This piece depicts my neurodivergent brain activity in relation to the bombardment of random, unrelated thoughts and ideas as well as my struggle to organize and prioritize my endless to-do list of tasks.
This flooding and cognitive overstimulation often cause nervous system dysregulation, triggering immense feelings of overwhelm, which I sometimes express through angry outbursts of frustration-laden strings of profanity and primal screams. These tantrums are often followed by periods of procrastination, avoidance, and potential paralysis.
I chose to express this experience of overwhelm using the surrealist technique of ‘Entopic Graphomania’, an automatic drawing exercise developed by Romanian artist Dolfi Trost in 1945. This method encourages the person to identify imperfections in a piece of paper with dots using a pen or pencil, then allow your subconscious to connect these dots by drawing either curved or straight lines.
Rather than identifying imperfections in the paper (Canson 98lb drawing pad), I chose to express the chaotic nature of my thoughts, which lead to feelings of overwhelm.
I dotted the page with a 005-micron pen then intuitively connected the dots using a ruler (to satisfy my perfectionism) with an ultra-fine point Sharpie pen, aiming to create a sense of balance within the chaos. I then intuitively bolded some lines with a fine point Sharpie and shaded in several triangles created by the lines to add depth and contrast.
I find this process very grounding and satisfying.
For the final parameter of adding an element to express the opposite of overwhelm, I chose to draw a Smiley Face using a stencil and ultra-fine point Sharpie, shading it with a Faber-Castell Cadmium yellow pencil (107).
The iconic sunshine yellow and peaceful, welcoming grin illustrates the hope and self-confidence I feel about my progress in learning how to self-soothe and self-regulate BEFORE I reach the point of feeling overwhelmed (though I did have a brief meltdown last week), whether it be by bringing my awareness to my body and breath as I redirect any negative self-talk or telling myself, “Time to take a break. Set this aside and come back to it later.”
The Smiley Face gently reminds me, “No worries. You got this. Just stay in the moment and focus on the next step. Everything will be okay.”
- Barbara Lawrence
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