Drawing a Better Mindset: How Art Helps Through Life Struggles

brown red religious artwork

Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

It’s a personal belief, that art is one of the most important tools mankind has. Through different types of art, we can study ancient civilizations. By studying past art styles, we gain a better understanding of how past cultures were created. Additionally, we’re able to learn how to communicate. If you think about it, writing is just one squiggly line after another to create structured sentences for people to understand. I believe art is one of the biggest influences in all cultures, if not the biggest. Furthermore, art can also help you through some of the hardest times of your life. Art is known for reducing stress, anger, and depression.  When using art to express how you’re feeling you can create beautiful heartfelt masterpieces that can capture the attention of people around the world. Did you know some of the most influential pieces of art were done by artists with mental illnesses? Even if you don’t know the names of the artists I will be reviewing, I’m positive you’ve seen some of their masterpieces through social media, in school textbooks, or maybe graffitied on a wall. Sometimes a spark of madness can create inspiration for millions of people through many years.

Everyone Has an Artistic Side

It’s true, everyone has an artistic side even if some people believe they do not. The truth is, anyone can pick up anything that can make a mark and create something. Remember the saying beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Well, that goes for art as well. You might think your art is ugly or unworthy to be shared with the people around you. However, someone might see your artwork and think it’s beautiful and inspiring. Granted, there are people born with a natural talent for art but they too must practice mastering their talent. Don’t be intimidated by art you believe to be better than your own. Self-doubt often leads to not trying or giving up. Try to catch your thoughts and redirecting them by thinking positive thoughts like “through practice, I will become better” or “I have my own unique style which is beautiful to me.” Catching negative thoughts as they come is a great habit to get into.

However, even though everyone has a creative side, it can still be challenging to find the motivation or desire to create something. The good news is, there are ways to overcome these challenges. The bad news is, you’re going to have to muster up the effort if you truly want to gain the inspiration to create your own masterpiece. For example, going to a museum or art fair could spark your interest and give you the motivation you may have needed to start on your journey to find your own art style. Going to places like these gives you the opportunity to connect to likeminded people who can give you advice. It’s a great way to meet new friends who share the same interest and to really take in the beauty of the pieces on display. Another way you can gain inspiration is by getting connected on social media and following artist you enjoy, you can even send them messages asking them about art. Many individuals enjoy giving feedback to those who enjoy their art style. Lastly, sometimes all you need to spark the motivation is to just start drawing and the motivation will come on its own. I’ve learned through trial and error that putting things off just prolongs the desire to do something and sometimes can burn the desire completely out. Stop putting your interests on hold, you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish if you just go ahead and start.

Famous Artists Who Also Suffered from Mental Illnesses

There have been many artists throughout the years who have created beautiful masterpieces that have captivated the world with the stroke of a brush, quill, pencil, etc.

person holding van gogh book beside sunflowers

Photo by wendel moretti on Pexels.com

Some of the most well-known pieces of art have been created by artists who also struggled with mental illnesses. According to brains.org, Michelangelo, the famous painter who is well-known for his painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, was believed to have depression and a bipolar disorder. Another well-known artist, who many people know by his famous painting, The Scream, Edvard Munch, suffered from hallucinations, anxiety, and nervous break downs. Munch sought therapeutic help to help him through his darkest times. Lastly, Vincent Van Gogh, the famous artist who cut off a part of his ear, suffered from epileptic seizures, depression, and manic bursts. Sadly, he took his own life at the age of 37. The complete list of 10 famous painters is on Brains.org if you would like to check the rest of them out.

These artists changed the world with their art while battling their own mind. They inspired the world for many generations and will continue to inspire the generations to come. Don’t let depression, anxiety, bipolar, psychosis, etc…. control you. Use it to your advantage to create beautiful works of art that could possibly one day become a legend. Living with a mental illness is ugly but using it as fuel for creativity could create a beautiful masterpiece.

My Personal Journey with Using Art to Help with My Own Mental Struggles

From a very young age, I’ve known the darker side of life, due to going through various abusive situations, no child should ever have to endure. I didn’t know how to handle the pain on the inside, so I turned to self-harm in my teenage years to numb the pain on the inside. Sadly, I used to cut myself to escape the mental torment I was going through. I rather physically hurt than hurt mentally. However, my grandmother found out I was cutting my wrist when my brother and I were sent to live with her, after being taken away from our mother. Shortly after my grandmother found out my secret, I was sent to live in facilities for a total of 5 years. Though I will admit, it was my fault I wasn’t released from the hospitals sooner. I acted out and lashed on everyone that tried to help me. By acting out, I caused my stay in the facilities to be longer than the original 3 months. I felt alone, hurt, and betrayed. Most of all, I didn’t understand why life kept putting me through hell. I was angry at the world. Though, now I look back and realize my grandmother was doing what she felt was best for me at that time. I couldn’t imagine where I would be if she didn’t send me away to get help. Honestly, I would probably be dead. I’m thankful she did what she did, even though it wasn’t easy for anyone involved.

