Crafts & Tattoos: A Summer for Mental Health
Has fear ever kept you away trying from something new? Has something someone said kept you from something you have been longing to try? This is exactly what has been happening to me for years! I am pretty sure it has been happening to many of us too. Why do we allow fears and the comments of others to keep us from things we truly want to do? I need to say there is a trigger warning to this post. While it does speak of crafting, it also speaks of mental health issues that some may have also been experiencing. I strongly believe that we need to talk about these issues, no not issues, areas. We need to make it so that those of us who do experience them are not ashamed and can get the help we so truly want and need.
I don't know about the rest of you but I am a great bottler of emotions. I like to just suppress everything until WHOOSH it all comes gushing out! It never seems to gush out in a cool way either! It is either an 'I am done and want to lash out a few people, who am I kidding, everyone in sight situation or a situation of tears where I could honestly fill a pool, and not a kiddie pool either! There are a couple of things that I have started doing that have truly helped my healing. The first I started back in I want to say September or October when I began seeing a therapist. I have had my share of therapists who honest to God were HORRIBLE! I mean they were more concerned about the clock behind me than they were about anything I was saying. Now, mind you ALL of these therapists were ones from my church and were used after my ex-husband sent me shopping for a toaster and took off to live in England leaving me to quit his job and pay off our debt, so that may explain it. Now back to my current therapist. I haven't mentioned it yet but Oh My God I LOVE her! I mean I love her so much that when she went to a new clinic 15 minutes further away I found her and went to see her there. It is the first time I have ever honestly felt like I am being listened to and NOT judged! I have grown up being judged and not in a good way either. I don't want to talk too much about that today so we will just fly past it for now.
Why I decided to see her though, that we will talk about because I think it is important to talk about the why's sometimes. At the time I had been feeling very up and down. There had been some challenges I had been going through and I just, I don't even know how to describe it, a sense of feeling like everything I touched was pure shit essentially. Anyway, on this one Sunday, I remember I just couldn't stop crying. The tears just wouldn't leave. I was supposed to go walk my daughter's dog and my husband and our youngest son were going out somewhere together. I remember just knowing that if I left to walk the dog I would not be coming back. I KNEW I would hurt myself. So I got the courage to ask my husband to walk the dog. We didn't speak of it after, well we spoke of it a bit but not much. I then asked my Daughter In Law, who is a social worker, to help me find a therapist. She did and God she found me the perfect one!
So what makes this therapist a good one you may be asking. The fact she not only listens to me BUT she REMEMBERS things I say! On our fourth or fifth visit, she said back to me something I had said on our first visit! She had listened! She cared what the Flying Monkeys I was saying! For the first time EVER I felt like someone was actually listening! For the first time EVER I felt like I could actually do this! There were about 2 months between when she left her current location and went to work at her new one. I thought I would be fine without her help. Honestly, I did! Then I realized that wasn't the case at all. So we decided, my husband and I, that I needed to make an appointment at her new clinic. On our visit, she remembered things that we had spoken about! I didn't have to recap anything to her! Not ONE thing! Now I want to mention that when a therapist leaves one practice to go to a new one they are not allowed to take clients OR their files. Do you see how impressive this was? She remembered EVERYTHING because she CARED! She CARED about ME! I didn't have to belong to her church or act a certain way or be someone I wasn't, she just cared about me for me! (This is a new path for me. One of deciding for myself, what I want, not what I think other people want me to want. It feels pretty damn good I must say 60% of the time and absolutely terrifying the other 40%)
But then Mother's Day hit. I don't know what happened. The thoughts had been there underlying but I was able to pretty much push them away. Until this day. We had the grandkids overnight and I hadn't slept well. My husband went to play soccer and left me with the kids. He then went to run errands. It was like just any other day. Only my oldest daughter wished me a Happy Mother's Day and that was it. I cleaned that day. Scrubbed the bathroom and cleaned the kitchen. Did some laundry. I felt so alone that day. I also felt though that everyone just wanted a piece of me and didn't want to give me anything in return. The urge to cut myself felt so overwhelming it was crazy. I hadn't had those urges in over 3 decades. So I was surprised. See I had cut myself when I was about 13 or 14. It seemed to provide a release I needed at the time. So on this day, I felt like this was the only way I could control who could take from me. Instead, I just kept busy trying to keep my mind off it. I had to tell my husband everything at this point. Everything. He was more supportive than I thought he even should be. I contacted my therapist and got in to see her.
Why are our things that go the opposite of how society feels they should so embarrassing? Why do we feel the need to hide our feelings and not discuss them, making them worse? I have many thoughts on this but I want to hear yours.
I have decided I am not going to do that! I never knew so many other people cut as adults. I had no clue. For those of you who think it is an attention grabber, I want to say emphatically that it is NOT! It may be a cry for help that someone is too embarrassed to verbally make for fear of being looked down on. Definitely NOT something that is done for attention! So I want to talk about it. I want people to know that 'hey you aren't alone and you are seen'.
The second thing I started to do was get a tattoo! I am the biggest needle phoebe! Hate Hate Hate them! I GOT ONE though! It is the silhouette of a woman with flowers bursting out of her head. The image depicts how I feel on so many days; like my head is screaming. When I get the urge to cut I will have a flower colored in. So far it is still just a black outline. I found the feeling amazing actually! So amazing that I am going to get my second one tomorrow!
This is where the crafting comes in! Through the knowledge I have gained from designing in Inkscape, I was able to take two images I like and adjust them, and put them together to make the tattoo design I was looking for. Mind you, my amazing tattoo artist is going to touch it up a bit too but still, I was able to CREATE the design from the knowledge I gained crafting! Who knew! I then printed the images on temporary tattoo paper, cut them out, and applied them to the different spots I was thinking of getting it done permanently. I eventually want to get a sleeve.
This is what crafting does for people though. It helps them redirect thoughts when they need to focus on other things. It allows us to take the thoughts and images and put them into something artistic. It gives us an energy rush when things work out and brings out the stressed sailor in us when it doesn't.
The accomplishments I have made through crafting are incredible and I am sure I am NOT alone in this. I am sure there are others out there that feel a huge sense of accomplishment through creating or learning something you never thought you could. When I look at my first tattoo I think 'Oh My Freaking God! I did that! Me, who was always so afraid to do it, did it! Someone so afraid of the comments others would make decided on a tattoo that was right for me and did it!' I have had a couple of people say I should add color to this tattoo if I haven't needed to do so in the next 6 months. My response is 'No'. That is not the purpose of it. Do I still have the urge now and then? I am not going to lie. Yes a bit but it is underlying and not strong. I am hoping that getting a tattoo every so often will help curb that underlying feeling.
I am sorry for the length of this. I am sorry I have been absent lately. I hope you can understand why though. It is hard being a business owner and trying to find the 'me' time to work on your own mental health before it screams at you too.
Craft if that is what helps. Find a GOOD therapist! They are out there, trust me!