If last week’s post was a prologue, then consider this our first issue! Please bear with me; as I put together this blog, I’m experimenting with a few different ways of updating the page, ways of discussing my experiences and how to showcase any artwork I receive.
Firstly though, I wanted to explain why creating pieces of art works for me and what I gained from art therapy.
As I had isolated myself, what first struck me is how selfish anxiety and depression can be. Coupled with my epilepsy and fear of leaving the house, I became solely focused upon myself, how I felt and how everything affected me. I’m not saying that people who have hidden illnesses are selfish; I’m saying the illness is selfish. It turns everything insular. And of course it does. If something affects how you feel and your self-esteem, why would you look anywhere else? The confusion lies in how you feel about yourself, how much you wish it would go away and getting yourself right again.
I was stuck in a vicious circle – my seizures were brought on by anxiety, I had anxiety caused by my seizures – so I was stuck at an impasse.
I quickly realised, from joining my art therapy group, that I wasn’t alone. That was the first step. Everyone there had their own problems, personal to themselves, but the unifying factors between us was that we wanted to get better and we wanted to feel less alone.
The first few initial sessions, I kept myself to myself. I sat at a table and sketched. Don’t get me wrong, there were times some weeks that I didn’t want to go – and there were times when I didn’t – but the key (and I’ve found this crucial even more so now when putting together a piece) is persevering.
The art is something that grounds you and allows you to speak without using any words. It gives you focus and slows everything down. No matter what skill people had in the group, what medium they used (crafts, sketching, painting or music); we all found the therapy useful in channeling our feelings in a direction.
One day, everything just clicked. I started talking amongst the group and we shared our experiences. The relief was incredible and the joy at discovering you weren’t alone helped put your own problems and conditions in perspective.
Art therapy gives you a sense of purpose and achievement. The goal is create something and to finish something while having fun all the while.
Once I’d learned how to manage my feelings and negative thoughts, I was able to better understand my epilepsy and identify further triggers.
The most important things I’ve found useful during art therapy are as follows:
- Don’t expect to be creating masterpieces. That’s not what it’s about. Art therapy is about finding a way to express how you’re feeling and to find an outlet.
- Experiment with different things. You might not be the world’s greatest painter but maybe you can sculpt. Or sew. Or play an instrument.
- Keep at it. If you start a piece, try and finish it, regardless of what you think. If you feel like you’re losing it, take a step back and return to it. Even if it isn’t your best work, still have a go. If you get into the habit of ripping your work up and throwing it away, it devalues your self esteem; you can always go back and learn from your mistakes
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: HAVE FUN!!! I can’t stress this enough!
Thanks for reading and feel free to get in touch via the contact page if you want to contribute to the blog!