This is the third artwork in my SHE Exhibition Series, which is based around mental health themes. As a narrative series of works, each piece tells a part of a whole story.
So remember back to the last blog post about how she wouldn’t say a word and I was keeping my mental struggle to myself? Well…she’s about to say some words because there came a point where the void was too loud…too much…and the struggle was…too hard.
I thought I was doing so well, keeping it all to myself. I was coping, wasn’t I? This was coping…surely. I was achieving high grades at University, I was working so hard all the time to prove that I deserved my place. I loved the topic I was researching and I liked being back at a place where I was with people who had the same interests I did and there was creativity EVERYWHERE.
Turns out, I was not coping. Suddenly I found myself in the middle of a panic attack I could not control. I was supposed to do a presentation in class and those voices that kept telling me that I was a failure, an imposter, worthless, nobody liked me…they were so loud and overwhelming and the pain of listening to them so great that I could not keep it in anymore. I was drawing things like this…
I remember being surprised at what seemed like a sudden breakdown. Looking back, I probably should not have been. But I was. I was surprised and frightened at my inability to control myself. I was crying and could not seem to stop and for someone who rarely cried, this was quite the anomaly. I left class that day, sobbed all the way home (to my mortification) and realised that it was time to make some choices.
She was pushing her face right into my view and screaming at me that she wanted to be seen. That she needed to be heard.
Or that it was time to end this story.
And that is why, with this artwork particularly, you get up close and personal with her. She is looking right at you as if she wants to talk to you. This painting is highly textured and lifts itself off the canvas more than the last painting. Whereas in the last painting, she looked as if she was sinking into the background, this painting makes it look as if you could reach out and touch her. She obscures your view of the void around her because she is willing you to SEE her. She is both childlike and mature. The more you look at her, the more you wonder what she has to say.
What IS she going to say? I didn’t know back then but I knew I wasn’t going to like it. I also knew that the thing that kept my story going at that moment and forced me to make the choices I did was that…
She wanted to be seen.
Please do know that if you need help, crisis support is available
24 hours, 7 days
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
or check out some of these links…
Beyond Blue https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Black Dog Institute https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/
And this is also a really good article by Australia Counselling outlining different mental health resources in Australia and what they do https://www.australiacounselling.com.au/top-mental-health-organisations/