Over the years, social media networks have come and gone. Instagram, is a social network that I have used since I learned of it’s existence, back in my college days.
It’s the social network that provides me the most joy. I can post opinions, memories, or even wee stories of my day. And, in return, I get to see what other people create. I have made friends, followed artists and people that inspire me every day, and genuinely have fun on Instagram.
Instagram seems to get pulled up as the worst social media site, especially for the content that young eyes can find. People need to understand that social media sites run off what information you give it. What information and hashtags you may use, is what helps create the content you view. I think people need to be educated on how to use social media, before they start blaming it for everything. Social media makes money by curating a timeline that a user will interact with. Because heavy interaction, means there is more chance of adverts being seen, clicked on, and maybe sales made.
I follow accounts of artists, friends and people who post stuff that encourages me. I save topics like ‘alternative’, ‘Naruto’, ‘BlackPink’, ‘journaling’ and many more. I am not interested in fashion or make-up, so I find that I don’t get recommended pages of models and diet focused accounts.
Parents should always be aware of how social media sites work. Educate themselves. If you don’t like what you find, you protect your child. Teach them how to use social media responsibly, show what dangers lie on the internet. Because it should be taken just as seriously as dangers outside in the real world. If a parent refuses to understand how a site works, they can’t expect their child to.
My instagram is like a journal, a bit of a visual blog. I post what catches my attention, rather than just selfies of myself. I understand different people use it for different reasons, and that’s okay. But having such a outlet, has helped my mental health. If I am struggling, i try to go for a walk to take some pictures. And it really helps me gain some focus. It makes me sad that some people see everything on the internet as bad. To me it’s the opposite.
I have spoken on here recently, about how I have been struggling with focus. Of how I find my thoughts wondering off when I try to do something.
One of the things that has been really effected by this, is my art.
Since I was little, I used to draw all the time. It was my favourite thing to do, apart from reading. I would be reading and drawing my weekends and holidays away. But, since my mental health started morphing from just depression, to include anxiety, I found myself finding it harder and harder to draw. I stopped keeping sketch books, and materials just sat unused.
I got an iPad last year, and decided to buy an Apple Pencil to use it. To try and get back into doing things. It has gone unused. Because I didn’t like anything I made. I felt like any skill, I once held, was gone. I began to feel unhappy every time I picked up a pencil. Everything I made was a mess, it was a waste of time. I felt betrayed, that that one thing I thought I was good at, I was rubbish. With a clear mind, I realise that any skill has to be refreshed, you need to keep at it, to keep your skills up to par. If you don’t practice, the quality can slip. But my anxious mind tells me it’s because I fail at everything.
So today, I came to a decision. That I was going to try and draw one thing every day. I started with a drawing that I did on my ipad. Whilst it doesn’t seem very good to me, it’s a start. It’s something to build on. Start getting my confidence back. The good thing is, that I was pretty happy whilst I was drawing away. I have tried to hold on to that feeling, rather than focus on my disappointment at the end result.
One step at a time.
Happy New Year.
What do I want for the year?
Try to experience life in the moment: I sometimes worry too much about what could happen, rather than focus on what is actually happening. It is something created by my anxiety, but I want to try and change how I think about stuff. It seems hard, but it’s worth a try.
Get healthier: this is on a lot of people’s resolution list. I don’t care about weight really, I just want to feel better. I am trying Veganuary, in the hope I will feel better. Luckily a lot of people are trying it, so there is so much support. Again, I might not get it perfect, but it has to start from somewhere.
Draw more: I think I used this last year. I have purchased an Apple Pencil to use on my iPad, so that I can draw digitally. I just need to practice more. It’s always hard using a new tool, but it is something a wee bit exciting. If anything decent happens, I’ll share on here.
Write more: this is definitely something I did say last year. But 2019 kicked me in the butt quite hard. My mental health was rubbish, and that lead to me not wanting to do much at all. So, I hope that I post more than I did in 2019, which shouldn’t be too hard.
I like giving myself vague targets, because it makes it slightly easier to aim for. Because sometimes, if you fall too far behind, you just give up. Or I do.
I remember leaving school. I remember preparing for leaving school. I remember waiting for my exam results. Visiting colleges. The dreaded fear as I counted down the final days.
