The next blog post in our mental health series written by Leah from @mamucatlife.
In this blog Leah discusses her struggles with mental health as an artist and how they have helped her:
What is art? It’s a reflection of being human, our innermost struggles and emotions. It can be hard to put that onto canvas or paper. Let’s face it... Mental illness is a STRUGGLE and then trying to create art on top of that can be hard. Sometimes it’s grueling. You struggle to get out of bed, let alone pick up your pencil to draw. Those struggles can also be a hidden superpower to unlock insights that others don’t get to see. (And it doesn’t always feel great but it can be useful.)
Now, mental illness or health struggles are not a gift. There are plenty of downsides I could list here. All involves so much struggle and hard work. But I’ve learned that we have the power to create something beautiful out of ourselves.
If you are struggling as an artist with mental health issues, I hope this post will remind you of how valuable your work is. I will be looking at 3 insights of being an artist with mental health issues and how they have helped me.
1. The Ability to Identify Issues
We see the world through a different lens. We can find problems others may miss. “What could improve our quality of life? Even a little bit?”
Art enriches the human experience. We can identify with it. We can use it to express parts of our experience that is hard to put into words. This creates community.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
Art has the ability to express what words cannot and leave a strong impression. It has the power to change what needs to change, and it has the power to communicate to those who need to hear it. It can also be a form of communication with ourselves.
An example for myself: Decorating my journal with such cute art motivates me to keep healing and growing. It adds a little brightness that I need, even if I am writing about a rough day. It also helps with my memory retention. I’m prone to dissociation, but having vivid images and art can help me to recall better. Also, one main reason why I love creating cute stationery and art for others to use!
In what ways has art helped you improve your life?
2. We Can Give Meaning to Our Work
What is your favorite art piece by another artist? Why do you love that art piece so much? What meaning does it hold for you?
I was 15 years old and studying art in school. I never really admired Claude Monet’s paintings. Impressionism was not my favorite style. Then I learned Claude Monet’s story. It changed my perspective. The canvas is YOUR way to share YOUR story. We can show a world that others struggle to grasp, our world.
My Celestial Sky designs were heavily inspired by my inner child healing journey and my childhood bedroom. Drawing my childhood plushies (which I still sleep with 😉) was very healing. A simple sticker sheet took on deeper meaning for me.
In line with insight #1, it gives us the ability to communicate what others cannot see. Others may connect with that, and it’s just lovely knowing someone may hold your work dear. Whether it’s celebrating their happiest days, or encouraging them through their depressive episodes— it’s a lovely thought to know our work holds meaning to someone.
3. Inspiring Others
Imagine you are in a dark room. But you have a light. So you turn on the light and it illuminates the room around you. Now others can see too! What artists have inspired you in your life?
I didn’t know at 15 that Monet’s works and story would continue to inspire me for years to come. The ability to surmount difficulty and create something beautiful— it never fails to inspire me. When we do this ourselves and share that with others, it’s like giving back.
So shine your light! You never know how it may help others with similar struggles.
You are such an inspiration for me. I hope this has inspired you, even just a teensy bit. And if not, that’s okay too. You are doing amazing and growing so much. I hope you will continue to tell your story!
Tread lightly, my friend. Sending much love and creativity your way!
You can find Leah on Instagram @mamucatlife, make sure to give her a follow she created the cutest art!