Artist DestinyBlue has grappled with mental health issues throughout her life, starting with anxiety, which later gave way to depression and suicidal thoughts.
Through the ups and downs, Blue ― as her fans call her ― has relied on art to help her express her pain, fears and other difficult thoughts and feelings. The East London-based artist has accumulated a large following on the site DeviantArt, where she posts her colorful, imaginative and deeply emotional drawings.
“I didn’t come from an expressive household, and here I was with so much inside me ― so much I didn’t understand, thoughts, feelings and emotions marched through me like an invading army,” she told HuffPost. “I needed a way to process and vent, and drawing provided a canvas to untangle myself upon.”
Blue said that for many years, she didn’t even realize that what she was experiencing was caused by a mental health condition.
“It took me a long time to realize I was mentally ill, rather than lazy, sad or worthless,” she explained. “For years I could function just well enough to look okay, while inside the blinding red of anxiety burned me, or gray static of depression unplugged me.”
In a post on her DeviantArt page, Blue opened up about the crippling nature of depression and anxiety.
“It wasn’t that I couldn’t feel happy, and it wasn’t total sadness per se. I did feel sad, but the harshness of depression is that it makes the process of living excruciating,” she wrote. “It’s like walking through thick treacle [molasses], every movement pushed against and held back by sticky tar. Suffocating and exhausting. Even when there’s no energy left you still have to walk.”
She even had trouble completing everyday tasks like laundry, which under the fog of depression, seemed insurmountable.
“Washing my clothes, was a mountain, even to think about it required so much energy,” she wrote. “I could wash my clothes, but then I’d have to pick up the dirty clothes, take them to the washer, open the washer, put the clothes in the washer, close the door, open the detergent bottle, put the detergent in. It was just too much. So the clothes sat there.”
The experience Blue described is common among those dealing with depression. Not only do routine activities feel overwhelming, but the disorder can also cause a general loss of motivation and withdrawal from social activities. Add physical symptoms such as headaches and difficulty sleeping, and it’s clear why depression can be debilitating for so many.
As for Blue’s anxiety, she likened it to the feeling you get when you lean back too far in a chair and it’s about to tip over.
“That sudden jolt of panic inside your chest, that half-second spike that makes you fling your hands forward and grab the desk in front of you to steady yourself,” she wrote. “That ‘oh s**t’ moment. It’s that. Only it didn’t last for half a second, for even a minute, it lasted years.”
In 2015, Blue began experiencing hallucinations and delusions so she admitted herself into a psychiatric hospital for a month-long stay where she dealt with her psychosis. Since then, she has had her fair share of good days and bad days, but is now focusing on treatment and managing her conditions.
“Art has had a pivotal role in that as therapy,” she told HuffPost.
Blue also said she hopes her artwork connects with people who are dealing with mental health conditions of their own.
“I want others who are also struggling with mental heath issues to know there is hope, and that they are not alone, and that someone else understands how tough a path it is to walk, and how strong you are for carrying on,” she said.
Check out more of Blue’s poignant drawings below. For more on the artist, follow her on DeviantArt, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can order prints of her artwork via her online store.
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.