My aim, was to be a Veterinary Nurse, as I wanted to help animals. I tried so hard. But whilst I was studying in Glasgow, I started to develop anxiety. Whilst I had an issue with depression at school, college is where it smashed me in the face. It got harder and harder to continue on. Eventually I failed an exam to get on the next year, and had to get a job in a shop. Which was okay, but I didn't get on with my manager. My anxiety lead to a fear of standing still. If I stood still, then the fact that I failed as a Vet Nurse would catch up.
So I thought about what I wanted to do, as a life. And even as a kid, I either wanted to do art or something with animals. So, I tried animals, so i thought I'd try something more arty. This time I went to a local college to try Art and then Graphic Design. To support this, I left the shop and went to work in a call centre in the evenings. The ambition was there, but at this stage (my 20s) I still hadn't got any help with my mental heal issues. I speak about them, because I can see they were there, when I am looking back. It was whilst I was at college and the call centre that i eventually sought out help. I struggled with college, so I eventually ended up just going full time at the call centre. But I struggled.
Eventually, I was paid off from the call centre for underperforming. Which was hard. But I was so anxious, that I felt I was a burden to everyone around me. I couldn't sleep before work, and I would frequently end up in tears during the shift. Although I was in despair at the time, I didn't realise how much I hated the job till I never had to go back. I spent about 6 months, whilst looking for jobs, learning how to look after myself. I was in the worst mental state I had been in through my whole life. I was self-harming and didn't want to live. I only saw what I had failed at, and wanted to give up.
I spent time with friends and family, made effort, found the things that made me happy again. And about 4 years ago, I applied for a job at a local warehouse. A job I was permanent in after 12 weeks, and that I am still at. I work long shifts, but short weeks, and this has enabled me the time I needed to continue to work on myself. And it helped. I like my job, I like the people I work with, but I still feel I could do more. So I applied to the Open University to do an IT course. I have always been interested in computers, so it would be interesting. And because I have healthier ways of dealing with any mental health issues, I think I am more prepared than before, to work on a course.
I guess that is my message of this post. What you may have in mind for your career might not pan out. But it is no reason to give up. There are so many pathways available to you, so try not to lose awareness of that. Not everyone gets lucky at their first career choice, but something is there for you. I mean, IT might hot be the thing for me, but life is too short to not try.
After a crappy few days, there is nothing better than focusing yourself on a task to help calm any bad feeling you may have. It is one of those things that seems impossible to do at times. I guess the important thing is not to force yourself to do something, especially if it is something that you may enjoy. Because forcing yourself on something you actually like, may take the joy away. It is supposed to be a respite for you, not simply another thing to give you anxiety.
I know, with myself, when I have a ‘bad turn’, I usually have to ride it out. I always try to do something, but if I am not in the right frame of mind, then nothing will help. I can easily sit and stare at the same page of a book for an hour, or zone out and miss 2/3 episodes of a TV show. These things that are normally relaxing for me, don’t seem to have the desired effect. There was a time, when I was younger, I actually thought my ‘zoning out’ was simply another thing that made me broken. Because for a long time, that is what I thought of myself. An unfuctioning, broken person. It has taken years of work to realise that I needed to give myself a bit of a break. Being harsh on yourself for having shit mental health, just makes your mental health worse. It is a vicious circle.
When I realised this, I started giving myself a time scale. For example, still staring at the same book page after 15 minutes, close the book and give it a rest. It became a rule that I followed, something I had to train myself to do. Because, if I didn’t, I would do nothing, and then feel bad because I had done nothing. I think that is the hardest thing about trying to self-manage your mental health. You should be strict enough with yourself that you push yourself forward, but you don’t want to be too strict and send yourself backwards. It is hard, and something it has taken me many years to try and get better at. But, I am getting there slowly.
What can be a distraction? Well, anything really. Here is a wee list of things that I use to help me feel a bit better.
Go for a walk- This could be anywhere. Luckily we have a lot of coastal walks around where I live, and I find the smell of the sea air quite relaxing. No matter where it is, a walk is something that gives you the good feeling of exercise. You may go to the park, walk to the shops, walk to a friends or even just walk round the block. I love walking, as it always has the ability of helping me de-stress.
Listen to music- Music can be great. It is a good way to block the world out, which is good if that is what is giving you anxiety. I have a variety of music tastes, and one day I’ll be listening to Pantera, the next Steps, and then some Faithless. Because different things can trigger my anxiety, different music can ease it. Unfortunately, I have a habit of leaving my iPod (with my full music collection) at home, but that is where iTunes, Spotify or Amazon Music come in handy. Every few weeks I make a new playlist. I pick a range of songs, from all different genres. It means, I can have the playlist saved to my phone, have music that is for my mood (whatever that may be), and it doesn’t take up all my phone’s memory.
