I wrote this blog post in February 2019 on another blog. Moved some posts here after deciding not to renew the domain name. I had another solo art as therapy exhibition since plus published my first novel, Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice.
Collected the rest of my 'art as therapy' paintings from the gallery (they were happy to keep them for a few months after the exhibition for some colour on the walls). It was my first (and maybe last?) solo art exhibition with a difference. It was to highlight bipolar disorder and art as a healing medium. Many people commented how colourful the paintings were. I'd even painted pain in bright colours. My paintings were symbolic abstracts and only I know what they all mean.
I sold 13 in total including one that I thought was too ugly to go on the wall, but I put it up anyway because it was part of my 'processing' which was one of the points of the exhibition. Just goes to show that art is subjective.
I asked the manager of our local mental health service if she would be interested in some paintings on the walls as their walls are very plain. She is interested and I'm going in at the end of next week to look at the spaces that could potentially have paintings. I want to 'let go' of the paintings so I have space for new ones - my healing journey has been 'processing' then 'letting go'.
I have kept photos of my paintings, which were friends to me. I am going to get a photo printed of the 'ugly' painting and add it too my folder. Someone saw beauty in it when I couldn't, because there were pain attached for me.
I'm still painting but not as prolifically as I did when I went back on medication and I was rapidly cycling from mania to depression with my bipolar disorder.
Instead, I've been mainly writing Pet Purpose, my novel with a main character who has bipolar disorder and PTSD. I paint when I feel the need to - still symbolic abstracts rather than realism as it helps me heal from trauma. Painting has helped me develop my storyline for Pet Purpose. Which is my story in disguise. I have changed more than names and appearances - I have invented a new storyline.
I decided to keep the painting Spinning Orbit as it was the painting that inspired me to have an exhibition when I only had a few paintings. A 'ridiculous' goal to keep me going when I was very, very unwell. Pet Purpose is an even bigger 'ridiculous' goal and I still have a lot of work to do to make it 'readable' but such a big project to focus on gives me a sense of meaning and purpose. I signed Spinning Orbit xwyz then other paintings xyz before finally signed X.Wyse.
When I am manic, I have hundreds of ideas, but I am unable to organise them and communicate with words in a way that others can understand me. That's where painting came in - it helped me communicate some of what was going on inside my head. When I am depressed, I cannot write. When I am hypomanic (I still get hypomanic on meds), that's when I get really busy writing. My brain is working overtime but I still have the ability to organise. But I cannot stay in that state too long as I risk going into mania. So it's a balancing act. I sometimes need to adjust my medications temporarily to knock myself out so my brain can rest.
Painting is very calming for me and it can express things in my subconscious that I analyse later. It's quite fascinating to me because I see patterns in everything. I am hopeful that the paintings will go to a good home.
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Xanthe finds creative expression including writing and painting to be therapeutic and helps her to manage her diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).