People don't know what to do when someone is not ok. I've heard 'she'll grow out of it', 'she' get over it', 'she's just laying it on', 'she's just moaning'.
When you say you have anxiety, or feel sad, people always want to know why, and the truth is sometimes, there is just no reason for the way you are feeling. And, sometimes, nothing will make you feel any better even if you know what is wrong.
My mental health problems started when I was 7. I was bullied daily throughout primary and secondary school and have always struggled with the impact this has had on me. I then developed depression and an eating disorder at 14. For several years I was incredibly unwell mentally and suffered daily panic attacks.
I remember feeling particularly hopeless and going to the doctor for them to be dismissive and say 'oh just get a hobby, go for a walk'.
As cliché as it sounds, my earliest memories were drawing and writing constantly and art has always allowed me to find peace and express myself. In a creative mind, anything is possible.
In recent years, painting has become more of a daily therapy for me; the calming act of mixing colours and pouring paint balances my emotions.
Through picking colour I can explore a range of moods - from muted and monochrome colours on dark days, to colourful painting in times of vivacity.
I tune into my subconscious to create the initial structure of the painting. My mark making allows the processing of anger, repetitive and obsessive thoughts. I can communicate purely through colour and texture. I apply more paint and scratch through layers, revealing colour and creating more texture.
The conversations I have with people who have pissed me off, upset me, made me happy are channeled into my artwork.
During the creation of a painting, I can experience a range of emotions. I go over and over things in my head sometimes, the brushstrokes and textures take the impact of my emotions. If I'm feeling particularly anxious, the level of detail will increase, the layers of paint and mark making become more intense. The act of painting allows me to completely channel my anxiety, and exhibiting my work is such a positive outcome for the things I've been through.
I read a quote recently that art is one of the last kinds of magic that still exists and this is so true. In a world that moves at such a fast pace, we must honour this, and support artists.
Be easy on the expectations you have of yourself.
Self-preservation is the key to helping my anxiety and I'd recommend it to anyone.