Better with Art!

Like many others, I am prescribed medication by a psychopharmacologist to help keep my brain chemistry working at it’s best possible level. I have been told that some people discontinue taking their medication when they find that they are feeling better. I’ve never been one of those people. I have noticed, over the years that I have been under this sort of medical treatment, that my medication seems to be far more effective under certain circumstances.

I go through phases when I tell myself that all the creative activities I enjoy doing aren’t serving any real purpose. The visual art pieces I create tend to not be displayed in art galleries. More of the stage plays I have written have not been produced by theaters than the ones that have been experienced by theater audiences. Poetry and stories I write have generally not been read by large audiences. So, sometimes I wonder what the point is of my doing these creative activities at all.

Except when I get to thinking that way I am discounting a priceless and essential purpose that creating art in any form serves for those who create. Life is more pleasant with art. Using my creative skills makes my life infinitely more enjoyable, meaningful, and fulfilling than it would be if I were to stop doing those activities altogether.

I keep lots of records to manage my moods. I keep track, spreadsheet-style, of many daily activities I perform, along with meals eaten, and medication doses taken. When I make my entries on my spreadsheet I always find that my mood has been more stable, and my levels of contentment and happiness are higher, when I am regularly engaging in creative pursuits. According to the data I collect on myself my psychiatric medication is actually more effective when I am following a regular routine of creative expression in a variety of artistic mediums than it is when I refrain from such activities by telling myself that my lack of professional success in any of those areas makes them pointless to continue.

I was pleasantly surprised when I first noticed this to be the case. I didn’t expect that indulging in creative expression would actually help my mental health, but it really does. My life is more enjoyable and my mental health is far better with art. So, I encourage everyone reading this to go ahead and do something creative that you enjoy. In time, you may discover, as I have, that your world is a much better place than it was before you began regularly enjoying your creativity.

An Unexpected Laugh

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Everyone has days that are up, and days that are down. For those of us who struggle with mental health issues, the down days can be particularly difficult to manage. Recently, I experienced a few consecutive down days that were challenging me in ways that led me to question why I even keep a doll collection at all.

On the third of those consecutive down days I got to the point of telling people close to me that I’d had enough, and I would soon sell off all my dolls. Even when I said it, I knew this was really merely my current down mood talking. My down moods often vilify my doll collection as the source of my emotional distress. That isn’t actually the case though, and once I am out of the down mood, I always eventually come around and find that I am able to acknowledge that the doll collection itself really is not the source of my mood dyregulation.

The day I was telling people that I was going to sell all my dolls I was engaged in moving a lot of them around and yes, preparing to sell some. I had too many dolls here to effectively tell stories with all of them, so I was busy that week in downsizing my collection. I am at a place in my life now when I feel I have moved from having the act of acquiring new dolls as the focus of my having a collection to primarily allowing them to act as muses for my storytelling. Having too many dolls makes it difficult to decide who to feature in stories.

So, I was moving dolls around, and downsizing dolls. The days I was working on this project each day became more stressful than the last, and I became triggered in my mental illness traits. Just after getting to the point when I was telling loved ones that I was going to sell them all I noticed something in the room that made ma laugh out loud.

The photo above is what I captured to share that stopped me in my tracks, and effectively diffused my dysregulated mood. I had been moving dolls around in the room a lot that day, and in the process the little boy doll seated behind the little girl doll pictured above happened to land in the position you see, where it looks like he’s either trying to take her hat, trying to knock the hat off her head, or perhaps he may even be trying to save the hat from falling off her head. I noticed the possibilities in that chance hand positioning from my shifting things around in the room, and I stopped being frustrated and angry, and I just allowed myself to laugh.

That laughter helped me reset my down mood. I gave myself time to take in that scene, and all the possibilities it was giving me for creating a story. Then I thanked the dolls for that gift. Yes, out loud. I expressed gratitude to my doll collection for being the inspiration that they are to me, for being the inspiration they  have always  been. That chance hand positioning which enabled me to change my mood from frustrated and angry to laughing, and even expressing gratitude. That photo above is a perfect physical representation of why I maintain my doll collection. My dolls inspire me, and they remind me of why I’m both collecting them, and why I keep persisting in my efforts to be as healthy and happy as I can possibly be, even though I am continually battling  mental health issues.

Days that are down can be very difficult. They can be difficult, but I find that there are little things that can happen during those down days that help me to always be able to move on to the next day, which nine times out of ten, is not as much of down day as the previous day was. An unexpected laugh saved that day for me, and I feel happy and proud to report that it did. I feel grateful to myself for all the hard work I keep doing to promote my mental health wellness. And yes, I feel grateful to my doll collection for being here to support and inspire me along the way. Those little things that get me through the difficult down days I have, it turns out, really those aren’t merely little things at all.

 

 

 

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