Colouring In The Black Hole

Colouring in the black hole.
Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton

Two good friends came to see me in hospital, and bought me “This Is Not a Book” which is (not) a book filled with weird creative activities, e.g. “This is a dispensible item.  Find a way to dispose of this page” (I have hidden mine inside a DVD of my brother’s.  Or “This is a Secret Identity” and you make up a character.  During hospital and for a while after, I didn’t have the energy yet to make use of the (not) book but now I occasionally pick up a page, make a drawing, invent an alter ego, hide things, scrawl things… “this is a stream of consciousness” was an option.  I seriously, seriously reccommend it to anyone looking for “distraction techniques”:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/This-Not-Book-Keri-Smith/dp/1846144442.  It fills tiny hours, helps put off self-harm urges, gives you something to do when things are too slow and too boring.

Aside from this, I have been furiously scrawling with oil pastels in a sketchbook.  The pastels are now broken and one of my fingers is quite literally injured- I rubbed the pastels on one page too violently and have a big scratchy sore spot.  I have made some pages of shades of one colour, like Just Red when I was angry, or a blue-green-black scrawl that slowly turned into a pond when I was upset.  The point isn’t what they are or whether they’re good.  It’s… a really good feeling vent.

I always feel like the “distractions” idea is a bit patronising: If you think you want a drink, wait 15 minutes or fill up on tooth-rot… If you think you want to self harm, hold a pineapple while standing upside down with straws between your toes and an apple in your mouth, you know.  It actually makes me quite angry, being told that I don’t really want what I think I know I want.  It’s why I disliked CBT.

But when you find a distraction that suits you, I guess, that’s when it can help.  So, in tears, angry over something, I watch a black scrawl turn into a pattern.  Wanting to hurt, I watch the fiddly, irritating scraps of magazine turn into a collage.  Sometimes I actually use razors to cut out the really tiny parts of pattern scissors can’t get to.  Literally using something damaging to make something else.

It doesn’t always work.  It’s like running- sometimes I am too sad to keep going, sometimes I am too angry to do it right.  And to be honest, sometimes what I’m doing is just rubbish.   I used to make different kinds of collages, with lyrics and pictures, and sometimes I get angry I can’t seem to do that anymore.  If something works, I like it to keep working.  Finding a new distraction is like being patronised all over again: Now this time let’s try drawing a pretty picture of a smiling tree and six elves with pencils on their heads.

But however I’m doing it, I’m colouring in the black hole…

My scribbles

Just realised this sentence can be read two ways: colouring, in the black hole; or colouring in the black hole.

have fun with that!

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