Loving Yourself

The prompt for Week 2 in the 2015 Art Project was “Loving Yourself”. Just looking at the theme, I knew this week was going to be a tough one. I am awful at self love. I feel guilty nurturing myself. Lately, in order to improve the state of my mental health, I have been taking me-time. It’s definitely not without guilt, but I find if I do something I enjoy, like art, then I get distracted and the guilt of not working or cleaning the house doesn’t get to me so much.

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This week’s exercise was one I am familiar with. It’s similar to one of the staple activities of cognitive behaviour therapy. The idea is to re-frame negative thoughts about yourself into positive ones. I find it helpful. It can also be applied to other things. I normally use this activity to deal with my anxiety or perfectionist tendencies. I write down my worries and rationalize the hell out of them. Here is my exercise from this week.

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It was recommended to a double page spread this week, so that’s what I have done. We were to interpret the exercise and the loving yourself theme. When I think of love, I think of hearts, pinks and reds, so I’ve incorporated those into my spread. Loving myself is something I am working on and finding difficult, so I doodled a cartoon of myself looking skeptical and pasted that in surrounding it with question marks. You can’t really see it, but I used a stencil full of gears in the background. The gears represent the hard work that has to be put in learning to love yourself when it doesn’t come naturally. I filled the rest of the space with other methods you can use to learn to love yourself.

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For the art folk out there, I started with a layer of white gesso, then scribbled all over it with gelatos. The big heart is also gelato. I used white acrylic paint to stencil in the gears. The smaller red hearts are stamped with ink. The writing was done using a Uni-ball Signo gel pen. Letters were coloured in using Sharpie paint markers. The same was used to draw the question marks and the white ruffles around the big heart. The figure was coloured with regular old pencil crayons and outlined in a Sharpie fine liner. I used Modge Podge to glue the figure in.

Does anyone have an opinion on Modge Podge? I got a whole bottle from my sister-in-law, but I’ve heard it’s no good for art journaling and I should be using gel medium. What do you think?

Anyway, on to Week 3! If you’d like to join the fun, you can find more information on Victoria’s blog, or join the Facebook group

Losing Hope and Appearing Normal

About a week ago I thought things were turning around. I was feeling hopeful, maybe even enthusiastic. You can read about what I mean here. I had my new creative projects, I had a heart to heart with my Ph.D. supervisor and I got a lot of loose ends tied up. I was accomplishing things, I was on top of the world. That magical feeling lasted all of about 30 hours. I don’t know what happened exactly, but the feeling gradually slipped away and reality seeped back in. It probably started with the headache that I’ve had on and off all week. That’s enough to put a damper on anything.

Hold on to hope.

Hold on to hope.

I still have my creative projects thankfully. I just haven’t had any time to work on them because work has been so busy. I’ve been showing the new Ph.D, around and getting him trained on all the equipment and procedures we use. He seems nice and it has been a relief to get his opinion on things. As far as having someone to share responsibilities with, that’s not really going to happen. He is in class all this semester, so he’ll only be able to take on a minimal amount. Then, he goes back home, to Kansas, for the rest of the year. So whatever I delegate to him (plus the new stuff he starts) will end up back in my lap come January.

Although my supervisor was sympathetic to my mental health woes and my being overwhelmed, I’m not sure she completely understands. She says she does, but I feel like she is looking for the textbook definition of depression in me and not seeing it. Here is a description of the changes in appearance you see in depression from Livestrong…

“Maintaining the appearance may become less important to depressed people. The effort and energy that was once put into grooming and dressing significantly decreases. Showering may no longer occur daily; hair may go uncut for months. They may wear the same clothes day after day, despite wrinkles or stains. Clothing may become too tight or too loose due to changes in weight associated with depression. Also, dark circles and bags may appear under their eyes from lack of sleep”

This description fits me when I am at home, but not when I go out. My appearance has a huge affect on my mood. If I can’t get it together, I don’t let people see me. I let what other people think of me determine my worth. What would they think if they saw me with greasy hair, no makeup and stained clothes?! I don’t even want to think about it. So I put on a show. I keep my thoughts, emotions and anxiety to myself. I don’t let them show on my face. I hide my dark circles, I buy loose clothes that I don’t have to iron, I tie my hair back and I look normal.