While living in and out of different behavioral hospitals, I learned how to manage my emotions through various coping tools like reading, writing poetry, playing the guitar (kind of ha-ha), and drawing. Drawing has always been one of my favorite ways to stop thinking about things beyond my control and focus on something productive. I honestly thought my drawings were awful, but I enjoyed drawing, so I kept practicing. Eventually, my art style became more detailed and defined. I learned different techniques and styles through trial and error. Most of all, I didn’t give up or let negative thinking stop me from something I enjoyed. The sketch is a recent picture I drew after Stan Lee passed away, it helped me through the sadness that came with his death.

In 2014, I was sent to one of the facilities I had spent my teenage years in. I was not admitted due to self-harm this time, but from my mind snapping from all the things I had been through in life. I was 22 when I went back, though I couldn’t remember any of the doctors, nurses or staff members that knew me. I couldn’t even recognize my own mother, brother, nor roommates at the time. I was hospitalized for three months, while the adult unit ran tests on me and used therapy to regain my mental state of mind. Keep in mind, I was not on any type of drug when my mind snapped. I was terrified of drugs, due to my brothers and I being taken away from our mother. I simply overstressed and went into deep psychosis. Luckily, I was able to pull myself out of whatever trance I was in. The best way to describe it is; you’re sitting back in your mind watching yourself do these crazy things and you’re trying to tell yourself this isn’t right, but your mind and body keep reacting in absurd ways. Like you’re not in control of your own body. It was the scariest thing I had ever experienced in my life. I remember drawing in the dayroom a lot. It kept my anxiety and depression down, from being back in a place I thought I would never return to. As you can see, art has helped me in the toughest times in my life. I’m not saying it will cure your depression or fix your anxiety. However, if you let it, it can be a great outlet for when life becomes overbearing.

Down below are two pictures I drew, one is from 2015 and the other one is from a couple of weeks ago. As you can tell, with patience and practice, your art will continue to grow and change, just as you will. I’m still learning new skills and developing my own art style, I’m glad I didn’t throw my hands up and stop trying. If I would have done that, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now with my sketches. I do have an Instagram for my art if you would like to follow me: snow_crystal_1991


As you can see, art can help with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and many other mental illnesses. Furthermore, many well-known artists were able to use their own mental struggles to create captivating masterpieces, that changed the world. You can overcome any struggle with the determination and desire to do so. Art and creativity can help you on your journey to self-healing. Even if you don’t become a famous artist, art has many beneficial factors.

If you want to unlock your creative side and don’t know where to start or what brands are reliable, I will provide links to some of the art supplies I personally buy, along with a short review. I like being honest with my readers so I will say, these are affiliate links and I do make a small commission if you choose to buy the product after clicking on the link. I use Amazon affiliates, a well-known and trusted website. I use affiliate marketing to make a side income from home so I can continue my dream of becoming a writer. Here soon I will be publishing my first book, 365 Days of Self- Reflecting, a prompt journal to help you discover your true self.

photo of head bust print artwork

Photo by meo on Pexels.com

Links (just click on the highlighted word to go to Amazon)

Sketch Pads 

This is one of my favorite sketchbooks. I use sharpie markers often and the ink hardly bleeds through the paper. The paper is thick and ideal for many types of art. Additionally, they are extremely cheap, they’re usually around $7!

Giant Sketchbook

For around $25 you can get a giant sketchbook that will last you for years. I bought mine in 2015 and I’m not even halfway through the sketchbook, though I go back and forth between it and my small sketchbook. The paper is thick and is great for many projects. The only problem I had with it is after a while the binding gave out, though that’s to be expected when you used something often.

Small Canvas

These small canvases come 12 in a pack for about $9, which is an amazing deal if you think about it. I’ve used sharpies, paint markers, acrylic paint, and color pencils on this brand and they have never disappointed me. Occasionally, some canvases will have small strings within them, so read the reviews and decide if you want to take the risk. After all, they are on the cheaper side.

Skin Color Markers

Let me say, these markers do take time to get used to if you’re new to blending. However, once you get the hang of them, they are really easy to use. If you enjoy drawing people or cartoons, these markers are magical! I highly recommend them to those who enjoy drawing anime.

Sketch Pencils

These sketch pencils are great for beginners as well as cheap. I still have my set after 3 years and they still work beautifully. I highly recommend these sketch pencils for those who are just starting out.

Paint Pens

I really enjoy these paint pens. You shake them and they are ready to paint! However, if you press them down for too long they will gush paint everywhere, so be careful not to hold them down for too long if you decide to go with these paint pens. Furthermore, you can use them on canvas, rocks, shirts, and more!

72 Count Sharpie Box

Okay, I am a huge sharpie fan and this box is amazing. There are 72 sharpies of all different colors, sizes, and none of them were dried out. This has been one of my favorite purchases off of Amazon, even though they are on the pricy side. Though I believe it’s worth the $50, due to how much I use them.

thank you heart text

Photo by u0158aj Vaishnaw on Pexels.com

A Big Thank You

**Remember, you don’t have to click on the link nor purchases anything. However, if you do decide to purchase one or more of the items below and use the links I provided, it is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance to those who use the links provided, you are awesome.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, if you like what you read don’t forget to comment and click the follow button. I try to have a post written every week, check out my previous posts as well.




