I reflect on my initial terror when I first became ill. And I realize how far I’ve come. Slowly I heal.
The new year is a time for reflection so I thought of myself when I first fell ill. It was many years ago. I thought bad people were after me and there were psychic attacks that were so terrifying that I lay in bed petrified and afraid to move. It was as if the psychic person was hovering above me and pushing his face into me. Threatening me with death. Since then I have come to realize that the delusions are all in my mind. But the fear I felt was real. My counselor told me that that was the fear I had felt when I was abused. Even though I was a very young child and asleep, I felt fear. You see my babysitter drugged me with sleeping pills and abused me. The fear was so intense that when my body decided it was time to heal from the abuse, 40 years later, my delusions had a man terrorize me. I was literally frozen in terror. Medication helped but I didn’t get any counseling for many years. So the doctors just waited for the medication to help. Just recently I have had rape counseling and they are helping me to realize what has been bothering me. Realizing that the delusions weren’t real was a milestone in my recovery. Yet now I fear everyday things like driving or going out in public. I actually sometimes feel a wave of fear go down my back physically. Knowing that it is all in my mind and that it is me doing it to myself is a Godsend and liberating. My counselor explained that my fight or flight mechanism was all out of whack because of the abuse.
At first I was taking a medication called Zyprexa but I was distracted and not all there. Although I had a job I would come home and just watch television like a zombie. It was all too much for me. Now I take Saphris, Pristiq and Abilify. I am much more aware of my surroundings and my position in life. For example I am now trying to save money instead of maxing out my credit cards. But with that comes worry and anxiety about the future. I was petrified that my furnace would break down and I couldn’t afford to buy a new one since I’m on disability. This fear has subsided since my furnace maintenance men say that it’s working just fine. And my daughter has agreed.
I must admit that I was in a zone of denial and not doing much to heal. I was taking the medication and going to my psychiatrist. But not doing much more than that even though I had two books that I could read. One daughter told me that I was hurting her and people I loved around me with my illness and my fear of going out. I ruined Christmas for all of them in 2016. They cried. I had refused to go and partake in the Christmas meal and gift exchange because I feared too much for their safety. Since then I have asked forgiveness and now am actively working on healing with the help of my counselor and two books: The Courage to Heal Workbook and Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. But it takes an effort on my part. It has been said that when people get to some parts in the book they just have to put it down and wait a while. It is a long and painful journey. And it takes courage. Like the courage that some of you need to face your own problems with anxiety. And like me you are survivors and courageous.
I used my art for many years to soothe my mind. I wasn’t aware of the turmoil consciously but my art soothed it. I would paint or draw for hours and find peace afterwards. Maybe art can help you in the same way. Just try to draw a couple of things. For example your favorite animal. And then you can try pastels or painting with acrylics or oils. You could paint that favorite animal. And then you could search on the internet for images of other favorite animals or places that you could draw or paint next. I loose myself completely in my art. I am focused on the colors and the shading involved in painting or drawing a figure or landscape. Mind you I don’t do many landscapes but they are easier than animal or human forms. Try some art and it may help you. I also block everything out when I read. I read romantic suspense and find relief when the good guys win and the two people fall in love. But reading tires me more than my art.
I also try to walk. The picture above is where I walk when it isn’t too cold or too windy outside. Walking gives me a sense of accomplishment and makes me face my fear of going out. Sometimes I am so distracted by my subconscious fear that I don’t take the time to look around. But then I catch myself, do mindfulness (concentrate on my breath in and out) and I calm myself. Then I look around, see the birds or the beautiful scenery and I enjoy it! I relax and interact with nature then, calming and soothing my tattered soul. And then I reward myself for facing my fears with either a mocha latte or a small coffee and a cookie! I love cookies. So if you have succeeded in facing your anxiety and gone out of your comfort zone to do so, reward yourself with something small. I would say maybe buy a book but that would get expensive. So reward yourself with something small every day and once it becomes routine maybe reward yourself at the end of the month with a book or a meal out for example. Remember to reward yourself for you are strong! You are courageous. Slowly we heal…
Miriam’s Art is pleased to release her Autumn Leaves and Girl watercolor painting. It soothed her mind and soul to paint. Enjoy!
