Survival Through Expression

Post by Carrie Gault for the Love for Love series.

print by Carrie Gault on etsy

Survival Through Expression

I stole a bright red Duplo brick from nursery school when I was 3; I remember it so well, I simply had to have it and it lingers quietly somewhere in my parents’ attic. With that and the big collection of Crayola crayons with their fascinating names and slightly different shades I began a love affair with colour. I still get much too over excited in stationery shops to this day.

It was when I was 6 years old that it came out of my mouth for the first time. My mother and I were picking up my friend after school, which I had missed that day due to illness. I didn’t have the vocabulary or naturally the understanding but I clearly remember saying I felt sick all the time, but not in my tummy or my ears, this was inside my head. Nothing was said; there were quizzical looks and that was the last it was mentioned, though my depression remained unchallenged, unrecognised until I was 19 and at University.

I can see that other difficult circumstances got in the way and essentially could count for my poor mood in those intervening years. One of which was a standard eye test which revealed that I had a very rare form of double vision for which I spent years being looked at like a zoo animal and two operations later it was worse. I still see 2 of everything, one of which is a confusing blurry edged version which moves around and makes me dizzy and nauseous.

The experimental operations happened when I was 15 and then again at 16 and came with the terrifying prospect of my sight being irrevocably damaged forever. The intense beauty of the world and the secretly hidden beauty in everyday mundane things, could have been lost to me and thus when I did survive I became addicted to art, to photography in particular – it became my lifeline.

I took an extra course in photography whilst studying for my A-Levels and found it to be so magical. It was all analogue then and very hands on; developing my own negatives blind with my hands inside a light sensitive case and bag, exposing them, printing them and watching them appear on the paper. The quietness and concentration needed was almost a meditation.

But life fell apart at University. I had a nervous breakdown in the library and was found by my boyfriend (now my hubby) in a terrible state. I had to quit and then start years of different medications and therapies which left me feeling worse and more confused. Many years down the line I came to Art Therapy quite by accident and with the help of my therapist there, Darren, I finally got somewhere. It was the only thing that helped and still helps now, apart from medication. I have a lot to thank him for as Art Therapy also lead to Cherry Blossom Tattoo – my creative outlet.

Having depression, acute anxiety and a personality disorder doesn’t lend itself terribly well to leading a life rich with purpose or even one with easy connections with people and the world. Often I feel extremely alone and confused; unable to understand my own thoughts and feelings I turn to art. Making something that didn’t exist before is a pretty incredible act, planting a seed, creating a felt bird, capturing the light falling in a certain way – it all takes the place of words.

I need my art yes, but I also immerse myself in the creativity of others – painters, sculptures, writers, textile artists, musicians etc. When the impenetrable darkness comes these are the tools which help me cope. Colour and textures can calm or refresh me, another person’s words or lyric can be my voice, instruments played well can tap into that need to cry or shake my hips – it’s all a release of sorts.

I’m really no one special and I doubt I have anything to teach you dear reader. I live for love; a love of nature, a love of learning, a love for everyone and for the beauty and creativity of humankind throughout it all, no matter what, even through the darkest of times. (A love for ownself, well that’s something I really need to work on.)

Life is a long difficult and dark woodland path we all travel, full of unexpected twists, steep slopes and ditches (which I regularly fall into). The darkness can be almost complete in many cases but there are occasionally some shafts of light that do filter through and allow us to see the next step ahead. For me these glimpses of light warm my heart as they are made of love; they give me hope, courage and fortitude – they are my husband, my friends, music and art…

I believe wholeheartedly that we need the darkness to appreciate the light and though I may have a little more darkness and in a more intense black than some others, when those sparkles of happy do come I feel like dancing and then I understand the purpose of living.

A photographer, allotment owner, and blog writer on the issue of Ecotherapy as an effective complementary therapy for Depression suffers. I have a passion for travel, writing pen pal letters and reading proper paper books (with good coffee and some dark chocolate in hand). Loyal to the end; I adore my husband and close friends and am proud to be the adoptive Mum of Maggie, the Wonder Dog. Connect : Allotment Blog :: Photography Blog :: Etsy Shop :: Facebook page


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