Keep painting your demons.
~ Jack Beal
I’ve dealt with mental illness, specifically depression and anxiety, all of my adult life. At times it is completely debilitating and at other times it merely lurks in the shadows. Either way, it always seems to be there.
I recall my psychology 101 instructor at Whatcom Community College referring to depression as “the common cold of mental disorders.” But it is still stigmatized. I’m going to talk about it here from time to time in hopes of doing my own small part to contribute to the open conversation regarding mental illnesses.
Without getting into too many details in this post, let’s just say that the past year has been trying—emotionally, psychologically, financially, spiritually, and academically. With depression and anxiety symptoms out of control, I finally reached out for help (once again) in the beginning of January. Unfortunately, getting help (medication adjustment and finding a counselor) in the behavioral health system isn’t exactly smooth or timely. I decided that I had to start doing something for myself while waiting for the help from others. This is how my creative exploration journey began.
I started by making a list of priorities, areas where I wanted to work on improving my life. The items fell into three general categories: being healthy (physically, spiritually and mentally), balancing my life, and pursuing more creative avenues. To remind myself of these priorities, I made a visual. It has also become a makeshift mantra I mumble to myself.
I’ve found my own informal art therapy (more details about how I do it to come) to be immensely fruitful and helpful. I can forget some of my worries while I concentrate solely on the stroke of a brush, the squish of paint, the slice of the paper cutter, or the crinkle of tissue paper. This might not work for everyone. The key is finding your own medicine (whether or not you are taking actual literal medicine). I’m going to keep painting, drawing, crafting, photographing, writing my demons as well as my angels.