When I was a kid, I loved to draw. I was fascinated by the fact that we could look at something in reality, and then damn near replicate it with some pens or pencils and some paper. That, to me, is like a long version of taking a photograph. It’s quite amazing that some people can draw things that are ultra-realistic.
I used to try to draw something to make it real on paper. I tried to pick an object and draw it. I was constantly struggling with the question of, “what do I draw?”. I enjoyed it, but I never really got good at it, and over time, I gave it up. The thing I didn’t know back then is that drawing and being artistic was more than just looking at an object and then replicating it. I often used drawing as an escape from reality as well. Why? Because sometimes reality just flat out sucked.
I had this thought running through my mind constantly during my whole adult life, “I really need to get back into art.” I actually talked about it too. But I didn’t get back into it for a long time. I tried to draw here and there, but I never really got further than just a few minutes of doodling. I collected tons of tattoos and I followed numerous artists on Instagram. I immersed myself in art. I loved it. But there was always this thought nagging at me saying, “I too can create something.”
But, the thing is, I stumbled upon alcohol and other mind-altering substances when I was a teenager which probably contributed to me not being able to get myself to do much of anything that I ‘thought’ I could do. I spent my 20s in a long-term relationship that led to marriage but ended in divorce. Fast forward to the ending of my marriage, and let’s just skip past the part where I was binge drinking to numb the pain. And then, let’s go right to the part where I quit my warehouse job that tore my body apart which leads me to this part. My resignation letter. I wrote this and it will always stick with me:
“I will make it my mission in life to make sure everyone is lifted up and built up so they can reach their full potential in life. I will express myself through the art that I create in order to inspire my fellow human beings to pursue their dreams.”
Beautiful words, right!? Absolutely! But, what was not so beautiful was my mental state. You see, I was in an extreme manic mental state because of the massive amounts of alcohol and energy drinks I consumed for a year straight.
For those of you who don’t know what this manic state is, it’s basically the total opposite of depression. I was extremely happy and excited about life. I was essentially experiencing a natural high that was equal to doing some hardcore drugs. And basically, what goes up must come down, right?
Fast forward another 6 months, and here we have the part where the what that went up came crashing down! DEPRESSION! And not the kind where we just feel kind of blah. No. Like the kind where we simply feel like ending it all. Why? Because the reality of all of the loss and having no income hit me like a ton of bricks! I had no will to move on. I wanted to end it all. But I didn’t.
“At first, I just wanted to be an artist to inspire others, but then I realized I needed art to heal.”
That was at the end of 2018. A hospital stay and a lot of trials and tribulations over the past few years, and here I am. It’s 2021 already, and it has been one hell of a ride. Ups and downs. Stops and starts. Why am I repeating this story when I’ve said it in many other blog posts already? Well, it’s simple really. It’s healing me to talk about it. And, I want to make a point about what I wrote in my resignation letter about expressing myself through the art I create to inspire others. At first, I just wanted to be an artist to inspire others, but then I realized I needed art to heal.
“It is one of the best ways to heal!”
Yes, it’s true. For many years, I didn’t listen to that little voice in my mind telling me to create art. I didn’t even listen to my verbally spoken words either! I was all talk at first. Then one day, my mental health SCREAMED AT ME to do it! Why? Because I needed it to heal. It is one of the best ways to heal!
“Grab some art materials and let those feelings out!”
I can not stress enough how important it is to have an outlet. And not just an outlet, but a creative one! So, let me get back to the part where I said that I tried to draw things on paper to make them look like what they look like in reality. I don’t do that so much anymore. I’ve learned that art really has no rules. I mean, if we want to create something ultra-realistic, then we can absolutely do it! But, we don’t have to! We can create whatever we want. Grab some art materials and let those feelings out!
And nevermind the fact that I have bipolar disorder. Art isn’t just for someone who has a mental illness. But, to be honest, we are all kind of messed up in our own ways, aren’t we? And that is nothing to be ashamed of. We all have a mind. We all experience the natural ups and downs of life. None of us are immune to adversity.
Let me add that this little story of mind comes with a light at the end of the tunnel. I just graduated college last month with an Associate’s Degree in Accounting! My mind is more stable than it’s ever been. AND I’ve been sober for 1 year and 9 months! What’s my favorite part about all of this? It’s that I now take the time to do the things that keep me sane, ART!
What are some things you all like to do that helps you heal?