrets, lies and heartbreak that you managed to block out in the noise and chaos of life suddenly dawns on you and you can feel yourself drowning deeper and deeper and deeper until you find yourself lost in a surreal in between of life and death. You can feel yourself breathing heavily and your heart’s still pumping blood through your veins, but they’re the only signs of being alive.

Sitting in an empty space is the only time you can gather your thoughts and allow your imagination to run wild – but for some people, it’s the most horrific place to be, and it can put you in the most dangerous state of mind you could possibly be in.

Feeling sad and defeated

Last year I took a placement year from university, where I worked for an exhibitions company. I abolutely loved it and shortly after one of our exhibitions at the NEC, I was asked to return the following year to work on the show again.

That’s a big thing. It’s a company that I absolutely loved working for and could potentially work for after uni. And I must have done a good job to have been asked back.

Fast forward 10 months, and agoraphobia has taken it’s form. Today, I got the sweetest email from my boss last year inviting me down for free travel, accommodation, food and nearly £500 for a few days work. Nevermind the fact I’d get to see my friends again that I haven’t seen for around 6 months now and all the venue staff and contractors that I got to know during my time at the company.

And I can’t do it. I can’t go. Because I can’t sit on the train. And I have no other means of getting there.

That is the only thing stopping me from going, and I really want to go.

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It’s just so frustrating, but it’s a role that needs filling so I couldn’t keep putting off answering her in hope of a magic cure just around the corner, or let her down last minute.

It’s a shame but I have to think about what I’m capable of. And right now I’m not capable of sitting on a train for two hours. It’s as simple as that.

lovelauren

Home remedies

ho,m

There are hundreds of home remedies out there to supposedly treat depression and anxiety. Green tea, omega 3, brazil nuts, saffron – but do any of them actually work? Has anyone real ever actually tried them?

I want to find out.

I’m going to spend every day for a week trying each of the most commonly suggested home remedies to see if any of my symptoms change, for ten weeks. Hopefully at the end of all of this we can then gain a bit of clarity on the ones that are worth doing and the ones that are a waste of our time, energy and money.

Starting tomorrow I am giving up caffeine for the week, and it is going to kill me. Caffeine is by far my biggest guilty pleasure! But I will try my hardest in the name of research, and desperation.

Have you ever tried any home remedies, or are there any specific ones you’d like me to try for you? Drop me a comment.

lovelauren

The reason for everything.

For those of you that follow me, you may or may not have seen this series of images down the side of my page. The six images each portray a stereotype or feature of a mental illness, and they were created by me in June 2014.
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This morning, I got a ridiculous but lovely notification telling me I have 500 followers. Now it’s lovely because there are 500 people that I have never met kind enough to think what I have to say is interesting, but it’s equally ridiculous because there are 500 people that I have never met kind enough to think what I have to say is interesting.

But we all share something in common. You either follow me because you have a mental health disorder like me – or you work in Psyschology and find it interesting. Or you follow me because you like arts and crafts like me. Because that’s the other side of me, the arty creative person.

I’ve never posted these images before and actually told you what they’re all about – but as they encompass both mental health and art, I figured now would be a good time whilst we’re on the subject.

I originally created these images for a business which I never could afford to properly start. I was going to feature them on clothing. None of the awareness clothing on the market currently is particulary nice to look at or fashionable – ‘Fight the stigma’, ‘Bipolar awareness’, ‘Time to Change’ – and they’re a bit in-your-face, let’s be real. So what I wanted to create, was a subtle and artistic approach to something that’s been done many times before, allowing people to show their support whilst not having to display a dramatic slogan, if they didn’t wish to.

Some of the images were to mock stereotypes. We all know these stigmas are out there and that people use them. I’m sure those with mental disorders are called off balance, and we’re often labelled that we have a screw loose. This isn’t the case as you all hopefully know – or at least we’re not any more unbalanced than the rest of the population – but instead of feeling upset and getting annoyed by it (because don’t well all feel that way enough already), mock the ignorance. Mock the ideas put into the minds of people that are ‘normal’.

