Painting Vulnerability

Art is an expression of one’s inner most thoughts, desires, hopes, dreams, fears, and everything in between; at least that is what art means to me, and so many other individuals that I have connected with through using the art of creative writing to heal and help others, in my journey with depression.  Rose Vitolins, a fellow resident of the Nashville, Tennessee area, is an extremely talented artist who knows all to well this sentiment I echo.  As a current art student and mastermind behind my blog logo, Rose understands the power that art has on your mind.  She was so gracious to take a little time to share with me and you about her thoughts, as well as emotions, behind the paint, the sketch, and the canvas, enlightening us on her view on creativity and mental health. •

 

Dominique: Rose, I am so glad to have you as part of my interview series ‘break the stigma’: a conversation series! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me.

Rose: Thank you so much for including me… I feel so honored!

Dominique: I am so in awe of your artistic talent, and so glad we were able to connect through the wonderful world of social media! Could you tell us briefly about what art means to you?

Rose: Wow, that is so kind! I am so thankful for social media… without it I would have never been able to connect with so many of the wonderful people I’ve met.. Like you!!
Art has been a steady part of my life for as long as I can remember. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve started to see how powerful and important art can be. It has played a huge roll in understanding myself by helping me process my emotions, my problems, or whatever is on my mind. To me, art is a powerful form of self expression and communication.

There is something so incredible about looking at a piece of art and being able to understand or feel what the artist was feeling when they created it. Art can connect us in that unique way. Maybe that’s why art feels a lot like vulnerability. For me, my work carries a piece of my soul (as cheesy as that sounds) and when someone can look past the colors and lines and see ME… that is the best feeling.

Dominique: How do you think Art and Mental Health relate?

Rose: I think they relate in so many ways! One of the main ways they relate for me personally is the simple act of intentionally creating space for something I enjoy even when life gets super busy… it’s self-care!

Dominique: I have a space on my blog dedicated to caring for your mental health through various outlets, i.e. #colortocope. What activities do you do to help you cope with the stress of life?

Rose: Love it… I am a big believer in coloring! Whenever I’m feeling stressed out or up-tight, drawing is one of the best forms of therapy to soothe my soul. Getting in the zone and completely focusing on the project I’m working on has a way of re-centering a restless mind!

Maybe that’s why art feels a lot like vulnerability

Dominique: The logo you created for my blog is simply divine! I gave you a whole lot of random ideas for my vision of what I wanted the logo to look like (God bless you for taking on such a task!), but can you share with us the creative process behind how you brought my ideas to life?

Rose: I loved working on your logo… It was so great because you had so many inspiring ideas to work off of. My creative process is simple, but vital to my work. First thing’s first: I have to figure out where the project needs to go. I like to set a goal with a few guidelines to keep me working in the right direction. I might sketch out a few little ideas at first, but then I always need to give the ideas some thought before I dive in. Something about the little brain break really cultivates my ideas, and brings them to life. Then it’s time to turn up the music and fill up my sketch book!

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After the initial ideas are on paper, the next step is getting feedback. (Another reason I loved working with you!!) Then I tweak it, erase it, change it, flip it upside down until it feels perfect… and that is an amazing feeling!

Dominique:  Thank you so much again Rose, for taking the time to do this interview and to share with others about the importance of art and caring for your mental health.

Rose:  Thank you so much, Dominique. I adore meeting other people that understand the importance of art! I love that you are highlighting the connection between mental wellness and creativity.

Dominique:  Is it ok to share your contact information, just in case anyone would like to pick your brain further about all things art or mental health?

Rose:  That would be amazing! My email is roselovesnashville@gmail.com. •

Fruit Aisle Sanctuary

There is a lot of misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental health and mental illnesses. Anxiety and depression are the most common mental illnesses in Britain (mentalhealth.org.uk) and over 16 million people here in the U.S., have had at least one episode of major depression in the past year (NIMH).  In my attempt to help break this stigma all over the world, get people to comfortably talk about mental health openly, and unite for mental health awareness, I am having real conversations with prominent influencers in today’s society, about the issue at hand.

It was an honor to begin this discussion with Anna Whitehouse, formally known as Mother Pukka in the realm of social media.  As a journalist, editor, wife, and mom, turned entrepreneur, making her love of work and parenting coexist harmoniously, Mother Pukka has graciously and hilariously opens up her world to us, and talking about mental health is no exception.  From self care tips to crying in the fruit aisle of Tesco, Mother Pukka keeps it real about how important it is to care for your mental health.

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Dominique: Mother Pukka! I am so honored to have you be apart of my new ‘break the stigma’ initiative: a conversation series. Thank you for taking the time to do this:)

Mother Pukka (MP): Of course! Sorry I’ve been a bit all over the place and not got it over sooner. My organizational skills are a concern on many levels.

Dominique: Taking care of your mental health is so important.  How does Mother Pukka make time for herself with such a busy schedule?

MP: I do two things every day: have an apple and a black filter coffee at 9am and a bath with some kind of posh foam at 10pm. I book-end the day with these small things so there’s some order in the chaos. And it is chaos – I don’t trust myself crossing the road at times. Like, basic stuff.

Dominique: What does that alone time mean to you, and how does it affect your day or days?

MP: Alone time is stuff like this. Writing words to or for people I like – people who have got in touch because there’s a thread of unity somewhere. I can’t explain it but I like meeting people through the pixels. The Internet/ social media doesn’t scare me like it does some; I think it’s a great place to connect (and, perhaps, to cry together through the madness.)

Dominique: There is a lot of misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental illnesses. What advice would you give parents who are leary of seeking help, because of this stigma?

MP: Just do it. It’s done well for Nike. I’m a believer in stepping into things and working it out afterwards – that includes seeking help. What is there to lose?

Dominique: Can we get really real for a second, Mother Pukka:)?

MP: Sure, go ahead.

Dominique: After giving birth to your beautiful Mae, did you have any experience with the baby blues or postpartum depression? How did you overcome it?

MP: I don’t think I realized it at the time but yes, definitely looking back. There was a point where I was stood in Tesco holding a pineapple with one solitary tear running down my cheek. Yeah, I wasn’t in great shape. But I hauled my ass out of the building and went and did things that brought me together with other people feeling weird in the fruit aisle of Tesco.

Dominique: Mother Pukka, again, thank you so much for taking this time to help spread awareness about how important it is to care for your mental health and breaking the stigma of having a mental illness!

MP: OF course, I’ve loved being in touch. Such a great thing to highlight.

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For more information about Mother Pukka and to keep abreast on how she is tackling parenthood, as well as ‘finding order through the chaos’, visit her website and follow her on Instagram and Facebook!

(photo courtesy of Anna Whitehouse)

*To inquire about how to get involved in the ‘break the stigma’ initiative: a conversation series, please contact me.