Art & Anxiety

Artwork / Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Art has always been a way for me to cope with anxiety. It doesn’t take the anxiety away, necessarily, but it does help give me something else to focus on. When my step father died in 2011 I turned to art. It wasn’t really intentional but I spent a lot of time at home alone and isolating and with all the time I had on my hands, I started drawing. The repetitive black and white pen work turned out to be quite therapeutic and with my ADHD superpower “hyperfocus”, I could sit and draw for hours. You can see some of that artwork here.

Anxiety feels like a warped version of myself

People always ask me how I get so much done and while I think hard work and determination play a part in it, I think it’s more likely that anxiety is the biggest culprit. I’ve lived with anxiety my entire life, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) to be exact. Part of that is genetic and the other part is, well, life stuff.

tangled up. uncertain.

Recently though, my anxiety has been much worse. Let me put a trigger warning here-because if experiencing the level of anxiety I am in my life right now, maybe you don’t want to read about it and I totally understand if you want to stop reading and just look at the images.

It’s even difficult for me to write about anxiety because then I am forced to think about it and if you know anything about anxiety it’s LOOP OF MISERY that makes your head spin in circles and it becomes all you think about. I’ve been grateful I have art. Art gives me a voice. Art can help us say the things we don’t know how to say.

I hung this collage up in the window in my bedroom

I didn’t know what I wanted to say with the artwork in this post. I collected the pieces and placed them on my work table. (They’ve been there for about 3 weeks) I’d arrange them and change them around whenever I walked by. I ended up grabbing the ones that really stood out and I took them to my room and hung them up in the window. Since my anxiety has me hiding a lot lately I figured I’d have some time to just watch-to see what they were saying.

transparencies of photographs I took

I love that the images are transparent. You can see my face but it hides behind a tangled up mess of branches. That’s kind of how things feel for me right now. I also try to be transparent in real life because I know I am not alone and somehow it makes all of us feel better when we know that others know how we feel.

final piece- self portrait on fabric

Remembering that nothing lasts forever is an important thing for me right now-and maybe for you, too. Remembering “I can’t but God can”. Reminding myself it’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay if your biggest accomplishment is managing to manage your anxiety for another day.

~ Carmen