Embracing the Truth

guest post by Nathalie Denise Coulombe

 

Hello friends, my name is Nathalie Denise. I am a visual artist currently living in the Okanagan Valley in beautiful British Columbia, on the west of Canada. I paint, I draw, I make jokes, I smile lots, laugh even more and I also struggle with depression and anxiety. I have to admit being so open about all of this on here is very uncomfortable for me and I don’t want to get too dark.

 

Personally though, knowing that other people fight the same/similar battle has helped a great deal, so I think this is important.

 

I am a painter - abstract and semi abstract. Since my early 20’s I have painted the seasons. The warmth in the palette of the summer and the coolness in the palette of the winter. Over the years I have noticed a pattern, when the summer fades and the cooler, shorter days roll in, so do the feelings of despair, darkness and depression. It was only recently, in the past year or so, since I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression that I realized just how much the ebb and flow of my emotional state is encapsulated in my artwork. Whether I am painting the warmth of the light to subdue the feelings of hopelessness or embracing the melancholy with a cooler palette, it’s my outlet, my medicine and I am forever grateful that I have such a thing.

 

 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association Of America, “General anxiety disorder affects more than 3.1% of the population” that’s 6.8 million adults! And “women are twice as likely to be affected.” The stats for depression show even higher, being “one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.” So you’re not alone or strange or an outsider. So many people struggle and that’s okay. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, in fact it’s a sign of strength. Find yourself someone to talk to, a professional even, if you can. And make art. I know some days and weeks it can be hard to get out of bed even but try to gently push yourself to create. Work through the sadness.

 

The past few months were my deepest and darkest yet, while simultaneously my most productive and successful in relation to my art career. Funny how that happens isn’t it? I can’t say that one is because of the other but I certainly think the feelings and emotions contributed in some way or another. Also, if I hadn’t been so low I never would have gone out to get the help that I so badly needed. As artists, as humans we feel so much, so much that sometimes it would be delightful if we could turn it down or off even, but that’s not the way it is and we need to embrace our truths eventually.

 

Being an artist for a living is incredible. How did I get to be so lucky? I feel so fortuitous that I get to follow my heart and dreams through my work. But as we have all learned with the good comes the bad. As artists we are constantly putting our whole selves out there to be judged and picked apart. Add an anxiety disorder to the pile and you get a boiling hot mess : D Some days are worse than others, but what I have learnt in getting to know myself through all of this is that accepting the feelings of anxiety or depression is the only way forward. Accepting that today, this week or this month, or this year, I am down, it sucks and I’d rather feel better but it’s just the way it is, for one reason or another. Being mindful and present is so helpful. I try to live “in the now” as much as I possibly can – and that usually isn’t very much, but I am trying and I am working hard at it and that is what I need to focus on.