I've been an artist throughout my life. I've loved to draw since my youth, taken every art class I could through school, and even continued to take workshops after I was out of school. It's something that has always brought me joy, and made use of a God-given talent to create. I love coffee table books, and particularly, ones with cool pictures and art. My most recent purchase was the book "It's All In Your Head" by Shawn Coss who puts an illustrative twist beside definitions, and explanations of mental illnesses/disorders.
That all said, the last few years have posed quite the challenge for my wife, myself, and our children. 2017-2020 my wife and I were caretakers for our parents who all had long-term health conditions - primary progressive aphasia, COPD, alzheimers, and cancer. Balancing our jobs, our children, our parents care, and life in general became harder and a bigger challenge.
Life stress, depression, and mental health are real, valid, conditions.
Many don't consider mental health "a thing", but let me tell you it is. I was one of those people. I was dismissive, and thought I could fix it by being determined to not let it get to me. WRONG. Everything got to me eventually, and it was an awakening. The fact that I had to change the ring tone on my phone is proof enough. I had PTSD from my phone's ring tone. Seriously. With my step-mother in a mental care facility and getting phone calls because of various issues regularly, along with my father's health conditions and daily worrying/concerns wears a person down.
Fast-forward to 2021 and all of our parents have passed, our son is graduating from high school, and this is going to be a new year, a new beginning, and we are on the up-swing. June 1, 2021 Life says "Have a garage fire". *Sigh* here we go again...
Fast forward to 2023, mental health struggles, and one final serving from life aside, the final item that helped me get back to "normal" was getting our garage and outbuilding cleaned and organized for a "diapers and dad's" baby shower for our neighbors. It never donned on me that something as simple as organizing the last bit of chaos, and crossing that final "I'll get to it" item, off of my list would have such a profound effect.
If you are struggling with mental health, talk about it. Seek help. See a doctor. See a therapist. It's nothing to be ashamed of. Take a day each week that you just switch "off" and enjoy something you love - a book, drawing, walking, exercising, painting, crocheting, but take the time for YOU. I'm planning to break out the oil paints and get my Bob Ross on this weekend.