This is the sixth 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.
Hey! Guess what? We managed to get halfway through the story! Or rather, we will have when we finish THIS part of the narrative, so we better get on with it.
My psychologist told me that worry and anxiety are time travellers. They pull you into either the past or the future. You are either worried or anxious about something that has not happened yet and projecting false realities onto those moments, or you are worried or anxious about past events that you have skewed in your mind to be something that also has not happened.
For instance, I have anxiety about social events that is fuelled by a pretty mean rejection schema. After I have engaged in a social event like an art opening or even sometimes just conversation with people, I will examine my every interaction and skew them in my mind. Kinda like this..
Brain, “Hey! Remember when you said that thing?”
Me “Nope. Not doing this today.”
Brain, “Weeellll Anyway…They thought you were stupid and ridiculous. Why would you say something like that? No-one likes you and they like you even less now. Did you see how they looked at you like they just couldn’t wait for you to shut up? And yet you kept TALKING. Why would you do that? You talk way too much and overshare everything. Also stop mentioning your degrees. No-one wants to hear it. And so many of the things that come out of your mouth start with I…I think. I feel…I..I…I. It’s BORING. NO-one wants to hear about YOU.”
Me, “Shut UP brain.”
Brain, “But I have SO MUCH MORE to tell you about what you did wrong and why people don’t like you.”
This kind of thought process can last for days. Then it will come back periodically in flashbacks that make me physically cringe. The critic in me is LOUD at times and can be really hard to ignore. And you can see that she clearly gets thrown into past events. The nature of this is overwhelming and paralysing.
When you see this piece, consider that. This is a piece about the feeling of being so overwhelmed by thoughts, ideas and emotion. She is crumbling under the weight of them and can’t lift herself up to shake them off. She is overwhelmed with worries that claw at her like they are determined to pull her down and consume her.
The toys were chosen for the symbolism of an almost childlike innocence turned a little frightening and twisted. The toys ARE the thoughts. Battling her and each other. Hurting her with a kind of vicious joy. The books, “Modern Entertaining”, “Fall of Giants” and “The Road to Paradise Island”, were chosen for their relational titles as well as the idea that these were books that would be found on anyone’s coffee table.
So, I was battling. The anxiety seemed insurmountable. The thoughts were interminable and harsh and suffocating. I felt broken under the weight of them and in the face of the fall and the struggle…
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/