The silhouette of the girl in shadows catches the viewers eye as does the white of the girl’s eyes in the darkness. It adds a hint of mystery and mystic. The dark reddish purple of the background contrasts well with the face and the leaves. What is the girl thinking?
This painting was done during the Christmas rush. It was a time of increased anxiety because I had more things to do. More interactions with people brought added stress. The painting helped but it wasn’t for very long because with watercolor you have to wait for the paint to dry. So it wasn’t as soothing as pastel but I had been inspired to do watercolor and autumn leaves. I am now doing a Nursing Mother watercolor painting. The watercolor lends itself well to painting faces and skin.
The face was a challenge in this painting. Getting the shades just right was important. I went from light to dark as you can see with the WIP painting below.
At times it was hard waiting for the paint to dry. I could have used a hair dryer but that was too much and would have taken away from the joy of painting. I could have added more detail but thought that it was just right. What do you think? Your opinion is greatly valued.
This painting is available on my website http://www.miriamsart.com under the Shop button, then Portfolio and scroll down to the Go To Shop button. It is listed as Watercolor (unframed) or Watercolor.
I am now painting a Nursing Mother watercolor. Again the skin tones of the face and body will be interesting. It’s because I am a grandmother now. My daughter wouldn’t let me take pictures of her nursing so I sketched it and now am doing a watercolor. The hands and arm will be a challenge too. Then I’ll get back to the pastel painting I think.
Happy 2018! May the year be good to you. Courage my friend courage. Remember even just a little half step forward is good. And you may take two steps back until you take another step forward but the idea is to move forward in your healing. To get better moment by moment and step by step!
Miriam’s Art is pleased to exhibit her best Big Cats pastel paintings for 2017. Which one is your favorite one? Please comment! Enjoy!
You can see the development of my style in 2017. I started out with close ups or the head and progressed to action paintings of these beautiful big cats. The mountain lion is considered a big cat because of it’s prowess while hunting even though it doesn’t roar like the rest of the big cats. Other lesser cats don’t have the mechanisms in their throats to roar. That’s how big cats are defined.
I have spent a lot of time painting big cats. These majestic creatures deserve attention. I have also painted birds and forest animals as well as pet portraits. My first choice in painting is the snow leopard however. It is my totem animal.
I have progressed much in my healing journey during 2017. I went from not being aware that I was ill to self healing with the help of a counselor and books. I was encouraged by family to heal although it was a hard wake up call. I didn’t realize how sick I was until a family member pointed it out to me. It was hard listening to their comments. But they were right. Listen to your loved ones and try to do as they ask. If you can’t then speak with your therapist or counselor and make a plan that will help you do as your family asks. Listen to your therapist’s and counselor’s advice and work towards healing and being better. If you suffer from anxiety think of your fear. Then think of the belief behind that fear. Rate both the fear and the negative belief on a scale from one to ten. Then write down a positive counter statement. Like they aren’t interested in you or that has never happened in the past. Then rate your belief in that positive counter statement. If it is high enough it will bring down your fear and your initial belief in that negative thought. Then rate the subsequent emotion. For me it is relief. Sometimes I rate this as a 6/10 but more often than not I rate it was a 2/10 for I am still anxious. But there is a feeling of relief. Do this repeatedly and record it. Writing it down makes it more real and you will heal faster. Then you can also go back and look at how your belief in the initial negative belief has gone down.
Hopefully I can help others heal. That is one of my 2017 goals. My art soothes my tattered soul. It gives me a sense of relief and I forget all my troubles. My writing of my book gives me a release as I express my fears. My writing of this blog gives me a sense of purpose in that I may be able to help one of you deal with your anxiety with my life as an example.
Happy New Year. Write down some New Year’s Resolutions. But not too many and be realistic. Remember don’t drink and drive. And if you are on medication don’t drink! Drinking with medication can increase the side effects and/or decrease it’s effectiveness so be careful! All the best for 2018!
Miriam’s Art would like to take the time to wish you and your’s a Happy New Year. May the new year be filled with love, blessings and good luck. Enjoy!
