mental health recovery

It Totally and Completely Depends.

Let me preface this with the context that this writing is therapy homework. A blog post and homework all in one. Brilliant. I mean, if you have to kill two birds, you may well use one stone. I call it genius, others probably call it lazy.

(off topic, but I don’t support the killing of birds with stones or any other implement. )

So, therapy homework. We have a history. Mostly an unhappy one, filled with twitter rants and pictures of 18-year-old Britts flipping off CBT worksheets. Sometimes however, we do attempt to have a good attitude about you, and sometimes it actually is helpful. It depends.

So these days I’m actually putting effort into getting better and maybe taking just a small amount of advice from the people who probably know what they’re talking about. (They do. They have degrees and experience. I have neither. I do however have a lot of anger and a self-destructive personality. Obviously, I know best.)

I think the turning point came for me last year. The point at which I decided to actually try and use the suggested ~coping skills~ rather than just assuming they wouldn’t work.

I was doing my trademark performance in front of my mental health nurse, I call it ‘depressed lump who hasn’t showered in three days and doesn’t believe in eye contact’.

She asked me if I ever did anything just because I wanted to.

I said no. At that point, I hadn’t done anything remotely creative or relaxing for myself in months. It doesn’t help, I said. It’s worthless and I’ve given up.

She told me to maybe just give it a try. Draw something. Take half an hour or so and create for the sake of creating.

I went home and opened my Clairefontaine sketch book for the first time since completing my design unit at university the year before. I did two low-quality pencil illustrations and actually felt slightly better.



Ever since then I’ve been trying to do the whole ‘art’ thing. Sometimes it works, other times it makes me more distressed because I just can’t get the other eye right which of course spirals into self-loathing etc etc. At other times the motivation to get my collection of pencils and microns out just isn’t there and creating feels way too daunting. Or the resulting mess of creativity sets off my anxiety.

But when it does work, it’s more than worth it.

It depends.

It totally and completely depends.

Actually, those two words seem to sum up the recovery process better than possibly any others. It all depends.

sunflowers in the art room
during year 12 the art room kept me vaguely sane. it became my safe space. i miss it a lot some days.

Turns out life isn’t formulaic. There isn’t a simple equation to successful living, so why would recovery be any different?

Sometimes forcing yourself up out of bed, dragging yourself through the shower, into a clean outfit, and out the door for coffee with a friend is literally life changing. So many awful days have been infinitely improved like this.

I’ve also spent an awful lot of coffee dates wondering how many shots of coffee I’d have to consume in order to die in the next fifteen minutes.

britts paints during year 12. very badly.

On a good art day, I can complete a piece, stick in my journal, followed by a wordy paragraph on how art is ~such a healer~.

Other days an attempt at said healing will result in a shredded sketchbook, a punched wall, and the conclusion that Britts is absolutely good for nothing and should have given up breathing at least ten years ago. Ouch.

I’m trying to learn to stop painting everything the same two colours. Black and white look great together, but millennial pink is also nice. And so are red and yellow. (But never together. That is the only rule I will never give up.)

Perhaps it isn’t art itself that is the healer. (Or a long walk, a coffee date, an entire season of Orphan Black in one day, listening to The Amity Affliction very loudly.)

Maybe art, or anything else, is neither the healer nor the problem. It depends.

(Have you worked out what my word prompt was yet?)

Screen Shot 2017-07-27 at 10.14.37 AM

In this messy, disastrous scheme of things, I am beginning to realise that there are very very few things that don’t depend.

Maybe if I stopped searching for the one thing, the one therapy, the one treatment, the one coping skill (maladaptive or not) that will fix everything I might finally be able to embrace the fluidity of relapse and recovery and just general life and actually begin to heal?

And maybe some days that knowledge alone will be enough to make things feel okay. And other days I’ll need something more. And that will be okay.

It depends on the situation and the person and the time of day and the location and yesterday and last week and how tired I am and if I remembered to brush my teeth before leaving the house this morning. Just because it doesn’t work one time doesn’t mean that it will always be this way.

I’m trying to learn to rest in the waves of change and difference.


When I used to surf I quickly learned that the best way to recover from being dumped was to relax into the chaos of the ocean, let it move you rather than fighting it. When I fought it I’d end up with a mouthful of water and seaweed, and any exposed skin would be dragged through the sand and grated raw.

So I learned to close my eyes and trust that nature would protect me, that my lungs held enough oxygen, my body was buoyant, I just had to let the ocean spin me around and tip me up a few times. Then I would resurface, alive, safe, happy. I learned to love the chaos.

Maybe now I can learn to love the chaos of it depends.


All my love,

By Britts Amelia

24. Ex-dancer. Jesus Feminist. Very bad at autobiographies, apparently. Studies brains and science.

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