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Art For The Angsty Soul

Nov 22, 2020Angsty Tales0 comments

Art For The Angsty Soul

Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

As far back as my memories go, it’s always been there. Even as I write this blog post, I can feel it stirring around inside, waiting for the next shoe to drop.

I always get anxious when I talk about myself and my past. But I knew it was time to be honest about my experiences with anxiety because I am on a mission to help others.

So buckle up…we’re going on a trip down memory lane.

Welcome To My Life

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that sometimes, you have to make decisions that are best for YOU. Even if other people don’t understand your reasoning for your actions – they don’t have to; your feelings are still valid, no matter what.

After years of therapy and healing from childhood trauma, a series of unfortunate events led to my decision to break ties with my family. Let’s be clear – this was not a decision I made lightly, and I questioned whether I should even mention it. But I felt that if you don’t know this part of my story, you won’t truly understand where my anxiety and depression struggles began.

It was the darkest time I’ve ever experienced to this day, and I remember times when I would sit on the bathroom floor, back against the door, and just cry. I suffered from frequent anxiety attacks, severe depressive episodes, and night terrors to the point that my psychiatrist prescribed PTSD medication to help me sleep.

They also prescribed Wellbutrin, then Prozac, which worked for a long time until the seizures happened. The last seizure occurred while I was holding a 1-month old Penelope. Luckily, my husband was quick enough to catch both of us before we hit the curb.

That was the moment that made me realize the medication I was taking did not work for me. It helps millions of people worldwide, but I happened to belong to the 0.04% of people who experience seizures as side effects of anti-depression medication. And of course, that was just my luck, because I was not in a good place and I needed help, and fast.

art

North Carolina

I thought that maybe a change of scenery would help. We packed up after I finished graduate school and moved to Western North Carolina, where I taught as an adjunct Biology Instructor for a community college. We lived in the middle of nowhere, on a mountain with only wi-fi, no cellular service, and no neighbors for miles.

In short, it was the medicine I needed to start to heal from my trauma and to attempt to get a handle on my anxiety without medication. Our house was in the middle of the Smoky Mountains, surrounded by tall trees and wildlife, and had a screened outdoor living room where I would grade papers while watching deer graze on our front lawn.

It was there that I developed a love for educating students on the joys of biology and ecology. I learned how to connect with students and taught them everything I knew about science. We went on nature walks and had long discussions about life and how everything ties together. The year we spent living in NC helped me realize that life is worth living. I reached so many students and saw myself in a lot of them. And to this day, some of us are still connected, which keeps me going when times get hard.

Arizona

After living in NC for a year, it was time to move on. I taught as a high school, then middle school science educator for several years. Continuing to hone my teaching abilities, I worked at schools across the East Valley until I landed a teaching position in Phoenix, AZ, which was almost 2 hours away from where we live.

This was the time that anxiety returned with a vengeance.

My special needs son, Connor Lee, attends a school near our home that is perfect for his needs. For this reason, we decided that I would commute to work so that CL could continue making progress at his school. To read more about the beginning of CL’s autism journey, click here.

At first, it was fine. I had a routine and was able to manage the commute and the workload without much additional stress.

But as the year went on, I realized that I was spending more time and focusing more energy on my students, and I missed my family. I felt myself slowly spiraling back to that angsty and depressed state, mostly because I felt stuck.

I loved teaching, and I loved my students. But I missed my children and my husband, so I knew I had to make a decision. I decided to resign from my teaching position and found a wonderful academic advising position closer to home. It allows for flexibility while I pursue my doctorate in developmental psychology and spend more time with my family.

During this time, I reignited a former love of drawing and painting, and realized that art allowed me to live in the moment, stop overthinking, and focus on the task at hand. You can read all about the journey here.

Rick, my husband, is just as anxious as I am sometimes, even if he doesn’t always admit it. After I started painting, I noticed him peeking over my shoulder, quite interested in what I was doing. I suggested that he start painting to help with his anxiety.

Not only did drawing and painting help ease his angst; it increased his focus, motivation, and ultimately his confidence. Not only in his life, but with his art. He would be the first to tell you about all of his stick figures that adorned his textbooks and folders in school. Rick NEVER thought he would be able to draw, let alone paint.

But he did, and he can. You can see a lot of his art in our shop, and I am so proud of him!

We started Angsty By Nature as a blog meant to inspire and encourage angsty people to harness their creativity to overcome their anxiety. I write blog posts about the most angsty moments we experience because I want people like us to know that it is ok to struggle with anxiety sometimes. It’s really all about how you respond to it and coming back stronger than ever.

On our blog, we create free step-by-step art tutorials and videos for angsty people who are looking for positive outlets to relieve their anxiety. You don’t have to be an expert to paint, and we are definitely not expert artists. But we take care to break down each step so anyone with art supplies can join along!

Now

At this point in my journey with anxiety, I am in the best place I’ve been. I’ve managed to wrangle my anxiety without relying on medication or alcohol. Based on my childhood experiences, I decided to return to school to earn my doctorate in developmental psychology, emphasizing how adverse childhood experiences cause risk-taking behaviors in adolescence.

Through this dissertation process, I have researched TONS of peer-reviewed articles related to trauma and anxiety, along with techniques and strategies to overcome anxiety triggers, worries, and fears. I have also studied art therapy-based methods to help angsty people ease their suffering.

Over the past several months, I can say that while I still have tough moments with anxiety, it definitely has no control over my life anymore. I developed strategies to deal with my overactive thoughts, my inability to make decisions, and I can FINALLY sleep through the night again, which is pretty awesome.

Not only can I be present while spending quality time with my family, but I can also be the mom I need to be for my children and the wife I need to be for my husband. This is especially important now with CL and the next phase of his autism journey.

I also have more self-confidence and drive, and I am determined now more than ever to achieve my goals. By believing in myself and my ability to help people, I strive to create a better life for my family and help others suffering from anxiety to do the same. I am also slowly reconnecting with my family again, which is difficult, but I feel that I’ve finally healed enough to take on that challenge.

I decided that we needed to meet people where they are because reading blog posts and watching tutorials are satisfactory, but people deserve to feel better right now. So I spoke with many angsty people, figured out what they are suffering from and the adverse effects of anxiety on their lives. Based on this research, I developed a program called “Angsty Art As Therapy” that teaches angsty people over 20 practical tools and techniques that they can use to feel better quickly.

If you made it here, thank you for reading! If you want to share your anxiety journey with us, feel free to comment below!

 

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