Art as Therapy
for Bipolar Disorder & PTSD
Spinning Orbit is the name of a painting I did in bipolar mania which represented how my brain felt - spinning around in circles but I was determined to move forward. While painting Spinning Orbit, I decided that I would collect my drawings and paintings which helped me process emotion that was shut down from trauma and have an exhibition. Setting a ‘ridiculous’ goal of an exhibition gave me a sense of hope and purpose, while alternating between mania and depression adjusting to medications.
A year later in October 2018, I had my first art exhibition called Spinning Orbit displaying over 40 process artworks as therapy for bipolar 1 disorder and PTSD. A portion of sales was donated to a mental health charity. I have recently started trauma therapy for PTSD and my therapist agrees that I have been using art as therapy. Since 2017, I have been painting abstracts which have symbolic themes in disguise. I can paint pain in bright colours and observers can pick up on the energy and moods but the real meanings are known only to myself.
Painting was like meditation in motion and calmed a racing mind and eased my anxiety, when my mind, writing and speech were disorganised and my thoughts were leaping rapidly from one idea to another. It also helped me process trauma with minimal distress and allowed me to reconnect with my emotions, which is one of the goals of trauma therapy.
I also like to go for walks in nature. I enjoy taking photos of birds out free in the wild.
I am currently writing a semi-autobiographical fiction book called Pet Purpose. Painting has helped me develop storylines and the storylines have inspired paintings. Writing has also been therapeutic but painting has been more helpful when my brain was too disorganised to find the words and construct sentences.