The first time I learned of suicide was on a skiing trip when I was fifteen years old. My Dad and I were on a winter retreat through his work. My Dad’s friend was there. We had skied with his family before. I knew that he had a son the same age as me. As I waved “Hi” to Gary, my Dad pulled me aside. He whispered, “Don’t ask him about his son. His son committed suicide a few weeks ago.” As my heart dropped, so did my jaw. I remembered Gary’s son as happy, go-lucky. We would always crack jokes together. How could such a seemingly happy kid kill himself?

My Dad said, “His son was in love with a girl who moved away and he committed suicide a week later. There were several things I learned that day. I learned that a smile can be used to hide the pain. I realized that unless we take the time to ask, we do not know what someone else is going through. Just taking the time to listen and to get to know someone can make a huge difference. I have never forgotten the lesson that Scott, Gary’s son, taught me. A smile on the outside can hide the pain that is on the inside. This is when I learned the importance of listening.

Six years ago, my best friend, came to my house crying. She confided in me that her thirteen-year-old son tried to commit suicide. He had been cutting himself for the past few months. She had put him in counseling, but still, he attempted to cut his wrists. Thankfully, he was unsuccessful, because little did he know that he had a whole wonderful life ahead of him. I asked her what different activities he liked. She said that he enjoyed drawing and had taken an interest in art. It was at this moment that I knew how my husband and I could help.

How I dealt with dark times in my life

At this point in my life, I understood how painful life could be. I remembered a dark time in my life when I was eighteen. My first love had broken up with me and I felt lost in a world turned upside down. I had no idea how to go on with my life without him. My older self-shakes my head at the dramatic nature of my younger self. It seemed as if my life ended. The sunshine had ceased to exist and I entered into a barren, bleak land. I experienced a deep depression overrun with suicidal thoughts. It was at this point that I learned of the therapeutic, healing power of art.

As I learned to express my feelings of depression and hopelessness, I realized that my heart, my spirit were being healed. Through each brush stroke came a new sensation, a surge of confidence. I started smiling again. Also, I realized that I had a whole life ahead of me that was meant to be lived. In truth, I was lucky that I unearthed a passion. One day I walked past a craft store. I stopped and purchased canvas and paint. This was the day I painted my first painting the “Sea of Betrayal”. The journey of healing oneself is a process.

I knew first-hand that art could heal an aching heart and soul. Georges Braque said, “Art is a wound turned into light.” My wound, the loss of my first love, was turned into art. As I let the light of art in, I found myself in the darkness. My husband is one of those natural artists that was born with a sketch pad in his hand. At restaurants, he will be doodling on the napkins. He cannot go anywhere without a pencil and a notebook. This is probably one of the reasons we fell in love. We understood the need; the drive; and the desire to create something.

Art in the Park

Together, we started a free art program called “Art in the Park”. Each week we would set up different art projects, at local parks, for parents and their children to participate in. It was amazing, week after week, to see the faces of families light up. It was through this program that my husband and I learned that we loved teaching and sharing art with others. So, I approached my husband about teaching my best friend’s son how to paint. We hoped that painting would have a therapeutic, healing effect on him.

So Simon, my best friend’s son, started coming over each week. My husband taught him how to make his own canvas; how to paint; and to blend colors. He would come over, play with our kids, paint, and truly became a part of our family. It was through his art that he began to express himself. He drew more, talked more in therapy, and started opening up. Simon found a way to express his feelings and to create something beautiful in the process. Today, six years later, he is still painting. His talent is continually expanding.

Don’t Give Up On Life

Simon, now nineteen years old, works in the medical field. He helps elderly patients each day. When you ask him about his job a big smile crosses his face. Recently, he painted his mother an incredible forest that she shows off proudly. This young man, who once desperately needed help himself, is helping others. It brings me great joy to hear of the life he is living. He learned how to express himself and found himself in the process. At times it can seem hard to live the life you have, but you must push through to find the light.

It felt amazing to help this young thirteen-year-old boy. He found his passion while realizing that there was an amazing life ready to be lived. Most of all, his mom was supportive, encouraged him, and helped to guide him through the choppy sea that he was lost in. A helping hand can raise us up to new levels that we hadn’t dared to dream of before. Each of us experiences dark times, life can seem unfair and harsh. Do not give up during the trying times, from my own personal experience, I know that there are sunnier days ahead.

If I would have committed suicide, when my first love broke up with me, I would have missed out on the past nineteen years. There are countless adventures I probably would not have gone on. I wouldn’t have felt the warm California sun on my face when I packed my car and on a whim moved out there. I might not have met my husband or had my two children. Similarly, I wouldn’t have been able to help both my parents when they became ill. Consequently, I would have missed out on a million smiles, hours of laughter, and true joy. I would have missed out on my life.

Find a reason to live

One day I walked past a craft store and found a reason to live. If you are having suicidal thoughts reach out to someone. In addition, not only painting can help, but countless talks with my Mom saved me. Consequently, Simon was healed through art; he had unconditional love, support from his family and friends. Besides, we are never alone when we reach out, there is someone who is willing to listen. There is someone who understands. Painting, writing, exercising, talking are all therapeutic. I found myself through art and writing. Art has taken me on an incredible healing journey. When you are feeling down, you should look for support from friends and family. You can join a depression forum to learn more about how you can cope.

Rachel Naomi Ramen, a physician said, “At the deepest level, the creative process and the healing process arise from a single source. I have learned first-hand the healing power of art – when you are an artist, you are a healer. On my worst days, I pick up a pen or a paintbrush. I let my feelings flow from my heart onto paper or canvas. When I finish I feel better, my spirit is lifted and my heart becomes less heavy. Therefore, let yourself be healed; let yourself be helped, and most importantly let yourself live! This lifetime is meant to be lived, by you, each and every day.

 

For the past five years, I have been taking care of my parents who both have a neurological disorder. The strength, perseverance, and hope my parents possess inspire me to be a better person each day. It brings me great joy to listen, encourage, and help others. I feel that this is my life’s purpose. In my free time, I create upcycled art pieces, hike, and dabble in photography.