Day 18: 13 Minutes Stay Home, Stay Home, Stay Home

Just finished watching this week’s John Oliver show, very sober in the sense of the word that means taking what needs to be taken seriously very seriously, and ending with a painting of rats in a compromising position from a 1992 auction in Pennsylvania somewhere in the dark caves of Netflix…

When I discussed doing a ‘Covid 19″ Crazy thing, I definitely meant in your house because you should be there if you’re not doing something on the front lines. Like cutting your hair weird because you are not going out to get a haircut and the only way you’ll get a good one is if you are a haircutter or live with one.

I did cut my bangs last night, very quickly with a pair of scissors lying around. I don’t have haircutting scissors even though I am obsessed with scissors and there is a pair I desperately want sold in the MoMA design store (online of course).

I had a good day today because I had work to do and felt good about being distracted by work with clients. The weird thing is that while doing remote sessions with clients, I am of course sometimes talking only about Covid19 and its effect on their lives or briefly checking in on their situation with it, BUT, it’s not the same as hearing the news or reading it and does not bother me because I like hearing how my clients as individuals are managing it and what their points of view are as well as helping them mange dealing with stressors around it if that’s where they’r at.

.Some people could tell of course that I am not in my spacious art studio office but a very cozy little tiny makeshift office. I even dodged being asked if I was home by saying I was in a spaceship. Of course my clients know I’m not at work, but who’s to say that I’m definitevely at home. I still like that boundary of the potential for the fantasy that your therapist exists only in either my spacious cave on Franklin Street or in a space capsule, as both have no windows. I once had a client who said she imagined me sleeping in the paintings stacks and always being in my studio.

I don’t know if I’ve written about it, but way before today, after an initial few days of manic energy posting on list serves about remote therapy, as I have been doing it for years, and posting about online therapist classes, etc. and very hyper quickly starting a Facebook group of Covid response art and an starting my Covid I Ching Altered book, I am now in the second stage of my own stuff with this, being overwhelmed by the news and everything else. This includes all the emails and feeling bad that I can’t make masks. I signed up to voluteer/give free therapy to Covid workers who of course have no time for therapy, I am at a point where I am not demanding much of myself (I considered finishing my book proposal about altered books and working on some other big works as well as trying to arrange art face time hangouts with my friends…) That went out the window.

My new, low bar for self-esteem: I am just showing up at my office, working with my already enough batch of clients, trying to keep up with paperwork and doing this writing daily as well as yoga, remembering to eat, and also sharing the family cooking. Not yet caught up on my comic strip.

That’s it. The rest is just stay home. When outside only every few days, wearing mask and gloves and stay away from people. It’s called Physical Distancing, not Social Distancing.

My days feel even fuller than before. My last big challenge is going to bed at some fucking decent time as I’ve gone into the 1am zone and I should be in bed now at 10:45. That’s it. I’m just a little person trying to do the right thing, happy to have my clients and family and friends and grateful to be healthy and alive another day.

Stay home stay home stay home.

I can edit this tomorrow. I just edited it at 11:39 am. Time to go put together a cool work outfit with makeup and jewelry as my own self-care.

 

Day 3: 13 Minutes

I had a great conversation with my friend. We meet ever Sunday, she, I and another close friend, for coffe and conversation as well as peer led yoga. I always get inspired talking with her.

I usually have an abundance of ideas and get too disorganized. Having this be 13 minutes helps stop me from continuous rambling. I think I will pick a topic each day to keep this coherent.

Today I’d like to talk about precondition mental health issues and dealing with this crisis. It is hard on everyone, whether they have any mental health issues or not.

Anxiety disorder and trauma related disorders are usually part of a mental health diagnosis, whether it be depression, eating disorder, etc, because having a mental health issue in today’s societal invalidating environment causes anxiety. Now many healthy people are having panic and anxiety.

So for people who have bipoar disorder, depression, complex trauma, OCD, Panic disorder and all the other ones, how do you manage and use distress tolerance now?

If you’re in therapy, continue your therapy by phone or video. Now is not the time to decide on leaving therapy if you have a longstanding relationship with your therapist and if you just started and founds someone who is a good fit, keep up your therapy. Be in frequent touch with your therapist if need be.

