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perkreations

Honesty about creativity, art, mental illness, grief, feminism, human rights and chronic pain with a healthy dose of sarcasm

Month

May 2016

A Snapshot of Grief

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This photo was taken in June of 2014, about 2 month’s after my Mom died .
I think it is a good visual example, perhaps the only visual example, I have of my emotional state at that time.

I’m not wracked by sobs or crying out in anger, anguish and frustration – although I spent a lot of time in those states – I often simply ran out of energy as those heightened states of emotion are impossible to maintain for extended periods of time. The picture says it all, I look numb, wrung out, exhausted.

It’s important for me to look at this picture and see the tide of emotions with grief, I find it often feels as if I’m standing still rather than progressing. Progessing towards what I’m not always sure… Some form of acceptance perhaps, although I have yet to figure out what acceptance, for any extended period of time, looks like for me.

The other day I thought I’d lost my Mom’s opal ring and the sense of panic took me straight back to that primal state of grief. I found the ring later in the day and was able to pull myself together without losing a full day to grieving. Maybe I should see this as progress.

Although my progress feels as though it’s moving at a snails pace at least I now feel as though I am finally beginning to move. I’m not moving on, I don’t think that is what I want. I want the good, the bad, and the amazing parts of my relationship with my Mom to remain forever in my heart and mind. I want to move in a way which allows me to learn and grow and love and laugh and find my feet again while always keeping my Mom snuggled tightly in my heart.

K

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Anxiety Haiku

Knickers in a knot,
the noose tightens. Reason snaps.
Anxiety bites.

K

My Depression Progession

Depression, for me, is a sneaky son-a-salamander . It slithers up when I’m tired, vulnerable, scared, in physical pain, grieving intensely, or just because I’m not holding my nose right.

A gentle fog rolls in and lulls me into a place where I think I think I’ve never felt so low. The fog draws me in and chills me to the core. Soon a warm, soft blanket is placed, ever so gently, round my shoulders and begins to sooths me as does hot chocolate and Bailey’s during a snowstorm.

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Mourning Moon – acrylic on burlap
k.perkins

I generally lose my appetite at this point, although in the past, I’ve also had the pendulum swing the other way and eaten more than usual. Regardless, both states leave me feeling out of control and frustrated for not being able to fix myself. I cry constantly and frequently can’t pinpoint the cause. I ruminate to the point where I’m beating myself up for stupid things I said or did in grade 1!

The warm blanket around me next begins to tighten. Restricting my grip on reality a little more.

I may have trouble getting out of bed, I sleep too much or can’t sleep at all. I also may find it difficult to motivate myself to do anything. I just want to sleep and cry.

The blanket restricts me further, covering my face and slowly smothering me. I loose motivation to do laundry, wash my hair, put on make-up, relax or give myself a shred of a break. At this stage I firmly believe my depression is all my fault and I am just taking up space in the world…not useful.

If I let that blanket get any tighter I end up in either in or outpatient care on a psychiatric ward or with increased therapy sessions. I’m not ready to share details about those experiences until I get a little braver though.

Please know I am not experiencing the very worst depressed and/or panicked state currently. The tightness of the blanket is breathable for now. However it still has an effect on my day to day life constantly.

For anyone who’s ever experienced depression on any level I hope this post makes you feel less alone. I also hope it might help loved ones to understand what it might feel like to be depressed.

K

Welcome to Perkreations

Self portrait in acrylic I did in May 2016

About me…

Depression, anxiety, chronic pain, grief, social phobias, guilt… these are my constant companions. I’m not here to whine, preach, or tell …

Source: Welcome to Perkreations

The Balance Beam & the Silver Lining

Mental illness is a beast but, on occasion, I have come to find an amazing perk.

I would describe myself as creative. My whole life has been spent worshiping at the alter of art in all forms. I fancy myself a decent writer of both fiction and non, a dedicated beginner visual artist, a poet, a reasonably decent  photographer, and a great lover of music, dance, film, comics, performance art, graffiti, story telling, theatre, and so much more.

Creativity has saved me again and again and I can’t imagine my life without it. In recent years I’ve begun to appreciate just how much creativity saves me.

Between mental illness, grief, and chronic pain life isn’t always simple but I find, in a way, the adversity spurs me to higher levels of creative productivity.

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For instance I dreamed up more pieces I love during the month leading up to the second birthday of my Mom’s after she died than ever. I created 12 different colouring sheets, colouring art cards, paintings in acrylic, and portraits in pencil crayon. I was an art machine. Alas the wheels soon fell off…

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I liken situations like this to performing on a balance beam. I have to have my craziness (I mean no offence by the term crazy, I simply find it describes me well. I do not want to give the impression I’m labeling anyone else) to keep churning out the ideas and work but if I dip too far over into crazy-town I will perhaps break down and end up checking into the psychiatric ward for severe depression…but that’s a story for another day.

