One word - TIRED. That was my dominant feeling the past week. I won't say that I was tired from doing any one thing in particular. My schedule had not changed in any way, I was up to the usual stuff. It was a fatigue more so of the heaviness that I felt. What am I talking about?

My mental disorder. Who for the sake of this essay, I'll call Bella. Now why am I personifying my mental disorder? Because I swear it has a life of its own! Hence the name, Bella - meaning beautiful. So as much of a pain she is, she's still a part of me and every part of me, perfect and imperfect, I'd like to think is still beautiful. I've lived with Bella for a while and there have been signs of her presence since my adolescence. Saying we're familiar with each other would indeed be an understatement. I know when she goes to sleep and I definitely know when she awakens to keep me company. So you guessed it, she kept me company this week. 

Despite our familiarity, she sometimes catches me off guard, which she did in this instance. I still try to do things as normal but I must admit, they get at least 100 times harder to do. It's hard to really express it in any words that I know, so let's go with "heavy" for now. The experience can be different for everyone who lives with a mental or emotional illness in any way. That's why I've chosen to write about it today. 

Mental health can often be spoken about it such hushed tones. People shy away from discussing it because they're either embarrassed of the struggles it presents for themselves, they're embarrassed of the person who struggles with it or embarrassed of the stigma surrounding it. Whatever the reason, it's something that should be talked about more. The more it's talked about, the more help can be provided to those suffering, the more people learn to cope and the more empathy can be shown to those in need of it. I'm sure you would agree that the world needs more empathy.

I can say that I've found that true in my case. I spoke up and I've been able to get the help that I've needed to live with Bella over the years. One of my helpers has been my doctor. She knows no bounds when it comes to being empathetic and the best cheerleader she can be to all her patients. So of course when she heard I was painting again, she rooted for me. That really stuck with me as I thought of the three commissioned pieces I had to complete for my mental health clinic. There were no stipulations to the request. To quote verbatim, "Do whatever you want. We just want them to brighten up the place a little." 

Despite my heaviness, I tried to remember my reason for doing them - to brighten and lighten. So as usual, I got my music ready. They were all relatively small pieces so I decided to do them one after the next. I got through A LOT of music but I'll just share my favourite song from the lot that day. It perfectly encompasses the range of emotions I felt while painting. Press play while you take a look at the paintings. 

My favourite song of the day
Painting #1 | "Falling Colour"
Painting #2 | "Lush"
Painting #3 | "It Gets Brighter"
I'll admit, it was not easy mustering the energy I needed to paint. The desire was there but the will power needed to act on said desire was nonexistent because of my fatigue. I knew what could give me the energy at least - coffee! But alas, I was duped. I would say that it worked just a smidge. Nothing that felt substantial enough to lift the weight of Bella. However, the goal was to brighten and lighten right? I couldn't let them down. 

I started working on "Falling Colour" first and I felt myself...relaxing, being soothed almost. Between the music drowning in my ear and the focus needed to get the result I wanted, I forgot in that very moment how miserable Bella had me feeling. I didn't feel the weight of the negative emotions she brought on, I didn't feel the guilt of not being my absolute best, I didn't feel burdened by her or tired or fatigued or worn down from carrying the weight of her for so long. All I felt was relief, I felt comfort, I felt at peace. I didn't care about anything else but that painting and getting caught up in the process. That relief went on as I completed "Lush" and lastly "It Gets Brighter." The latter being so fittingly named because by the time I had finished them all, I felt brighter AND lighter. There was no denying it. 

The song listed above puts into something almost tangible the way the relief crept up on me. It happened slowly but almost instantly and sooo beautifully. I've said before how invaluable art has been to my mental health but this really solidified that theory for me. Perhaps I was somehow more aware of it because of where these paintings were destined to go but I became all the more sure that this is something that I had to continue doing. I realized that whether I'm having a bad day or a bad week or several horrible months, once Bella is with me, art would help me. It's my free therapy, my safe space, my consolation prize - it's my solace. 

Play the video below to see how I did each painting.

My Process
Interested in reading more?

You may also like

Back to Top