“Each morning before the doctors came in for rounds; I’d paint feverishly whatever abstraction came to mind and what evolved from my situation. When I completed my pieces, I felt like I had not only gotten out my frustrations and worry, but also found a place of joy and gratitude. I would put each canvas outside my hospital room, and soon the unit began to catch on, even taking patients by my room to see whatever I had created that day. Now, I was sustaining my aliveness and inspiring others, which filled myself with unanticipated meaning and satisfaction. Ironically, the darker the circumstances became, the more joyous my paintings seem today. Every tree seems to be singing and dancing, although the tear-drops and lightning bolts are always streaked across the bold backgrounds.
Once I discovered painting, my world changed. I had found a way to express things that were too painful, complicated, and overwhelming for words. Suddenly, when the uncertainty around me seemed frighteningly unmanageable, the strokes of my paintbrush could soothe me as I created a peaceful world that my soul longed to rest in as a place of peaceful solace. My passion could ignite instead of my anger and despair. And slowly, the good feelings overwhelmed the bad because I could control the positive world portrayed on my canvases with what my subconscious chose to create.”
Amy Oestreicher is the author of My Beautiful Detour: An Unthinkable Journey from Gutless to Grateful and can be reached at her self-titled site, Amy Oestreicher.
She shares her story and discusses her KevinMD article, “Art therapy and the intersection between chronic illness and mental health.”
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