Website TitleBrainz

Article Title10 Great Painters Who Were Mentally Disturbed

Date Accessed March 14, 2019

25 Comments on “Drawing a Better Mindset: How Art Helps Through Life Struggles

  1. Great post! Art can really help with my depression and anxiety – so excited more people are talking about it!

  2. Pingback: Drawing a Better Mindset: How Art Helps Through Life Struggles | Fox&Co. Mental Health

  3. Hello Crystal, I loved your article. I also think that art can help us in so many ways, from self-discovery, self-confidence, understanding the world to healing. Have a beautiful and blessed day!

  4. I can really relate to what you have shared in this post. Thank you for taking the time and effort to connect the lines of thought into a beautiful art-scape of meaning Crystal. very inspiring!

    • My opinion is that if more people could push thru and interpret their experience not so much from the perspective of psychology but rather, spirituality, they could find a whole new meaning for their trials. Art and other forms of creative expression are part of that but, for me anyhow, I’d be lost without my awareness of God. 🙂

      • word! I mean when all logic fails there is only one place where I find relief: awareness of God. super interesting how when the sense of self shifts from thoughts to awareness (Ego to God) it carries so much grace, yet the Ego likes its stories so it holds on to the pain (regrets of past &/or worries about the future).

      • I don’t know if pain can be avoided but one’s understanding as to why it exists might evolve over time: Illness (medical model) vs. Intercession (theological model).

        To put it another way, back in grad school a fellow student once said, “The saint is sick” (i.e. in contemporary culture).

        By this he meant we’ve come to put all our trust in science so spiritual work is often misunderstood as illness.

      • the reply I typed out ended up in the main comments. really appreciate the words you have shared 🙏🏼

  5. I would literally go even more crazy than I am if I wouldnt write, I don´t care if I have a computer although is always nice to share it in WordPress, but it is also very gratifying to sit down and write on paper if the computer fails as it has many times.

  6. This is such a beautiful post. I found that when I was admitted to the mental health unit for care when my anxiety and depression became so deep that it was the art therapy that lead me to being able to see colour again.

  7. Reblogged this on It's Always Darkest Before The Dawn: A Story of Hope and commented:

    Hi Crystal

    Thanks for the follow and all the best with your blog

    I do really appreciate your liking, linking to and/or following this blog (and “writing in”), so “thanks to YOU all for the thanx” (in thought).



    if you want to follow me, go to https://www.facebook.com/craig.lock.31



    Though my family and close friends say it would be far more entertaining with a video-camera* in the “real world”, rather than in cyberspace!)

    * By the way, do they still make them in today’s ever-faster changing world..or is it all done with mobile phones?

    (get with the times now,”luddite”* c – it should be a smart phone)

    * or so I was often called by my “my techno-geek” friend, Bill (“the gonk”)

    “total non-techno” c (who doesn’t possess a mobile phone, after a rather eventful’ experience some years back, whilst trying to walk, talk and chew gum at the same time)

    Who says men can’t multi-task!

    Men…Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em!

    “You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.”

    – Colette (nice name for a girl, btw)
    from http://www.craigsquotes.wordpress.com

    Best wishes from the First City to see the light

  8. Very well said. Art is a beautiful solution to calm down and connect with our pure, divine, blissful self 😊❤

  9. guess that would be the difference between pain and suffering. suffering is created by resisting pain. so in that sense suffering is optional, even though pain is part of life. had an eye opening experience of this while getting tattooed last year, the pain of the needle was minor compared to the mental angst I felt from anticipating the pain before the needle made contact. once I accepted the sensation (of physical discomfort) it became tolerable at first and meditative later.

    love that quote btw “The saint is sick”

  10. Thank you for sharing your stories to try to help others. It’s one of the reasons I started my blog. I too use art as one of my forms of therapy. I plan on trying out the skin tone pens. Those look awesome!

    • The skin tone pens are amazing. However, I will say it was a bit nerve-wracking when they were first used because I did not know how to blend them. Though once you get the blending down pat, they are really easy to use. They work really good for anime art styles. I agree art is a great form of therapy.

  11. Great article. I absolutely love this! I find it to be such an important discussion. I would like to add though that I at least for me and many others see writing a form of art as well, and I have seen personally help in writing as well, not just drawing/painting/sculpting, thought those very much as well. Thanks for writing this and can’t wait to read more of your articles.(I just found you) Also, thank you for the follow from you. It is really appreciated and I hope I bring value to you with my writing as much as you do with yours :3 If you don’t mind I’d love to hear what attracted you to my blog. Lots of love from Finland <3

    • I agree 100% with you about writing being a form of art. The way an author can captivate an audience with words is magical in a way. I also really enjoy your writings, I nominated you for the Mystery Blogger Award. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I was attracted to your blog by the title. I love seeing people strive to change for the better, no matter how hard it can be.

  12. Pingback: The Mystery Blogger Award: Another Award Nomination?! – Maybe Crazy Help

  13. Pingback: Maybe Crazy Help | The Mystery Blogger Award: Another Award Nomination?!

Let's Talk About This Post

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: