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How drawing my feelings helped my mental health through lockdown

When processing and describing my emotions became hard, I visualized them instead.

How drawing my feelings helped my mental health through lockdown

Photo by Eleanor Hardiman

Photo by Eleanor Hardiman
Freelance illustrator from Bristol

Like many creatives, my usual busy freelance schedule fizzled out at the start of the year. Creating work as an illustrator brings in my income, but it became evident it was also home to a lot of my self-worth.

At first, I was over productive with this new free schedule, not wanting to 'waste' this time working on my portfolio and business. But over the coming weeks, I felt more down and anxious. Instead of processing my thoughts and fears, I was like a bulldozer, constantly creating new work that I was unhappy with.

It was at this point that I decided to take the pressure off myself entirely. No more big paintings or grand project ideas, and that's when I started recording my thoughts and emotions in an illustrated journal. Putting emotions and concepts into words felt difficult, especially in unusual times, but I felt completely at home, making them into illustrations. These started as rough thumbnail sketches, some of them so jumbled I can't even make sense of them.

It became a way of processing my inner thoughts, without judgment, or even uttering one word to another person. This month I started sharing my sketches online through Instagram. These shared sketches range from mundane posts about buying new stuff, personal thoughts around imposter syndrome, and my support system and comfort zone. I rarely share or explain these illustrations, as I feel I can convey more with pictures than words.

I'm still creating and sharing these illustrations, and they have become an important part of my routine. These illustrations have helped me process my thoughts every day while reflecting and recording my world's changing perception.

I'd recommend it to anyone.


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