The other images interpret different disorders in unique and creative ways. C.D.O represents OCD, whilst Fast Forward demonstrates the feeling of being manic.

I liked the idea of taking different qualities or illnesses and presenting them in an abstract way. I liked the idea that you wouldn’t look at the image as an outsider and know instantly what the image was about, and wouldn’t know what it was trying to say to you. I liked that this would then make you ask questions, inevitably getting you to talk to people about the disorders that you’re representing.

I liked the way that for once the images weren’t all serious, some were slightly controversial and taking the piss out of ourselves. Because life is too serious already. And I liked the idea that people would maybe want to unite and finally make mental health disorders OK.

Because they are OK.

lovelauren

Day 28: Do you consider yourself high-functioning or low-functioning?

31 Days of BPD

Some quick definitions first from BPD Central so we know what these terms mean:

Characteristics of lower-functioning,”conventional” BPs:

  1. They cope with pain mostly through self-destructive behaviors such as self-injury and suicidality. The term for this is”acting in.”
  2. They acknowledge they have problems and seek help from the mental health system, often desperately. Some are hospitalized for their own safety.
  3. They have a difficult time with daily functioning and may even be on government disability. This is called low functioning.
  4. If they have overlapping, or co-occurring, disorders, such as an eating disorder or substance abuse, the disorder is severe enough to require professional treatment.
  5. Family members’ greatest challenges include finding appropriate treatment, handling crises (especially suicide attempts), feelings of guilt, and the financial burden of treatment. Parents fear their child won’t be able to live independently.

Higher-functioning, invisible BPs:

  1. They strongly disavow having any problems, even tiny ones. Relationship difficulties, they say, are everyone else’s fault. If family members suggest they may have BPD, they almost always accuse the other person of having it instead.
  2. They refuse to seek help unless someone threatens to end the relationship. If they do go to counseling, they usually don’t intend to work on their own issues. In couple’s therapy, their goal is often to convince the therapist that they are being victimized.
  3. They cope with their pain by raging outward, blaming and accusing family members for real or imagined problems.
  4. They hide their low self-esteem behind a brash, confident pose that masks their inner turmoil. They usually function quite well at work and only display aggressive behavior toward those close to them. Family members say these people bring to mind Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  5. If they also have other mental disorders, they’re ones that also allow for high functioning, such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
  6. Family members’ greatest challenges include coping with verbal, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse; trying to convince the BP to get treatment; worrying about the effects of BPD behaviors on their other children; quietly losing their confidence and self-esteem; and trying—and failing—to set limits. By far, the majority of Welcome to Oz (WTO) members have a borderline partner.

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Based on these, I think I’m somewhere inbetween (that’s right, I’m sitting on the fence!).

Like someone with low-functioning BPD, I seek help. I know I need help and I’m desperate for it. I often struggle with daily tasks and the people that know me most are always trying to find appropriate treatment for me.

But like someone with high-functioning BPD, I rage outward and blame everyone else around me. I also put on a brave-face and pretend confidence around everyone else to fool them that I’m fine.

Is it possible to me middle-functioning BPD? Apparently I have just have the bad aspects of both – brilliant! But maybe that’s partly due to my Cyclothymia as well.

lovelauren

A letter to my brain.

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I’m so fucking annoyed with you. Beyond annoyed. Furious. 

You’ve spent as many years as I can remember making everything harder for me. Making me scared beyond belief and making me sadder than I thought it was possible for a person to feel. You’ve made me feel ashamed, helpless, irritated, confused, paranoid and snappy for a large proportion of my life.

You’ve made my relationships harder with everyone around me, and you’ve made my relationship harder with myself.

It’s like you’re not apart of me. You’re cruel and twisted and awful, so you can’t have a connection to me – because I’m not cruel. How can I have something that cruel living inside of me?

Sometimes you give me the confidence to achieve anything. I could conquer the world. But you put ideas into my head that are too big. They’re beyond my knowledge, experience and they require all the money I have, but you convince me that I can do it. I can do it – I could say that a million times. I love you so much in that moment because everything’s fine. It’s better than fine, it’s amazing.

But then you dramatically and visciously tear down these ideas with belated rational thinking. And the world becomes even more fucked up than it was to start with.

