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The Lowell

The Student News Site of Lowell High School

The Lowell

The Student News Site of Lowell High School

The Lowell

Healing through creativity

Ryan Njuguna, Emily Yee

I sit at the desk in my room, legs trembling and heart pounding in my chest. Tears fall from my eyes as thoughts violently swirl through my head. A tornado of worries. I look down at my weak hands with rapid breaths and, for a moment, forget how to breathe. I feel hopeless, suffocated with panic, and longing for a way to ease my suffering.

Throughout my life, I have suffered from several panic attacks like this one, but beginning to do art has helped me immensely. After years of painful episodes and hardships, I am now on the road to recovery, but it wasn’t easy for me to reach this point in my life.

Anxiety is something that I have always had to deal with. Ever since I was very young (about 9 or 10 years old), I would find myself spiraling into a trance of negative thoughts: There’s something wrong with you. You are going to fail that test. Something bad might happen. I was always expecting the worst in any situation and had frequent panic attacks that took over my everyday life.

The most noticeable part of my anxiety was the physical symptoms. This was the fatigue, nausea, and trembling limbs. Because of this, I began to worry that there was something seriously wrong with me. I had no idea what the issue could be. Anxiety was not a commonly discussed topic in my household, and even if it came up occasionally, I was sure that it was unrelated to me. Convinced that I had some mysterious ailment, my anxiety worsened and I began to think that there was no way that I could possibly be cured of this problem. I felt hopeless.

Convinced that I had some mysterious ailment, my anxiety worsened and I began to think that there was no way that I could possibly be cured of this problem.

After realizing that my mental health was suffering and I needed to get a professional opinion, my mother took me to several therapists from ages 10-13. Eventually, I was diagnosed with anxiety, which slightly improved my wellbeing, but frequent panic attacks persisted. Talking about the feelings and thoughts I had was difficult, especially discussing them with a complete stranger. I often held back, keeping the burden of anxiety that was weighing me down. However, I was desperate for a solution. I knew I needed something that would take the pain away, even though I didn’t believe that it existed.

As I was still reluctant to talk about my feelings, my therapist suggested I find ways to calm my nerves through enjoyable hobbies or new interests, like art. One night in particular, about two years ago, when my anxiety was high, and I felt I was on the verge of a panic attack, there was only one thing I could think to do: I grabbed my notebook and a pencil with two shaky hands and began to draw. The pencil glided across the notebook with ease, swirling and twisting, like the thoughts that had occupied my mind many times before. My heavy breathing and pounding heartbeat slowly returned to their normal pace. Although the fear still lingered in my body, the sound of the pencil against paper soothed my crowded brain. I felt a freeing feeling, creating whatever came to mind. After many minutes, I realized that my muscles had untensed themselves and my mind had relaxed into a deep state of focus. Drawing had distracted and calmed me, releasing me from the clutches of anxiety.

Art was something that I could control in a world that made me feel powerless, and it allowed me to express my emotions through creativity.

Weeks later, after noticing that drawing had helped me, my mother signed me up for an art class. For once, I felt a sense of hope for my future. The first day that I stepped into the art class, I felt true excitement. With every stroke of my paintbrush, I experienced relief from the agonizing and invasive negative thoughts. The distraction and stress relief that it provided me with was like nothing I’d experienced before. Art was something that I could control in a world that made me feel powerless, and it allowed me to express my emotions through creativity.

Although I still live with anxiety today, it is much more manageable now that I have found a way to calm myself when the bad thoughts begin to drown out the good ones. I have continued to take art classes and attend weekly therapy sessions. Anxiety is one of the most significant challenges I have faced in my life, but discovering art as a resource has truly helped me. I know that I may never fully rid myself of anxiety, but I now have hope that I can live a happier life — and I have an incredible art portfolio to document my journey.

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About the Contributors
Eliza Howard, Reporter
She/Her Eliza is a freshman who enjoys hanging out with friends, doing art, and watching new shows and movies. Her favorite drink is boba and her favorite food is pasta. She also loves exploring new places around the city.  
Ryan Njuguna, Photographer
He/Him Ryan is a person who is open-minded and willing to do whatever it takes to complete his tasks. Even though he messes up sometimes, he will get it right the next time. He also tries his best to lighten up the mood in the room.

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