Three weeks ago I asked you which of my Crystal Grids you liked the most, this was to work out which grids to order prints to stock in my Etsy shop. I had a lot of lovely responses and votes, and some of the choices matched mine and some surprised me, but the results are in and I’ve made my choices.
Two were runaway successes, drawing in the most votes respectively, Numbers 3 and 13 – Samhain, Fire and Light, and Black Moon. Coming in close behind were 6, 8, and 12 – Intuition, Imbolc, Winter Healing, and Wolf Moon Snowflake. 18 and 19 – Holly and Berry, and Valentine Love brought up the rear in votes. Many more were as popular but instead of fighting between them, the eighth grid I chose was my newest, Amethyst Spiral, created for February, as it got a huge amount of love across my social media pages when I posted it.
So, I will be ordering a number of prints of each of these grids to place in Amaranth Alchemy. Once I see how these sell, I will consider expanding the range.
Thank you all so much for voting and sharing your favourites with me, it was lovely to read some of your reasons too.
I also held a draw for one voter to receive a free print from these once they become available. I drew Eilís Phillips’ name and she will be able to choose a print to enjoy. Congratulations Eilís and thank you!
Whilst you were voting I send off for sampleprints using four different papers so I could choose my favourite to show off the crystals. I tried two photographic pearl papers, and two matte rag papers. The prints of Samhain, Fire and Light came out beautifully and I immediately fell in love with the Canson Infinity Rag Photographique 310gsm. This matte 100% cotton paper creates a smooth, sensual backing to my crystals which makes them feel more like an art print than a photograph, and I love it!
I’ll be getting 8×8 inch prints to begin with, and seeing where we go from there.
I can’t wait to see these Crystal Grid prints in my shop and ready to be shipped to homes where the stones and intentions can enhance your life!
Art is important, adding to society in many ways. It provides decoration, talking points, culture, expression, creativity, inspiration and so much more. My daughter’s art at Bekah Rain Art embraces all of this.
Yesterday, Bekah opened her first online shop to offer her art to the world – Bekah Rain Art. Please pop over and take a look and see what inspires you. Their initial pieces work with Body Positivity, Diversity, People, and Nature. Working with watercolour as her main medium, she has also used acrylics, pen, and is currently working on a large oil painting.
Their ultimate goal with their art is to inspire others to see the beauty in everything around us.
I asked them a few questions to celebrate their launch:
Have you always loved to draw and paint?
I have, it’s been one of the few things in my life that has been a constant love of mine. I’ve been drawing since I can remember and in school if you asked me my favourite subject it was always Art. To the point that when I studied art for my A Levels I lost focus on any other subject I was studying and put everything into my art.
What made you want to focus on body positivity?
I see a lot of nude art that focuses on one body type: skinny, abled, primarily white. I wanted to bring something new to people, every body is beautiful and they deserve to see that in art. I have painted people with different body types, perceived flaws, disabilities. I only have five pieces in my Strength Within collection available right now but I have many more in the works. This collection is about empowering people to love their bodies.
Do you have a favourite medium to work in?
Watercolour, if I had to pick one medium to use for the rest of my life, it would be watercolour. I love how unpredictable it can be depending on the surface I paint on. I love the loose flow it offers me, I find watercolour inspires me while I am in the process of painting.
I love to experiment with other mediums though, I’m currently working on an Oil on Canvas piece which is slow but it’s turning out beautifully. I’ve learned a lot working on that piece.
What does art mean to you?
That’s a huge question! It’s expression in its purest form, it’s inspiration and beauty. I think people don’t always value it, they consider it to be frivolous, but everything involves art. Look at architecture, television, books, cars and so on, art surrounds us all everyday and I think that is a beautiful thing. Look what we as humans can create! A world without art would be such a flat existence.
Bekah is currently offering a discount of 15%off on all sales until midnight 14th March, use code: LAUNCH15 at the checkout on her website.
I have been enchanted by crystals for many years. I’ve been studying and learning about them, writing and painting them, and for the last year I’ve been making crystal grids.
I make crystal grids for several reasons: to manifest intentions, to make art, and to practise meditation and mindfulness. I’ve had some lovely responses and comments when I’ve posted them online, and also been asked if they are available to purchase. I’m really happy to announce that I’m planning to get prints made so they can be available in my Etsy shop Amaranth Alchemy.
I want to choose the ones that you love the most! I hope you will relate to their meanings so they will mean something to you too. Each print will be on premium paper, hand signed, and on the reverse will be the original meaning and an explanation of each stone used and why.
To help me know which crystal grids to stock, please comment below with the numbers of your Five Favourite grids. Feel free to either just leave their numbers, or to add any explanation as to why you love them.
WIN A FREE PRINT – If you comment here on my blog or on the original Facebook, or Instagram, post I will make a note of your name and include you in a draw when the prints become available and one person will win a free print of their choice of the available range.
