Facts are off-limits

fiction is a stand-in for the truth.

Listen via youtube HERE

Life feels really sweet and sour at the moment. The exquisite balance of gratitude and a shit storm of WTF. I haven’t written in a long, haven’t even rambled into a notebook, or dumped my brain into a video. Sure I do yoga, fortnightly therapy, and get into the studio as much as I can, I sketch regularly, but often just feel like I’m talking to myself. I haven’t done any big talking gigs for a while. It?that is mostly about what I’m not saying. Quite often, when talking live and doing Q&A I’m horrendously honest, I have to be careful, if you ask me a direct question I’m probably likely, in that setting to say the unfiltered truth, sometimes that can be unsafe and unfair on those who share my narrative.

Recently I was asked to talk at a mental health open mic night happening soon, it does well in Shoreditch, hopefully, it will do well in Norwich too. I didn’t want to talk about or present any visual work, I feel incredibly unable to talk about my lived experience of mental health, parenting and abuse at the moment, so at first, I was eager to get other creatives involved but, what the hell would I say?

 

IMG_20200203_172439_131
A poster for Mental Health Open Mic event. UNFILTERED, Norwich, Gonzo’s tearoom. 20th Feb, 6.30 sign up, 7pm start. Tickets £3.

The name of the event is UNFILTERED. I’m wearing a thick wet woollen coat of frustration. I would cherish the time and ears to be truly unfiltered, in the not too distant future I will, it’s just not safe to do so right now. There are some juicy details that effectively convey the part of my experience of mental health, the bits that connect people to understanding, I just can’t say them out loud right now. To tell the whole truth, would be so fricking validating. However, right now I’m not going to. The almost full story is enough. So a story is what I will produce. I have been working on pockets of narratives and visual meaning in painting and drawing for a long time, so this is going to be an enjoyable process.

Recently while discussing this frustration with a friend we looked at the ideas of truth, story and fiction. It made me think of the realisation I had some 4 years ago that NO ONE person will ever truly understand what has happened or how I feel. It’s a mind-bending universal truth. I could sit and discuss in detail a chain of real-life events, but I will never be able to get even one person to truly understand my truth. I had a hard time coming to terms with that at the time. It pissed me right off. I’d worked so hard to find my voice to find out it was never going to be able to do what I naively thought it would. I had changed my perspective enough to understand my own behaviour and emotions, I was able to create artwork that I actually understood, that I wasn’t asking an audience to decode for me. All of that felt useless in terms of my practice, in terms of saying anything out loud because what was the point of saying it out loud if everyone would interpret those words differently? I had grown up with this idea that words or text where facts, hidden inside thick books and paragraphs I struggled to read.  Art and image was something to interpret and guess about, something deliberately vague. Visual image and language was something I could do, so my dyslexic “slow coach” thought it had less value. (Which is total horse poop) I was the ripe age of 31 when at a zine fair a teacher friend reassured me that even if I miss read the words in a poem, the meaning gained from it was valid. Fuck the author. Nothing is really real, cheers Barthe, the author IS dead.

The interesting thing is, I can no longer tell THAT struggle in the same way, I have grown and evolved so much that that in its self is fiction. As I retell any given moment of my own truth, it becomes fiction. I could tell you about one moment or time frame and each time tell it more sympathetically to one of the key characters, in my understanding of how they might see and feel the environment and serries of events. Each one of those would be true, but also very much fiction.

For selfish and valid reasons, while I take up a little bit of space during UNFILTERED I will tell a tale of total fiction with so much emotional truth that it quenches that thirst to be heard and dries out the woolly coat of frustration.

Uncomfortable : watercolour shapes

I still have so much to learn with oil paint, I’m considering some YouTube tutorial afternoons. It’s a different game with watercolour, a material that does prodominently what I want when I want, the only thing that’s lacking it perhaps depth, on paper, characters and form are often held in the space if the page. Where as when I paint in board or canvas, I make the canvas or board just less visible. I actually kinda hate canvas, I don’t enjoy seeing it as part of the shape or surface of my work, I like there to be a lot of paint, which can sometimes prohibiting and I need to move around that.

2019 has been alarmingly positive, which is actually strangely uncomfortable. It just takes more practice than I have had to make positive choices and get positive results.

Which maybe why I spent many evenings painting the fleshy ring shapes and going over 3 abandoned drawings and adding colour.

Love it or hate it it’s here!

December.
There’s so many reasons this time of year is difficult. Check in your strong friends. Make plans with people and do activities that make you feel wholesome.
Make exit plans.
Drink water.

