Covet My Art


My other site, with a blog showcasing my art and craft work and (eventually) lots of downloadable background and technical information on my various projects, is now up and running.

Not much to see yet, as I’m still reformatting a lot of information from the site where it was previously hosted (My Medieval Life), but watch that space …

The link is here: Covet My Art


Invisible repairs to the soul


For many years I accepted without question the idea that my recurrent depression was merely a neurobiological aberration, a chronic relapsing condition that would require potentially  life-long medication. Psychotherapy might help me to live with it, or to develop more constructive thinking patterns, but it wasn’t a real treatment. All this, despite the fact that the drugs didn’t really make me better – in fact may have made me much, much worse – and that therapy was what had actually kept me alive through the darkest moments. I accepted it simply because it’s what I’d been taught: the biomedical model of depression is the one most widely promoted by – and to – general practitioners, psychiatrists and the general public.

However, in the course of withdrawing from antidepressants, going back into long term therapy and reading more widely on mental health and social issues, I’ve gained a very different perspective (not to mention a huge source of material for future posts). One of the things that has emerged is a better understanding of the role traumatic events in my past have played in shaping who I am today. Exploring and dealing with those traumas has been the current focus of therapy.

In common with many people who’ve experienced adversity or loss, something with which I’ve struggled is the desire for things to be as they were before. Wanting myself to be like I was before. I know how easy it is to become trapped in searching for the elusive point in time at which everything was ok and trying desperately to find a way back that simply does not exist. I am coming to see that a large part of healing from trauma involves coming to terms with the reality that one cannot go back, and in finding a new and different way of being that is hopefully “good enough”. It’s an approach which ties in well with the philosophies of some of the adjunctive therapies I am using, including yoga and mindfulness meditation (in addition to general meditation classes I’m currently participating in a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – MBSR – program).

One particular incident in therapy gave me a sudden insight into the way I had been thinking and has made it a little easier to change course and to work more constructively:

My therapist’s chair was a little the worse for wear, and he had patched it up with the packing tape used to mark parcels as fragile. This annoyed me intensely, and one day towards the end of a session I brought it up. I said that it looked like he needed a new chair, and he replied that he preferred to fix things instead of just getting rid of them, and he liked having made a feature of the repair. I told him that if I was repairing a chair I would have researched how to to repair vinyl and plastic so as to do it properly, or at least used tape the same colour as the chair, so that you couldn’t see the repair and it looked as good as before. A lightbulb moment occurred as I realised that this whole conversation was a metaphor for our different approaches, and I began to ask myself if what I expected from therapy was that I would go back to being “as good as before”, with seamless and invisible repairs. I have finally begun to accept that I must work with where I am now. It’s still hard work and is going to take a long time, but it’s definite progress.

(Oh, and for the record my therapist did eventually get a new chair).

Don’t blink

A lot of my recent posts have a bleak tenor, reflecting the sheer number of worrying problems in the news, so I thought I’d lighten the mood with a bit of fun.

I’m a big fan of the BBC tv series Dr Who, and when I saw the memorial angel on the sign at our local cemetery advertising available plots, I immediately thought: it needs the words DON’T BLINK on it. Writing on the sign itself was out of the question, so I printed out the words on an OHP transparency (not much call for them these days) and sticky taped it to the sign. I hope it brings a smile to faces of my fellow Whovians.



Taking action against domestic violence

The issues of domestic violence and violence against women have been prominent in the media in Victoria this year, with a concerted effort being made to bring these problems out into the open and confront them. As I deal with my own past I have become increasingly aware of the constant stream of news reports of domestic and workplace harassment and violence, bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault and the murders of partners or children. I’ve also become much more aware of the enormous extent to which our society normalises this behaviour and trivialises it through jokes and entertainment, and then rationalises these actions.

For example we rationalise that the graphic depiction of rape in a work of historical fiction is a legitimate way to illustrate the concept that “things were violent and unpleasant back then” instead of acknowledging that we are choosing one of many ways in which the past might have been unpleasant, and that this particular choice reflects our current beliefs and preoccupations. We admire the magnificent costuming and and vocal brilliance of an opera as a work of art, without pausing to question whether stalking, abduction, rape and murder are more than just the basis of a good story. Countless romances perpetuate the idea that a woman can’t be relied upon to know her own mind, that if a man will only pursue her long enough and apply enough pressure that he can not only possess her, but that she will come to enjoy it.

I’m not for a moment suggesting that we should outlaw productions of Othello or The Abduction From the Seraglio. What I am saying is that we need to address not only the end result – violence – but the underlying attitudes and smaller actions that lead there. We should be challenging the casual jokes about intimidating or injuring women as a way of controlling or punishing them. We should be questioning the choices we make in depicting violence against women as a form of entertainment.

Why now? Yesterday I was reading the Herald Sun newspaper at work. It featured articles on the remand in custody of the partner of Mildura anti-workplace violence advocate Karen Belej for her murder, the continued activism on the issue of domestic violence by Rosie Batty, whose son was murdered by her former partner, and allegations that the Police Union was funding the defences of male police officers accused of (non-employment related) acts of violence against women. Rightfully expressing condemnation of acts of violence. And then in the comics section …

… a cartoon in which a man is dragging a young woman by her hair while two people joke about it.

The hypocrisy and complete lack of insight made me very angry. I complained in writing through every avenue I could think of. I’d love it if my complaint made it onto Media Watch and challenged other people to question their underlying beliefs about what is ok. But even if it goes no further than a series of unanswered emails, I have taken one small step in speaking up. Every time is a little easier. Every action makes a difference.