If you win I will contact you via your FB, Insta, or Blog profile. This draw will remain open for comment until the 10th of March 2021, when I will be then preparing my range of prints. Prints should be available before Summer at Amaranth Alchemy on Etsy, price still to be decided.
I can’t wait to see which grids are your favourites!
“Do you think it was ever real?” Jeff shifted his face towards me.
“What was?” I replied absently, staring into the distance.
“The horse, the Pegasus?” He lifted off his elbows, rolling onto his side. “That one?”
My eyes refocused, taking in the golden bronze sculpture not far from our blanket.
The lowering evening light glinted like magic and I could almost imagine the creature lifting into the sky, its precision pistons and hydraulics whirring smooth and silent. It would soar on glorious wings, skimming clouds and the far off mountain tops. Then Jeff nudged me.
“Wow, you’re just lost today!” He sniggered.
I tore my eyes away from the monument. I flushed under his gaze. His ice-blue eyes softened and the corners of his mouth curled into a grin. My hair slipped across my face and he stretched out his hand to lift it away. His hand brushed my cheek and my heart quickened.
Embarrassed, or shy – I couldn’t decide which – I broke eye contact and dipped my head, hiding a heady smile. I heard Jeff move closer to me. His arms wrapped themselves about me and I let my body mould itself against his.
“I’ve never met anyone like you, Tansy,” he whispered, his words moving like velvet across my skin and into my ear.
I smiled and his mouth met mine. For a moment I froze, wondering if my inexperience would register with him, but I had nothing to worry about and melted into the kiss, my lips moving gently against his. It wasn’t just our mouths that responded and I let my hands rove, my fingers ending up entwined in his hair and stroking the nape of his neck.
Soft kisses rained down, and his lips explored my shoulder. My back lightly arched and my head dropped to the side as his touch sent tiny fizzing explosions through my body. I opened my eyes and the late sun bathed me in golden rays, and I caught a glimpse of the gleaming Pegasus in the corner of my eye. Its cogs and gears and wheels shone, and the light flowed through its mane and tail, and I almost believed it alive.
Jeff’s mouth sought mine again and then he reluctantly moved aside grinning at me as we untangled. I giggled and he laughed. “You do things to me!” He threw himself down onto his back and stared up into the sky.
I shuffled closer and looked at him, his face rosy with desire, untidy hair, and creased shirt. I smoothed my hand across his chest, slipping it between an unbuttoned gap to caress his skin. He closed his eyes and groaned.
I laughed and sat up, tucking my legs beneath me. Jeff rolled over and leaned against me, propping himself back up on his elbows again. The horse glowed in front of us as the sun disappeared behind the mountain. It became a shadowy figure as pale moonlight took over from the sun, ghostly even.
“So,” he broke the silence. “Do you think it was real?”
I didn’t answer.
“I mean, years ago, centuries ago, before they were banned?” When I still didn’t speak, he continued. “Not just horses, but people, you know – the mechanical ones. They got really advanced, then when they thought we’d not be able to tell the difference, they banned them. Do you believe that? I never saw one I couldn’t tell was robotic.” His voice trailed off as he stared at the sculpture. “If they were real, they sure were beautiful.”
My skin prickled, goosebumps spread across my arms, and my scalp tingled.
“I’d know if I met one. Not that I could, they don’t exist anymore.” He turned to smile at me. “That one, the Pegasus, it enchants me. That’s why I like coming here, and with you –” His fingers trailed across my bare arm. “With you, it’s even better.”
I linked my fingers with his. His hand was warm, sweaty, and real. He gazed into my eyes with such intensity, such adoration, that I knew his naivety was genuine.
I leaned down and touched my lips to his. He pulled me into his embrace and his hand moved slowly down my neck, across my collarbone, and down to the soft cotton décolletage of my dress. Not far beneath the cotton, beneath my silky organic skin, beneath the network of miniscule tubes and hydraulics, beneath the silent whir of cogs and gears, beat my heart, my clockwork heart.
Really needed to write something for this photo provided by Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge prompt. A sculpture by Hasan Novorozi. The steampunk Pegasus just spoke to me, as do most things steampunk!
Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.
Life is not easy, and even with all the support and love in the world sometimes you need extra help. Counselling can be a great place to start, and this is my journey.
I was a shy child, but the word shy was a misnomer for severe anxiety, panic, trauma, and low self-confidence. By fourteen, I also had an eating disorder and was self-harming. At eighteen, undergoing a breakdown, I finally asked for help, approaching the first female GP I’d had and sharing historic information which my mother hadn’t been able to cope with. My doctor was compassionate and sent me to a psychiatrist. He failed to ask or listen to anything, prescribed the antidepressant, Fluvoxamine, and sent me to a group counselling program.
