Art isn’t just something for decoration at the house or being located in a fancy gallery. Art is something that saved me.
When I was 6 years old, I was sent to a traditional Chinese school, where I had to submit about 10 pieces of homework every day. Gradually I started to paint everything in black unconsciously. And that’s when my mum noticed how stressful I was through my paintings. This is where my journey began to be accompanied by art.
Growing up with anxiety disorder, I had moments of a panic attack with wondering my world is going to end. My head was filled with all the stressful images, my hand was shaking, my breathing became quicker and quicker. And we all know that we don’t have our best friend or therapist next to us all the time. Even they were there, it’s almost impossible to let all your words expressed. I would simply grab a piece of paper and start doodling my here-and-now feeling.
In late 2018, I began my post-graduate course in Art therapy. I have experienced how metaphor in the visual image provided the potent for change.
“Metaphor making, we have seen is the primary quality of all new language and of the unconscious. It draws on our earliest experiences, which are experiences of the body. Metaphor, the basic way of increasing our understanding, uses body experience as the vehicle through which it reaches out to no bodily experience, just as an artist uses physical media-clay, paint, metal, stone- to evoke nonphysical ideas, vision, or states.” (Siegelman 1990:24)
Metaphoric imaginations is a way to reach the unknown, inner states that beggar description. It links domains and grows out of and yields strong feelings, it becomes a natural vehicle for therapeutic work. It has a major thoroughfare to the unconscious. (Siegelman 1990:21)
I created the piece: The tank or the fish to respond to an image. "Are you the tank or the fish? This question had been repeating in my head for the whole day. “I am so annoyed by seeing you swimming around, comparing what I can do, stuck in the same position forever? The emotion is somehow almost jealous of the freedom and the 3-second memory that you got. Why do I have to be present and remember every movement of yours? It’s just not fair.”
Art isn't a magic that can heal or changed me by a snap, it is a accompany. It is my best friend throughout my anxiety journey. I do believe art is a healing media that allows your unconscious and non-verbal thinking to be seen.