Art Therapy - for positive mental health
Updated: Sep 8
I will always remember this special time in my life and will always continue to thank my mum, dad & brother for their continual unconditional love, patience and kindness in helping me recover from my accident. Especially for my mum for showing me how to paint.
In this point in my life, I had 5 broken ribs that were broken in 7 - 10 places. I had a hole in my lungs. Pneumothorax where air leaks into the space between your lung and chest wall. This air pushes on the outside of your lung and makes it collapse. Whilst in hospital i had two drainages put into the side of my body between my ribs and into my lungs to drain out bleeding and all things nasty. I had a lot of internal cuts and bruising.
This story is a compartmental way of how i helped my feelings of depression feather out to colour, appreciation and gratitude of life.
I hadn't moved in days. The hole in my lungs felt like it had gone straight into my heart.
Weeks went by post operation. I had been struggling to get out of bed due to my physical ability and only recently, struggling with my emotions. Laying there, i tried so hard to keep my mind occupied with future possibilities - i was constantly planning and writing things down to keep myself busy and mentally healthy whilst i rest my body. However, the more i was focused on the future, the more i realised how much healing i had to go until i was fully recovered which unfortunately, seemed to only disrupt my mind.
My life had completely stopped. Not being able to do yoga and surf everyday, hang out with my friends, being relocated 7 hours away from my adult life to transit home to another state, town to the family home where i grew up. i was slowly crumbling. I remember this time so clearly with my friend from Paraguay who came to visit me before she left Australia to go back to her own country. We walked down. Well she walked down gracefully & i seemed to walk on a slant, stop every 10 metres and shuffle along breathing like a Komodo Dragon to the beach to sit at the park beach 100 metres from my house. We would usually do this as our daily outing as it was the only thing achievable at the time. We would sit there for a few hours and watch the surfers. On this day in particular, i was feeling very vulnerable staring helplessly into the deep blue waters. A tear slid down my cheek as i said aloud "i am never going to be able to surf again", Val looks at me, laughs, then yells at me "are you crying right now? what the hell! this is just a small period in your life. you will get over this. you are such a drama queen". and i did. haha. eventually. I laugh and slightly cringe at my mindset at that point in time. this is a pure reflection on how far i have come mentally.
These days of sadness came more frequently until it was a consistent flux of emotions. i had no idea what was going on with me, however i knew somehow that this period in my life was going to be completely healing and restoring and would help mould the person I would become.
Every moment i wanted to cry, i cried harder because fuck these tears had to stop at some point. Let it rain I say!
In my opinion, some will oppose and thats their choice, however, i believed these emotions had been stored in my body for a very long time and now had the opportunity to be fully let go. Past memories, events. You know, life. So i didn't hold back at all, i was feeling everything, things that i have never been able to feel before, and completely voluntarily flowing with it. Although extremely painful. No RAGRETS. (jokes for a hilarious play on words).
A bit of time went by and eventually Mum came into my room and said that she had learnt a new art medium and had set up her paints. Those paints did not move for months. i'm sorry dad for you having to gerni the outdoor area so many times. The picture above with the clearly defined shukkas with my right hand, is the first painting that i had done and loved instantly. Some how my mind came at ease and I felt a sudden weight off the turbulence that was my current internal life situation. I stayed for hours. from morning to night. with some rest in between. Some days were still hard to get out of bed, though they became much easier and less consecutive. i had something to look forward to. colour. beauty. creation. As i continued to paint my tears dried up and i found a new purpose in life. simple yet so effective.
Its a year on and yes i still paint.
I actually spent my birthday a couple of weeks ago with my friends sharing my love for painting with of course a few cocktails and my teacher by my side.
The abundance of joy received by my friends and the passion of wanting to take this new hobby home with them filled me with joy to know that in some way, these people have discovered something new they can fill themselves up with.
If you are struggling with finding beauty and joy in the little things, i suggest you buy some bright coloured paints from your local area, a few canvas and paint brushes and throw some paint around. get it in your hair and everywhere and enjoy the colour it brings to your world.
Written by Alli Jaye