I don’t talk to my supervisor about depression very much, just when it gets in the way. Every time it comes up she says something along the lines of “you look pretty good for someone who can’t sleep”. It makes me think she doesn’t quite believe me. I get the impression she is testing me. She wants to see where my breaking point is, when I finally start to fit the textbook definition of depression. Maybe I am paranoid, but she tests other people without telling them. She talks to me about it. If she does it to them, why wouldn’t she do it to me too.

I’m a little all over the place today. This is just what is rolling around in my head after another sleepless night. What does depression look like for you? Do you fit the Livestrong description above or are you like me and put what energy you have left into appearing normal? Do you feel like you are taken less seriously because you try to look normal? What do you think?

Attract:reflect quote

Self-esteem Challenge: Day 24

This blog challenge was developed by betterthandarkchocolate.tumblr.com. If you missed the introduction or want to see a summary of all the questions, go here.

Day 24:
What is your definition of “beautiful”?
Do you compare yourself to others? How can you be more focused on yourself?

“Beautiful” describes something/someone that is pleasing to the senses or the mind. That’s my definition at least. To consider someone or something beautiful is subjective. Sometimes something that is ordinary or even repulsive to one person can be beautiful to another. I mentioned in a recent post that I think sharks are beautiful. I bet there aren’t too many people that would agree with me. Most would find them scary or think nothing of them.

Of course I compare myself to others! Who doesn’t at some point or another. My problem is that I do it about everything and I do it too often. Also, I only do it for when I am at the disadvantage. I compare myself to people who are or have things that I want and I ignore what I already have. For instance, I have plenty of education. I don’t compare myself to people with less or more, I just don’t think about it. It’s like its a total write off because I already have it. If I can do it, then anyone can and it loses its worth. I know, this is a cognitive distortion and I need to adopt a new way of thinking…..working on it.

I keep looking at people in similar circumstances to myself who have it all together and envy them. How come they can manage to make their lives so great and I can barely keep up with mine. It’s not like my life is any harder than theirs, yet they seem to have good jobs, own a home and be having kids already…things that seem too far out of reach for me. I guess its important to remember when my brain goes down this route, that I don’t know everything. Maybe there is something they aren’t telling me or maybe once you get past the outside, they are hanging on for dear life just like me. I don’t want that to be the case, but everyone fights their battles that the rest of us know nothing about. Maybe to them, I appear to have it all together…haha….who knows.


Self-esteem Challenge: Day 23

This blog challenge was developed by betterthandarkchocolate.tumblr.com. If you missed the introduction or want to see a summary of all the questions, go here.

Day 23:
What physical feature do others seem to find most attractive about you?
What is your ideal outcome of this challenge?

Wasn’t this question asked already? I think it’s my hair. At least, I sort of believe it when people say nice things about it. I have received other compliments, but I find serious flaws with those parts of me, so I kind of feel like people aren’t serious when they say something nice. I think they are making fun of me or something. My eyes are a good example. Some people say they think I have great eyes. I think they are boring. Plus they are still a little crossed and they are scarred from the strabismus surgery.

The ideal outcome of this challenge would be that I accept who and what I am and be happy with it. I do enough, I have accomplished enough, I am enough and will continue to be enough. That’s not being realistic though. I started this hoping that by being forced to be optimistic and look for good things in myself that I would see them and believe them. I was hoping that would help me feel worth it and help me to get back to working for what I want.

flower doodle purple

Self-Esteem Challenge: Day 13

SEC day 13

This blog challenge was developed by betterthandarkchocolate.tumblr.com. If you missed the introduction or want to see a summary of all the questions, go here.

Day 13:
What do you think of your smile?
Share about the last time you felt confident in yourself. Why did you feel that confident?

My smile is….just a smile. I don’t really think about it to be honest. I had horribly crooked teeth when I was younger. I had braces to correct that, but I was never self-conscious about my crooked teeth. I probably would be if they were still like that today, but at 12, it just wasn’t something I thought about.

I feel most confident in myself after having accomplished something. So the last time would have to be….comps I guess. I talked about that yesterday. Why did I feel confident? Because my worth as a Ph.D. candidate was validated by four experts. I felt that I did a good job and they said I did a good job. It’s rare that both happen. Usually I get no feedback or I’m told I did a good job, but I see all the flaws and how it should have been better. So I guess my worth isn’t entirely based on other people’s opinion of me. I have to feel I’ve done well too. I think I might be a harsher critic though…


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