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Channeling Creativity to Stay Grounded    

Channeling Creativity to Stay Grounded

Art by FISK

By Jess Girillo

When I was around 15, I was in a pretty abusive relationship. I felt completely isolated and trapped, my world was centered around this person, and I didn’t really have a sense of self. I was lost, alone, and still so far from knowing who I was or how I could even help myself get out of that situation. I was definitely at one of my lowest points, with seemingly no answers on how to get better or how to escape. As time passed, my mental health worsened, and I felt completely trapped.

After a year or so, I thankfully had met people who became aware of my situation and mental space. It got to a breaking point where I realized I needed to find out what would make me feel good again. I would have anxiety attacks and cry so hard that little red blood vessels on my face would appear. They sort of looked like little red freckles. I took their presence as the perfect opportunity to start doing makeup. I began in mid-high school to experiment with makeup, starting with colorful hand-drawn freckles and pockets of glitter sprinkled around my face. 

A whole new world emerged for me. I was able to create joy from within myself, not searching for it in outside sources. As time passed, and with the help of new friends, I left the relationship, learned to live my life again, and my love for makeup and self-expression grew. 

Being able to have control over something so fun and expressive in my life helped me to feel grounded. I realized at this point in my life how important using my creativity and inner courage really was. It had become clear that I needed to take my mental health and overall well-being more seriously. It was a hard lesson to learn, and it definitely is still a process to this day, learning to prioritize things that are healthy and positive over things that contribute to my anxiety and periods of depression. 

Since diving in headfirst, unknowingly into the creative world, expressing myself has been a constant. Today I still use my self-expression and creativity to help me cope with my mental health problems and balance my life in general. Although consistency is not easy, I’ve learned that even pushing myself on days that feel heavy will be rewarding for my confidence and my mental state. Sitting down to do my makeup in the morning makes me feel more myself, more confident, and allows me to relax any anxiety or fear before starting my day. We aren’t ever fully in control of our lives or our mental health, and what I’ve learned over the years is how important it is to do things for yourself that make you feel more whole, more grounded, and more centered around you. Recently I’ve taken the time to focus on other creative areas of my life, like my music and art. My creative endeavors have always been an outlet for me to dump emotions and process them, a way to release. I’ve realized it is so important to have things that make our lives feel more meaningful, things to look forward to, reasons to be inspired, and to keep going. 

Being aware of your mental health is at the center of everything. If we aren’t feeding ourselves creatively and actively trying to find new ways of being, things fall even deeper into a dark place. Even on the days I don’t feel like doing much, I make sure to plan out a song, a makeup look, or even start a new painting. There’s always something to create, something to remind us of our purpose, and something to keep going for. My mental health has and always will be something important in my life. 

Realizing that my creativity actively contributes to my well-being has changed my whole existence. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without coming to the realization that my mental health is important and needs to be nurtured, just like a child. At our core, we all have that little kid inside of us who needs love. And for me, my self-expression and creativity have helped that inner child find peace, grow, and accept and work through my mental health struggles. 

I know I deserve to live my truth, to be the person I’ve always wanted to be. Our emotional states directly reflect how we see the world, what we create, and how we move through life. Knowing that I have control over small (but big) things that bring me joy has provided me with the best tools to cope with my mental health. I wouldn’t change a thing about my journey, and I’m still learning more about myself every day. All I know is, my feelings are real and valid, and I will always find my own ways to deal with them, to make them a part of me that makes me better and more whole.

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