🖤

Got out of my Comfort Zone

Artists Ben Bell & Dan Bown created an exhibition in Studio 20, the private view was well attended as was the exhibition and happening the next day. They organised a group painting session, like musical chairs but less energetic. Of the painters in attendance 3 have exhibited with Imprudent Collective.

Lucid Nonsense

Long long ago I had a space in an open plan studio, I don’t think i made anything in there, it never felt comfortable. Turned out I have huge anxiety around making in front of other people, it’s almost as bad as being asked to read something aloud I’ve never read before. CRINGE. I see our city dotted with the talented open-air painters and I’m always blown away by how they do it, not the practicality of it, but taking up space and being seen?/Vulnerable? nope, not for me, I reckon I’d get s*at on by a massive gull or I’d pack up if random blokes (# not all men) tried to talk at me while I painted. 5 different types of nope.

I got well out of my comfort zone then found it again with teeth. It was great to be a guest, it wasn’t my exhibition soi didn’t have the organiser head-on- except definitely got restless and wanted to move on perhaps more quickly than anyone else. I’t was strange, to paint around and possibly over someone else’s marks, while we all sat around a table in the middle of an exhibition, listening to chilled out tunes and chatting about the power of getting out and seeing people for the maintenance of wellbeing.

10/10 would do again.

Get Trauma Responsive Norfolk

Here is something I’m so proud to be part of.

Thank you to everyone so far who has shared and filled in this form, Im going to extend the deadline past the 24th August and keep it open for longer because this information, your experiences and voice is important and it will be incredibly valuable to the delivery of this service if the bid is successful and what happens after that.

5 minute Questionaire

5 minute Questionaire

Just click this link to fill in the form. I have been told it’s easier if you access it on anything other than Apple products like iPhones and iPads.

5 minute Questionaire

here is the link one last time

❔Why though❔

There is a video in the questionaire explaining what this is for and I also read the questions too.

Let me know if you think I have a future in ASMR recording.

🖤

BIT RELIGIOUS ISN’T IT…

if you’d prefer to listen youtube

CREATIVE UPDATE-painting progression

3 years ago I was scared of drawing halos because they aren’t mine, so I leaned into that because the 6-year-old me who had to say a prayer at school every afternoon part of me decided I should. I love finding icons with their faces scratched out in corners of medieval churches on the various mini expeditions my most spiritual friend and I take to the holiest pilgrimage village in Norfolk. the defaced paintings showing the anger towards someone else’s ideas, we drive each other to do peculiar things, particularly in the name of our chosen gods.  I love icon paintings because they are traditional and unchanged, stories about spectacular humans painted by humans. It was around this time I read FEMEN, I didn’t agree with some of what they did, the polarised thoughts around women covering their heads being oppressed(choice is key) but I learned about Oksana Shackko a Ukrainian artist; trained from a very early age in iconography, made a living from it by 12, left it alone for a while during her activist days but went back to it with new meaning before her death at the age of 31 last year. In fact a year ago on the 23 July, this week.   That smarted a bit. artnet news  

Recently there has been more ambiguity in the halo, it could indeed be a sun, with rays shining out of it, I’ve moved away from whole figures again and back to the pattern and shape making of body parts and the blurring of boundaries between physically internal and external.

 

When showing people these most recent images the response is often a coy mention of how they are so religious in appearance. I could get existential, talk about spirituality, energy, the big nothing and the end of the world. Humans are resilient and totally fragile, our lives are little blips in time. We want so much freedom as well as needing the comfort of containment. Mostly what I’m expressing is the human struggle,  the utter fear of existing and the joy of just being.  A whole bunch of feels is in here about the phrase ” babies having babies” usually a sad derogatory term for teenage pregnancy, honestly, though, no one is ever ready, it’s hard even if your life is quite easy, parenting is HARD, 100% not doing that whole baby thing again!

No one really knows what they are doing, and that’s ok.

 

Loneliness & Social Isolation

This time next week (6th June) I’ll be speaking at a mentalhealth conference in Norwich.