Talk openly with your therapist about your financial issues in general and pertaining to paying for therapy if you do pay a fee or copay. I believe in sliding scale for therapy which also involves sliding scale in the present. For example, if you have someone who pays $90 on sliding scale from your regular fee, and they can only pay $60 due to job issues connected to the Coronavirus, I would ask your therapist for a temporary change in fee.

I have been informing clients that if they can’t pay their regular fee due to current hardships, they can pay a reduced fee. If this whole disaster becomes very extreme, I will offer free sessions to clients, partly for my own sanity. One client out of her job not paid anymore reduced her fee with me by 50%, so I am happy that my new plan is working. I don’t want current clients to drop their therapy with me due to financial hardship.

Also, if you’re needing a $30-60 per session for people, you can guide them to go to the Open Path Collective; we’re a group of therapists dedicated to providing therapy that is accessible and affordable for people who can’t afford high fees. The client pays a one time fee of $59 and can choose a therapist and start affordable therapy.

I am already doing remote sessions with a lot of clients due to other issues, so many of them are familiar and comfortable with phone and video sessions. Ask your therapist for telehealth sessions. Many therapists are starting to do this exclusively, whether they are experienced with it or not. I am very greatful to be part of Open Path as I believe strongly in our mission. I will be contacting all my current clients who come in person about starting remote sessions and notifying all appropriate ones about temporary discounts. That’s all for today. See you tomorrow. I plan to continue this topic with providing links to info about it.

Wednesday: Image Post Day

I started doing “Mindfulness Drawings” at the beginning of this month, February. I got the idea from a patient who showed me their journal and how they were trying to write down the time and do something to get them more in the moment doodling things.

It’s a great idea and has brought me back to drawing in an observational way. It’s also a great way to draw everyday things without judging your drawing harshly.

It started like this one below in my journal, done on Feb. 4. I wrote down words that were either in my head or observations of the environment or conversation if I was with other people.

I was thinking about mindfulness principles in this one here, like “Observe and Describe” from DBT Mindfulness. In DBT there is also noticing when you’re in “rational mind”, “emotional mind” and “wise mind”.

Some of these drawings are layers of time, where I did some one evening and added more the next day.

The drawing below shows the heart hole puncher I drew as I was using it to make Valentine’s. I drew most of it during a phone session. My communications expert friend had told me recently, “Communication creates reality.” and I shared it on the phone. It was resonating for me and my patient.

This image below is the other side of the page posted as the first image, with the words “Observe and describe.”  I was looking at my watch and a clock so I drew the hands of my watch as well, and the song quoted was going on in my head about time…

The image below from Feb. 9 is in my journal. I started drawing scissors a lot because they were there. I hadn’t yet gotten inspired to make the objects talk.
  This one above is the other side of the journal drawing from the same day/time.

This one below is from yesterday afternoon during another phone session, and the tea pot is talking…

The one below was done last Friday, when I discovered that the heads or objects on the page were talking to me and about me. It started with the objects saying whether I drew them right or not and kept going. I had been drawing these heads from the coffee mug I made out of my images. The heads are from a collage piece; I noticed I was thinking about posting this picture of this drawing on Facebook which I do a lot, so the heads made a bet about when I would post it!  

This one above is from earlier yesterday. I had been drawing pens a lot and hadn’t drawn a bunch of pens in a cup as it seemed too hard. I was thinking of Morandi’s still lives and looking at post cards of them. I think I’m also thinking of Morandi as he mostly did still lives of everyday objects, and this series is starting to be about objects which are used, mostly basic office materials or art supplies, cups, etc.

This one above is on a piece of drawing paper and done last night as the date shows.

These drawings have become a way to be reminded to be mindful, in a different way than the bracelet. Drawing things you see often does get you into a different level of discovery, of looking closely at things you see every day.

This morning I drew the keys on my keychain; I’ve been challenging myself to just draw things, which get rid of judgment, another aspect of mindfulness, which is to be neutral about what is going on right here right now.

The added discovery of the objects talking to each other or saying things is partly thanks to my reading more this year, and thus reading more graphic novels, which inspire me to make my own talking pictures…