Mental Wellness Matters
I started writing this a while ago but finished it today, the 11th of May. This is appropriate as it's Mental Health Awareness month. Every month should be Mental Health Awareness month.
Mental illness is debilitating, frustrating, dreadfully inconvenient. If you practice the tools and implement the knowledge you can deal with it, sometimes. I dream of the day I can deal with it most of the time. It’s being aware of the situations and types of people that might make you ill. I’ve lived with ocd and chronic anxiety all my life. I’ve had episodes of psychosis. For years and years I was too ashamed to mention it. That made it worse. With age, one begins to shed embarrassment, with age one begins to let her voice be heard. Very often for me that voice is translated through the form of a painting or a poem. As a child I enjoyed public speaking but then anxiety swooped in and put an end to that. It does it to this very day, I’m fortunate that through the power of visual communication I can still be heard. No matter how I’m feeling sometimes I’m comforted by the knowledge that my art will step in and talk for me, when I haven’t got the strength. And it takes colossal strength sometimes to do the most basic of things. I mean going to the shops, or travelling by car even as a passenger. Taking a flight is absolutely out of the question. I’m not too upset about the inability to drive myself or catch a plane as I don’t feel it’s natural anyway. Also I’m pleased I’m doing my bit for the environment. I am a person who repels this fast paced modern world, I often say I should have been here years ago, clearly there’s been a mix up. I find the volume of modern living noisy and intrusive. I’ve heard electric cars will be a lot quieter, God I hope so. It upsets me considerably that I struggle to hear bird song over the chaos of traffic as it unapologetically goes thumping past. Painting and writing offer me a form of meditation and this calms my mind and soul. Hopefully it offers the viewer a chance to reflect, meditate, slow down, and be human. My grandfather used to say if you can’t say something pleasant say nothing at all. I know in my heart if people were just plain nice most of the time mental health problems would be reduced significantly. My grandparents were so caring toward people and animals. They took great joy in seeing a bumble bee enjoy the heavenly splendour of a garden rose, nestled in its petals on a warm summers day. They encouraged me to notice things like that, they helped shape me as an artist. And my Mum, their daughter, definitely nurtured my artistic beginnings. When I look at bumble bees on roses my imagination takes it a step further, I seriously thought one day I saw a bee smiling. That it was stretched out, soaking up the sun, the petals were like a huge plump quilt and perfect pillows. I’m so determined going forward that I create for myself my rose, my safe haven and sanctuary. It’s a miracle I’m alive having survived so much and it’s imperative going forward I continue to create that which gives me strength. I hope my art wherever it ends up in the world gives its new owner a sense human connection. And a connection to our natural world that is screaming at the moment to not be ignored. To ignore our inner voice and the voice of nature will lead to our unnecessary demise. It would be such a tragic waste. Let’s not waste anything anymore. Not even a moment more.
Sometimes mental illness isn’t visible doesn’t mean it’s not constantly there
When mental illness reaches crisis point it’s extremely visible. This was a self-portrait photograph taken in London 2013. I remember taking this thinking I’m I still alive? I never thought I would smile again, but eventually, I even managed to laugh. Laughter is indeed a healer…