Group counselling for an eighteen-year-old with huge social anxiety was a bad move. I sat among drug addicts and people with serious mental illnesses and made myself as small as I could. I did not say a word and didn’t return after two sessions. Nine months of antidepressants numbed me through the breakdown. I limped through my twenties, married and raised children, had a bout of post-natal depression, and pushed through with little recognition and without any attempt to ask for help.
I was thirty-three (2004) when I was sexually assaulted and the earlier undealtwithassault resurfaced. During this breakdown my husband, desperate to help, intervened and I saw another psychiatrist, but this one was a family friend and he listened. I took Escitalopram, and was referred to a private sexual health and abuse counsellor. She was amazing and took me back through my childhood and relationships. Through talking we worked through the assaults and I began to see myself differently, and to take back control of my life and who I was. She showed me that I was more than the sum of what had happened to me, that I deserved more, and that I was safe. I began to learn my own worth and how to overcome my demons. She helped me to conquer them by turning the perpetrators into sad pathetic creatures. After six months of counselling I felt much more in control and much happier. I wish I’d been able to find counselling on the NHS but it had taken private counselling and financial aid through my church to help.
Life moved easily with the heaviness lifted for several years then overwhelm and anxiety kicked in again, and in 2010 and 2011 I took six month courses of antidepressants, Cipralex and Citalopram, and in 2014, Amitriptyline, which was to combat anxiety and panic rather than depression, and I was sent on an Anxiety/Depression CBT course by my GP, who told me I’d need to do that before any one-to-one counselling could be offered on the NHS.
It turned out to be a group course, six or eight sessions, watching two hours of slides teaching about depression and anxiety. The two mental health nurses lecturing were lovely, and I can’t fault the information, but for me, someone who’d intensively researched both subjects, it was information I was already fully aware of. I used it as a reminder and tried to put it into action, but without one-to-one mentoring let’s say, I found it difficult. I knew all about anxiety and depression but was unable to put basics into action on my own. It was over ten years since my successful counselling and I now struggled to be able to put ideas and theories into action without dealing again with core issues and triggers.
In 2016, after a lovely day but a brutal year, I found myself at 2am standing on a local bridge wanting to finish everything. I’d been battling suicidal ideation for years and years, along with self-harm, panic, and anxiety. I was prescribed Sertraline, yet another antidepressant, by my GP and put on a counselling waiting list.
I was full of tears, panic, and overwhelm, unable to vocalise or help myself. I paid and saw a private counsellor (through my church) who listened to what I’d been going through over many years. She showed a desire to help and validated the pain and overwhelm that I felt. I’d tried asking my church for financial aid to get counselling, but been turned down, however the attempt on my life changed that, and we got financial aid to see another private counsellor closer to home through church social services.
Seeing a counsellor whilst on antidepressants is always weird for me. It feels difficult to be authentic because medication balances and numbs, so I was worried she wouldn’t see the real me through the deception of meds. I felt I would look too normal, undeserving of counselling, and she wouldn’t see my inner turmoil. However, I felt really comfortable with her, she made me feel understood and validated, and it felt like spending time with a friend. I looked forward to my weekly sessions.
We talked about my trauma, family, the difficulties life threw at us, and I learned ways to ground myself, to cope with my sensory issues, and ways to try and deal with my self-harm. I talked a lot about my family and how deeply my emotions were interwoven with their needs, more so than my own. We looked at anxiety and how to deal with it, we used mindfulness, meditation, ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and she helped me talk about my fears, concerns, and anxieties. After six months I felt much more secure within myself and we stopped counselling, but have become friends.
This period had been positive and taught me a lot. I used grounding and sensorytools to help cope with anxiety and had an ACT textbook which I could work through. This began a much happier time in my life.
I was offered counselling through the NHS whilst receiving private counselling, but I had to turn it down due to a conflict of interest, it would be unethical to see two therapists at the same time, and I felt I was doing well with my counsellor.
Two years later, and due to a resurfacing of trauma, I was struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, self-harm, and intrusive thoughts again. My doctor prescribed Duloxetine, trying a SNRI antidepressant rather than the usual SRRI, as I wanted to avoid feeling like a zombie. Duloxetine wasn’t for me after I’d spent two days vomiting. I tried Propranolol, a beta-blocker, to deal with anxiety attacks, which worked in the moment. I turned down antidepressants, this time I didn’t want to stop feeling, I didn’t want to be numb anymore, I wanted counselling, something concrete, something to continue to teach me how to deal with my anxiety and issues. I wanted to learn rather than just cope or mask. I was offered another self-referral to my local NHS counselling service.
As I tried to cope with huge anxieties and panic, overwhelm and sensory issues, my daughter who was on the ASD waiting list (She was later diagnosed with ASD) asked whether I thought I might have Autism too. Another visit to my GP and he placed me on the assessment waiting list after agreeing that it was a likely possibility.