My point is it’s OK for me to embrace the one benefit mental illness sends my way. If this works for you too then grab the gift with both hands and reap the rewards. Just don’t hold on so tight you lose yourself entirely.

K

Anxiety, Pain, and Social Gatherings

My journey into life with chronic pain and mental illness is long and, perhaps, a bit of a snooze-fest so I will get right down to brass tacks.

I have difficulties with my left leg and ankle due to a severe break and subsequent nerve damage after 3 surgeries. I also have disc problems in my low back, si joints problems, as well as mental health struggles.

Also important to note is that I have been unable to work and on disability benefits on and off for the past 10 years. Currently I am unable to work and desperately miss my position of Head Curling Pro, my ultimate dream job. I gritted my teeth and held on for about three and a half years but almost four years ago the injuries kept getting worse and I had to go on disability leave again.

Here’s a social situation I deal with frequently and it’s a double whammy because it involves both chronic illness and social anxiety. I know, riveting stuff right…

So, here’s the setup – I am invited to an event of some sort…and there will be people I know and people I don’t know at said event. Horrors! No seriously, Horrors.

Here’s why; in my experience, the most common conversation starters are, “so, what do you do for a living?” and “where do you work?” or “how’s your back doing? Are you back at work yet?”

I know, I often asked these Pandora’s box style questions before I came to understand the uncomfortable dread it inspires in me now.

When these questions are lobed in my direction I literally begin to tremble, my throat constricts, and tears prick my eyes. I usually stutter something about being injured and off work.

The next questions are invariably, “where did you work? What is your injury?”

So I mention I was Head Curling Pro at a sports club, my dream job, perhaps a job I’ll never be able to return to and my heart breaks at the mere thought of this.

Once they know the basics they want to fix me. And I know they mean well but being interrogated about all the zillions of treatments I’ve tried, and Dr’s offices I’ve sat in, and all the tests I’ve had sucks.  I feel like sinking into the floor in a puddle of tears and flowing quietly from the room.

I try to hold it together until they’ve suggested some treatment which worked miracles for Great Auntie Nelly and simply involves sacrificing a goat and three chickens simultaneously during a blood moon while naked in a circle of crystal skulls imported from Morocco.

I take the advice as graciously as I can as I know the intentions are good. Then, I reiterate all the things I’m already working on and promise to look into the goat thing.

Getting into situations as described are terrifying for me. I have even cancelled, with great guilt and regret, attending events because I fear this so much.

One of the many psychologists I’ve seen had a great suggestion for an alternative conversation starter and it’s so simple and perfect.

“How do you like to spend your time?”

I beg you to change to this as opening dialogue. Please understand there are many invisible and visible reasons why the former questions make many people uncomfortable.

I hope this glimpse into my perspective is of some help and value.

K

My Experience With Panic Attacks

I find it difficult to talk about my mental illness without crying and struggling for air between jagged sobs. This is because there is no simple solution and it’s very easy to feel trapped and isolated.

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For the past 10 years I have struggled to; just take it easy, calm down, cheer the fuck up, not worry, just be grounded, find my centre, or whatever the hell else people who haven’t experienced mental illness think is the magic bullet.

Rather than spilling all the sordid details in one gargantuan post I think I’ll tackle one or two of my symptoms at a time.

So, here’s how panic attacks feel to me. Often, I awaken too early with a sense of impending doom. It feels sort of like losing car keys at first. That, “holy shit, what am I going to do?” feeling.

Then building tension coiled deep in my belly grows like wildfire in Fort McMurray. I stuggle to identify the source of my panic but usually there’s no obvious trigger…this ambiguity leads to more anxiety until all hell breaks loose; not just in my head but my entire body.

As my breathing rockets towards hyper-ventilation, I feel compelled to pace. Perhaps trying to outrun these unnecessary bodily sensations. Often I won’t be able to stop crying, I feel like a caged animal headed for the slaughterhouse.

There’s no reasoning with me, I am a slave to fighting or flighting (yes flighting – it’s my blog, I do what I want!). Often the grand finale is working myself into such a state I end up vomiting repeatedly. Pure glamour, no?

What helps? Sometimes time and patience, or a call to the Calgary Distress Center, or medication, or playing some mental games (like naming all the Canadian capital cities), or painting, or listening to music, or recalling I’ve never had an attack not end eventually, or some combination thereof.

Honestly I wouldn’t wish a panic attack on anyone. Ever. Sadly, I know there are many others out there suffering from similar afflictions.

I hope by sharing my experience I might help another person feel less alone with their illness and/or help loved ones understand a little bit more about panic attacks.

K

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