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Creativity and Mental Health - A Story of Hope and Healing

Have you wondered about the connection there sometimes seems to exist between creativity and mental health? While far from all artists are depressed, there’s something almost magical about the way art can help heal an anxious mind. We talked to our artist friend Anna Sohlberg, aka @alukewarmmess, about her experiences fighting depression, and finding peace through art and creativity. As many of us are stuck inside, self-isolating, remember to take care of your mental health as well as your body!

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If we’ve been friends for a while, you’ve probably seen these gorgeous day journals in our feed from time to time. Not surprising, these pictures always spark a ton of engagement from our followers. With brutal honesty and large doses of humour, Anna Sohlberg’s pics and texts seem to strike a chord with most people.

- I started posting my dailies, as I call them, 4 years ago and things just exploded. People left comments saying that they’d started following me because of my pictures, but once they read my captions they felt compelled to stay. They realised I was touching on an important subject, I guess.

At that time, Anna had just lost her dad to cancer, was going through a depression and found herself at rock bottom. But during this dark time she started to draw and doodle. She found that filling a page with doodles, without any pressure, quieted her thoughts.

You can’t doodle yourself out of depression, but I know that once I start drawing, all the dark thoughts go quiet.

- My instagram became a diary of sorts, recalls Anna, aka @alukewarmmess. By now I was doing a little better and was able to start putting my feelings into words - and pictures. I remember describing myself as a pressure cooker, and that my account became my vent. I drew and I wrote. That worked well for me, she says.

Anna emphasises that making art might not be enough to get someone out of a depression, but it can be hugely helpful.

- I know you can’t really doodle yourself out of a depression but I knew that once I started drawing, all the dark thoughts went quiet.

When Anna started writing about her anxiety, openly and honestly, she immediately noticed how strongly it resonated with people.

- Someone could say to me: “This is exactly how I feel. I have to show this to my partner right now!” Or: “Finally, I understand my partner…and that you can’t just say ‘cheer up’ to someone who’s going through a depression.”

- It’s wonderful, but also quite sad really, that this resonates with so many, says Anna.

I want to show that it’s ok to talk about this stuff.

In Anna’s experience, talking about mental health issues is becoming easier, but can still be a tough thing to bring up in the workplace or in school.

- I just want to show people that it’s ok to talk about this stuff, Anna explains. It would be so helpful if we could remove the stigma around mental health. I mean, we don’t need to normalise it or trivialise it - just be willing to have an honest conversation about it.

Despite how widely anxiety and depression affect people in general, it’s easy to feel lonely when you’re going through a dark time. But communities like Anna’s, where her followers support one another just by knowing that they aren’t alone, can be really empowering.

Today, Anna is in a much better place. She knows herself better, knows her triggers and knows how to handle them.

- I’ve been well for a while now, but that isn’t great for creativity, Anna laughs. I try to do something creative every day, because I know that makes me feel good. My IG followers drop when I no longer dish up angst-filled dailies all the time, but hey - what’s important is that I’m well now.

If you’re a fan of Anna’s dailies, don’t despair. She still makes the occasional one, for herself and for her followers.

- Writing things down, both the good, the bad and the ugly, helps me get an overview of the day. And that’s regardless of how I feel, Anna explains. It helps me sort my feelings, see what I feel happy about and not so happy about. But it also helps me look at my day and myself more matter-of-factly, and try not to judge everything, all the time.

And that, we think, sounds like a wonderfully mindful way of recording one’s days.

Drooling over Anna’s doodles? Try making a daily yourself - it’s a fun way of journaling, and super easy with Anna’s Day Journal templates. Click below to get your paws of yours!

Templates without text
Templates with text

Anna uses a customised notebook with a dot grid inlay, which is perfect for doodling and bullet journaling. You'll find the notebook here.

Connect with Anna and her wonderful community on Instagram through her account @alukewarmmess.

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