One of my favourite parts of the day is listening to others stories and how they’re similar to my own. Survival and love stories 💛 there’s something about humans, a little electric ZING, we shine when we get to see one another 🌟

Tickets are FREE

Eventbrite

OPEN event info

Facebook Event Page

Made Space for a Voice

#MentalHealthWeek | Blog 3:3

100% Im one of those people that has to make, it’s not a hobbie or career path, it’s a need, like someone might jog, or swim, sing, to stay happy and healthy, I need to make. If Im not making it’s because Im not well and I need to make to feel well again. Prodominantly the subject matter is trauma and recovery based, the motifes are figures, eyes, teeth, vulvas, waves and halos. Im lucky, I have a studio, A MASSIVE PRIVILLAGE I have it because it became clear that my creative practice and my little family couldn’t live in the same place. It’s also important for me to be able to walk away from my work, far away, but know it will be there when Im ready to go back. It took a big leap to continue to feel like I was worth, that my creative work was worth taking up a studio space.

FAV17 & FAV18 https://klgilmartin.com/finding-a-voice-2017-nunnsyard-gallery/ was me making space for the new voice I’d found and to help other find or use their own. I have notice more and more since then how much positive impact it makes that I am visable. People who have had simmilar struggles can heal from seeing one another thrive. It makes sence to me that recovery collage and peer support work.

Shine so bright the haters need shades 🌞

Being a creative practiotioner. I’m wholeheartedly unappologetically me. I make what I want, if it fits some one elses needs, great, but it is a selfish procsess in and of it’s self. The bit I love is using it to teach and communicate. A non verbal voice, that gets to be listened to and because in these class room or training situations Im there, we get to be super curious about it. I think it’s a super power that grew from the right intervention during crisis, I had so many different proffesionals around, that it made sense to be curagously vulnerable (thank you Berne Brown). It’s important to note in those early sessions when a voice is non verbal, how someone in a support role can spot that voice, have the courage to go back and ask tricky questions, safely. So yeah my process could be viewed as self indulgent but my whole practice balances that out. Even if it didn’t haveing a creative practice just for yourself, is tottaly valid and ok!

Im looking forward to getting the Mental health conference, inpartnership with “feed back mental health” into Norwich! There’s going to be 3 days of speakers and workshops for the general public to come and investigate for free. Norwich is planned for the 6th June. Its the 3rd time I’ve taken the stage at SHEDDNG THE LIGHT, https://klgilmartin.com/2018/06/04/shedding-the-light-conference-june-2018/

I don’t take my work, I just talk about how I got into crisis and how I leaned into support and built my village. #MyVillage Its after talking at this that people come up to me and the buzz from resonating emotions is electric. I feel it too, when I see someone whos had a similar story to me talk about how they got to recovery.

I’m going to keep making and taking up spaces. Creating spaces for others voices as well as my own. FAV18 was brillint becaue I got to share the exhibition with some women I had known for a while. During this exhbition I held 2 days of workshops with in the exhibition, co fasilitated, one day with a clinical psycologist and the other day with a Social worker. The whole event went well, but it was too much work. I didn’t want to run workshops in a group shop again, it was a nightmare when it came to marketing. Seperating my practice from the group show seemed to be the best idea. One I made happen with an egar curator, curation is not my favourite. Together we made https://imprudentart.wordpress.com/ which just so happens to be running its first pop up show during the UKs Mental Health Week and the busy period of the Norfolk & Norwich festival, though we aren’t affilliated wit the festival. (currently).

Event poster

The pop up show is a 2 day exhibition, the space will be filled with work by over 40 creatives and mental health practitioners from across Norfolk and Suffolk. I learnt from the workshops of FAV18 that what is really important to me is unpicking the othering nature of a profetional labels, that some one with “lived experience” is us and any support (a service, MH or childrens or social services) is them. It is dehuanising for both parties. There is a faulse devide created, but the bottom line is its all human experience. We’re all in it together. Stigma thrives in us and them situations.

I hope you have enjoyed my input to mhweek. I hope you have spaces of your own, if not I hope you have the courage to be open to finding them. The work art works I have mentioned as part of my practice are viewable under the tabs, drawing and painting. Hit the ABOUT to find me on social media.

Meds & Body Image

#MentalHealthWeek | Blog 2:3

Mermasaurs existing was part of my recovery.  During an abusive relationship the only thing I had real control over was my body. I made it strong and healthy, so that I could skate hard and fast as a jammer/ blocker on an awasome roller derby team. My body got a lot of comments and compliments. which is weird.   My mental health got worse, I ended the relationship, and spiraled some more. I liked my body like that, it conformed and took up very little space.

I got started on antidepressants and did some EMDR & hard core therapy, put onFINDING A VOICE, gained some weight. The few clothes I’d bought in the smaller size no longer fit, and I was ok with it. I didn’t want to have to buy more new clothes.  Love jeans, but I hate buying new ones, I got to the point where I knew the brand, style and size that I could just grab off the rack or buy on line.

