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- 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
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Our latest featured artist, April Angela Garcia, shares her story of mental health struggles over the years and how she uses art/creative work as an outlet to help manage her mental health symptoms.
“My name is April Angela Garcia. I Am 32 Years old from a small town in Texas. I have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with severe psychosis, severe PTSD, generalized anxiety and bipolar disorder. I also suffered from addiction and suicidal/homicidal ideation. I have been in and out of counseling from elementary years into adulthood. It is very hard for me to hold a stable let alone any sort of relationship. I always felt that something had to be wrong with me. Nothing or anyone ever lasted in my life because something was always going wrong. Most recently another suicide attempt landed me into a mental hospital. And although the events leading to my hospitalization were traumatic, going to the mental hospital was indeed a blessing. I learned about the characteristics of my diagnoses, warning signs and the triggers. After being discharged I brought along those techniques home and use them for my everyday life when I have what I call “My Moments”. It’s not easy I still struggle but I’ve come to put all that pain, aggression into passion of art. I found drawing and writing to be an outlet for me. Also, I use it as a platform to bring awareness of mental health. It has also given me ideas as to how I can help my own community for those that suffer in silence as I had and not to be afraid to ask for help or education on their diagnosis that some places fail to.
I hope and pray that I reach hearts today and give courage to those in the darkness to come to the Light and we come together as a family. As a Soul tribe with the goal of bringing awareness to the world of mental health problems and to break the stigma associated with these diagnoses.”
The Art School of Columbia County with director, Nancy Rogers, and artist/teacher, Tim Ebneth.
Even though, as a child, LisaDiana was happy, witty, creative and compassionate, she spent the last thirty years of her life suffering daily from undiagnosed co-morbid mental illnesses. Despite many hospital stays, psychiatrists’ visits, therapists’ visits, medications and treatment plans, the medical community never pinpointed what her brain chemistry issues were or created a treatment plan that alleviated her mental anguish.
It wasn’t until her life and health fell apart after an intensely traumatic two and a half years, did LisaDiana give up trying to live, let alone be a productive member of society. She retreated to her bed and hoped every night she’d never wake up while her family tried to find one more psychiatrist to treat her.
After being evaluated by a new psychiatrist, LisaDiana underwent a relatively new medical treatment and attended therapy sessions with a therapist trained in that treatment. After two months of treatment, LisaDiana began to recognize a positive change in her mental state and that was all she needed to summon up the remaining bits of resolve and determination to get better.
During months of treatment, therapy, cognitive re-training and medicine trials/titrations, LisaDiana revisited old hobbies that used to give her joy. Her two favorites were creating art and playing the flute. She was tentative, at first, because she couldn’t sight read and had no formal art education. But, one day, LisaDiana took out her simple art supplies and began to draw geometric shapes inside a large circle. Time passed in the blink of an eye and hours later, LisaDiana had drawn a Mandala.
Never having had self confidence, LisaDiana actually smiled as she gazed upon her drawing because she was filled with a sense of accomplishment and pride. She also noticed that, while engaged in the art creation process, her mind was calm yet focused. Her body was relaxed and her mood was light. This experience also gave her the courage to pick up her flute, after twenty years, and attempt to play a piece that she had played in high school. She noticed she experienced the same positive psychological and physical effects as when she was drawing.
After a few weeks of greatly enjoying art and music making, LisaDiana gathered the courage to submit four art pieces and a flute recording to an upcoming gallery exhibit. To her delight, all were accepted which just motivated her to continue to create and play.
When LisaDiana shared her experiences with her new psychiatrist, after exuberant congratulations, the doctor said something that LisaDiana reminds herself daily— “Art is Spirit”. It was then that LisaDiana realized in order to be in active recovery from her mental illnesses, brain chemistry, cognitive strategies, physical health and Spirit need to be treated simultaneously. LisaDiana continues to tend to her Spirit through the Arts.
and a Flute solo also
HudsonValley360 coverage- click weblink below
Our latest featured artist uses humor laced creative work as a therapy tool to manage his mental health stresses. Please check out his website link below for some insight as to how to shift your focus from sully to silly.
Our next featured artist is Laurel Clark. She like others, is someone that has experienced trauma related to a family member that was not only mentally ill, but also had a co-occurring substance use disorder. She further explains how artwork was helpful in managing her thoughts/emotions below.
“My parent was an addict, but she also was severely mentally ill, coming from a cycle of severe abuse. The things I experienced will haunt me forever. I use art as an outlet to purge myself of the horrible thoughts, to re-ground with my experiences, and create something tangible out of the intangible turmoil and trauma I sift through within my mind, offering a glimpse of perspective as well as visceral reaction that is far too real for survivors alike. Not only is the goal of my art to showcase the morbidity, callous, and horror of being at mercy of others. But to start a conversation around these difficult topics, and also show that there is a way to convert this negative energy into something net positive for your life and well-being.”
The following is a slideshow and matching gallery of 11 pieces of her artwork along with titles and descriptions.
To learn more about the REACH center just click on the link below