This is the eleventh 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.
This has been quite the journey hasn’t it? We are so close to the end now and I am not sure how I feel about that. What I do know is that we won’t get to the end unless I keep writing and get this out so…let’s keep going. Last time we were left dreaming of a better moment in time. It was the beginning of many moments that were worth fighting for.
My psychologist and I did this exercise where she had me project myself into a place. I know this place very well, I have been in it many times since and it is always the same place. I am walking down a cobblestone street at dusk in a steampunk scene. I can hear the clack of my boot heels on the cobbles and the swish of my skirts as I walk. I can smell the steam and salt in the air. The fog is rolling in and the world is sepia toned. There are street lamps on, casting yellow puddles of light and flickering shadows along the uneven street.
As I walk on, I come across a child sitting on the grass in a park. She is wearing a ragged red dress and dusty too big boots. Her black hair is wild, like she hasn’t washed or brushed it in a very long time and she is pale and thin, like she has never had a proper meal. Her face is hidden and she is crying quietly. It is the loneliest and most heart wrenching sound I have ever heard. She is so little and so alone.
I have to stop. I can’t help it. She needs someone and there is no one else around. So I walk over the dew laden grass and sit with her. She pulls her skinny little legs up and wraps her arms around them like she is cold. Refusing to look at me, she buries her head into her knees and tries to pull her rag of a red dress down a little further. I say,
“Hey. Just wanted to let you know…I see you. If you want, we could maybe talk for a bit. I can listen. Maybe I could buy you a meal. I know a place.”
She just shakes her head at me, she doesn’t say a word and refuses to lift her sad little head, so I continue on,
“OK then. I will sit with you. And when you are ready we can get up and move on from here. I know it doesn’t seem like it right now, but it is going to be better. There will be proper meals and warmer clothes, maybe some boots that fit right. There is a whole new moment for you to grow into if you trust me enough to take my hand and walk with me out of this one.”
So we sit. I wait patiently. There is nothing else to be said in this moment, but I know this….this scared, little, ragged, feral child…she is worth waiting for.
I see her. I will fall with her and struggle with her and worry with her. We will float and we will hold on together and
Together, we will dream of a better life and when you see this piece, remember our story. And know that we are here, looking out this window at the world outside and hesitating. She took my hand you know, that ragged little girl and she grew up into this woman who, for all her flaws and failings and doubts, stands straight and tall and accepting of her story.
This kind of virtual photography allows this particular scene to be shown with clarity. The amusement park rides in the background, the trees, the world she wants to be in. It is no longer a dark and tumultuous place. You no longer see the void or the storm. You see where she wants to be, not where she has been. Her hair is no longer wild, her ragged dress has been replaced with a clean red shirt and she no longer looks like she is starving. She looks like she is ready and that…
She wants to be a part of that world again.
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/