Some Thoughts About Anxiety

This last week has been highly anxious. It has been one of those hide under the duvet and rest weeks except that as a parent I have too many responsibilities and such little time that even thinking about dragging the duvet down the stairs to hibernate underneath isn’t very plausible. Sorry “5 tips to great self-care,” but battle on I must. Mouths need to be fed, bums need to be wiped and that painting I started last week just isn’t going to finish itself anytime soon.

I am not sure what has triggered this inner-tension this time. Perhaps a hormonal shift. The start of my body moving past the post-partum period. Perhaps it is linked with the end of my maternity and the added pressure that needing to earn money brings. Perhaps it is due to a few recent stark and sad reminders of the fragility of life.

In my bag I carry with me worries. Worries about my family, my children and my abilities as a mother. Worries about my future goals and aspirations. Worries about my artistic ability and my ability to achieve. Worries that consume every minute of the day until this time passes.

Explaining living with anxiety to someone who rarely experiences it is difficult. It is so much more then a butterfly in the stomach and a slight quickening of the heart. It is an all consuming weight. A ball and chain around my being. My anxious mind full of pointless worry likes to manifests itself physically. It isn’t a simple twist in my gut but instead a violent hand dragging out my insides, a beating heart so loud it feels like thunder and an ache that infects every limb in my body.

I have lived most of my life with on and off anxiety. It’s just a part of who I am. Over the years I have found different ways to deal with this feeling, some more productive then others. Art and mark making has remind a constant since I was a small child. I find a lot of therapy in image making. Mark making can be an effective release for intense emotion and mindfully applying paint I have found to be a healthy distraction.

This week I have found a lot of therapeutic value in my camera. Making images photographically is something that I have been enjoying more and more over the last few months. I am currently making art in my dining room while my studio acts as a temporary storage room and so finding my materials and making space among the clutter and choas often becomes an unproductive and frustrating task. My camera however can be quick to hand. It has been encouraging me to be mindful of my surroundings – to stop an appreciate the small things that bring me joy in my home and with my family. It is proving to be an effective release for my anxiety providing I do not allow myself to get too caught up in the final image. A challenge easier said then done, it’s often easier to forget the process and to allow that old familiar self doubt to creep back in when I stand back and look at the outcome of my creativity.  I need to stick a reminder on my fridge. Remain mindful. Do it for the process not the final image.