My mental health and CBT

My artwork has been a platform for discussing my mental health with other for years now and I have had varying different therapies to help me along through life. While my mental state hasn’t been “cured” I have been able to gain a better perspective on it and I’m often aware why I’m feeling a certain way.

It has become more and more obvious there is a core to the problems in my head and it was first poked right in its nervous system during my Hypnotherapy in 2015. The therapist was discussing with me why I feel the way I do and unfortunately this “struck a nerve” and put me into a terrible depression for months to follow. I went on to completely ignore its existence and moved on with my life, going onward to create Messy Miscreation and build up a presence in the art world.

The themes in my work broadened into discussing autism and how I view world as I swayed in and out of down periods, again ignoring what could be causing it. I mentally shoved my fingers in my ears and shouted “la la la” at the top of my lungs.

This leads to my current place in life. During the end of 2016 I started getting CBT through my GP after applying for it at a drop in centre. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy was a phrase I’d heard thrown around numerous times before and it is designed to teach you to challenge the negative thoughts to build a healthy way of thinking.

The first session made it obvious just how negative I am towards myself. Out of ten “unhelpful ways of thinking” I ticked the box for all ten. I then had to begin righting down my negative thoughts and provide evidence for and against that thought. Initially this worked pretty well even if I did require help for the evidence against them at times.

The third session added a sheet where I would keep record of the compliments that are given to me. Compliments are really, really not my strong point.  My way of viewing compliments can sound harsh but I compare it to a gift. You give me that gift and pass over into my hands. In my hands is a round red ball that I have nowhere to put or anywhere to keep. I stand there with it in my hands until I put it down and pretend it didn’t happen. This doesn’t mean I don’t take any compliments on board but a majority of the time I just don’t know how to accept them.

This once again struck that same nerve where the root of the issue lies. My CBT has now ended and I have been put onto a waiting list for a more intensive therapy that can hopefully find the route of the problem so I can continue to move forwards with my life.

The reason that I wanted to discuss this is because a question has been flung at me a lot recently that got me thinking. The question is “What will happen when you don’t have mental health troubles any more? You wont have anything to paint about” The paintings I create have developed throughout my life and currently they hold a strong presence around my difficulties that I have in this world as somebody who is mentally ill and on the autistic spectrum. They tell a story that I choose to share with the world rather than shroud it underneath a facade. The work I create is a piece of me.

When my life moves forward and and the mental health side of it eases up my work will once again develop and progress just as I do. I’m still a strong believer of being honest and open about your mental state as it is the very core of of how we work. If the inner workings of a machine aren’t working together the machine will fail to work to its potential. That is probably a black and white way of looking at life but its one that I hold true to.

It is somewhat scary to think that I have to move the therapy up a notch but this will be for the better. In time I can begin to gain a better perspective on things and I encourage anyone who struggles with this to follow up getting help as I have. Despite it causing issues for me it is working. I’m beginning to question negative thoughts without realising it which is hugely positive.

I want to thank everyone for the patience and support I have received for 2017 so far as it is shaping up to be the best year so far.

March is swiftly approaching and I’m currently planning a few things for Autism Awareness week so keep an eye on my website for the details soon. Iv’e played around with a few ideas for a month or so now but now that the February Exhibitions are now over I can put things into action.

My Website also got updated with a exhibition section where I have images of previous shows that have included my work with hopefully more to come really soon.

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