I struggled with postpartum depression after my first child was born. I didn’t form a bond with him for what seemed a very long time. I have no idea why, but it felt like my body was revolting against me. I had issues with breast-feeding. I had issues with healing after the unplanned c-section. So many things didn’t go the way I planned. The biggest mistake that I made was not telling anyone about the depression. I suffered in silence.
Fast forward a year and a half later and I gave birth to my second child. The birth plans went along more smoothly and I felt connected, bonded right away to the little baby in my arms. However, as my second child was approaching her first birthday, depression grabbed me again.
I was watching the news one evening. The story that flashed across the screen was sobering and gut-wrenching. A young mother of 3 young children committed suicide. That is when a crazy thought popped into my head, “Hey, that’s not such a bad idea.” The thought scared me enough that I called Scott to come home immediately. The following weekend, we visited family. I was not in the house for more than 5 minutes when Scott’s youngest brother asked me how I was doing. I gave him a fake answer. You know, I’m fine. He called me out. “Have you ever heard of depression before. I am pretty sure you are struggling with it.”
Who did he think he was to judge me that way. I might have been angry at first, but I really admire and appreciate the courage it took for him to speak up. The following week I went and checked in with a doctor who sure enough confirmed that I was suffering from depression. I started on medication and signed up to meet with a therapist. It took a couple of years before I had a break though. God gave me the grace I needed to swim through the depression. He directed my steps and pushed me to try something new and different.
I started art journaling. I was never an artist. I enjoyed photography but that was the extent of my creativeness. I bought a couple of painting supplies as I was looking for a new hobby at the start of 2013. I fell in love with art journaling. What is art journaling you ask?
“Art journaling combines the written language and the visual language to give a greater breadth of expression and understanding. In essence art journaling is the combination of art making and journaling with the intention to create greater insight and understanding of the self and others. Art journaling is about expression, both written and visual, of emotions and thoughts; it is a space for questions that may not have answers, a place for thoughts that may otherwise not have a home, a safe container for emotions so that they do not have to be loose in the world. Although the journal can become an extension of the self, it can also be a place to play and experiment with art materials.”
Click here to find out more: http://artjournaling.blogspot.com/p/why-art-journal.html
I tried it, and I liked it. I loved the way I could make what I wanted. I loved the way I could use color and other materials so freely, without rules. Mostly, I loved the way my heart and mind seemed to connect and relax as I was creating. My finished pieces carried deep meanings. I learned that I was releasing emotions each time I made art. I released some fears, I released tension and stress and at the time I was releasing the depression that had such a firm grip on my life.
I have been art journaling now for 3 years and I am enjoying it more and more. It is such an amazing way for me to let go of my emotions while making something beautiful.
Over the next few weeks I want to share some of my art pieces with you and I will explain the meanings behind them. Art journaling is not for everyone. It has helped me deal with emotions and express the most vulnerable things in my heart. I want to share them with you because maybe they will help you too. Art is an amazing tool. Creating or observing art can be life altering. God has used art in my life in such a beautiful way. He has increased my creativeness and some people tell me I am pretty good at it. I am just enjoying the process.
If you are suffering from depression or have thoughts of suicide, please seek help. Call a friend. Make an appointment with your doctor. Your story is important. You are loved. You are not alone.