You make me want to give up. You make me hate the life I lead because it’s too difficult. It’s too difficult being in my head. It’s painful and it’s exhausting – dealing with this shit all the time.

So you know what, brain – shut up. Be quiet. Leave me alone.

Let’s stop all this shit. Give me normal. A break from my reality. Make me brave enough to do what I want in life, give me confidence in my abilities, but also give me the strength to know my limits. Make me happy with what I’ve got – because I have a lot and I have no reason to be sad, and allow me to breathe freely for the first time in a long time.

I’m not asking you – I’m telling you. This shit ends now.

I’m sick of you. So stop making me sick.

l

Relief for today’s hurdle

For those of you that have been following me for a while, you’ll know I’m a student.

Last semester I let everything get on top of me – I was too depressed and anxious to move, nevermind go into lessons. So now, exam season is upon us and I’m so far behind and I don’t know nearly as much of the information I would like to know (or should know).

I’ve been considering retaking the year and having some time out until then, I’ve been considering quitting altogether – It’s really been an absolute nightmare. I’m someone that tries at everything. I’m a perfectionist. So the idea that I’m either going to fail or scrape a pass kills me.

Anyway, it’s been a massive race against time, but today’s essay is done and submitted at 9:14am (with 46 minutes to spare until deadline) and I’m so relieved. I didn’t think I was ever going to get there.

Check back in with me at the end of the week – when my two exams are out of the way – and I’ll be a much happier, more relieved and less anxiety-riddled person. Or I’ll be having a mental breakdown. Who knows?

lovelauren

Calling all bloggers…

Hi there,

For those of you that have just stumbled across my blog by accident and don’t know me – I’m Lauren. I’m 23, I live in the UK and have Borderline Personality Disorder, Cyclothymia and severe anxiety. You can find out more about me here.

The one positive that comes out of all the pain I’ve suffered, is the creativity. My ability to create art and to design allows me a short time of freedom from my mind. It allows me to take a break from myself. Which is priceless.

But the things that I create are not.

I want to create a piece of art that encompasses how people really feel about mental health. The struggles and the positives. And then, I want to auction off this art and gives the proceeds to charity.

help

I want to gather as many bloggers as possible working together for this cause for one month later this year. The more bloggers that can come together, the more money and awareness that can be raised. This is what I will need:

  • For you to write a post about why you are apart of this cause. Do you suffer? Do you know someone else that does? Or do you just want to help because you’re an awesome person?
  • What does mental health mean to you? Sum it up in a few words.
  • A series of promotional posts for the art that will be auctioned.
  • Sharing your posts wherever possible. On social media, other blogs, charity pages etc.
  • Any suggestions/pieces of art from yourselves to make this project as big and brilliant as possible.

Every blogger that joins the fight will receive a members badge to feature on their blog showing the world that they were apart of this, and the satisfaction that you were involved in something massive. Your blog posts will also be shared throughout the month and everyone that takes part will be mentioned on my blog to spread awareness for your individual voices. 

Comment below if you’re in!

Back again. And inspired.

It’s been a long time since my last post – and I can only apologise for that. I’m a very on and off kind of person. It’s an early new years resolution to keep on top of this though, and most definitely complete my 31 Days of BPD which I never got round to doing.

For now I’m just going to give you a quick summary of what’s been happening.

My life has been hectic recently. I became a cheerleader when my mood was up a few months ago – and I absolutely love it – but now that said mood has dropped and I’m finding it incredibly hard to be mentally present at training sessions. Having something that forces me to get out of the house three times a week though definitely has it’s positive points, as I can become a recluse quite quickly when things are down.

And things have been really down. I’m behind at uni and have been trying to keep myself to myself. However, I can feel my spirit lifting, so I’m hoping it’s clear from all the rubbish in time for Christmas and New Years.

Other than that, things are much the same. I do have some art to share with you very soon, however it’s a Christmas present for my mum, so you’re going to have to wait until Thursday!

I’ll be back soon, I promise. But for now I’ll leave you with the view I’ve had whilst writing this post…

Untitled