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Chronically Creative #2: Sarah Olevsky on art and healing

Spoonie greetings! It's time for the second post in our Chronically Creative series, and this one (much like the first) is an awesome one! This week our topic is art and healing so we're joined by Sarah Olevsky. Sarah is an artist from North Carolina who's responsible for such gems as The Self Care Crew Colouring Book [Tom: I really really want one of these!], and other stunning works of art that you'll see throughout the post.

If you like what you read and see, be sure to go and check Sarah out on Etsy HERE, (This is where you'll find Tom's favourite colouring book!) and her Instagram HERE to follow her art and other work on mental health and self care!

Hayley and Tom



Hi! I'm Sarah, an artist in Raleigh, North Carolina, and I’m passionate about mental health and self-care. Art is an essential part of my daily life and self-care routine, but it hasn't always been such a natural, therapeutic process of self-exploration, understanding and expression for me.

You see, at sixteen years old, I shut the world out. I had just experienced a traumatic assault that would result in over a decade of anxiety and depression. At my lowest point, I developed an eating disorder that nearly claimed my life. If I hadn’t received the help I needed, I might not be here today to support others in their mental health journeys.

In the beginning of my recovery, I began doodling in a sketchbook to distract myself from the long days in treatment. It was a mindless escape that would help consume the time. Each day I stared down the long hallway leading to my doctor’s offices hoping I could muster up the strength to walk down it without having to stop to rest. I cried through therapy sessions feeling guilty for the hurt I believed I was causing everyone supporting me, while feeling shame for not being “better” faster. Between my mental and physical health both being at an all time low, I wasn't able to do much else.

Ocean - "After I experienced an assault, I became terrified of the ocean. Even watching a large wave curl on tv made me extremely anxious. It was really confusing for me because that the assault happened nowhere near an ocean. Painting helped me explore the connections my mind had made between the two. Beginning to understand my fears helped me start to overcome them".

Over time, I began to make a connection between doodling and recovery. If I could turn this blank sheet of paper into something beautiful, could I also do that with my life? It was a connection that stuck with me and motivated me to continue working hard for my health and happiness.

I started to notice that creating by drawing and experimenting with other mediums was allowing me to access parts of myself that I could never find the words for. With art, I was able to begin healing. I finally felt like I was making some progress instead of being so trapped. A light was beginning to shine and I was finally starting to see a way out.

Proud, Excited, Hopeful - "This was painted as I was reflecting on progress I was making in recovery. I was feeling proud of how far I had come. Being excited and hopeful for the future were two very new feelings for me to explore at this time."

Today, creating is an essential part of my self-care routine and mental well-being. To truly love and care for ourselves in the ways we deserve, we have to know ourselves at our core, be honest with ourselves, and each live by our own truth. When the world is shouting at us, selling us these ideals of beauty, health and happiness, telling us everything we're "supposed" to be, know, do and feel, it can be really difficult to authentically know ourselves.

For me, art is a bridge that helps connect my mind and soul. With it, I am able to process and understand my thoughts, feelings and experiences much more clearly. I am able to be honest with myself, and explore and release emotions in a safe way. Art doesn't have to be anything in particular, and it doesn't have to be shared with anyone unless I want it to be. Art is about getting to know and honouring my truest self. Art is about exploration and growth and healing. Art is ultimately about the process, not the final product.


Once again, massive thanks to Sarah for her contribution! Tune in again next week where we'll have ANOTHER guest contribution for you! You lucky, lucky Spoonies!

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