The Phoenix Zine

Stress Management: Art

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Stress is constant when you have any type of illness, especially a chronic one. The Stress Management feature of this blog is meant to give you ideas on how to handle the stress you encounter on a daily basis. If you have more suggestions on how to deal with stress, please leave a comment and let me know.

My good friend Avril wrote the following article about using art to relieve stress. She also created the beautiful piece of art featured on the upper right corner of this web page.

Bipolar is a disorder that makes you feel extreme emotions. When something little happens that doesn’t go my way, I have an enormous reaction ending in hyperventilation and tears. When something good happens to me, I feel overwhelming joy.

To most people feeling immense happiness doesn’t seem bad, but to a manic depressant, it means a mania that makes me talk uncontrollably and take part in destructive behaviour. Drugs, stealing, promiscuity and smoking are but a few of the things I got caught up in while experiencing extreme highs and immeasurable lows.

It wasn’t until I was put into hospital that I started to develop a positive outlook to all of this. If I am undergoing severe emotions that I have no control over, then why not use them for the better?

One day when I was in the hospital the psychiatrist I was seeing first put a paint brush in my hand. I had never painted before, but that day I painted the best piece of all my work. The passion I felt inside told a story with paint.

Art is great to be a part of because there is no such thing as “doing it wrong”. A famous piece of artwork I know of is simply a white canvas with a single red line down it. Art allows the artist to do as they please, in any medium. So anyone can be included in making art.

When I paint I feel like I’m in another dimension, away from my highs and my lows. It gives me two choices: I can let all my stresses float away for the time being or I can use those stresses to make an angry piece.

It’s very therapeutic to dip a brush in a bottle of paint and fling it at the paper, then put your hand in it and mash it all around. When I am dirty with paint, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. I’ve used my feelings to create. When I’ve painted, I feel positive and wholesome feelings and then I don’t feel like taking part in negative behaviour.

It helps me fight against the depressing factors of being bipolar by letting me take those ever-present rollercoaster emotions and turn them into something beautiful.

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