Thursday, September 24, 2015

Once upon a time....

in a land called Orange County, six gardeners set out on a journey. They were looking for a place called the Nursery of Hope. Although it was small, this nursery was special.
It was very very special.

This nursery grew seeds of HOPE.  

To tell the stories of individuals who struggle with mental illness and their family members we are embarking on a journey of hope. The first leg of this journey is the sharing of stories and works of art by family members and individuals. 

Here are the Entries for our "Blooming Hope Nursery Art Contest" and the Artists' Stories

Title: "Solitary Confinement"  Artist: Nan Ibarra
I am the mother of a 30 year old man who suffers with schizophrenia. This journey has been nearly 12 years.
I  created this painting in 2006 on my son's 21st birthday. I was part of an outdoor oil painting group and this day we were on Balboa Island. I forced myself to go as I was consumed with sadness while my son sat in jail on his birthday. I wandered around the area and became focused on this small blue dingy that was tethered on all sides. I chose to put my mind on painting to distract myself from obsessing over my son's plight.

This painting was created quickly, intensely and with little awareness of the deeper meaning behind the subject. I named it "Solitary Confinement" in honor of my son's struggle with mental illness and our dysfunctional system. He is the small boat, held by restraints and the 2 boats in the left corner are his father and I, feeling incapable of doing much else than watch his inability to break free. This was indicative of how I felt at that time, although as the years have passed, I have gained more knowledge and greater hope for those suffering with mental illness, including my son. This piece of art serves as a visual journal of a very raw time in my life and reminds me of how far I have come in my own journey.

Title: "Sorrow"  Artist: Natasha Corich

This piece "Sorrow" was inspired by a lesson on Vincent van Gogh taught from one of the Wellness Center's art classes in May 2015. Spring was upon us and I was stable. As I shuffled through the handouts I came upon this image of a woman. She spoke to my heart reminding me of myself. I didn't think about the colors of the oil pastels I was choosing. It just happened. "Sorrow's" colored layers represent the varied and complex emotions that I feel. Within two week's this piece was showcased in the Wellness Center's Open House. 

In 2009, I began drawing at the peak of my symptoms and episodes. I took a sketchpad and some crayons with me to the park that was near the Room and Board I lived in. When I closed my eyes and scribbled, a floodgate of creativity opened. The movement of the hand and crayon on paper was exhilarating and therapeutic. Later, I participated in Janice DeLoof's Drawing out the Feelings Workshop. The experience was a turning point for me both as an individual and as an artist. I learned how to reflect my feelings onto a canvas. From that point on, drawing became a prominent coping skill to alleviate anxiety and depression. 

Title: Untitled    Artist: Gwen Kammien Ginocchio
I created the piece I am submitting in 2015. I was dealing with some difficult family issues and found distraction in doing art.  The scene is a sunset on the ocean and reminds me that despite the pressures and problems of the world, it is still a very beautiful place. I find walks in nature and meditation to be a good retreat. 

I was  hospitalized only once for major depression and anxiety. I was twenty nine years old. Art therapy was  very  beneficial to me then and is still today, at age sixty six.   Through the years, I have had a few recurrences of depression /anxiety and expressing myself artistically is helpful with  stress management. With the help of art , anti depressants, cognitive behavioral therapy and  faith in God,   I was able to have a  successful career as a children’s librarian in the Chicago Public Schools.  Now retired and living in Southern  California, I participate in watercolor and acrylic painting classes at the Senior Center.  The beauty of Orange County is inspiring .  My hope is that the stigma of mental  illness will vanish and that there will be a realization that problems of the mind  are no different than any other  illness.   
I  also hope mental health  will be funded  by medical insurance in the same way other illnesses are.   
I hope all people suffering from mental illness get the help they need.  

Title/s:  " Doodle Collage", "Sky Collage" and "Monographs 1 & 2"  Artist: Kitt O'Malley

Though I am a minivan-driving wife and mother, unlike most of my suburban neighbors, I live with bipolar disorder. On my blog, I recount my struggle with mental illness, the two decades it took to get a proper diagnosis, and how my journey has ultimately given me a sense of purpose – and at times, a sense of religious calling. I find creating art and writing a good release for racing thoughts. Coloring, especially, helps to slow down my thoughts and quell anxiety.

When I go on walks, I like to take photos of nature, especially flowers and cloudscapes. The photos I’ve taken over the last two years. Walking outside in nature and taking the time to appreciate beauty helps me with my moods. At the same time, I must be sure to not overexpose myself to the sun, for it triggers hypomania.The monoprints I created almost two decades ago when I lived with a diagnosis of dysthymia, well before I was diagnosed bipolar type II. The doodles I’ve done recently, as I’ve found coloring and doodling helpful in grounding me, in slowing down racing thoughts and overcoming anxiety.

I am not creative in spite of or because of my mental illness. I simply am creative. Even when medicated properly and asymptomatic, I am creative. Medication does not turn my creativity off. Using creativity can help me to manage my symptoms, it can be a release, but it is not dependent on me having a diagnosable mental illness. What I want to get across is the importance of self-care, including medication, if needed, and psychotherapy. Art, photography and writing do not take the place of medication or psychotherapy, they are adjuncts to traditional treatment modalities. 

Title: "Peace At Last"  Artist: Danielle Araujo (11 years old)
I was 10 years old when I first started dealing with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).  I didn’t know what OCD was or that I even had it.  But I did know that I was afraid of getting sick.  The thoughts in my head tricked me to believe that certain foods would make me sick.  I was so afraid that I slowly stopped eating to the point that I ended up at CHOC hospital because my heart rate was slowing.  I lost a lot of weight, my hair was falling and I was very weak.  Doctors said I had an eating disorder but they couldn’t understand why.  And that is when my life went a different way to different hospitals and thru lots of treatments.  It was a mess!  I didn’t really understand but I knew I wanted to get better.  Now I am 11 years old and I am better.  I won’t ever be cured but my therapist is teaching me to control my thoughts and not let my OCD tell me what to do.  I am the boss of me, not OCD.  My picture shows a girl like me, at peace, finally at peace!
I created this piece around my one year anniversary from first getting sick with OCD.  My life is much better now than one year ago.  During my different treatments I didn’t like to talk much because I met a lot of different people like therapists and doctors that I really didn’t know or trust.  I learned that I could express myself thru drawing and art.  In the last year, I have had a lot of practice.  I used to draw angry pictures when I was upset, sad pictures when I missed my family and sometimes I didn’t know what I was drawing.  Those were times when I felt confused.  I am home now and back at a regular school with my old friends and living a normal kid life.  I am proud of myself for being able to fight this and I hope one day I can help another kid who has OCD because it’s not fun to have.      

 Title: "Sea of Fish" Artist: Chris Dovey   

Title" Sea Shore Woody" Artist: Chris Dovey

Title: "Wing Dragon in the Sky" Artist: Chris Dovey