Brooke was initially reluctant to start therapy; it took a long time to admit she needed it. Looking back now, she stands firm in her decision to seek help. “If you can do something to actively better the person you are and your relationship with yourself, why not?”
For a long time, she justified not going to therapy. She told herself countless reasons why she should not go to therapy, or why she did not deserve to help herself. She says, “The healing process one goes through is often very painful, prolonged, and uncomfortable.” Brooke admitted that for a long time, she feared healing.
Brooke is clinically diagnosed with bipolar depression. Her symptoms include manic mood swings from euphoria to depression. She discovered her artistic creativity was at its best during the highs; she felt energetic with unlimited creative potential. During her lows, she found meaning in things otherwise overlooked, and this also translated well into her art. Brooke was prescribed medication, which she refused. Brooke was skeptical about the long-term effects caused by taking anti-depressants and was concerned about entering into a lifelong course of medication. Instead, Brooke sought a course of treatment relying on her own physical intervention, including diet and exercise programs.
When Brooke was in her last depressive period, she realized she needed to make a career change. She says, “I had to start aligning myself more with who I wanted to be, what I believed in, and what gave me energy and life, which is the art and act of creation.” This realization led Brooke to leave social work and pursue art creation as a full-time career path.
Art has given Brooke a sense of purpose: the process of creating something makes her feel connected to others and to the world itself. Brooke says, “I don’t know what I’m here for, but at the moment, I’m making something, and it means something to me, and that’s all that matters. And that makes me feel more settled in a crisis of meaning.”
Art has been a major part of Brooke’s journey to overcome her depression. She derives a feeling of stability and purpose when creating her artwork. She has come to realize a sense of creative power when working with her art; this helps her maintain her sense of awareness when she feels unstable.
Brooke also promotes stability in her life through exercise while not putting too much pressure on herself to perform. She does not see it as an attempt to check off an achievement box but instead recognizes her body needs movement. Exercising helps Brooke connect to her body, making her more aware of herself and allowing her to quickly identify when she’s neglecting her mental well-being.
Eating balanced meals is also vital for Brooke’s stability in her life; it helps nourish her body and brain. Brooke finds it challenging to stick to this; when she’s depressed, she tends to lose her appetite, causing her to undereat. “Getting enough sleep is important to our health and how we feel about ourselves,” Brooke adds. She admits that it’s not always easy to eat a balanced diet, exercise well, and sleep enough. “To get those 3 in a row is a difficult task, especially when you are experiencing different moods because your body responds accordingly.