In yesterdays post I briefly went over a particular coping mechanism I had developed for my volunteered shifts at my local Oxfam charity shop. In today’s post I wanted to cover another side to my creative process that I developed during those shifts to cope with the situations I would get into.
I started volunteering at Oxfam over the summer of 2014 to build up my confidence in a work environment. Throughout my life I haven’t had the best experiences with the world of work hearing phrases such as “you’re f***ing useless” because it takes me that little bit longer to process instructions. I wanted to volunteer as I wouldn’t just be building confidence but could be helping a good cause at the same time.
While my ASD doesn’t affect me as badly as others it does make certain situations challenging and processing information quickly isn’t my strong point. Being referred to as being useless only fuels what I already feel about myself and is unproductive.
Since starting at Oxfam I have been on and off working there between Uni times and after graduating in 2015 I continued to do one shift each week to break up my solitary art activities in my studio. I was put into a situation where I had to learn to be social and interact with people and over time I have been able to get better at falling into that position.
Having ASD means my struggles are not as prominent as others on the spectrum but I find I ‘m okay a majority of the time but the one thing that throws me off is my anxiety. I can create several situations in my head that could go wrong and I begin to dwell on those things happening. This especially gets bad when the shop is really quiet.
This is where the till receipt doodles come into play. At the beginning of my shift the first thing I do is get a off cut piece of receipt paper from the till and put it under the desk in front of me. When the shop gets quiet around 3pm and my mind has time to wonder I start drawing anxiety monsters onto the paper.
I found these drawings I created interesting as they often depicted a “in the moment” response where they often ended up as raw emotions. The pen work was rough and jagged and the more I had worked into a piece the harder that shift had been to keep calm. The emotions I experience on a shift are not always strong ones and a large majority of the time I am completely calm and unaffected but I still try to draw something when it gets quiet.
A select few images stood out from the rest as bad days and the good days monsters came across as less aggressive and the imagery used wasn’t as grotesque. I collected each image that was often just chucked into the bottom of my rucksack at the end of the day and when I clear out my bag I collect all the drawings and pin them together on the wall. I keep them without any particular use other than the helpfulness they served in that moment. It strangely became a documentation of anxiety.
The bad condition of these pieces reflects how they are disregarded after the event has passed. They helped me get through a stressful time and I don’t want to keep those memories inside so they are left on a sheet of used paper.
I like that this coping mechanism became productive in both helping me and creating something from it. I’m sure that in the future I will find a use for all these receipts that I have accumulated but for now they will remain pinned to my wall as forgotten memories.
During Autism Awareness Week I am writing multiple posts about my life on the spectrum along with its impact on what I do to share my story and can hopefully inspire others to follow what it is they wan’t to do in life and not to consider Autism as something that holds them back.
Later this week I will be posting about a piece I developed earlier this year but I didn’t discuss here on Messy Miscreation.com. Now that this painting has been exhibited it has had a affect on how I now approach new work due to the feedback it received so I will be talking about how it has changed since last year.
At the beginning of the week I posted about a painting I created especially for Autism Awareness Week that has been put onto my online store. I have decided to raise money for the National Autistic Society by giving up to 20% of my earnings on everything on my store apart from this one painting where 50% of its earnings goes directly to the NAS.
The link to the painting is here: http://messymiscreation.bigcartel.com/product/matilda-http://messymiscreation.bigcartel.com/product/matilda-a1-autism-awareness-week-2017