Not quite as consistent as my 2019 experience, but I did #Inktober2020! It is a drawing challenge where you follow a prompt for every day of October. You can read the rules and prompts on the InkTober website.

The idea of doing a drawing challenge seems stressful. Like, why make life more challenging? However, the practice of drawing every day, if only for 5 minutes, has helped ground my thoughts in times of distress. This October alone, I had to undergo my second major knee surgery of 2020, my 5th knee surgery overall, and I had to evacuate my apartment the week after. Being unable to walk eliminated a lot of activities that help manage my anxiety and boost my mood, mainly walking, being outside, grocery shopping, and cooking. Everyday activities that brought me a lot of joy, would temporarily be taken away, and inevitably I became overwhelmed with self-defeating thoughts and isolating behaviors.

Drawing by Briela Tollisen for Inktober 2020

Drawing by Briela Tollisen for Inktober 2020

Illustrator Octavia Bromell discusses in her presentation Finding Joy Through Drawing, the discoveries she made through her experiences with anxiety and depression. Octavia underwent a 100-day drawing challenge, where she drew a single item that made her happy (a tea cup, house plant, stars) and shared that with people. She emphasizes how happiness can be found in the tiny, often overlooked, everyday things that make up our lives.

For #Inktober2020 I tried to be more honest and present with my emotions, and channel that into my work without “over thinking” or erasing. Every time I would finish a piece, I felt like I prioritized myself and validated a feeling by giving it form. Especially for me, who stumbles over words and will structure a sentence in reverse, mark making through art is where I must go to truly understand and express myself. Despite the difficulty of maneuvering the ever changing hellscape of 2020, this is one way I have persevered.