Whilst waiting for referrals I began going to a local pottery class for carers and those with mental and emotional health problems. Art therapy offered relief that inspired, calmed me, and spoke to my inner creative. It was a huge release each week, somewhere I could go and not be disturbed, and lose myself in creativity.
Finally, after nine months of numerous panic attacks and anxiety, at the end of 2018, I got six weeks of counselling through the NHS. My counsellor was nice, quiet, calm, relaxed, and friendly, but the weekly sessions held in a hospital room were clinical and one way. I talked and shared, but the counsellor didn’t respond much. It was ambiguous. She asked about me, what I’d done in the week, and how I felt, but didn’t offer much in the way of advice – or counsel. I felt very frustrated that again the answers were things I already knew, but didn’t know how to initiate in my life. I left feeling more frustrated than before counselling.
I got more help from friends online who shared their experiences with me, and I learned that I was catastrophising, and their encouragement pushed me to ask for further help. I knew from my counsellor that I needed to reprogram my brain, to create new neural pathways, but I had no idea how to do it, and she wasn’t forthcoming.
I asked my GP to refer me for CBT, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, because I had no idea how to change my problems with sensory issues, anxiety, intrusive thoughts, and catastrophising. Three months later I saw a Primary Mental Health Care Worker/Assessor who listened intently and agreed that CBT might be a good fit for me. She referred me on.
October, four months later, I had an assessment at Psychological Integrated Therapies Services and saw a Mental Health Provider. He listened but kept correcting me, telling me I wasn’t having realpanic attacks, I was only having anxiety attacks, and downplayed my intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideation saying it was perfectly normal… a part of life for the average person. He told me I had Generalised Anxiety Disorder, something I’d been painfully aware of for about thirty years. I felt embarrassed and small after the assessment, but none of that measured how bad I felt when one week later I got a letter informing me Psychological Therapies couldn’t offer me anything because I did not have a diagnosed mental health illness. It felt like a kick in the teeth from somewhere that I’d felt was my last port of call. I actually phoned the department and they apologised, but told me I’d be fine, and that they had no funding to treat anyone without a mental health diagnosis. I wondered if depression, generalised anxiety disorder, self-harm, etc were just not counted as mental health disorders? I felt invalidated and despairing.
At the tail end of 2019 I wept with my doctor and she agreed to refer me again for counselling after seeing if there were options beyond the NHS six week sessions. I waited. Then in 2020Covid19 hit us and we all went into lockdown. It was October, almost a year after referral, that I got an assessment for New Pathways, a charity run counselling service, via the NHS, and they offered me three options: one-to-one counselling, a support worker, or group therapy. I chose one-to-one counselling and asked for it to include help dealing with sexual assault, anxiety, and methods to cope. Two weeks later I began counselling via Zoom.
I began this new course with trepidation caused mainly by having to use Zoom, but my new counsellor was proactive and friendly, beginning by getting to know me and finding out what my worries were. I was agitated, tearful, nervous, shaky, and scared to be myself, but I was also keen to make the most of whatever I was offered. You don’t wait for years and years and then sit back and expect counselling to work without putting in the effort.
It was emotionally overwhelming to talk about my feelings of trauma, responsibility, feeling neglected and consequently overcompensating with my own family. We discussed my avoidance tactic, something I’d never recognised before, and I realised that when she asked me pointed questions I always deflected. I suddenly started to see myself differently as my counsellor gently coaxed me into talking about myself and not everyone but myself. It was uncomfortable to talk about me, and slowly I opened up. It was a symptom of putting myself last for almost my entire life while I checked that everyone else was okay.
This was emotional and frightening. Pushing myself forward was something I wasn’t used to and talking about what I felt was overwhelming. Instead of talking about how I thought everyone else felt, I talked about how I felt. Then we dug into my past. I’d dealt with these issues way back when I was thirty-three and I thought I’d put them in a box and sealed it up, now at forty-nine these demons had risen again. We worked with art and word association, talked about grounding and techniques for my anxiety toolbox.
We concentrated more on my overcompensating with my children, and how feeling that my needs hadn’t been met as a child meant I felt an urge to fulfil every need and whim to an unhealthy extent. We also talked about how mine and my children’s emotional and mental health needs had been let down by the health service and schools, and how that had framed my anxiety and panic responses. I realised that the trauma and neglect had become an anchor to me, a metaphor I understood and was able to work with. I felt constantly burdened with responsibility to take care of everyone’s emotional state and an inability to let go, care for myself, and do my own thing. My counsellor asked me to go away and make a piece of art representing the anchor, to be as free as I wanted with the idea and see what happened.
