Blooming Hope

Monoprints 1 and 2 by Kitt O'Malley
Monoprints 1 and 2 by Kitt O’Malley

The Blooming Hope Nursery is an art exhibit of The Expression Project for NAMIWalks Orange County.  The purpose of this exhibit is to grow seeds of HOPE.

To tell the stories of individuals who struggle with mental illness and their family members we are embarking on a journey of hope. The first leg of this journey is the sharing of stories and works of art by family members and individuals.

Here are my entries and story of hope:

Though I am a minivan-driving wife and mother, unlike most of my suburban neighbors, I live with bipolar disorder. On my blog kittomalley.com, I recount my struggle with mental illness, the two decades it took to get a proper diagnosis, and how my journey has ultimately given me a sense of purpose – and at times, a sense of religious calling. I find creating art and writing a good release for racing thoughts. Coloring, especially, helps to slow down my thoughts and quell anxiety.

When I go on walks, I like to take photos of nature, especially flowers and cloudscapes. The photos I’ve taken over the last two years. Walking outside in nature and taking the time to appreciate beauty helps me with my moods. At the same time, I must be sure to not overexpose myself to the sun, for it triggers hypomania.The monoprints I created almost two decades ago when I lived with a diagnosis of dysthymia, well before I was diagnosed bipolar type II. The doodles I’ve done recently, as I’ve found coloring and doodling helpful in grounding me, in slowing down racing thoughts and overcoming anxiety.

I am not creative in spite of or because of my mental illness. I simply am creative. Even when medicated properly and asymptomatic, I am creative. Medication does not turn my creativity off. Using creativity can help me to manage my symptoms, it can be a release, but it is not dependent on me having a diagnosable mental illness. What I want to get across is the importance of self-care, including medication, if needed, and psychotherapy. Art, photography and writing do not take the place of medication or psychotherapy, they are adjuncts to traditional treatment modalities.

Check out my fellow artists’ hope-inspiring work at The Blooming Hope Nursery.