The Mental Art Studio
February 8, 2019
With the New Year, I am beginning to embrace being honest with myself about what I've gone through and how it got me to where I am. Mental health is something that is hardly ever talked about in Indian Culture, and it is highly toxic and deadly. The irony, however, is that Indian Culture has inspired some of the most beautiful and gripping art the world has ever seen, and tapping into your creative side, whether it is paintings, henna, writing, singing, dancing, etc., can really help jump start your journey to mental healing.
How do I know this? Because I go through it myself.
All my life, I've had anxiety. All my life, I've suffered from depression. These two things have caused me a great deal of harm and pain, and have held me back from so much. The culture and community that I grew up me did not allow me to speak on this, because of the taboo that has been placed on mental health in Indian Culture. I do not know where it stems from except from everyone's need to clutch onto a toxic, conservative mentality. The fact of the matter is that India has one of the highest rates of suicide as a result of mental health, so we should probably stop stigmatizing and start talking!
My focus has always been to find outlets to help me put my mind at east, and it's a mission of mine to create art that brings peace of mind to others. Life can be so hectic and it goes by so fast that we don't address the weight on our shoulders often until it is too late. The process of creating art for me is a safe haven. Drawing, sketching, outlining, choosing color schemes, planning patterns, mixings paints, etc., are all tools that I've utilized in my artistic journey to add some color into the bleak world that my mind would make me believe that I live in. It distracts me from the trials and tribulations of my life. Often, when I am painting and I am in my own zone, I have time to process situations and work through them properly instead of crying or panicking. Art, in all senses, quite literally saved my life.
For 24 years I have wondered why I was so tight lipped about my mental health. What am I ashamed of? What is there to be ashamed of? We are not so unalike in our mental struggles, so why stigmatize those that come forward, those that are so in over their head that the only choice they have is to say something? I am looking at my approaching twenty fifth birthday, and I often mull over the mark that I want to leave in my existence in this world. I suppose that mark is that I am not nor will I ever be ashamed of my mental health issues, and I want every single person that struggles with these issues on a daily basis to feel the same way, to never be ashamed to say something and, most importantly, never be ashamed of yourself.
The art that I create is a result of the pain that I have been through, and that happiness that I have found by overcoming it. The mental health issues, the eating disorders, the verbal abuse of those around me, the self esteem issues, all of it. For as long as I can remember, I was the outspoken girl, the loud girl with all the opinions, the oddball, the one easily left out of social circles, the one who was disregarded, mocked, stepped on, stepped over, or pushed to the side. I have been treated this way by myself, by my family, and by those I once called my friends. All of these things, these struggles that often blind our reality, were colors that I mixed together on my life palette in order to create my art. From everything that I have gone through, something beautiful resulted from it.
Pain, according to John Green, demands to be felt. The same can be said for depression, for anxiety. But we as a culture of those who struggle with these feelings must make demands of our own, demands of happiness. We can do it through art, we can do it through books, through human conversation, through down time, through working out, through writing, through singing, dancing, anything under the sun. What I create is to be shared, I refused from the onset to keep my art to myself. To anyone that wants me to create for them, to anyone that wants to buy creations from me, I told myself to always give it my all. Each piece tells a story, and though I may not remember the details of all those stories, I can tell you where I was when I made it and what inspired me, if anything at all!
I want to promote art that soothes the mind and the soul. I know that sounds like a cheesy caption for a yoga studio's Instagram account, but that's my mission. Not the cheesy caption, of course, but the principle. Our mind and our souls are connected, and if one is troubled, the other will be as well. Art became an outlet for me that saved both my mind and soul, and if it can do the same for someone else, then the meaning of all of this is fulfilled!
I know I was supposed to post a product review instead of this, but that is taking longer than I had anticipated, so I decided to put together a bit of backstory to fill up that empty space. I will let all of you know when the product review is ready to go! Until then, I hope all of you find your own paths to happiness, because we all deserve it!
Happy Friday, happy weekend!
xo - MP