Mental health awareness week – day six – May 15 – self

Today was a day where my own mental health made itself known again. I had a day where I had shared with some visitors about my background to starting art or mindfulness, work stress etc.

I had great advice from a friend I trained to be a teacher with back in 1987/88 which is that my art is fun for me, if by making it into my work it stops becoming fun I should stop. This would also mean I wouldn’t have another role I would see myself as failing at. The last one still causes some nightmares (more Infrequent now) after five years.

Unfortunately after taking on a shared use of a shop unit in November 2019 cracks starting to show within three months of opening. Luckily lockdown1 came soon after this so it didn’t develop too much at that point. Over the last year however differences between the two of us have got worse and quite acrimonious at times which is not who I want to be. I have been left having to make decisions that work for me from a mental health basis and I have been open about this as it is not an aspect of my story that I hide.

So today I went from having fun creating new art pieces to a spiral of mood this afternoon. I shut up the shop an hour earlier than usual and came home. Initially I feared that I would retreat under the duvet and curl up in a ball but I avoided this. So a refreshing cup of tea followed by a walk along the shore of the bay in sunshine despite a forecast of rain at that time. Then I thought through the options left to me that allow me to continue to run my business in the shop on my days, have fun with drawing, enjoy talking with visitors / customers. Also to continue with the local community projects I have started already since returning to work from April 12th.

I have now made some plans that I will start to put into play this week. Once they are set up I will communicate with the other artist. They haven’t replied to recent communications so I don’t expect this to be any different but at least I will know that I will have been open about what I am doing and why.

Always practice self care with your mental health. If like me you are aware of some of your triggers be careful when you see them cropping up. Know what helps – for me tea is helpful and also fresh air and being in nature. Wishing anyone reading this, who is also struggling with something, strength in the days ahead. I do respond to comments – take care.

Mental health awareness week- day five – May 14

Today the person whose spirit’s were most important were my mother in law’s. Vi last went out from the care home where she now lives on her 98th birthday in March 2020. The care home had shut down trips but as it was her birthday she was allowed to go.

She has been in the care home and safe since, today 14 months later and now 99 she got the chance to go out with Anne and I. We didn’t know how she would find it as she spends a lot of her time in her room. She admitted to feeling a bit anxious. We have changed our car so she was our first rear seat passenger which, meant her eyes did not get too much sunlight as she has macular degeneration and her eyes are especially sensitive to sunlight. After a little while in the car she was happy with the comfort. Also I was on best son in law chauffeur duties, smooth, unhurried driving and gentle on the bends in the country lanes route.

We went to Holme for gardens and she had her favourite latte and a toasted tea cake. The sun came out as she sat in the garden with us. I drew a picture of part of the gardens behind her which I gave her as a memento of the trip. On our way out she said hello to a Sussex Spaniel Mar Higgins and chatted animatedly with the owner.

Back in the car we took an extended country route home, she could see the vague shapes of some of the cows next to the road. We took her to the viewpoint on the Studland Corfe road, she could see the vague pattern of greens that is Rempstone Forest. Unfortunately she can’t make out Poole Harvour and Brownsea Island but we were able to describe the view to her.

Terry when we got back to the care home. Next week we will go out again and we will keep doing it and we hope she enjoys. Our spirits were lifted by it too.

We did other things later, we walked on the pier, along the seafront, on the beach and later I kayaked as well but the stand out memory of today will be the joy that Vi got from her first trip out in 14 months, I am so glad at 99 she is still able to do so.

Sketch for Vi

Mental health awareness week – day four – May 13

A rest day was needed for Anne and I we woke early, got back to sleep and slept solidly for a lie in. A gentle restful morning with time online chatting with other artists, offering feedback on places visited yesterday. Last night I had emailed my artist cotenant about some issues about the shop that I feel need resolution. So quite a few things going on in my head.

This afternoon we talked about a walk but tiredness won. Sailing this evening would be too energetic based on today’s energy levels and tomorrow we get to take Anne’s mum out for a drive and hot drink for the first time in 14 months – that deserves our full energies. Instead we had a stroll on the seafront, I took my camera with longer zoom lens and captured some photos of tonight’s race which I shared on the club’s Facebook page.

I had some chats today with acquaintances lacking energy, recovering from losses and offered a listening ear briefly. Mental health affects us all. Some obviously more than others, noticing when others might need a response is not easy but is something we can notice if we are willing to look and listen. Knowing hat it is mental health awareness week is making me a little more observant than some weeks but as a sufferer with mental health issues it is one of those things that I pick up on and reach out about quite often be it a face to face chat, a check in online it doesn’t matter.

Do you keep an eye / ear out on how others are feeling?

Mental health awareness week – May 12 – day three

So, eldest went to court and we await the next step. Good news is even without his meds he stayed calm which was the main worry last night.

Today a calm and relaxed morning in the pier and a walk along the beach including stone skimming and feet paddling.

