As time went on it seemed forever

#TheRamones

As some of you might have noticed, I’ve been in a bad place recently. My thoughts were drifting towards more negative thoughts and I’ve been feeling extremely anxious all the time.

I feel like I’m getting better now. It’s always the same. Every month there is a time when I feel like everything is negative. It’s related to my menstrual cycle and it’s extremely frustrating because it doesn’t matter how my life is going, I always feel horrible.

Now I finally feel like I’m back to normal, thank goodness.

The thing is that when I’m feeling down I can’t draw at all. All the insecurities I’ve been fighting come rushing back and I don’t feel strong enough to push them back into the small box I keep them in and stash away in the back of my mind.

All the fears come crawling back to the front. Fear of the blank page. Fear that if I start a drawing it won’t be as good as others I’ve made. Fear that I’ll never be as good as the artists I admire. Fear that this will never amount to anything more than a hobby. Fear that I’m just kidding myself.

When all those feelings disappeared and I felt like myself again, I started to feel frustrated because, even though I felt more confident, I still couldn’t bring myself to draw.

Then one day, as I was scrolling down my Pinterest homepage, I came across a picture of an obi belt. The pattern was beautiful and an image immediately popped into my head.

I rushed to my room and sketched it out.

I inked it in and decided it would make a great birthday present for my mum (it’s her birthday tomorrow) if it turned out OK.

I decided to change the colours so it would better suit my mother’s taste, so I grabbed the Japanese colour dictionary I bought while in Japan and looked for a colour scheme that I liked.

I slowly coloured it in, being extra patient and letting each layer of colour dry before I added the next one (I mostly use watercolours, and I didn’t want the colour to bleed).I got scared sometimes, especially because I was choosing colours and making decisions on the spot, but I soldiered on. I kept asking my boyfriend to give me his opinion because he’s an artist and has a good eye for colour.

When I finished, I was so incredibly happy with the end result that I almost ran and showed it to my parents. I can’t wait to see my mother’s face when I give it to her. She always gets a bit emotional when I show her a drawing because she knows what I went through after university.

I’ll only post it online after she gets her gift, just so there’s no risk she’ll somehow stumble upon it. But let me tell you this: when inspiration comes, don’t wait until later. I honestly think that if I had waited, those fears would’ve come back and stopped me.

Inspiration is something fleeting.

I’m not saying you should wait for it, either. I know that doesn’t work. You’ll end up waiting forever. Keep drawing, something will come out. But if you do have an idea, don’t wait. Do it.

Here’s a sketch. No. A finished drawing, that I’m quite proud of.

Fox Shrine (2)

The Sardine.

It’s the terror of knowing

#Queen/DavidBowie

Lately I’ve been feeling extremely anxious.

So much so that the usual pain I feel in the muscles around my neck has gotten so bad that I had to take some muscle relaxants.

All because I suddenly found myself without time.

It’s funny how that sneaks up on you, when time didn’t disappear or fast forward, it’s been moving at the same pace all along. I just hadn’t prepared myself mentally for the string of changes that’s going to happen in the following months.

When you’ve got your next few months completely planned out, it can feel like your life has become a line of dominoes just waiting to receive that push that will make them all fall one after the other.

Revision for tests. Tests. Reports. Going to my summer job in the UK. Going to Sweden for a week. Coming back to Portugal for the summer. Finish emptying my childhood room. Selling my car. Moving to the UK. Teaching course. Coming back home for Christmas. Finding a job in London.

That’s my life until January next year.

I’m excited about it, of course, but at the moment I feel unprepared. Like I’ve wasted all these months I’ve been in Portugal when I should have been getting ready.

I thought I was looking forward to all of it. And I am. I just didn’t realise it was going to make me feel this anxious. Anxious to the point of twisting my back muscles into knots, to the point of having acid reflux, to the point of having light panic attacks.

I’ve been trying to make myself relax. I’ve written lists of the things I need to do and pack, which made me feel more organised. I don’t have to follow them religiously – if I don’t tell myself this, I know I’ll get even more nervous – but at least I’ve thought about it, and that makes me feel more prepared.

I’ve arranged a day when I’m going to get rid of all the books people didn’t want from my collection, as well as CDs and DVDs. I’m putting everything I don’t want in bags, rather than piles. I’ve booked all my flights. I’ve started to divide my things between “Stuff I’m taking to the UK” and “Stuff I’m leaving behind so I won’t have to pack a suitcase when I visit my parents”.

