How Art Can Heal Depression
I have been a lover of art all of my life. Ever since I was a kid I had a natural inclination to create and reveled in the freedom to do so, however when I was attending middle school, at an art class my teacher told me that I was no good. I was crushed and so I packed up my paints and paper, along with the joy and freedom that art gave me, and would not open them back up again until I was in my mid-forties.
Due to ill health I had no alternative but to move in with my Mother, whilst living with her I discovered that she was suffering with depression. To heal my own ill health I researched natural therapies, as no main stream doctor was able to diagnose what I had. During my research I came across the modality of 'art therapy' that was being used to heal a variety emotional issues. I wanted to pull my Mother out of her depression and suggested that we start art classes. She was surprised but agreed.
Once every two weeks the art teacher would come to our house for a couple of hours and teach us the basics. I got the whole family involved, which was as diverse in age as it was in personality types. The ages ranged from five, ten, twelve, fifteen, a few in their forties and my Mother who was in her eighties. The poor art teacher!
As the weeks passed by I started to notice a change in my Mother, she started to smile more and the light in her eyes came back. She talked about art a lot and became interested in the great masters who she loved. We admired and critiqued each others art work and encouraged each other to stretch ourselves to achieve our best. Everyone including my Mother looked forward to the bi-weekly art classes with great anticipation. My Mother had purpose now, the art had woken her up to the great talent and life that she still had left inside.
Once I healed myself I re-trained as a Psychotherapist and Art Therapist and have since seen the power of art to heal the emotional, spiritual, and physical bodies in so many of my clients who were in a dire state of suffering. The act of painting or making art (any kind of art) has a meditative element about it. For a moment it stills and calms the mind. It takes us to a place within ourselves that is peaceful and calm. The colours and textures of paint can't help but make us happy as we remember the carefree child that we once were. Creativity has an element of excitement about it, as the paint glides across the canvas with a brush, we venture into new found lands not yet discovered.
My Mother continues to paint and is now creating master pieces. Each week I see her eyes light up as she engages with the paint and the canvas, a great big smile across her face and an element of satisfaction once the class is over. The world needs more ART, it needs more art to heal the epidemic of depression, anxiety, and stress that is running rampant.