This is my best painting of 2017. I have captured the crouching leopard very well. He looks balanced as he enjoys a meal. It is a pastel painting.
I have come a long way in the past year. My illness was very severe at New Year’s last year. Since then with courage and perseverance and encouragement from my loved ones I have dealt with my fears. I have therapy and that has helped since the medication is helping. But what really helped was and is the counseling. Therapy without counseling is useless. You have to talk about what is bothering you. And you need to talk to a professional. They can guide you and can guide you to books that can help. Two books I use are The Courage to Heal Workbook and Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. They have been invaluable in their guidance and in my self discovery. Please if you have anxiety seek professional help. You need it!
I have been blessed with a miracle this December 2017. The miracle of birth. I am a grandmother for the first time in my life. The child, Erik, was born on Dec 28 2017. He weighed 10 lbs 5 oz. And is healthy. As I held Erik for the first time I felt a rightness deep in my soul. Here was a reason to heal. Here was a reason to keep on trying. Here was a reason for being. The little man is a good baby and my daughter is fine and both are healthy. I thank God for little Erik. May God keep him and my daughter safe. Thank you God. My cup runneth over.
I wish for all of you a miracle in 2018. A miracle is unique to every person. I wish for you a guiding light that can help you heal and be courageous. It is with courage that we face our inner demons. The road is long and hard but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Slowly we heal. Happy 2018.
I survived Christmas with happiness and courage. Slowly I heal.
My mother came down for Christmas. It was great having her here. For the first time in a long time I was the only one to take care of her. Sure we visited others and my daughter got her room ready but I was the one to feed her, entertain her and drive her places. I am quite proud. I succeeded in doing everything that was needed even though I was anxious. The worse part was the anxiety about driving. My flee or fight mechanism has been so affected by my illness that I get anxious about everyday things now. Before it was fear of bad people but now it is fear of driving and with winter conditions being what they are it is doubly anxious. But I figured out that fear of little things happening is also my mother’s trait so that’s where I get it from. We are both anxious about the same things. That’s an improvement though. I am no longer anxious about bad people.
It was a joy to spend time with a loved one…my mother. We spent many a moment together. Something that I’ll cherish forever. I cooked for her. I even made a new chicken and bean stew for her that she loved. She appreciated me taking care of her! And she recognized that I was doing better.
I have done nothing with my positive affirmations. I took a break for Christmas. I have to buy different colored squares of paper to do it properly. I am going to write down positive affirmations that I have come up with now on one color of paper. Any new positive affirmations I will write down on a different colored paper. Then I will put them in a bowl and draw one every day for inspiration. I may go out and buy the paper today. It is quite cold out so I’ll wait for it to warm up.
I’ve had a good Christmas. I am proud of myself. I did well. I have taken a giant step in my healing since last Christmas. It took a lot of courage. You use courage every day that you face your mental illness. Courage to move forward and take positive steps in your healing!
Miriam’s Art wishes all of her followers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Enjoy!
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I wish for you love and happiness at Christmas and all the best in the New Year. I wish that all of your New Year’s Resolutions are fulfilled. All the best :).
My mother is coming to my place for Christmas. I am so excited to see her. But I’m exhausted. A lot of my anxiety is subconscious but it makes me tired. Because of the extra shopping and picking up my mother, I am more anxious and I am exhausted. People with mental illness find the holidays stressful for many reasons.
This poinsettia is my Christmas card for this season. It is a watercolor painting. The card is available as a 5×7″ card. Printed on 24 lb paper. You can also purchase a package of ten cards.
This is part of my healing journey. I am making progress. Slowly I heal.
I spoke with my counselor today and she helped me to deal with the 40 negative beliefs that I have. Each one has at least one maybe two positive affirmations. She told me to write them down on colored paper and place them into a bowl. Then every day when I see the bowl I am to pick one. That way I’ll get through all of them. In addition any new affirmations (ie. a new skill or trait) should be written on a different colored paper.
My positive affirmations were too general. For example: you have achieved much in life. It should be broken down into specific skill sets like you are a leader, you can do research, you are a writer. So now I have to go over the 40+ affirmations and made them more specific. I have work to do.