Art is my thing and I don’t go into it lightly… It had been a difficult week and I shut myself away with my watercolours. I sketched and used masking fluid (experimenting for the first time) and allowed myself to disappear into the ocean, creating a wash of sea blue, and pooling and flicking blues, indigo, green, pink, and purple across the wet paper. The next day after it dried, I rubbed off the masking fluid and painted the anchor and its chain. I coated it with peridot algae and flicked white bubbles.
Using art is a way to break through barriers and walls, and it showed me much about myself. I’ve been anchored in trauma and anxiety and the weight is heavy, and that weight has held me back. I have a tendency toward the aesthetic and beauty, even if it’s painful to bear, maybe that’s a martyr response? I’ve tried to lift the anchor in the painting to give a sense of movement, which could be a positive step, but the chains are still heavy and oversized for the anchor they carry. I called it Let It Go, and I hope I can.
I emailed the painting to my counsellor and I think she was surprised at the piece, the work that had gone into it, the new technique I’d used when I hate change, and the free flow and movement, and the colours that echoed hope and positivity. I shared it online with my friends and got a mass of interpretations, all of which were insightful and emotional to me. Art is very therapeutic and can translate what you feel so well, allowing you not only a catharsis but a way to try and analyse your feelings.
I concentrated hard on trying to channel what I’d learned in therapy, I couldn’t bear the thought of wasting the very resources I’d waited so long to use. New Pathways relies on charity and government grants. I’d waited a year for my twelve sessions and I was going to do damn near everything I could to appreciate and respect the time and words shared with me by my counsellor, and to transfer what I learned to my life.
My counsellor noticed the change in me as we met each week, and my family have too. My confidence and happiness have grown. My understanding of myself, my trauma, and my life became clearer to me, and my desire to change and embrace it got stronger every week. After a two week break at Christmas I worried I felt reliant on my sessions, but I quickly realised that changes I hadn’t noticed in myself, had actually happened. I knew that I could finally give myself permission to be myself. The blog posts I’ve written in the past show the importance I place on being yourself, being authentically you, but giving myself permission to practise what I preached had never been easy. It will still be a work in progress, but it’s one I’m now actively living.
I have a healthier outlook, more coping strategies and tools, I am overcoming my insecurities and learned behaviours to be able to see my own worth. I am leaving the unconscious behind and moving forward with conscious decisions for the future.
My message is this. Keep on. Don’t give up. Sometimes you won’t be offered what you need, and you’ll plough through help that doesn’t help, but sometimes you’ll find what you need and it can change your life. I have had three amazing counsellors in my life, who have been there when I needed them and they’ve each helped me change my life for the better.
I am under no illusion, I know I will continue to suffer anxiety and many issues, but I am better equipped to deal with it now, and for that I am grateful to my family (who learn with me) and to every professional counsellor who has given me their valuable time and expertise.
When you pick up a book and lose yourself inside its pages, you are creating your very own unique experience. The way we see a book, its characters, its places, and its plot, as we read, is exclusive to you.
Books are emotive, controversial, grounding, escapist, factual, fiction, and so much more. Books often mean different things to different people, and that’s fine. Some people have never picked up a book in their life since leaving school, some can’t live without them. I’m in the latter group. Books were everything to me as a child, and have remained a major part of my life. I was a loner, quiet and introverted, and books helped me survive the tough times. If you couldn’t find me, I’d be curled up somewhere with a book in my hand escaping into another world. I read, I drew, and I wrote.
Books became more than just reading material – they became what I wrote, and how I try to earn a living. I love creating characters, and worlds, and a tale people can escape to.
I recently said I have had trouble reading this year, and I have, it’s been an unsettled year, and the ability to curl up, untroubled, and read hasn’t been an easy place to find. The same could be said about my writing too, but I have opened a few books and lost myself in them. Twenty Twenty has been about finding comfort, and that’s been in both television and books. I rewatched all of Star Trek, currently rewatching Doctor Who, and I’ve been reading a Star Trek Enterprise book, and am rereading His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. The best bit is that I’m rereading (The Amber Spyglass) right now in tandem with Cait, who hasn’t read it before.
His Dark Materials, with its provocative and polemic ideas, is one of my favourite books, and alongside the books the current television series is also enchanting and enthralling me. I rarely look forward to a show as much as I do this one, we (daughter and I) literally squeal at the screen when it comes on each week, and both the casting and the adaptation’s writing has been superb. Every nuance and detail delights me.
It’s the epitome of escapism and fantasy and offers me a completely new world to live in. Cait and I were talking the other day about books and about how each book we read is different, each book is a different story to whoever reads it. When we read His Dark Materials together, what’s amazing is that inside our heads we are each seeing the story unfold in a unique way. Even alongside the television adaptation and the actors we see each week, it’s still different inside our minds. I first read the books fifteen or so years ago and the characters were unique to what I saw in my head as I read. The places, the developing narrative, everything that played out in my mind became my own interpretation. We talked about how the mulefa will be played out in the series on tv… (no spoilers please) and it’s a fascinating thought that every single person, including Philip Pullman who wrote the books, will have seen them differently. And that’s the magic of books!
