Art became my only healthy coping mechanism
Abbie’s struggled with mental health for most of her life. Art has played an important part in her recovery. Now, she wants to inspire others to get creative to support their mental health.
My name is Abbie, and I have chosen to hold a small Crafternoon at my house to fundraise for the amazing charity Mind.
I have struggled with mental health for most of my life. I was on the national eating disorder network for a period of time. I have also had CBT and exposure therapy for social anxiety when I was 12. When I was 13, my psychiatrist suggested I may have bipolar disorder. When I was 14, I went through repeated trauma over two months. Soon after, I was sent inpatient around 100 miles away from home. This was awfully traumatic for me and my family, as I was so young in age and we were all so unaware about mental illness. While I was an inpatient, I discovered painting in an art class held on the ward. Then, that was it, everything changed.
Art became my only healthy coping mechanism for a long time, and through another four inpatient admissions it has really helped made a difference to me, giving me a positive outlet for my extreme emotions with bipolar II.
Painting and crafts became my brilliant brand new form of coping with dark, suicidal thoughts and replaced destructive behaviours.
"Painting and crafts became my brilliant brand new form of coping with dark, suicidal thoughts and replaced destructive behaviours."
On my second admission in a different hospital, also miles and miles away from home, there was a pottery class every Thursday. I looked forward to this and it helped to take out my anger from PTSD and frustration from being sectioned. A friend I met in the psychiatric hospital also did a lot of amazing artwork, which also inspired me a lot. I also did occupational therapy in hospital, where I did a huge canvas with a flower made up of scrap paper with my therapist, and many more projects. It was a great outlet for me, and I would recommend occupational therapy through art to anyone suffering with mental illness who has a lack of motivation.
"It was a great outlet for me, and I would recommend occupational therapy through art to anyone suffering with mental illness who has a lack of motivation."
For me, going through the process, seeing the result reminded me of my recovery. I decorated boxes and books, painted skylines, and drew and painted so many Disney characters on canvases! My favourite to paint was chip from beauty and the beast.
I wanted to fundraise for Mind to help make a difference to people’s lives for the better. Alongside the Crafternoon, I am also doing a sponsored walk with my dad, and a cake sale at my school. In my Crafternoon we are decorating flower pots, and planting seeds in them and watching the flowers grow, creating a lasting reminder of the day.
I am holding a Crafternoon to inspire others to participate in art projects to make a difference to their mental health and inspire the participants to be more creative. I am also holding a Crafternoon to raise awareness about all mental health issues, and the behaviours (e.g. self harm) that come along with them for some people, to try and encourage people to understand them more.
The idea of holding a Crafternoon makes me feel like I can make a difference to people and can use my new skills to help others.
"The idea of holding a Crafternoon makes me feel like I can make a difference to people and can use my new skills to help others."
I would like to study to be a clinical psychologist so I can help others like me get well again.
I would like to say to other Crafternooners a huge good luck and well done for bringing awareness to such an amazing cause, and that you’re not alone. Try and enjoy your day on the 20th of July.
If you're struggling with any of the issues raised in this blog, take a look at our information pages.
If you'd like to get crafty for better mental health, find out more about Crafternoon.
Information & Support
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information - about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues - is vital. Visit our information pages to find out more.
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Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.