How art therapy started the healing process for my post-natal depression

Hello everyone. So this is apparently my next step in following my online journey.

I am, it has to be said a little nervous about all this writing stuff. I do enjoy writing but I know that, I am just not that good at it lol. I guess that is just another example of why comparing myself to others is just not highly recommended. So here I am ‘just a girl sitting in front of a blank screen attempting to fill it with something that you the reader will enjoy.’

What, I can tell you though is that through all the punctuation and spelling mistakes, I can promise you that the words I write will be coming straight from my heart.

I felt my first blog should be about something I’m passionate about and that is art as therapy.

I have always been an artist. From the age I could pick up a pencil and scribble my first marks on a page, I have always loved how it made me feel inside, I just loved to be in that happy head space. It was as important to me as eating. As the years went on I excelled in art at school but struggled with most of the academic stuff. I pursued my art study at art colleges and universities. But half way through my study I FROZE  and all the confidence I once had for my art just VANISHED, almost overnight, The fear just got too much. I can remember sitting in a life drawing class surrounded by this enormous amount of talent coming out of everyone else in the room. I looked at my own work and my heart just seemed to deflate. My work was rubbish! In comparison, (isn’t that a damaging word “comparison”, why do we do it to ourselves? How can we compare ourselves to someone else? We are all so unique and different and we offer the world something no one else can offer). But in that moment I just sank, fast into a pit of self-deflating ego melt down. Questions like “what am I going to do with art as a career? What am I doing messing about with all this arty stuff? It won’t get me financially secure, it won’t get me where I want to go, how on earth can I expect to make a life out of MY art when everyone here is just so phenomenal and amazing? Wow Just such awful crippling questions and thoughts. I was 21 and I literally PANICKED. I walked out of that classroom and never returned.

I worked then for a couple of years in random jobs in London and then took myself off for what was meant to be a  years’ worth of travel but ended up being about 10 years (but that is another story and blog post).

Through my years of travel I occasionally painted and gave art as gifts to people I met along the way. Friends would always say ‘Kay why are you not doing this as a career? Or why do you not sell your stuff.’ But I would just shrug and say ‘well I’ve MET talent and they can’t sell their art work so why would I be able to sell mine’.

Fast forward a few more years and at 34 I emigrated to Australia with my long term boyfriend Ian, (whom I later married) We started out in Melbourne bought a car and decided to drive back to Perth and set up life for a while.

Three months after arriving in Oz I fell pregnant. Now I have to admit it was a real, real, real shock to the system I actually never wanted kids and so it hit me pretty hard.

However we were going ahead and things were going well work wise for Ian etc. and so I could afford to stop my work as a painter and decorator and enjoy a long, long, maternity leave and embark on a real ‘supposedly’ “earth mother” pregnancy with the intention of having this idyllic natural birth, you know the story, I read every birth book going, all the do’s and don’ts for that PERFECT pregnancy experiences, blah, blah, blah, terribly boring looking back lol. Although  I have more of an openness to my personality and in general Ihave a curious mind with a passion for adventure  and a desire to experience a wide range of new things, back then however, the  conscientious side to my personality was higher than my openness and my love of lists, mind maps, wall charts and order kicked in. I was trying to be earth mother on the outside but perfectionism had definitely kicked in BIG time.

Nine months later and labour day arrived 2 weeks late, really uncomfortable I HATED every minute. I said I would be honest with you as I know I am not alone in saying these things. I didn’t at the time but I do now. The pregnancy was great but to be honest the birth was the worst experience of my entire life. Everything went wrong, all my plans went totally wrong and I hated it and i hated myself for not being the person I wanted to be in those 35 hours of labour. I know most will say their birth experience was a beautiful experience and that the day their child arrived was the best moment of their life. ( I knew however I could never repeat it) Please don’t misunderstand when Winny was put on me I was in love with her but the whole experience had literally left me in a heap of shock and disbelief and I had never felt so emotionally shattered before. I don’t want to go into all the details of postnatal illness as that will be an enormous blog but let’s just say it was a long, long journey of almost 3 years before I fully felt recovered.

When Winny was about 6 months old and I had a slightly clearer brain I realised that I needed help. I remember sitting next to her while she sat giggling in her bouncer. I was in a zombie like state and I was transported back to a time at college when I was painting and I remembered that that was my ‘happy place’ that was the place I needed to go in order to heal and get on with enjoying the amazing journey of motherhood.

Wow sorry I have had to stop for a breath I think this is the first time I have written about this stuff and I am sitting here with tears rolling down my face with feelings of gratitude that my angels had whispered in my ears,

“Art will heal you”.

In that moment I literally jumped up and ran to get paper and whatever drawing tool I could find and, I drew, and I drew and I drew, just all sorts of rubbish really scribbles, lines, patterns and FLOWERS yes I drew flowers, flowers everywhere!!! The whole process went on for hours that day. I drew stuff from my subconscious from deep inside, emotional scribbles and colours, shapes and rainbows. I have no idea what they resembled or symbolised at the time. It was immensely healing to me and at the end of that day I knew I could do this thing called motherhood.

I spent the next year at least painting and painting. Winny sat in her bouncer with me watching me paint and as she grew older she joined me in it ALL and still does to this day, enjoy just sitting with me and painting. It bonded us completely.

The 3 paintings I did that first month still to this day hang in my lounge room. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look at them and feel immense love and peace. Art is a journey, it is a deeply healing process, I am passionate beyond belief about it as a healing therapy.

I know that it is my life’s purpose to pursue this process and help as many people as possible to unlock their creativity and through it help them gain greater understanding and self-awareness of their inner worlds.

I have said it a so many times before. EVERYONE benefits from the process of art. It is in us all, whether we think we are good at it or not is irrelevant. There isn’t one of us who can’t say at one time as a child they didn’t love to colour in or scribble pictures on a page, why do you think those adult colouring books have become so popular?

At the age of 43 I have come a long way, travelled thousands of miles, experienced hundreds of life changing moments. It took me a long, long time to realise what I was put on this earth to do. I am an artist, I am a teacher for the young and old, I am a mother, (and I can finally say I feel like a  bloody good one) a wife, a communicator and I just love this crazy  life so much. I want everyone I meet to understand the importance of creativity in their lives. Art therapy is a non-verbal form of communication and is a way to release internal problems and get them out of or heads and on to a page. Once out on we can self-reflect on what it is that we need to let go of and accept in order to have an even better happier life. It can be as deep or as light as you like.

At my art studios in South tweed I offer a space for creativity for all ages. Beginners to advanced. I offer a loving nurturing space for self-expression, there is no right or wrong way with art it is entirely about self-expression and self-love.  So please come along and play.