I commented that maybe the writers of the current series will have to go to Pullman to decide exactly how to portray them, I mean, who better than the author – who imagined them up in the firstplace – to go to for advice? But it reminded me of a recent tweet Pullman posted saying: ‘I can join in discussions about my books, because I too have read them, but my opinions have no greater authority than anyone else’s just because I wrote them.’
I love this!
Books are magic, they create worlds in your head, and if it’s different to someone else’s interpretation that’s okay. Your reading experience is yours, it belongs to you. And every book out there is a new world for whoever picks it up! What beauty there lies in that!
So, if you’re inclined, go and pick up a book and lose yourself in the story, the description, the characters, and disappear into a new world for a bit. We all need a bit of escapism.
Do you have a favourite book? What do you read when you need to live somewhere else for a while?
October 10th is World Mental Health Day, and 2020 needs one. Twenty-twenty has been a year like no other, and with years since 2016 getting progressively more difficult, this one really took the proverbial biscuit. Our state of mind and mental health is paramount, and sometimes all you can do is look after yourself.
Mindpoints out: According to our research, with over 16,000 people, we know that more than half of adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) said their mental health got worse during lockdown. We know that many have developed new mental health problems as a result of the pandemic and, for some of us, existing mental health problems have gotten worse.
Personally, lockdown was a relief, a moment out of time when my mental health thrived. Staying at home, going out only for necessities and spending time in natureworked wonders on my emotional state. It’s the mixture of chaotic messages, ideas, rules, hypocrisy, and out of control official governmental plans since lockdown ended that have wrecked my mental health.
I suffer with severe anxiety and panic, depression, self-harm and self-destructive behaviour including dermatillomania and eating disorder, and I’m waiting ASD assessment. I live for routine, so any changes are difficult to deal with. When supermarkets introduced one-way systems, masks, social distancing, queues to get in, I took my daughter with me for support. Panic rose every time I went for the first few weeks, with panic attacks inside the shop, and even outside when I was asked why there was more than one person shopping for my household. I will add that Tesco was very supportive when I explained my daughter helping, plus I was also shopping for my elderly father who was shielding. Once I’d got used to it, I then struggled when restrictions were lessened.
I had problems wearing a mask to begin with. Sensory issues meant that anything covering my mouth created an unbearable urge to panic. I had to retrain my mind to accept that wearing a mask was a protection for me, and when I added that to my fear of contracting Covid19, and practising wearing a mask, bit-by-bit at home, I was able to wear one.
There are other problems, this year has been especially generous with complications and troubles, but I won’t dwell on them. This year has left many with heightened anxiety, depression, stresses and much more.
So, how do you deal with it?How do you deal with emotional exhaustion, both mental health related and in normal life – because nothing has been normal this year.
This is what I posted yesterday:
Autistic shutdown is often caused by emotional and/or physical overload, meltdown, overwhelm, change, and other situations that become too much. It’s like having a dead battery. Many people, neurodivergent and neurotypical, can experience the sensation of being utterly spent, a lack of spoons(Spoon TheorybyChristine Miserandino), and emotional exhaustion. Sometimes you have to give in to it. You can watch circumstances overtake you, your battery runs on emergency, and you desperatelyclaw at the edges of the cliff you’re clinging to. Sometimes, if you’re not careful, you fall.
What can you do?
Take it easy. Take it one step at a time. Rest, Sleep, and allow yourself to recharge. You might bounce back quickly – a nap might be all you need – but you might need time to readjust, reassess your position, and small steps are fine.
I washed my hair and felt stronger, but aside from eating chocolate, yes, that counts, I didn’t do much until my brain had quietened and I’d been able to shut out some of the things that were shouting at me.
Words of encouragement help, and here I will link an article I read the other day which made me cry because it was so true. This is How You Love Someone With Anxietyby Kirsten Corely. You can’t ever say “It’s okay,” too much, we answer texts immediately and panic if our texts go unanswered, we read too much into everything, and if it all gets too much, and it often does, we need to be held and be told “It’s okay.” Being hugged by someone who loves you can cure or help the worst things you fear. Real life hugs and virtual hugs are important. Your family can be your biggest support.
