Emma-Leigh Hayes is a freelance Watercolour, Acrylic and Digital artist living in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire. She creates custom art for her clients, be that painting the beloved family pet or a secret mushroom forest. Here in her second Guest Blog for BabaBaboon Emma-Leigh shares her experience of how Arts helps with mental health…

“I want to talk about mental health in creatives for a minute. Did you know that highly creative people can be at risk of more mental illness than less creative people? Yet, paradoxically, those who are creative are among those that are the least mentally ill.

Let’s explore this a little more, based around my own experiences as a mentally ill artist. For a good few years now I’ve lived with a good old dose of Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD. My mental health has been a roller coaster of figuring myself out, with far more dips and twists than I’d have liked but what can you do. I’ve actually ended up understanding myself and others far more than I ever thought possible through my experiences with mental illness.

When I was a kid I was bullied at the hands of people I thought were my friends. I was gaslit, convinced I was something I’m not, bullied for my weight or my hair, or who I had a crush on at the time. I didn’t understand why, I tried to blend in, but somehow I always felt like I didn’t quite belong to any of my friendship groups…

Emma-Leigh-Hayes-ArtI had my art though, and that was comforting.

I’d doodle in class and people would compliment my work – but after some horrid comments my confidence was knocked and I didn’t draw for years after that. At age 16 I picked up the pencils again. I started drawing characters from Marvel films, going to my mum for advice and improving with every drawing I did. I had support from my parents and real friends, and even strangers on the internet. I felt at peace again, finally doing something I knew I was good at and loved doing. I had all but forgotten the past comments from childhood bullies, but sometimes it sneaks up on you and whispers memories of the past in your ear…

Now, as a 25-year-old with a small art business, I still suffer with that impostor syndrome. Sometimes it feels like a backseat driver is constantly commenting on your work, and how you go about developing your style. Imagine him behind you while you drive, making comments about the colour choice, telling you that nobody will like your work, that nobody will buy it and you’ll never be as skilled as other artists… That’s a ghost of what I dealt with as a kid, I suppose. I think most creatives suffer the same sort of demons. I figured out that continuing to create, regardless of comments in the back of my head, makes me feel powerful.

What can I say, spite fuels me…Art is my comfort space, and I refuse to let anyone, even my own inner thoughts, discourage me from being who I want to be. I decided to become an artist because I know myself enough now and invite in the good energy that will inevitably help me create my next masterpiece.

Poor mental health can have a tragic effect on a person… If you or anyone you know is suffering from these sorts of thoughts then please seek help… Trust me when I say, it gets easier to manage….

Thank you for reading my Blog on BabaBaboon – Emma-Leigh – Fragment Crafting  Follow on Instagram, Tiktok and Facebook pages @FragmentCrafting

(Images – examples of Emma-Leigh’s art work.)

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