Three years ago was when this story began. At the age of 21, I was ready to finally study something that would set me up for my career: Transpersonal Art Therapy. I know what you’re thinking, “What is ‘Transpersonal’ Art Therapy?”. According to notes from my old books, it is “a holistic approach, considering one’s mental, physical, social and emotional well-being. There is more to a person than their immediate identity”. This course opened my mind to things I never thought I’d learn. From the use of art mediums to the concept of consciousness. Every class was exciting.
As time went on however, certain memories throughout my childhood and adolescence would take me so aback I could barely concentrate – this is how I learned about triggers. To explain, I was watching a movie with my partner and had a mosquito bite. He told me a source of heat can stop the itch. He took the lighter out and in seconds, a lick of fire appeared, heating the metal casing. As soon as the metal made contact with my skin, I recoiled from the shock of heat – feeling like a 7 year old – knees to chest, wanting to hide away. Fear, my old friend, was back. Now, it was normal to discuss such life occurrences. If we can’t help ourselves, how can we help others? I saw a counsellor at the college and she gave me advice that dismissed my memories; to have sympathy for the person who hurt me as a child. From my perspective, my feelings have been on hold for a decade, pushed way down so I wouldn’t have to deal with it, but here we are! That was the last time I saw her, I can tell you that. I also believe it was a mix of my immaturity and lack of professional support that lead to the mental disaster which ensued. Besides college, my job performance was getting worse, I was in-between-housing for a period of time – nothing felt stable. Anxiety and depression showed up to the party too. And a party it was. A messy, not-wanting-to-live, confusing party.
I made the decision to quit my job and stop studying for my sanity’s sake the following year. It was time I get my life in order. No more toxic people or environments. The month that followed, was filled with reflection and doing-whatever-I-so-pleased. It gave me the opportunity to regroup mentally and physically (those that know me, know I love food, but due to stress I lost so much weight). I was living in a temporary home when I heard a friend was looking for a housemate. Eventually, we were approved for a unit we wanted. When I was finally settled, it felt like an ’emotional skin’ was shed. I felt free, secure and sane. I wasn’t the same but I was feeling better in myself. After this break, I was sure that mental-health was the career industry for me. Life is lived forwards but fucking hell, I wish I could have gotten a heads-up like “it’s sooo shit now, but it’ll get better”. Still, I’m grateful for how things turned out.
A huge theme that came up in the 2 years I was studying Art Therapy was fear. Fear of failure. Five times before I started university, I wanted to back out because ‘what if I don’t pass any classes? What if I can’t retain any information?’. I see now, it is the absolute opposite. My brain is like a sponge, soaking up all there is to know about psychology and counselling. Another fear I had was learning a new language. I’m learning Japanese and can now read and spell words written in kana. Recently, I joined online groups about minimalism and millennial entrepreneurs – these groups of people are trailblazers in life. They’ve inspired me to go to the next level – whichever that may be. They teach me to be brave. Another fear was starting the very blog you are reading. I have been worried for the longest time whether this ‘mental-health, well-being and art platform’ would be taken well. But the function of a blog is not just to be taken well but to be used well. This is where I invite you to talk openly about struggles and achievements. This is where self-expression is encouraged! I’ve said it to multiple people I’ve encountered over the years and I will say it here: this is a no-judgement zone. This story is my fuel for the fire.