I had 12 months before my husband passed away, full of ups and downs when I thought my marriage was falling apart. We had been married for 22 years when I started to notice changes in my husband’s behaviour and without going into all the very personal details, I thought he was preparing to leave me.
One of the hardest things to cope with was that his moods kept changing and he couldn’t make a decision (I know now that was a symptom of his depression). I loved him so much and I genuinely wanted him to find a way to be happy again, and even though I didn’t want him to leave me, I remember saying to him that no matter what he decides to do I will find a way to be happy again someday as well.
Then my husband took his own life (in 2009) and my whole world was turned upside-down. I was heartbroken.
I found the only way to cope with the trauma was to start learning as much as I could about Depression to develop a broader knowledge of mental illness and all its complexities. I needed to understand his ‘why’ and I needed to find a way to move through my grief.
As I reflect on 2022 and think about the brand-new year ahead, I can say I am happy. I realise now that back in 2008, without knowing what lay ahead for my family, I had set an INTENTION that has stuck with me ever since.
During our beautiful relationship, and as we nurtured our two gorgeous children, I said to my husband many times…”I could never live without you” but as it’s turned out I can. It’s been a long and hard journey but from the day he died, I have made every decision based on that intention, asking ‘What is best for the future happiness of my children and what is best for me?”
I started taking gentle steps toward living again, instead of just surviving. First, I bought us a dog, and then I started to fill the darkest hours by making art. Later I also started taking dance classes (Ceroc/Modern Jive) and I still dance every week.
As a qualified art teacher, art was always part of my life so I already had the skills and lots of materials, but making art when grieving was a whole new experience as I discovered the true therapeutic benefits. Eventually, after completing further study in Art Therapy, I decided to leave the safety and security of teaching in the school system and start my own Art Therapy business. When I look back, these were all steps toward fulfilling my intention to find happiness.
On New Year’s Eve 2009, I thought I had nothing to celebrate but baby steps and lots of self-care moved me forward. Now I celebrate every new day.
I love teaching art to adults because I can combine my professional experience, and my life experience, to help others embrace their creativity and build their confidence so that art becomes a rewarding and enjoyable way to nurture their mental health.
Losing my husband to depression was a life-changing experience, that has taken years to come to terms with, but now I never underestimate the importance of releasing stress and anxiety. At first, I struggled to find enjoyment in anything but art helped me ‘turn off ‘my thoughts when I needed a break from reality and these days dabbling with my art supplies is still my preferred way to relax, unplug from technology, and express my ideas and feelings. Every class I teach is an opportunity to show people who are feeling unhappy, empty, resentful, bored, lonely, or inadequate that Art is a hobby that will transform the way you see the world and help you to love the life you have.