Simple, thin lines, fluid marks and small blocks of colour create playful stories within Simeron Kaler’s illustrations. Here at Jungle, we asked Kaler if she could produce a visual response to the word ‘introspection’ which refers to the act of self-reflection and is the title of our latest edition. Kaler sent me over The thoughts I have watered and grown, which loosely depicts two figures, sat amongst leave and trees in a forest.
I asked Kaler to tell me more about her thoughts behind this scene…
I chose to surround myself and the person I am speaking to in a forest; this forest is not a sanctuary as one might assume, but has formed as a result of me exhaling my worries when speaking to the person in the image. The plants are anxiety vines; tall trees planted and watered by continuous overthinking and obsessing over harmless thoughts. Through watering these thoughts with attention they become bigger; before I realise, I am in a forest of negative thoughts that I have watered and grown myself.
Soft, thin wavy lines and playful brush strokes. Your illustration appears quite light and playful in contrast to the heavier thoughts concealed within. This playfulness reminds me of the subtleties of anxiety; the fact it can be easily missed or ignored until it builds up and creates a forest around us. How do you feel about this?
I think that’s exactly right, it’s very easy to brush things under the rug and assume that it’s because of an environmental factor or something on the outside instead of looking inwards. We assume we’ll be fine once the ‘overthought situation’ is over but in reality mental health is something that needs to be consistently looked after. It’s important to understand that sometimes things build up regardless of what’s going on around you. If you check in with yourself you can prevent things before the forest begins to grow – meditation has really helped me with this.
Tell me about the red and pink marks on the illustration?
They represent two pieces of a puzzle that are beginning to fit together through open communication and courage.
Sometimes it can be quite difficult to recognise the impact of anxiety whilst you’re in the middle of it. Upon reflection, what has anxiety felt like for you?
Feeling like the easiest thing is the most difficult; losing the ability to rationalise emotions and so something small could feel hugely out of proportion. Thoughts can spiral and the more you try to avoid thinking about something the more weight it gets and the more it grows. It takes a lot of strength to decide to try and change the way you’ve been thinking for so long.
From the other side, what is your advice to yourself and others who might find themselves in a similar forest?
My first piece of advice would be to forgive yourself. Don’t beat yourself up for how you might be feeling in that moment. Be kind to yourself and move forward. I could also say open communication is key, whether that be with a therapist, family member or friend. And understand that with courage and help you can regain balance through the use of tools and strategies. On reflection, I felt that when the forest cleared, I had greater clarity and a new-found strength.
Words by Emma Bourne
Illustration by Simeron Kaler