I paint a lot of naked body parts. I made a small painting I named Give & Take, oil on canvas, I don’t mind having it on line.  see below, but I’m not sure how I feel about it being in the big wide 3D world. The exhibition at the weekend is one Im toying with debuting it in.  It’s only for 2 days. Check our project out here imprudentart.wordpress.com

it’s very vulnerable but also quite powerful. am i feeling that brave or bolshy? * holds index finger and thumb to chin*

As a general rule I only follow food, fittness or yoga themed instagram accounts if I know the person behind it. I know Im not alone in finding “before & after” pictures problematic. I just don’t have space for the weiredy feels they give me so I try not to have them in my life, same as glossy magazines and adverts. eew. I don’t make space for that im my life, while I do my best to make space for myself, and lean into feeling i deserve to take up the space I do and will. Its also important that I help others take up their space too.

MHW Blog post 1:3 was an introduction to my introduction to meds. recently, I upped my dose, advised by therapist and negotiated with GP. I went up because Im dealing with a project I have to do that cuts really close to the bone, I have to do it, but I don’t know when it will end. I want to do it, so to cope with the extra stress and triggers, my does went up. Not very much longer my jeans, the ones I was so happy to have found. no longer fit.  *guuuuh* I tried going to the gym more, get back into some weigh lifting and HIIT, I just feel light headed and nausious AF. So Im not really in a possition to “work it off”.  So for the mean time Im just going to wear my awesome bigger £5 chazza (charity shop) bargin jeans and hope I will one day be back in my favourite range of average, usulal size me jeans. Not so much because of the size, but because I don’t want to have to replace them, finding clothes that actually fit well is a living nightmare. getting clammy just thinking about it.

I have been having a serious internal stuggle with it. Im taking up a bit more space, my double chin is on fleek, my squishy bits are quite sexy, but there is this ingrained anxiety about my body that is a daily struggle right now.  I wish it wasn’t. I have way better things to work about! seriously. I could name every bit that bothers me and talk about it at legnth, but I refuse to stir that pot, to air that stuff. That kind of talk is literally worth less, imo. 20180619_114742__01536734202231312725.jpg

I’m ok. Im good. No longer in an Endo Struggle, my body is good. I am enough. I just have to keep countering the body negative self talk creeping in and be grateful. 

relatable? throw me a comment or come find me on insta @finding a voice.

There is one more blog for mental health week to come, published in a coule of days. There are simmilar themes further back on this blog too and posts about talking in person at events about mental health crisis and recovery.

This week Im truely buzzed because the project I co founded has its first pop up exhibition! Over 40 creatives and mental health practitioners who have accessed mental health services in Norfolk and Suffolk have contributed the show. for more info go to https://imprudentart.wordpress.com/

Meds, Me & Mental Health

#MentalHealthWeek | Blog 1:3

I’ve commented on posts, talked in person about meds, made one post about meds in IG when I was pissed off but grateful for my conviction when a doctor lectured me. it occured to me recently, I’ve never written about meds, it’s been almost 4 years perhaps a bit more since I’ve been med free & that’s ok. It might be that I will always have a maintenance does of 10 or 20mg. But I’d love to know what I’m like without it.

Will colours be brighter and orgasms more intense?

NO really I mean it. recently I chose to up my does to a level I haven’t had before. I’m not weeping at the drop of a hat or taking 3 hour depression naps any more which is good, but the world feels a bit flat and my interest in hedonistic stuff is just meh, oh and to add to that none of my clothes that fit well last year fit at all now, buying new jeans? do not want! though I’m not crying into my coffee or sleeping half the day so its swings and roundabouts right?

One afternoon with friends, possibly 2 years ago I felt content, borderline euphoric, then got too drunk and ruined it, Sometimes everything loses its zing, but every now and again I notice that Im noticing colours, they vibrate and pop. Will I get that natural high of just living my best life, if I eventually come off meds? How will I cope with the lows, the natural ebb and flow of life?

I’ll have to find a whole new normal! AGAIN.

Am I capable of self regulation? I quit drinking over a year ago because I couldn’t regulate that. I tried several ways around it, keeping the responsibility and giving it to someone else, but I just couldn’t do it. So I stopped. That in itself is probably a whole other post. I definitely have alcoholic tendencies but I won’t take the name of alcoholic because I feel it takes away from those who have had a greater struggle, and those around them that have held their struggle with them. In a way this is very much how I identified as a victim of traumas, someone else had it much worse than I did. Though everything is relative so this thought isn’t particularly healthy.