Watch a TV show- This is hit and miss with me. I don’t have a lot of patience to sit and watch a TV show a lot of the time. But when I am in the mood, I can sit for several hours with the same program. The main services I use are Netflix and Crunchyroll. Again, I have a variety of shows that I am working through. So I can put on The Big Bang Theory when I need background noise, Pretty Little Liars when I want to sit and focus on something longer than 25 minutes or Naruto because I LOVE NARUTO. This again, is because my mood is never the same 2 days in a row, so I like variety.
Watch Youtube- I am addicted to youtube. It is the app I go on to when I am getting ready for bed. I love the variety. I love the variety of content that I can find on there. Watching some daily vlogs do inspire me sometimes, by seeing how motivated other people are, it kind of motivates me. I also like retro gaming, tech stuff (mostly mobiles and computers) and anime (Naruto) commentaries. The good thing is with youtube, especially on the most frequent app updates, you can click one video, and it will automatically set a playlist with similar videos, that it plays automatically. It never fails to cheer me up.
Draw something- I used to be better at this, than what I am now. Nothing I do, ever, compares to how drawing and painting makes me feel. Because of the lack of practice I do, the quality is kind of crappy, but that doesn’t even really matter to me. Whether the cat I drew, looks like a cat, doesn’t matter. I have bought myself these colouring books (the colouring for grown-ups, ones), and as much as I do enjoy them, they aren’t the same as doodling my own wee pattern, and colouring that in. My sketchbook is a mess, but it is mine, and sometimes I can look back and see progress in myself, in how I feel. Which is nice.
As I have said before though, you can do almost anything to distract yourself if you are struggling with mental health. But, do remember not to force yourself to do anything, give it a go, but if you can’t focus, stop. These things are usually so good at being distractions, because you enjoy doing them.
Mental health is hard. If you are really struggling, you can visit your GP for help. I have found both Breathing Space and Samaritans to be very helpful. You are never alone as what you feel, and there are so many people out there to help.
I am totally back into being all happy and in love with art again. Which, for the record, makes me happier than anything.
I feel so lucky to be able to work all my frustrations out by drawing or painting. It is a great feeling.
I still do get my good and bad days, where all I want to do is sit in my bed and cry, but I have my coping mechanism. A lot of people don’t have anything as a release.
Another thing I obviously have as a release is music, I love music. It inspires me so much, but on days like today, I left my headphones at home. So no music home on the bus. It is so frustrating, as it kind means I can sometimes be wound up by work by the time I get home. Music takes that away.
Since I was little I have kept sketch books full of drawings, diary entries and cut-outs. It’s always been a good way to be creative and work out some anxieties that I may have.
The only problem is, that as life gets busier and I get older, it becomes harder to focus on drawing and stuff. For example. My current sketch book was started about 2 and a half years ago. Which is quite bad. Considering there was a time that I could go through a sketch book every few months.
I am trying to say to myself, that it doesn’t matter how much I do. It matters more, that I am doing anything. Because I look at how little I have done and I feel bad, guilty almost, that I haven’t been doing as much as I maybe would have liked.
But in the last few days I have filled 4 pages with doodles, and it’s kind of motivated me again. So, I thought I would post some of the bits and pieces from previous pages of my sketchbook and try and push myself on further.
I am one of those people who can’t have a simply plain notebook. I need to have it personalised, to show a bit of character. For book covers I like them to be covers in a mosaic style. Like below.
When I was younger, that involved printing pictures off the Internet, or cutting them out of magazines. Gluing them onto my book cover. I was feeling a bit bored with my most recent diary, so I ordered stickers off Amazon, and spent a wee bit of time, covering my book.
It was really fun and relaxing. Something I am needing to do more of. And it is something very simple.
Whilst I have had a bit of a breakthrough, so far in 2017, with my writing, I am still a bit stuck with my more arty things.
I am trying to do wee things to help motivate me. Cause past doing wee doodles every now and then, I struggle. But, when I think about it,wee doodles are better than nothing.
The image above is what happened creatively today. I stuck stickers in my sketchbook. Like a child. Honestly, it was so relaxing, just what I needed after a stressful day. So, as far as I am concerned it did it’s job.
Been doing a lot of thinking, so I can build on the wee doodles and stickers, and actually create something substantial. Maybe, I need a few goals. Like making a new banner or something. Goals sometimes help, sometimes they do de-motivate me further though.