There are many benefits to joining a like-minded community that offers support and a network of artisans. One of these benefits is the support that comes with sharing skills, knowledge and advice.
There are several artisans in our community with experience in mental health struggles. When we shared their story with our followers, we were overwhelmed with positive feedback. Reaching out to the artisan community in the UK, we discovered just how valuable art therapy is in the role of mental health.
Here is part one of a three-part series featuring a collection of a few success stories that we’ve received. Thank you to all of the brave, inspirational artisans who shared their story.
I’ve suffered from severe anxiety since being young – I’m 47 now. I was subsequently diagnosed with depression too.
My art journey began in 2018 when I lost my ex-partner to suicide. The grief was overwhelming and my mental health deteriorated. About six months after he passed, I picked up my child’s paints and began to try and paint.
I just wanted to release some emotion I think. I didn’t really know what I was doing.
I continued to paint for another six months or so before turning to other mediums to help me process – as painting had done its job. That’s when I discovered collage. I began with digital collage. A friend suggested trying analogue and it went from there.
Since this began, I’ve gone from no art experience to working towards my first exhibition and have done three now. I’ve also done my first ever collage workshop.
I have made some wonderful friends within the art community here and continue to use art as therapy.
Julie Reynolds – Pixie People Frames, Oh Gosh How Pretty
I am a 47-year-old married mother of two grown kids. I live in Durham in the northeast with my husband, daughter, son and our pets. I live with chronic clinical depression, Agoraphobia, major generalised anxiety and social anxiety.
I’ve crafted all my life as a stress release – I’ve always been arty.
I’ve had mental health issues since I was about 9 – following a difficult childhood and adolescence. My husband has always been my top supporter.
I went to nursing college from school and was working as a practice nurse when I had a mental breakdown after losing my grandmother. The partners at the surgery and the practice manager were not very supportive. So, after I attempted a disastrous return to work, I left my nursing career behind.
Following my recovery, I went to university and retrained as a primary teacher. I loved my job but I was made redundant after 2 years. This was under the pretext of budget cuts but in reality due to my ongoing mental health issues, despite having an excellent attendance record and ‘outstanding’ in all my assessments. This broke me. We lost my full-time teacher wage and it crippled us financially. I had a subsequent mental collapse which I haven’t fully recovered from.
I felt a failure for the loss of both careers and blamed myself. I was suicidal and very unwell.
I had psychiatry and lengthy psychology support (EMDR which helped with childhood PTSD) and attempted to return to teaching but I couldn’t cope and this led to further collapse.
My husband removed that stress for me by saying I had to stop trying to justify myself with a job and we scaled back financially to make life easier.
I began crafting to help fill my days and my business took off. It raises my self-esteem, keeps me busy and stops me from overthinking as I’m comfortably busy.
I’m a big advocate of mental well-being and raising awareness of mental health stigma and issues.
Katie Udell Fine Art
I started drawing as a child as a form of therapy. I suffer from bad anxiety and I constantly worry during my day to day life. I started drawing as I found it took my mind off of whatever it was that I was feeling anxious about.
I often found my heart would start to race when I was worrying. When I was drawing it stopped racing and I calmed down a lot. I carried on drawing throughout my teens and very early adulthood. But stopped when I started working full time.
Then I fell pregnant with my first daughter and my anxiety went crazy. I just couldn’t stay calm. I was in panic mode constantly, and it was completely exhausting. So, I began drawing again and I soon realised I wanted to do something more with it. And so after my daughter was born I opened as a commissioned portrait artist.
Three years later and with our second baby on the way, I love what I do. I really do find it a brilliant form of therapy and I am so pleased I took the plunge in taking my work further.
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