Friday, December 7, 2012

Expressing Yourself Through Art Can Save Your Life

By Elisabeth Bailey
Subtitle: Being creative more effective than meds
I have always been a creative person and seen life and the world from different eyes. It was quite apparent just how different I was at a very young age. After turning five years old I first verbalized suicidal ideations. Later the same year I announced I would not believe in a God which allowed so many horrors to occur in this world. Psychiatric appointments have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and every morning and night, rainbows of pills wait to be swallowed.
I wasn’t a happy child and my home environment was anything but stable and safe. I grew up with a bipolar, megalomaniac, abusive father. I feared and reviled him from the start. My mother was submissive, and often seemed blind to his abuse, so I was left to deal with these situations on my own much of the time.
As I grew older, I often lived without any close friends or had a typical social life at all. My depression worsened greatly and I began experiencing irrational fears. I often comforted myself, daydreaming of different ways to end my life, to stop the exhaustion of my existence
As I entered college, things began to look up, but new problems arose. I learned how to make friends and create a social life, but stress leapt upon me with ferocity. I punished myself for failures, and the negative self-talk that had been my shadow for so long grew louder and more powerful.
As mania of my own began to surface more and more, I took drugs, drank more, and soon found myself utterly exhausted and depressed. It was early in my college years that I first spent time in a psychiatric hospital.
After dropping out and starting school again and again through the years, I gave up. My mental health was poor and it controlled my life. Either the pain was so great and endless, or mania and hallucinations warped my logic and self-control. I burned and cut myself on a regular basis, and suicide attempts became almost a schedulable event. Soon, I tried electroconvulsive therapy, and was left in an even worse place than before. I was lost. Lost to my family, my friends, the life I once lead, and most of all, lost to myself.
Through all the insurmountable struggles and disasters, I turned to art and creative pursuits. It was not until about a year ago that I realized that expressing myself creatively helped me more than any medication I had been on, any psychologist or therapist I had seen, and any treatment I had gone through. It had always been a positive part of my life, and it was always there.
I have embraced the life of an artist, and find that being an artist gives my life a sense of purpose. It has always been there for me, and will always be there. Now I know that when things are awry, I have something to turn back to, something to re-direct my focus on. When I am manic, it gives me positive activities to pour my energy into. When I am depressed, it helps distract me. Though I have always loved art, it is only now that I realize I have been an artist all my life.
We each have creativity within us. The hard part is learning to find one’s own way of expressing it, and even harder is embracing that we are each artists each in our own way. You don’t have to earn a living or have works in shows to be creative; in fact it really doesn’t matter who you are and what you do. One needn’t paint the ceilings of a church, write a song that hits the top of the charts, or re-create an image of a can of soup. You are a creative being. Explore that part of you which is hidden. Try different media. Paint, write, dance, sculpt, sing, whatever! It really does not matter what you try, it is the process that counts. Nothing you create has to be seen or judged by others, it is just there for you. Tap into it, and you may find that, just as I have, art may be the best medicine for us all.


  1. Brave, inspirational account. Very motivating!

  2. Thank You. We have a lot of talented writers.

  3. Years later and this is still so relevant. Do you ever republish works? This one meant a lot to me so I came back to read it again.

    1. Alas. We only republish when we need to fill space. Currently we don't even have enough room for all the fresh submissions