Yes, I’m still feeling anxious, and I don’t think that’ll go away until I start my summer job when I’ll be too busy for thinking. But at least I’m not panicking anymore. I feel ready and mentally stable for the changes about to come.

I look forward to what the future brings, and am in no rush. Each thing will happen when it’s supposed to happen and I’ll make sure to enjoy each second of it instead of worrying about what’s next.

Here’s a sketch. No. A finished drawing.

_20180523_165819

The Sardine.

 

 

Alone, I often fall into nothingness

#VirginiaWoolf

This week I haven’t been able to draw. It’s probably because I’ve been feeling down, as I do every month, so when I’m feeling down I try to write, as I’ve found it’s a good frame of mind to do so.

I mean, if I’m going to feel down anyway, I might as well get something out of it, right?

In my writing, I’ve been trying to describe a feeling that washes over me when I’m having a particularly low moment, as if the world slows down and every shift in the air is picked up by your skin. As if you’re on drugs and everything seems hightened and dull at the same time.

Have you ever had that feeling? When you can feel every individual muscle moving as you go up the stairs and it feels like you’re moving in slow-motion and yet the world hasn’t changed at all, it’s you who’s different somehow.

It’s a very difficult feeling to describe. I wonder if it’s the brain’s way of protecting itself against whatever dark thoughts are trying to emmerge and take shape. Maybe it has to become slippery  in order to stop those thoughts from latching onto it.

I have since then began to feel better, I guess this month’s cycle is almost over, but as I was looking for better ways to describe this mood I happened upon this quote by Virginia Woolf:

Alone, I often fall down into nothingness. I must push my foot stealthily lest I should fall off the edge of the world into nothingness. I have to bang my head against some hard door to call myself back to the body.

Virginia Woolf, The Waves

This. This is what it is.

I’ve been struggling with describing this, and Virginia Woolf had it all along. This past week I’ve been wondering if it was something unique to myself. I’ve got mixed feelings about discovering that it isn’t. Relieved because I’m not different and frustrated because I’m not.

Here’s a sketch (sorry about the quality, I don’t own a scanner).

IMG_20180523_115109_166

The Sardine

I’m stepping through the door

#DavidBowie

Throughout my life I’ve had dozens of diaries.

It was a popular gift to give to a young girl, so every Christmas I’d get a shiny new notebook and was told to write about my day-to-day there every evening. On the first of January I’d be so excited about starting my new diary that I wouldn’t even wait for the evening!

I’d open it up, flick through it’s blank pages, grab my favourite pen and start writing about anything that popped into my head.

Unfortunately, as with anything, I’d grow tired of having to write in my diary every day, especially when I had a lot of homework to do and didn’t have the time or the energy to write anything.

None of my diaries lasted longer than a month.

However, I’ve recently started writing my thoughts down. I’m not calling it a diary. There are no dates or templates, it’s just a small A6 notebook where I’ve allowed myself to write about anything.

Sometimes I write small stories, sometimes lists, other times I write about random thoughts that have popped into my head. And I’ve come to realise that writing about my problems helps me to get over them.

When you write about something that’s worrying or bothering you it can be very therapeutic. For one thing, you let all your frustrations out onto paper, and that’s always a weight off your chest. Then, you analyse it in a calmer state of mind.

I find that after writing about whatever is upsetting me I tend to ask myself questions about the problem. By asking myself those questions, I resolve my problem or am able to find a better way to think about it.

Here are some examples of questions I ask myself:

  1. Why am I feeling the way I am?
  2. Is it really worth it spending time agonizing about this?
  3. Is there anything I can do to solve this?

Writing in about my problems is what I imagine talking to a therapist must feel like.

My notebook is my personal therapist. So is this blog in a way. They’ve helped me overcome a lot.

What do you do when you have a problem?

Here’s a sketch.

Thinking

The Sardine

Small epiphany

No song references today.

Last Friday was my birthday.

I didn’t particularly plan a birthday party per say, as I hate planning them. I get way too stressed out about it and if people are enjoying themselves or not. This time I just sent a message to my friends saying, I’ll be in Lisbon, come meet me and we’ll have a few drinks.

On Saturday I went to work in the morning, had a very long birthday lunch with my family and then headed out to Lisbon with my boyfriend, who’d flown in for the weekend. We walked around, had dinner, and then decided to wait for my friends in a bar.

We ended up finding an izakaya (Japanese-style bar) and decided to go in, as we’ve been missing Japan. We started a conversation with the bartender, who was there trying to learn Portuguese. We drank sake and ate snacks and waited for my friends.

