I think I am going to make this an ongoing series as art therapy has played such a big part of my mental health journey.
It is amazing how much a drawing or painting can say. From looking at the progression of fellow patients (and me!) in hospital you could really see it and how it helped the express what we could not say. This is what inspired to make a career change to art therapy as it would use both my creative and sensitive sides of my personality.
Art therapy has played a huge part of my journey – although I did not realize it at all at the time, and this is what I love.
Looking back at my all drawings, they really clearly show how I was feeling each step of the way; from angry scribbles, doodles to more delicate drawings. In my blog I am going to show you my journey through a number of posts – this is part 1 done during my first hospital stay.
My first official art therapy session I literally lasted 5 minutes. I found it very triggering and didn’t last past the introduction – having been a creative in the past I still was not ready to pick up a paintbrush or pencil again without having flashbacks.
During this hospital stay I never went back to art therapy, but actually without realizing it was doing it on my own with doodles in my journal.
Starting with very angry scribbles (see below). I was frustrated, lost and angry at what had lead me to be in this situation, feeling trapped in hospital, feeling like a guinea pig, being tried out on all different medications and therapies. And I took this frustration out in my journal very violently.
These scribbles slowly became more controlled doodles, using one continuos line weaving and winding around to create chaos. We were always encouraged to do mindfulness when we were anxious, but this was not something I could do – my head was all over the place and I could not concentrate (even when we were supposed to be thinking of nothing!). I begun doodling instead – this was my form of mindfulness, as I switched off whilst doing it, but it was something to concentrate on, sometimes for hours when I could not sleep or when i'd had a difficult therapy session. See below 1 example - i did many of these!
These then slowly became more sensitive. One including a small heart trapped in the middle of a maze. I like to think the heart represents me, feeling trapped in both feelings and the hospital. I then did one including flowers and hearts - perhaps these show a glimmer of hope (see below).
The doodles then becamethe same continuous line doodles but with words hidden in them (see below). Some had positive words, others negative, and some in the shape of specific things. See below a selection of these. These word doodles, then continued throughout all my art therapy sessions (often taking on shapes). I still doodle like this now to relax and take my mind off things when I am anxious or down
In a later post I will continue to share my art therapy journey, these are just what I did during my first admission in hospital.