This afternoon bank tasks in a branch and opticians for sight tests and ordering new glasses – both fairly easy but time consuming tasks and a need to go to Poole to do them.

Online events meant following up actions of cotenant and an email which needed to be written to challenge and try to resolve matters. This causes tension as I don’t anticipate an answer but in the meanwhile I just want to focus on making my business base a happy and welcoming place for visitors / customers.

So some underlying stresses but a rest day with no appointments for tomorrow and a possible sail in the evening. The forecast is not good for the day so May even include staying in, feet up, some admin or drawing and listen to music and just slow things down.

Draw, breathe, chill – Swanage pier

Mental health awareness week – day two – May 11

Today mostly dry then rain in the last hour and a half led to a very quiet end to the workday. I didn’t sell as well but, yess, see day one comments – I did it again.

I was in a good place mentally for most of the day.mi did some organising of my ProMarkers into new folders I have bought and got 5 folders of up to 24 pens completed today, also the start of a new stocktake.

Also I decided to work on a new pirate chest and used a favoured format with a map that links with the view out of the captain’s windows at the stern of the ship of the island that matches the map. Not completed yet but good progress made.

Good interactions with visitors / customers including another former geography teacher; trying to encourage a child to identify some creatures on the hats but her shyness won, she still got her postcard and was clear that the Jurassic beach was her favourite. Also a discussion with a tattoo artist about ProMarkers, Posca markers and copics.

Mostly a good mental health day. This evening we spoke with both of our sons and then an extra phone call to say that our eldest had been arrested on an outstanding warrant from two years ago.

He has had a calm two years since this occurred when he was homeless and I travelled upto Essex on one of those occasions leaving at midnight to witness him kicking off with the police in Basildon A and E at 5 am. It shook me up at the time and I was fairly pumped with adrenaline from the drive. Now I am stuck hoping that he can stay calm and not react in a way that is confrontational as he has done on previous occasions. Suddenly my world shrinks and rocks in an agitated manner. Our son has made several life decisions that I disagree with but it is his life and I have respected that but I am still his adopted dad and have been for 23 years and I love him and I worry about anything that threatens to return him to a destructive cycle again. So some herbal tea, a calm evening but now disorientated mentally. Let’s hope sleep allows some rest.

Mental Health Awareness Week – May 10 – day 1

It was a good mental health day for me today. Most of the day it was dry so I was able to spend my time outside the shop being creative. The shop also had a range of visitors so I was able to share about the art plus passers by commenting on the work I was producing and my outfit made for a positive day.

The only niggle in my head links to the inequality between the two sole traders in the shop premises in terms of sales made for the other artist when on duty. The niggle is because I sell well for both of us, I am however not on the receiving end of good sales figures and it turns over in my head a lot. I like a harmonious workplace, I have worked in too many situations where stress and poor communication go hand in hand. I continue to try to do my best and be the artist who enjoys their art and represents the premises the best I can.

There is no easy solution but I want there to be one as I enjoy moments like today where a lady from London commented how it was nice to meet the artist who did the work she bought and was able to share the background story to how the piece came about. I also enjoy the fact that I get to sell my work to people direct and can offer that information if they are interested.

Tomorrow another shop day – more drawing and hopefully more sales.

Corfe sunset – with background story supplied

Mental health awareness week 10 to 16 May

Please practice #notice this week when you are around others or if on your own for yourself.

March 2020 to the present has been an unsettling time for many of us mentally. Life has been turned upside down, inside out and we still don’t know if / when we will return the ‘normal’ we used to experience.

Mental health is not obvious in most cases and is like several conditions a spectrum of experiences and symptoms. Do not expect people to ‘pass’ a standard to qualify to be suffering mentally.

My main request is that for this week and always (ideally) is to ‘be kind’ to others.

Sunday drivers

We were those long maligned creatures today was we left Purbeck to explore a little further afield. We encountered Spetisbury, Blandford Forum, Wimborne Minster, Sturminster Marshall, Wareham, Corfe Castle, Langton Matravers and Swanage.

Some nice country lanes, some delightful young animals out and about, great views and a nice sunset walk to end our day.

Enjoy your work

My art philosophy is ‘art for fun’ – my fun today was making some new signs to put out in the courtyard to tell people they are approaching the shop and that there is an artist about. It was fun and they kept me busy in gaps between visitors. Also me sitting outside the shop drawing leads to questions about the outfit, the pens, the stuff in the shop. I then accompany visitors in, introduce the two artists work and answer any other questions as asked.

After work I came home, got out of the artist disguise and got a longer walk in although I was very tired by the time we got home.

Enjoy the place you live

So today we visited my mother in law and had another negative lateral flow covid test, all good news. If weather and conditions allow next week we may take her out for the first time in 15 months.

We walked by the sea and ended at the pier where we had lunch and a walk on the pier.

An afternoon rest then I met a friend for a drink at a local pub garden. This evening we have relaxed.

First geography field trip of 2021 seen