"The use of creativity helped me to find my voice" A guest blog by Naomi Gilchrist | 'Ad'

Hello, my name is Naomi, I’m 22 and I’m currently studying for a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design.

I first met Aimee last year at a training event for the ‘YoungMinds Vs’ campaign in York and since then we have kept I touch, become pen-pals and supported each other’s various campaigning missions.

For quite a few years now, I have volunteered and campaigned in various aspects of children and young people’s health and well-being; in particular to illustrate the power and impact that creativity and access to creative expressive therapies can have upon people’s mental health and well-being.

This passion stems from my own personal experiences of the inability to talk and express myself, the inability to put words into what I had experienced, to say and understand verbally these experiences and their subsequent emotions. Each person’s story is unique, as is their recovery; for me, the use of creativity helped me to find my voice; allowing me to begin to make sense of the world that I lived in and make steps towards recovery – even now, at the age of 22, I use aspects of art, creativity and play in psychotherapy to support my verbal communication.

Personally, I never got on with structured therapies like CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) as it doesn’t give me the understanding that I needed for ‘why’s behind the what’s’. It is a psychodynamic/psychoanalytic based psychotherapy that works for me, but I know how difficult it is for individuals to access these types of therapies. When I was younger I was lucky enough to receive this type of psychotherapy through CAMHS but now as an “adult,” I have to cover for this privately.

I know how much creativity has helped me, not just through being able to communicate my experiences and feeling, but also as a form of distraction, as well as a focus. I would like to share the benefits of creativity to others who are struggling to find their voice or who need an escape from the world around them.

I am studying art currently to allow me to hopefully go on to study Creative Expressive Therapies at University, with Child Psychotherapy being my end sight along with a PhD to look at how we can bring creative expressive therapies in line with current evidence based therapies like CBT and DBT(Dialectical Behaviour Therapy), provide creative therapies with evidence for their benefits so that hopefully more people will be able to access these forms of psychotherapy; especially to those individuals like me, where other therapies have failed.

With the support of ‘Fixers UK’ I have been able to set up a campaign and create a book: ‘Inside and Out of My Mind’ to raise awareness of the benefits of creativity for
young people’s emotional well-being, as well as to give a creative look at young people’s personal experiences of mental illness and encourage others to get creative too.

You don’t have to have a GSCE in art, drama or dance to be creative – it’s whatever speaks best for you. I can’t write poetry to save my life, but you might find that writing out your own song lyrics helps you to express yourself. 
Don’t be afraid to try something and if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t be discouraged; try something else and keep trying until you find what feels right for you and helps you express yourself best. For me, even just grabbing a crayon and drawing a big massive scribble can help me vent out my feelings.

Here's some creative ideas…
* Youtube how to crochet
* Google how to write a haiku poem or a limerick
* Grab a pen and paper and draw your favourite pet or a memorable place
* Draw in a different style, such as with zentangles
* Go for a walk and take photographs of what you see
* Join a local dance or drama group
* Put on your favourite tunes and dance it out
* Try out some yoga
* Bake a cake and focus on your five senses
* Treat yourself to a new colouring book and some pens
* Write a letter to yourself
* Keep a journal

More details on my Fixers campaign can be found here:
Personal profile: http://www.fixers.org.uk/index.php?module_instance_id=11312&core_alternate_io_handler=view_fixer&data_ref_id=9240piece can be sent to insideandoutmymind@hotmail.com, to the team at Fixers UK or through the Facebook page.

I also run a little jewellery and craft shop on Etsy as over the years I’ve made so many pieces of jewellery that I have more than I know what to do with!

The money raised through the sales of the items I make, go into supporting other causes, most recently I have raised money for our local inpatient CAMHS unit to stock their new activity library and helped a friend towards her fundraising goals to make disability friendly adaptations to her home.

There is also an exclusive offer to Aimee’s blog readers offering a 10% discount on all items, just type in NOTDISORDERD10 at the checkout.
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