Monday, July 18, 2016

If you say you can't draw, then that's why you need to.

I want to write about something fun today.  The nuts and bolts posts are important, and I hope you are getting useful information from them.   Today I want to get creative.  More importantly, I want you to get creative!  If you are dealing with a mental health diagnosis, this can be a really important way to work with and work through symptoms as they arrive.  But even if you don’t have a diagnosis, this is something I guess I can share with you too.  You’re welcome.
As for me, I really enjoy writing, I always have.  As early as middle school, I wanted to be a writer “when I grow up!” I still want to be a writer when I grow up!  I also love to draw.  Whenever I share my art with someone, 95% of the time the response is the same: “I can’t draw!”  My response is, “when was the last time you tried?”  It’s not about being good at it, it’s about doing what makes you feel good.  I have never sat down with my sketch book, worked in it, and walked away feeling worse.  Drawing and writing are ways that I process.  For me, this means getting me past whatever thought is stuck on repeat in my head.  
Doing something creative allows us to access parts of ourselves we don’t encounter in our day to day lives.  Marc Chagall said that “Art picks up where nature ends.”  I’d like to take this a step further and say that art picks up where words end.  Art is its own language.  Even when we engage in writing as an art form, we are tapping into creativity.  When we access creativity in one aspect of our lives, we start extrapolating it into other areas.  I problem solve while I draw.  I problem solve by drawing.  In the past year, I starting doing art about Cerebral Palsy.  Doing so gave me a sense of control over my disability I’d never experienced.  I decided how it would be depicted on the page.  A monster? A torturer? Something comedic?  It was all up to me.  This made me feel less powerless when I had to do things like take a muscle relaxant.  I figured I’d gotten my digs in, we (the CP and I) could both use a break.
In the town where I grew up and went to college, there was a local folk singer I liked to go see when she performed.  One of her songs was just about having a bad day.  Here’s the first verse, reprinted with permission:

Well it’s a bad damn day 
I got another ticket today
And it’s my third one this week
Leave me alone
And if you see me on the street
Don’t talk to me 
Unless you really have to
Unless it’s an emergency
Like you caught your leg on fire
And can’t put it out yourself
Yeah, only if you really need my help
Cause if you call my name
And you ain’t in pain
I’m gonna be even more pissed off than I am right now.

Who can’t relate to this feeling?  Leave me alone!  My day sucked!  But what this woman chose to do with it was to use the creative method that works for her: writing and making music.  
So maybe it’s writing songs.  Maybe it’s drawing pictures.  It could be slapping some paint down because the colors look like how you feel.  You don’t need a fancy camera to take pictures, use your phone, or a little point and shoot pocket thingie (technical term!).  Writing this blog helps me organize whatever’s bouncing around my cranium that day, and reminds me of things I need to do for my own self care.

Find what works for you.  Make it yours.  Find what expresses what’s left when you’ve run out of words to say.  Make time for it.  You will learn more about yourself.  It’s not about being good at it, it’s about expressing what you need to say when the words leave off.  Figure out how to say what needs to be said.  Draw, sing, dance, take pictures, paint, do improv.  Or you could even…start a blog!
Be well.

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