Broken Light: A Photography Collective

We are photographers living with or affected by mental illness; supporting each other one photograph at a time. Join our community, submit today!

How Acting Like A Kid Can Improve Mental Health

Photo taken by a woman in her thirties who suffers through long bouts of deep depression, as well as regular anxiety and panic attacks.

About this photo: “I like all things technological, but there is nothing like the smell and feel of an old book in your hands, and the gratification of seeing your bookmark getting closer and closer to the end. Books for me have been therapeutic, both reading them, and at times when it is difficult to focus and read because of depression, defiling or repurposing them. I was at a psychiatric hospital recently when another patient and I found two old abandoned Popular Mechanics do-it-yourself encyclopedias from the ’50s. We took out magazines, sequins, and glue sticks and would sit for hours and hours collaging and coloring on the pages. My favorite part was finding interesting words and images to rip or cut from magazines and matching them together to create stories. Stories on top of stories. Our books became reflections of our personal journeys, through mental illness, love, loss, struggles, and growth. I was especially drawn to images of eyes, birds, things with spikes, puzzle pieces, and women dancing. 

Collaging is an art form that I had not explored since childhood, but it turned out to be great art therapy. It was relaxing, creative, a good release, and also fun for both myself and my new friend. So at the urging of one of the counselors, we decided to explore other childhood activities… Next came finger painting, slinkies, and even play-doh. It’s amazing, but acting like a child really can be a form of therapy. It forces you to be in the present moment. It’s nearly impossible to get a slinky down the steps without really focusing on it – the angle of release, the trajectory, the velocity – or to color within the lines (although don’t limit yourself), and sometimes that one single moment of mindfulness is all it takes to keep you from going down the negative path of past or future thinking – and simply be in the now. 

I think I’m going to have a peanut butter and banana sandwich now, and then take a hula hoop for a spin!”

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4 comments on “How Acting Like A Kid Can Improve Mental Health

  1. abitjuakali
    February 4, 2013

    Reblogged this on some serious jua kali.

    Like

  2. luro97
    February 6, 2013

    I am just starting art therapy and am loving it. You are so right about being a child. Thank you for your words and your photo.

    Like

  3. conserving quirky
    February 7, 2013

    Makes me want to write about art therapy,but before that actually do something creative! thank you for providing inspiration.I will post you a link if i get around making something and writing about it!
    cheers!

    Like

  4. The Baking Barrister
    February 7, 2013

    The other day I randomly pulled out my very old watercolors and started to doodle. I didn’t think of it as “art therapy” at the time, but that is exactly what it is, and you are so right about how it forces you to stay in the moment. That is the essence of childhood, isn’t it? I love what you wrote, and the photo. Thanks!

    Like

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