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Frame of Mind

Siân Simpson

"I have struggled on and off with my mental health for as long as I can remember really. I have always tried to manage on my own and do all the things that should help maintain a good balance. The last three years or so I have really felt that my mental health has been more balanced and not so up and down- more manageable. I have just learnt to accept that sometimes I will have down days or periods and will take time out to really do as much as I can for myself to counteract that negativity with things that I love doing to lift me up again.

One of those things is art. Art is a huge therapy and I couldn't cope without it or being around it everyday. I sometimes write poetry, cook or I will get lost in music so anything creative I use to express myself. Doing these things makes me feel most at ease, relaxed and 'still'. The anxious shakes melt away until I notice that my breathing is calm and my mind is focused and I'm feeling like I can conquer anything again. I did this painting back in September when I ended up positive with COVID for the second time in the last year and a half. I'd already been isolating a few days with my partner being positive. As it was the day before I was due my second vaccine when he got his positive result I had to isolate too and then being positive myself. I ended up being totally wiped out for two weeks and I particularly suffered towards the end of the isolation. It didn't help that the sense of smell had totally gone and I couldn't smell my nice relaxing essential oils or the normal comforts of good home cooked food. Little things we take for granted that are so important.

I think the anxiety and worry took over - I thought it would take months for me to bounce back after covid like it did the first time I was dying to leave the house and escape for a walk and then when the first day of 'freedom' arrived I couldn't cope and couldn't wait to get back into the safety of home. It was a strange time feeling vulnerable and particularly out of sorts.

I felt like the normal things that I would do to help me cope with everyday were being taken away and I found that really hard. I did get into knitting though as it was the only thing I could do that didn't seem to drain me (and could also do lay down snuggled in bed!) Our brains are funny things and they can really rule over you sometimes. I took a photo of myself when I was really really fed up during that second period of covid and thought I would paint it to capture that time and the emotions I felt. This is the first portrait I've ever painted and just used acrylics layered on mostly by using my fingers and then adding little details with brushes. I just went for it and I quite liked how it turned out. I knew the angle of the face wasn't quite right and I was going to touch it up but decided to leave it as it was because that's how I left it at that time in my frame of mind. And so I thought it was fitting for it to be titled that: 'Frame of Mind'. I hadn't intended for this piece to even be shown to anyone at first, I just did it for me but as time passed and I felt myself return more to my 'balanced' self I noticed just how different my eyes looked."

Find more of Siân's work on instagram.

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