They started messaging me saying that they were late.

This was expected, they’re never on time. I told them to be there at 10pm but knew they’d only show up by 12.

Then my best friend showed up. We had a few drinks still in the izakaya.

Then people started saying they weren’t coming. They were too tired.

At the time I just ignored it and continued enjoying myself, it was a really pleasant evening. And I got to practice my Japanese, which is always good.

But when I was in bed a sadness took over me.

They couldn’t be bothered to make the effort and come to have a drink. What the hell? What kind of friends are they? I always make the effort to go out and see them. I even decided to have drinks in Lisbon because it was more convenient for them. And they couldn’t even get off their lazy asses and have a fucking drink with me on my birthday?

I pushed those feelings deep down so I could enjoy the rest of the weekend with my boyfriend. We enjoyed the sunshine, played with my parents’ dog, watched MotoGP (big fan) and on Monday I drove him to the airport.

Once he was gone, I opened that box of feelings up again. It didn’t help that I was already feeling down, saying goodbye to my boyfriend is never easy. My thoughts turned so negative that I decided to just spend the day watching Netflix until I had to go to work, just to distract me.

Then, a couple days later, as I was putting my thoughts down in my writing notebook, I realised that I’m really to blame for feeling so negatively about my friends.

I’m not saying that it wasn’t upsetting that they didn’t show up, but I’m the one who’s putting all these expectations on my friends and getting disappointed by myself. It’s always been difficult to get them together and they have really busy schedules.

All this frustration is coming from myself. I need to stop wasting energy on things that I can’t control, and learn to appreciate what I do have. Instead of feeling upset because my friends are too busy or too tired to come and see me, I should enjoy the fact that they find time in their busy schedules to go out with me from time to time.

After this small epiphany, I’ve been feeling a lot better, I’m not even upset anymore and look forward to seeing my friends whenever they have the time.

Here’s another sketch of Cat Noir from Miraculous Ladybug. Once I started, I just had to keep going. This one was made digitally.

Chat_Noir (1)

The Sardine

Comfortably numb

#PinkFloyd

I’ve got a confession to make.

I’m an extremely lazy person.

When it comes to work I work as hard as I can and have the motivation to keep going until the job is done. I like going the extra mile.

But when it comes to my free time, I’m hopeless. I can spend the whole day in front of the TV and not even want to move out of the couch.

Sometimes I justify my laziness. I’ll draw at the same time as I watch yet another episode of Hannibal, I’ll write notes as I rewatch The Prince of Egypt for the millionth time and I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something that day.

This is what I did last Sunday, by the way. With all this talk of making choices and using my time in a more meaningful way, I haven’t really fixed the problem that the weekend brings for me.

The difference was that last Sunday I didn’t feel completely fine about spending the whole day in front of the TV. At the end of the day I thought to myself: yes, I’ve drawn something and yes, I’ve written a bit, but if I hadn’t been watching TV at the same time, I would’ve drawn and written a lot more than what I did.

If I had been more productive, maybe I’d have written a new chapter for my story, or drawn a lot more, maybe even gotten my watercolours and ink out and started that sketchbook that I didn’t throw away in the hopes of getting back into sketching (see previous post).

Could have, would have, should have.

I can’t change how I spent my Sunday, but I can change the Sundays to come. I’ve made a list of things that I should spend time on over the weekend. I haven’t made a schedule for them as I usually do, and I’m not saying that I have to spend a certain amount of time on them no matter what, but that I should consider doing them instead of sitting on the couch in front of the TV. Making lists and making schedules is a thing that I love to do, but when I miss out on a day I just give up on the whole thing.

So here are the suggestions:

  1. Draw digitally and on paper.
  2. Write for the blog and for my story.
  3. Spend time with friends or family.
  4. Go out, either to walk or to do something educational / cultural.

And I’ve also decided to try an experiment similar to my no chocolate week (see previous post), I’ll be having a no Netflix week, starting today.

I know why I sit in front of the TV for a whole day and don’t budge. It usually happens when I’m feeling down. It’s very difficult to motivate yourself to do anything if you’re depressed. But maybe if I ask myself whether or not I’m using my time in a meaningful way I might nudge myself into moving.

At least I’ll plant a seed of doubt in my brain, and that might grow into action.

How do you pull yourself out of numbness?

Here’s the drawing I made in front of the TV.

Classy

The Sardine