Nature is my saviour. When things get too much I get out. I have a dog, Kira, who has severe panic and anxiety, and cannot be walked near people or other dogs, so we go to the forest. I am blessed to live close to Brechfa Forest and there are multiple trails through woods and forest that we can take Kira without seeing anyone. This is a life saver, both for me and for Kira. When Kira’s walked locally by the road on pavement, she’s hyper-alert, aggressive, and full of panic – it’s not fun for anyone. Even a local dog trainer who trains guard dogs, admitted defeat with Kira, she’s a damaged rescue, who has only known real love from a few people in her life. In us, she’s found trust and unconditional love and her mental health thrives in our home. In the forests she is in her element and becomes a soft-natured, fun-loving, relaxed and adventurous pup. And that’s how nature works for me too.
This year, with its trials, has taught us some of the most importantthings that life has to offer, and family and nature seem to top that for me. My friend Jessica Maybury wrote this piece The Greatest Travel Adventure Of 2020 and it resonates with me. Get out and see where you are. Since first having a dog, twelve years ago now, we’ve explored locally, and it’s a revelation. I haven’t discovered many new places this year, but it’s been a relief to know my locality and where I can go for peace. Go explore!
Sometimes medication can be the best help. Go and see your GP and get professional advice, there’s a place for medication, and there should be no stigma around taking meds that help you. No one blinks an eyelid when someone takes medication for diabetes or heart disease, or medication for thyroid issues because your thyroid is not producing what it should. Mental health issues arise because your brain isn’t doing or producing what it should and sometimes medication can put that right. I have taken antidepressants for periods on and off throughout my life, and I currently take medication for my anxiety attacks.
The same goes for getting diagnosed with any mental health or other condition you might have. It’s tough to get a mental health diagnosis these days, the NHS is severely underfunded and many resources are difficult to get, but please fight for them. I’m about to begin counselling and hope it’ll give me some relief. My adult daughter received her Autism diagnosis just two months ago, after a 30 month waiting list and many years being let down by child and adolescent mental health services in her teens. The resulting diagnosis was definite and a huge relief. Validation can go a long way to finding peace or at least coming to terms with who you are.
And, perhaps, that’s the most important thing, coming to terms with who you are and what your needs are. You are you, and you’re enough whether you are in perfect health, or whether you have physical or mental health issues. Find what works for you, find support, and I hope you find what you need.
What helps you when life gets too much? How do you recharge? I wish you all peace of mind in these tough years.
If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration – Nikola Tesla.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching and studying crystals and stones, but I didn’t begin collecting crystals and using them, beyond finding a piece of jewellery, until I began writing The Seren Stone Chronicles. Crystals became an intrinsic part of my world-building and peridot became the backbone of the series. Now, I’m quite addicted to rocks and stones, and to me they are much more than geological building blocks and pretty things.
The use of crystals go back thousands of years to Palaeolithic times, with beads of ivory and bone being found amid burial sites. Amulets and talismans have also been historically recorded throughout time; some of the earliest amulets found are Baltic amber, and jet.
Crystals and gemstones used in religion date back to the biblical era where sardius (carnelian), topaz, carbuncle (garnet), emerald, sapphire, diamond, ligure (sapphire or lapis lazuli), agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper were recorded in Exodus as gems used to symbolically decorate Aaron’s Priesthood robes for the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Precious gems have continued to be used within religion, such as sapphire for ecclesiastical rings, and are found in almost all religious texts with references in the Koran, and Buddhist, and Hindu text.
Ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia, Egyptians, and Native Americans were known to use crystals for magic, decoration, protection, and to protect from ill health, negativity and to help diagnose illnesses. It’s reported that Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, and Galen, a Roman physician, surgeon, and philosopher, were sure that some crystals had medicinal properties. In Asia, jade became very popular, and Greeks coined the name for amethyst – meaning not drunken, wearing it to protect themselves from hangovers!
Malachite, was one of the oldest stones to be mined, and crystals like lapis lazuli, turquoise, carnelian, emerald, and quartz were popular. Crystal healing or the use of precious stones to aid health grew in the Middle Ages, but many early philosophers weren’t convinced, and it died out in the 17th century. Crystals and gemstones are still used in many rituals and symbolicceremonies all over the world, but since the surge in the 1980’s New Age therapies crystal healing has remained a complementary therapy with no scientific basis for evidence.
In crystal therapy gemstones are given qualities and properties, and meditations and intentions are made with those properties in mind. They are also assigned energy and healing properties according to which Chakra they belong to. Chakra is a Hindu term for the seven spinning points of energy or life force within our bodies. Chakra means wheel and the energy points stay open and moving to balance and correspond to seven main areas of our body: Root Chakra (red) base of the spine – your physical identity, grounding. Sacral Chakra (orange) abdomen – sexual, pleasure, creativity. Solar Plexus Chakra (yellow) stomach – self-esteem, confidence. Heart Chakra (green) heart – love, compassion. Throat Chakra (blue) throat – communication. Third Eye Chakra (indigo) forehead – intuition, imagination. Crown Chakra (violet) scalp – awareness, intelligence. Working with Chakras include yoga and meditation.
