How I Used Art as Mental Therapy Pt II

It’s the end of 2019, I am preparing my final assignments in order for me to graduate and girl, I was going through what felt like a never-ending limbo of anxiety attacks followed by severe memory loss. There were some days I couldn’t remember whether or not I had taken a shower that morning. I was scared. Scared that I had finally cracked and I was losing my mind.

School ended, I made it. I graduated. And with that, I expected a relief. A relief of stress. A relief of anxiety. A relief from the severe ADHD symptoms I was experiencing. And as 2020 came to be and the months started to pass I noticed that nothing had changed. I was still having very intense anxiety attacks and my ADHD wasn’t just affecting my reading and writing, but also my driving.

In February, I was driving into the city centre of Harare when I missed the turn I was meant to take. I feel silly writing this but it was as if I couldn’t stop my brain from focusing on the missed turn and the anxiety of having to think of a new route just clogged my head and so I wasn’t able to focus on driving. Thank God it was just a fender-bender, but after that car accident, I knew I needed help. Things had to change before I harmed myself but most importantly other people.

So March came, and I had my psychiatric assessment at the Highlands Halfway house, a psychiatric facility in Harare. I was rediagnosed with clinical anxiety and Adult ADHD. I was given my prescription medication, but I also had to go for therapy. In one of my session my therapist, Pamela noticed I looked angry and frustrated. I wanted to brush it off, so I told her I was just drowsy from the medication. She asked me again, to which I answered the truth. Yes. I was angry. Angry I had to take medication. Angry that I had many reasons to be happy but I was anxious all the time. Angry at my now reality.

She simply answered, “Well Tiara, if the doctor had told you that you had diabetes and had to take insulin for the rest of your life you wouldn’t be as upset, right? I understand you are angry, you were raised by a society that stigmatises mental health and the sooner you normalise taking medication, not as a curse but just part of your daily vitamins, the faster you will be able to heal.” Her words will never leave me.

It’s been 5 months. Each day I take my medication in the morning and evening when my phone alarm reminders go off. It’s become so habitual I haven’t missed a day. My body and mind adjusted to the meds and my anxiety is not as severe. Having this sense of clarity, motivated me to really understand my mind, body and soul. I now understand how my mind works, and the busyness of it all can be beautiful. I can now appreciate all the techniques I learned throughout my mental health journey and effectively apply them. I’ll share some of them with you in the event that it may be helpful:

Put your Belongings In Specific Compartments

Losing and forgetting anything and everything: with ADHD you either can’t focus at all or you are hyper-focused. Everything starts to look the same and my brain just can’t see something even if it’s right in front of me. I gave each item I own a place of storage or containment. My memory is still terrible but if I leave my earphones in my box or cables then there are only a few places for me to look and 9 times out of 10 it’s there. If not? Well, my partner will probably see it. I lose my phone the most, and he finds it hilarious that I can’t see it even though he can because it’s right in the open. Most neurodivergent people get glasses, not because their eyesight is bad but because it helps the eyes focus even when the brain is taking it’s time to do so. However I’m not so sure about the science behind it lol.

Ensure Fewer Distractions Around You

I have trouble concentrating especially when there are too many sounds around me. If two or more people are speaking at the same time, it literally sounds like one noise. Reminding the people I’m around to talk one at a time helps as well as pausing the TV, putting my phone down and making sure I am giving them my full attention. Playing Lofi instrumental music helps me when I’m working because it is usually soothing and calm. When I have my earphones in, I am able to eliminate stimulants that trigger the impulsive, hyperactive part of my brain. No distractions means I can get work done and accomplish tasks.

Call versus Text

I only call. Texting when you can barely remember where your phone is isn’t always ideal. Other times I send a message, then the short term memory loss kicks in and I forget why I messaged someone in the first place. My friends hate it because sometimes I impulsively just call. Lol.

I am still learning, and this journey, though most of it was painful, is helping me grow and heal each day. I have found my version of peace and healing and I am ready to radiate and share. My Instagram page has been a place where I can silence the mental turmoil in the best way I know how, through creativity and love. Feel free to check out some of my content and join me in the search for peace and light.

Lastly, thank you Sasha for giving me the opportunity to share my mental health journey on your platform. Writing this was emotional but liberating! I am obviously not a doctor, But if you are someone who is curious about your mental health, I hope my story can motivate you to continue your journey. It is possible to live a healthy and productive life through acceptance and support. Here is a mental health support resource for people in Zimbabwe:

*****

As usual, thanks for reading loves; any comments and feedback are always welcome! I truly hope this post will help someone feel seen and heard through their mental health journey. If you would like to be featured as a Black Creative or business owner, you can reach me on my contact page or leave a comment and I will follow up with you privately. Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel, and you can also catch up with my latest post here.

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