Finding the Artist Within, A Path to Wellness

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The worst time in my life led me to my true purpose. Two and a half years ago was the lowest point in my life. I had experienced several life changes in the course of a very short time. I found my way through the darkness and from that emerged The Artist Within.

On Shaky Ground

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know how scary it is. The question I asked myself at the time was “Why is this happening to me?” I’ve spent my life helping people as a personal trainer. I was used to being the strong one. It seemed as if I was unraveling and I didn’t know why. Much like creating a piece of artwork, perspective is everything. I learned the hard way that you can’t run away from yourself.

For 18 Years I worked and helped my family run our gym. I left the comfort of that job and started a new one. Change can lead you in many directions, some of them good and some not so good. My whole life I’ve been afraid of change. I had a hard time admitting my new job was not going well and it showed.

I suffered three panic attacks in the course of a week. The third and final panic attack saw me laying on the classroom floor on the verge of passing out. It was there and then I knew I had to quit my job. I decided no amount of money is worth my mental health. I chose to quit my job and my boyfriend ended a seven year relationship. This was the final straw that broke me. From there I spiraled into what I consider a very depressive state. I was really on shaky ground and I was constantly afraid of what might happen next.

The Journey Back to Myself

I found it hard to go back to work with my family. I was scared to drive to work or even go to the grocery store by myself. I recall the first time I met my nephew, his crying sent me in to a panic. I physically had to leave the room and I wouldn’t dare hold him. I honestly thought I was losing my mind. I was so low down and I saw the world as a very negative place. I became a shadow of who I was.

I recently had the chance to read Lee Downs’ “Prioritizing your physical wellness as an independent-artist”.

After reading this, I felt compelled to share my story. Finding purpose during an emotionally difficult time isn’t simple. It took me close to a year to feel myself again. My mom’s advice still rings in my head, “The only person who will get you out of this is you.”

The Artist Within, Lauren Walker
The Artist Within, Lauren Walker

Strength in Mind

At the time I was wallowing in my sadness. I decided I didn’t want to be that way anymore. I was not serving myself or anyone else for yet matter. I had to be selfish and start looking after me again. Every single day, I got up and went to the gym. I had to wake up every day and tell myself, “You’re okay. You can do this.” I needed to be around positive and encouraging people.

Physical exercise has a distinct effect on your mental state. The stronger I became physically, the more confident I felt. Slowly but surely I became more in control of my fear. I would not let myself give in to it anymore. Every day was a step forward out of the shadows.

There’s no question I had my moments. It took me a long time to learn how to turn off my “anxiety voice”. I would openly say to it, “Shut up!” I couldn’t let fear and doubt take over again. Deep breathing became another coping mechanism. I’d stop wherever I was and slow my breathing and count down from 100. Even if it took me 15 minutes, I’d let myself calm down. Breathe in, breathe out, “100” I’d whisper to myself. Repeat. Finding a constructive coping mechanism really helped. Whenever I felt anxious I’d employ this technique. I started to feel empowered because I knew I could help myself.

I dream of Aurora

I firmly believe that being outside in the quiet of nature is so beneficial for the mind and spirit. I’d go for walks around my neighbourhood. I found it calming and meditative. I’d start to think about my life and how I was going to move forward. During one of these walks, I started thinking about “Aurora Borealis”. I’ve always wanted to see it. I started to think about the empty canvas sitting at home.“Why not go home and paint it?” I thought. After 15 years of not painting anything, I hustled home and brought out my paintbrushes. “Can I do this?” I asked myself. The truth is I had no idea how it’d turn out. I suppose at the time I just wanted to be somewhere peaceful and beautiful. I felt such joy because for first time in a long time I felt purposeful.

The Artist Within

Creativity is like a storm and when it rains, it pours. I felt a compulsion to paint for the first time in a very long time. Where was it coming from? All this emotion was suddenly coming out and I needed to express it. I’m not the greatest at verbalizing my feelings. I found solace and comfort whenever I picked up the paintbrush. I was not concerned with anything other than what was right in front of me.

Creating art can impact your mental health in profound ways. Whenever I felt a moment of anxiety, I’d pick up the paintbrush. Whenever I felt sad, I’d pick up the paintbrush. Instead of laying in bed at night feeling sorry for myself, I thought of what I could create. I closed my eyes and imagined the picture I’m trying to create. I still do that.

Art is my saving grace. It allows me to express myself when words can’t. My whole perspective shifted and as I wandered further down this road I felt more like me. I didn’t know it at the time but this was paramount to my inner healing. Life was calling me and I had no choice but to listen.

The Artist's Path to Wellness

Being in that negative state taught me my strength. If I can face it and come out the other side, I know I can do anything. I am more than confident that anyone can find their Artist Within, too. I am determined to be successful and there’s nothing that will stop me. I know my purpose in life. I am an artist and this is what I was born to do.

Life can knock you down, but you can pick yourself up. Here I am over two years later and I’ve had two solo shows. I’ve had work accepted into juried shows. I’ve built an audience and completed several commissions. Doors have been opening because I am choosing to follow my “art”. Out of darkness came true purpose… The Artist Within emerged.

Happy painting

About the Writer

My name is Lauren Walker and I am “The Artist Within”. I am a professional artist and freelance writer in Port Perry, Ontario. I use the love of my small town as inspiration for my work. I believe the only path to follow is the one you create.


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Comments

4 responses to “Finding the Artist Within, A Path to Wellness”

  1. Julie McNee Avatar
    Julie McNee

    I love your story Lauren.. Although I know you I do not know you that intimately, but your story is very inspiring to me. I am dealing with all those struggles for the first time in my life.. Being creative is a great outlet. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your success with us… I will use your words and try to find a way to make myself better… Thanks you for sharing

  2. Vrunda Avatar
    Vrunda

    Hi.. Lauren I read your story very inspiring for me If you have time plz let me know how can I present my work in art hall same as you I am not a big artist as you I am a home artist I got so much inspired from your story Plz let me know if you can give me some idea how can I present my art , painting in a Art gallery Thanks Vrunda

  3. Lillie Avatar
    Lillie

    This was very inspiring and motivating. Thank you for sharing your story

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