Anxiety and Art

When I think of writing about my anxiety, I just get more anxious. It's not a secret that I deal with mental disorders (I really hate that term)... I talk about it on social media pretty often, and it permeates my art from inspiration, to drive, to process. And in this day and age it should be as normalized as talking about political views, and religion. But it's not. So I hesitate to share this, but I think if I'm giving pieces of myself through art, then this is important to dig into.

For me, anxiety involves a couple of things... there's overthinking, the actual physical anxious feeling, and depression. Overthinking rules my life. It literally wraps its tendrils around my every relationship, my every Facebook status, my every text, my every evening spent alone and frustrated with my life. My brain is on overdrive all the time, and it comes up with situations that I live in, whether they are real or not. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish which parts of my thinking are anxiety, and which are just uniquely who I am as a person. Sometimes, whether or not my brain has concocted some stressful and emotional scenario, my heart starts racing and I feel shaky and jittery. Couple this in turn, with depression. This disorder hits with a force of its own, but unlike anxiety, it plagues you with lethargy, and the inability to feel much at all. I usually start sinking into depression after days or weeks of crippling anxiety. If this all sounds a bit dramatic, I assure you, it FEELS that way too. There are bouts of energy, and drive, but then there are extreme lows where productivity is impossible. laughable. Sometimes I switch between the two like playing levels of a game that I am familiar with, but can't master.

The other side of this is the caring, sincere, and creative person I strive to be. If I didn't feel things so deeply would I love the way I do? Would I paint with vulnerable marks and unguarded color? Would I paint at all? I absolutely view my anxiety as a negative force in my life. But I TRY to channel it into my work. So far, this is the only use I've found for the damn condition. This doesn't present itself in the sense that I feel anxious, and I go paint as a means to dampen the noise in my head. I wish I could say I have a set list of coping methods, but that isn't this blog. I do use anxiety in my art as an attempt to normalize talking about mental health, if even just in my own life. And I really strive to use my abstract work as a medium for communicating all the things that I feel, but may not be the best at expressing.

My words come slowly, but marks on canvas crawl and fight their way across the surface. My art is purely about emotion and connection, and I think I've found a small measure of success because people do connect with what I paint. Even if you can't identify or express it, you know when a work of art stirs your emotions. People often struggle to pinpoint it, but the color relations, the movement, and the symbols are the language of abstract painting. And for me, they are a way to turn my mental health matters into something beautiful. A way to communicate what goes on inside. And a way to extend an arm to others who may be going through the same.

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