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Using writing and art as therapy

posted 9 May 2015, 00:22 by Tim Elliston   [ updated 14 May 2015, 05:58 ]
By Natalie Brewin

Since I was a child I have always enjoyed writing stories, poems and songs. I like exploring words, rhyming and writing as a creative venture. During times of anxiety I also find it a useful way to get feelings out of me and somehow make them tangible. Putting my feelings into words helps me to explore and justify them, and can make them easier to discard.

I stopped writing in my early twenties and only took it up again in my mid-thirties however since then I have used it exclusively to expel what I consider negative emotions, whether this be; grief, anger, frustration , fear or any other emotional response that feels unhealthy and rules my state of mind.

I have got out of bed in the middle of the night to pen a few phrases about a maddening work colleague, written songs to vent my frustration about bad drivers when I have been out and about on the roads for the day and my patience has been stretched, and channelled grief into a verse that still brings me comfort and helps me to remember the departed with joy, gratitude and less sadness.

The words I write are not prize winning prose or literary classics; that is not why I write them, but they are an exhaustive and honest expression of me. Sometimes they are considered and carefully constructed; sometimes they are violently spewed onto the page. The significance is the act itself. If I achieve nothing other than a list of profanities on the page but it helps me through a bad moment where’s the damage? (It has not come to that yet!)

The results are I feel purged of the unwanted emotion and even healed of the experience in a very private way.

To the same end I have also made paintings, drawings and other art when I have found myself over whelmed with unwanted feelings. Some years ago I had an unpleasant experience at work which left me raging. I came home filled with emotion that I could not discard so I decided to create something to help me expel it. I chose a photograph I had taken of a red rose and played with it on my computer to make this.

It was very simply achieved; all I have done is crop the image of the rose and added some shadows to the picture but the process of creating this image, which for me personified my rage, allowed me to get through my anger. Instead of festering in me it became a dark and imposing symbol outside of me that I could look at and admire for its beauty.

I was thinking about this picture the other day and suddenly realised that I had almost forgotten the event that lead to its creation. I remember that something happened but not the specifics or the person; but I remember the creation of the image, and the relief and joy it brought.

Natalie Brewin
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