Crystal therapy is based on the idea that vibrations from crystals absorb, redirect, or balanceenergies that we produce. You can wear a stone in jewellery, or keep it with you, or place it on a certain part of your body to aid your intention.
Crystals are used in technology, for instance quartz in a watch will help focus the energy from the battery keeping a constant charge. Quartz crystal is esteemed for its piezoelectric and pyroelectricproperties. It can transform mechanical pressure or heat into electromagnetic energy, and vice versa. It can focus, amplify, store, and transform energy and is used in ultrasound devices, watches, microphones, radio transmitters and receivers, memory chips in computers and other electronic circuitry. Rubies, both natural and laboratory made, are highly prized for technological use in watchmaking, medical instruments, and lasers for microscopic surgery. Tourmaline becomes electrically charged simply through heating or rubbing. When charged, one end becomes positive and the other negative, allowing it to attract or repel particles of dust or bits of paper. Tourmalines are highly valued in industry as electrical tuning circuits for conductingtelevision and radio frequencies. They are used for their durability since high frequencies can be passed through them without shattering, as many crystals do. Magnetic particles have been used in tapes to record music; you can just imagine how vibration and energy in crystals could be used. The value of crystals may be much greater than we currently understand.
As Einstein said: Everything is energy. If we believe in molecular power then why not in the vibration and essence of rock and crystal? You can find out a little more in my Colour, Crystals, and Writingpost.
Without scientific proof, people wonder if crystals have any real properties that can physically or emotionally help us.
So, after a short history of crystals, is there any evidence that crystals can be used for healing or spiritual work? There are no studies or evidence that can say for certain that crystals help, but word of mouth and self-belief have a positive effect. There have been studies where people were given both realstones and placebo stones to hold during test conditions, and those who were told how the crystals would work and help them reported that they felt better, more positive and the stones helped, but they were a pretty equal measure of actual stones and placebos. What that would show is that if you believe in crystals, they can have a positive effect.
This could easily be likened to religiousfaith. Prayer cannot be proven to work, the existence of a heavenly God cannot be proven, but for those that believe in either or both, a positive effect is often found in their lives. Those who believe in and use prayer can heal faster and obtain positive effects from prayer. This can also apply to those who employ positivity in their lives too. Being positive has a greater and more beneficial health effect in your life than negativity, which can literally be negative or damaging to your health. Using crystals as a complementary help in your life can be nothing but positive, as long as it is what you want and is your choice. *Caveat – if you have a major health issue always consult a doctor and conventional medicine before anything else. Do not put your life at risk.
I make crystal grids, and I do it for several reasons. I make them for art, they are beautiful and connect to my love of aesthetics and creative art, but I also make them with intentions and use crystals that honour my intentions for each grid. I make grids to help me meditate, to help ground me, and to enhance my spirituality with the universe. I see it a method of relaxation, an outlet for asking and making intentions – a bit like prayer, and creating something wholly natural and beautiful.
There is so much of this world that we have not yet caught up with, technologically and naturally, let’s not negate the power of the elements that may have properties we’re not even tapping into yet. So, crystals, gems, stones, and rocks are a natural part of our lives, why not use them and make them an intrinsic part of your life?
‘Freya won’t let anything stand in the way of her dreams – not even her death. Now her family will need to uncover the clues to her secrets before it’s too late.’
Beneath the Rainbow by Lisa Shambrook is on sale.
My publishers have got Beneath the Rainbow, the first book in the Surviving Hope Novels, on sale at B&N, Amazon, Nook, Apple Books and Google Play. The eBook is on sale at $1.99(and between £1 and £1.62 on UK sites) for the whole of September.
You can find it at BHCPress’ Promotion Sale page, by scrolling and clicking on the book cover, then follow the links to whichever bookstore you wish to purchase from. Or buy the paperback from Bookshop.
Review: 5th January 2014: Beneath the Rainbow – “Once in a while a book totally stirs you and pulls you right in, this is it! “Beneath the Rainbow” captivates, enthrals and invites you on a magical journey of time as it moves beyond this life into the next. It is true genius how the author interweaves messages of hope and inspiration into the lives of the characters. Thomas teaches us how to fulfil our dreams and Freya teaches us how to hold on and when to let go. I recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with any kind of loss or anyone who just wants to enjoy a captivating read. ~ Mrs A. – Read more: http://amzn.to/1hWDQJU
Review: 23rd September 2014: Beneath the Rainbow – “Beneath the Rainbow is beautiful. Not only in the carefully crafted prose, but the imagery Shambrook evokes is stunning and serene, even in the wake of tragedy.” ~ JWH – Read more: http://amzn.to/1T88uQn
To find out more about Beneath the Rainbow, its sister books: Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star check out my website and learn more about my books and myself. There are also links hereon my blog to learn more.