Now I speak of the coming holidays. People with a mental illness find the holidays stressful. There is more to do, more social interactions and just more stress. Remember to be mindful and take a moment when you are stressed to concentrate on your breathing and nothing else. Take a moment to be calm. Some too begin to worry about other things like money or travel. And they may even obsess about it. Take a moment to concentrate on only your breath and the stress will pass. Think of a positive counter statement like that’s never happened before or you are safe. Things like that. The positive counter statement will counteract your negative thought and you will have a happier day.
The photo is where I usually walk almost every day. When it’s warm I take time to sit and do mindfulness while in nature. Lately thought it’s been too cold. Walking helps my anxiety and my health. I walk even though I have knee problems. I have been shoveling snow as well. This has affected my knees slightly. But it is great exercise! And exercise is important.
I’m wishing for you all a calm during the Christmas rush. You will survive. Remember mindfulness. Slowly we heal!
I have been working on many negative beliefs that I have trying to counteract them with positive affirmations. Slowly I heal.
We all have negative beliefs. Some stem from the way we were brought up and could be our parents’ beliefs. But some of mine stem from the abuse I went through as a child. These negative beliefs create anxiety too. To counter act negative beliefs positive affirmations can be used. But also statements like the following:
- This isn’t always true.
- This doesn’t look at the whole picture.
- This doesn’t promote healing or a well being.
- This thought comes from my abuse or from my upbringing or from a negative experience in life.
Some negative beliefs we feel strongly and frequently and others we believe very strongly. Some examples of negative beliefs are:
- It’s a dangerous world out there.
- I am ugly.
- I am stupid.
- I have to be perfect.
- I feel powerless or helpless.
I have been using the Anxiety & Phobia Workbook by Edmund J Bourne (page 222; see the resources tap on my website http://www.miriamsart.com) and he has helped me to write down some positive affirmations to counteract the negative beliefs that I have. Some of these positive affirmations are:
- I am a good person and have done much good.
- It’s alright to make mistakes. You’re not perfect and only human.
- You are a beautiful survivor.
- You are strong.
To be honest I have 40 negative beliefs that I have to actively work on. I plan to type out the positive affirmations that I have come up with. Then I plan to incorporate them into my life two per week. I will look in the mirror every morning for a week and say the two positive affirmations out loud. Once I have gone through all of them, every morning I will pick one of them and say it out loud looking at myself in the mirror. I think that it will work! What do you think? Any suggestions?
Miriam’s Art is pleased to show you her Autumn Leaves and Girl watercolor work in progress. This painting will be much darker once finished. It was painted at a time when I was hurrying due to anxiety. Enjoy!
The eyes of the portrait grasp your attention immediately. The groundwork of the leaves and the face are in place. The dark background will be much darker once the painting is done. The autumn leaves provide a contrast to the dark background.
I was hurrying when I was painting this watercolor. I was more stressed than usual. As you may know I am writing a book. My first book. It’s title is Martha. Martha is at a stage of stress in her life and writing about it made me even more stressed. Up to now writing the book has been therapeutic but since it’s a romantic suspense I had to put some suspense into the book. Well it affected my anxiety. It made me more stressed and I was hurrying to get this watercolor painted. I caught myself and forced myself to calm down.
This is the first time that I am painting a face. I lay the light colors down first and slowly added hues. I will paint the leaves a much more reddish brown but the basic shapes are there. I also tried a new technique. I lay down a purplish black for the background and then painted over with brown. It had an interesting effect. We’ll see if I like this painting once it’s done.
My art hasn’t been my prime focus and I finally figured out why. Usually I write in the morning, then I eat and feed the dogs. After that I try to walk. And then I usually would paint. But since I am drinking a protein shake for breakfast I have been reading when I eat. I’m not set up with a cup holder at my painting table. This brings the book which I would usually pick up late morning into focus early in the morning. So I am tempted to read instead of paint. I have to force myself to paint now which has never happened before. I have to make a conscious decision that it is now time to paint. I don’t like this change to my habits. Reading tires me and doesn’t soothe my soul the way that painting does. I really don’t know what to do about this. If you have any suggestions please comment below!
Have a good weekend. We are expecting snow this afternoon. I may have to shovel in the morning! 🙁