Nicky talks about her experiences of mental health and how art has helped her.
Art has always been something that I have done to get out of other things, it was an escape for me, mainly from OCD and Asperger’s. It was my way of getting out my head and giving me something to do, I can get completely lost in it which really helps me.
I have always done doodles, my friends really like them and have asked me to do ones for them. I actually had a psychiatrist who said he was jealous that everyone else he worked with had artwork up in their office and he didn’t, so I did one for him when I finished with him.
I think that drawings are a different way of approaching something like mental health, it is a great way to get people talking about it. I had one in Perth Gallery which got people talking. I want them to help people to figure out mental health issues, to open up chats.
For me doing the art groups really help. My brain doesn’t switch off, but because the art I do is so detailed and difficult I can only focus on doing them. It is the same for my son, when he is doodling it is the only time he sits still.
It helps people to talk to me as well. People feel able to ask the questions they wouldn’t normally feel able to ask. A lot of my friends who haven’t experienced problems have learned tonnes from my art work as they feel able to talk about it. It is easier to analyse someone’s art, rather than them.
And talking is really important. Sometimes you think you are the only person in the world to feel the way you do, but through doing things like art, you can see you’re not and other people can see that there is someone else who feels how they do. There is nothing worse than feeling alone.
We need to have positive conversations about mental health. You see so much negative stuff out there, but there are so many talented amazing people who experience problems, discussions on mental health don’t have to be negative, it shouldn’t be stigmatised.
I have been diagnosed with Asperger’s, autism, OCD, post natal depression, quite a lot. I think they are all interconnected. We all have mental health and there are periods in your life where it affects you differently. But there is a lack of understanding about that. We are all the same, I think it is like we’re all on a spectrum, just at different places. But the more we talk, the more people will understand.