I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Boundaries are Healthy

Let me introduce you to Gertrude:
  Gertrude is my fire breathing dragon that I made in my art therapy class to protect my boundaries. I absolutely love her! I think the name Gertrude is a very strong and no-nonsense name, perfect for a female dragon. Here is another, more colorful picture of her:

 Okay, so she may look more like a snake, but the look I was originally going for was based on a Chinese dragon.
See the similarities?  No?  Just use your imagination. As you can see, I wrote down some positive affirmations about my right to set healthy boundaries, because that is something that the universe seems bound to teach me this year.  This past month, I have had to set some really firm boundaries at work and with one of my best friends.  It was incredibly hard, because setting boundaries is new to me, but I had finally gotten to a point when I had realized just how much I needed to take care of myself and taking care of myself means setting hard boundaries and saying "no" sometimes.

Here are the positive affirmations on the base of my artwork:
  • I am NOT the problem!
  • It is okay for me to be happy even when others are not.
  • Loving myself means standing up for myself.
  • Boundaries are healthy.
  • Being firm is not being mean.
  • I have a right to get my needs met.
  • My thoughts and opinions are valid.
  • I can trust in myself.
I came up with the idea myself.  I was very angry one day, because I was tired of feeling like I was being taken advantage of and a friend of mine suggested that I work my anger out in clay.  I had no idea what I would make, but it felt good to physically push and pound the clay in my hands.  Then, as I was playing around with it, I suddenly thought to myself, "I need a dragon!"  And so Gertrude was born.

I absolutely love my art therapy class!  Some people discount therapies like art, music, recreation or horticulture, but I think these kinds of therapies can help people explore areas of their psyche that sometimes they cannot reach by using words alone.  I am very intentional about the art projects I work on in the class-I find that seeing the issues that I working on physically more firmly imprints on my brain than simply talking about it does.  For instance, now that I have a physical familiar for my boundaries, I can picture her when I am about to practice setting them and remembering her and her positive affirmations gives me strength.  And it's not really her, the physical object, that gives me the strength, but the strength of my own conviction when I was creating her that gives me my power.

Look for more of my artwork soon!  I'm probably going to retake my therapist's DBT class, because I've had a return of my anxiety and starting in August, I'm going to take an online program called MBT or Mentalization Behavior Treatment, designed by the blogger for Hope for BPD.  It's not therapy, but just a daily email with some exercises to help me gain "the ability to better understand our own thoughts and emotions and those of others."  I'll let you know how it goes.  Hopefully all of this treatment won't become overwhelming, but I don't think it will - the DBT class is only one day a week (although of course, I will need to practice every day, but still...) and I can always ignore the emails, if they become bothersome.

Have you tried any kind of nontraditional therapy yourself or are you interested?  What kind? 

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