There is something in this that I know I’m not alone in. It’s a you do you thing of course. We manage. Those who’ve recovered or who have the burden of being just self aware enough to not fit into a broken system of health and social care. Those who suffer greatly but manage and keep managing.

This is how I manage. I take the prescription and do the talking when I need to. Mostly. Actually not that much. Sometimes just doing the motions of self care. I keep ticking over, balanced. I have some big hurdles to stride over but I think I can manage, but only with the meds and the talking, being visibly, painting and leaning into my village. I want to be off them but know now isn’t the time. but I’m aware there may never be a good time. I will have to make it happen.

I was taught from an early age that you can’t have a mental health lable on your medical record, because “people” will know, the same people who taught me that you can’t have an abortion because “you’d go crazy with guilt just like my sister”. *eye roll GIF*  “ it will dull your senses. You can’t expect to still make art.” When I eventually went to the GP far too late, I took the prescription to the pharmacist took them home, but I distinctly remember feeling scared and so grateful for a friend who was honest with me about their experience.

The first week was hell, but I was prepared for this because I had guidance from a friend. I’m pretty sure she cooked for me twice that week. Due to this, and her, whenever a friend tells me they are starting, changing or upping meds for depression or anxiety I tell them to lean into their village.

here ar 6 simple ideas to bare inmind if you have never taken anit depresants or anxiety medication. 

  • Expect very little of yourself
  • Breath, wash, dress, eat. (Parent/work if you have to obvs)
  • Get simple to make meals and healthy snacks in.
  • Have a selection of things to comfort and distract you, a series to get into, podcasts, playlists to listen to. Simple books nothing too taxing.
  • Take a little walk every day if you can.
  • Invite friends over, you don’t have to tell then why, just don’t be alone.this is the top one for me. If you can cook for friends do or ask them to or order take away together. If you feel up to it go to a different friends house for dinner. Some people find it easier to be alone but I find it’s comforting to have someone around even if I can barely form a coherent sentence.

It’s so easy to not look after yourself, but there is no need to suffer or punish yourself. I had people around because it stops me zoning out for too long and scaring Dynoboy. In the early days, way back in crisis it was the friends coming over that were making sure we both ate dinner in the first few weeks of meds. I found out the dangerous way what withdrawal feels like. During a time when I was really not ok, unable to get my prescription and didn’t realise the consequences, went 4 days without them.

Things got weird. Fizzy eyes and electric whooshing head,legs that weren’t my own and a cod fish flip flopping in my chest.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said nothing revolutionary but I thought it was important to say how I feel about it and what it can be like. Some people have had horrible experiences with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) others are fine, some people don’t find they help and have to try something else. Some people feel it is polluting the body and I should be able to manage with meditation and yoga, well that’s their choice for their body but I need this as well as a range of other things to manage my mental health. There is a ridiculous train of thought that someone is weak for taking medication for mental health. Which I just cannot fathom, it’s just ignorance and I have no time for it. Oh a good one is it MASKS your true feelings, I don’t buy that, I lived half a life in dissosiation, I find pinning down one emotion quite difficult, being hypervigilant does that.  I had to learn to feel safely and couldn’t do that with the epic ups and downs with out the meds. Sure there is a flatness now and then but maybe thats just life sometimes.

Hopefully the background stuff will mellow and I’ll get to experiment bringing the dosage down, with gp and a plan and contemplate not having them, there are some unpleaseasnat side effects to long term usgae i’d like to avoid. Everyones experience is different, it’s a very personal choice.

Pill shaming is gross, but it’s good to see people out there making awesome memes and cartoons countering that BS.

Over all I have to do what works best for me. My main focus is to being balanced, I have already proved that I cannot do mum mode with a wobble for a sussstained period with out serious repercussions. I was a robot zombie mum. It was scary and not just for me.  I dicsoved that our house is less stressful when I eliminante as much anxiety from myself as I can. Kids know intuitivly when things are off with their primary care givers and they test it, which isn’t fun, but it’s tottally normal, it’s how they find out where the bounderies are. We took a lot of testing and just about managed to prove where the bounderies in our house are. I couldn’t have done that with out support, part of that was and is anti depresant.

I have to look after myself in order to be the mum I need to be. 

Thanks for reading. Part 2 and 3 will be out later in the week, and will focus on the theme of this years menatal health awareness week, Body Image.

If you apprecisate this blog check out my Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @findingavoice

menatl health week UK 13 – 19 May 2019