This is me
I wanted my first blog post to be about something important and relevant to me, so here we go. It may seem cliche to talk about my depression and art, but psht that’s what I am going to do.
I have been depressed for a while, but clinically diagnosed with depression and anxiety since 2015 whilst I was in my 2nd year of university. To have those two illnesses together was a nightmare – depression means I don’t feel, I don’t want to get up, I have trouble doing things or even moving, but anxiety means that my brain is going at 100mph thinking of all the terrible things that could happen, or all the things I need to be doing all at once. To be trapped by my depression with my brain on overdrive was horrendous. Thankfully I’ve managed to control my anxiety through medication, and mindfulness. I still have panic attacks occasionally, but for the most part I am now just dealing with my depression.
In my 3rd year of University studying Graphic Design, I realised that the cutthroat industry of design wasn’t for me right now. I wasn’t mentally strong enough to put myself into that harsh world. When I graduated I got myself just a regular unskilled job just to keep me occupied, and that’s when I really started painting. I would end up having sick days which turned in to weeks which turned into months, and that’s where I am at now. Every time I was off sick I would spend the whole time painting, continuously. Developing my skills, practicing, and trying to distract myself from the fact I wasn’t able to leave the house. Art therapy is a common practice within the treatment of depression, expressing yourself without restraints through a creative form such as sculpture, modelling, painting etc. can help open a window it’s how you are really feeling and allow you to take a step back and assess what you have created means.
I am currently seeing a psychotherapist who asked me in a session to take some plasticine and make whatever felt right – no thinking about it, just make something. At first I was dubious, what is this going to achieve? But, I went along with it. I created a lily type flower on a round circle of blue with some leafs. My therapist asked me if it was a lily pad on a pond – symbolising how I have a care free no plan attitude, going with the flow, affected by what is happening around me. Which is actually hauntingly accurate! It opened up a wider discussion about the way I approach my life and how I feel about what is going on around me. It was incredibly interesting and one of the best sessions I have had so far! I am telling you this because art and creating is something we do before we even have language, before we are able to speak. It is the best most primal way to express what we are feeling or what we are trying to say, even subconsciously. When you suffer from depression a lot of what you are feeling or thinking is numb, it isn’t there. It’s very hard to articulate how you feel when you feel nothing. Art therapy is a fantastic tool for teenagers or children who are struggling with mental health as well (but that is something for another blog).
Creativity and art, even dance and singing, are all fantastic. They are so important to our society in so many ways, I could go on and on about it, but I won’t (maybe another day!) Basically what I am trying to say is that art has helped me be a relatively ‘normal’ person. Without it I wouldn’t be able to sit here on my own website which I made myself, selling artwork, writing a blog post, in my pjays listening to Eminem (don’t judge me…) with the dinner in the oven and a tidy house. Just a few months ago I couldn’t get out of bed, I couldn’t do any chores, the house was a mess, I would go weeks without showering, I was falling apart. It wasn’t until I decided to dive into being creative, and create a living out of doing art that I managed to start doing normal things. I am by no means well, I still have days where I sit in a chair and stare at a wall for hours because it is the only thing I can do. But I am getting better, with therapy, with medication, and with art.
My final word – encourage people to paint, to draw, to create, to sing, to be unbound by traditional rules, let go of language and all the other things we should conform to and just do. Allow yourself and people around you to let go. Express yourself in order to understand yourself. Art isn’t bullshit, it came before we had language, it is primal and natural and empowering. Use it.