“Becoming Me”

Introducing  a new VATA Student Blogger , Jennifer. Jennifer is an undergraduate student studying Studio Art, she volunteers at the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault and is planning on pursuing her Master’s Degree in Art Therapy and Counseling.   Jennifer loves to make stuff, share with others, and learn.  You can find her day to day ramblings and crafty adventures on her blog Crafty Dayeseye , and keep up with her 365 project  Art Every Day .

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I was excited to be asked to blog for VATA as a student blogger.  I’m just beginning my schooling and what a great way to document my journey, I hope you’re ready for the ride!

I look forward to sharing my personal experiences, being authentic, and open about my journey, struggles, joys, and even the minutia of a student’s life.  OH!  Also, keep an eye out for an interview or three with other Art Therapy Students from around the country, all in different stages of their education.

-Jennifer

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Becoming me.

That is the journey I have been on for a while; the journey of self.

I have always been stubborn, determined, and focused.  To tell you the truth my nickname growing up was “Little Miss One-Way”; my way or the highway.  So when I was a young teenager faced with what turned out to be mental illness, I fought it tooth and nail.  I could handle this on my own; I was strong enough to overcome anything by myself.  That destructive thinking went on for about 11 years.  Finally I opened my mind and ears and listened to my mother.  “Go get help.”

I gave in.

I began seeing a doctor and counselor.  I never really knew why I was there or what good it would do, but I attended every session.  Eventually I ‘felt fine’ through a combination of medication and talk therapy.  I decided I was (once again) okay on my own.  I ended therapy and stopped taking my prescribed medication.

In 2008 everything came to a crashing halt.

I was contemplating suicide; I had a plan, and the means.  I went so far as to drive myself to the hospital to be in a safe place.  Thank goodness I knew I couldn’t follow through with my plan.  Suicide would be too selfish; too hurtful to the people I loved the most.  Then, while I was in the parking lot I was too embarrassed to go inside.  I sat in my car and cried my eyes out.  Called my husband, calmed a bit and drove home.  The next day I walked into the office of a local psychiatrist unannounced.

After some crisis intervention he told me about a program at the local mental health facility, he called them and I began the Adult Day Program the next day.

During the weeks I was in the program I was introduced to a world I never knew existed, a world of helpers; professionals who knew how to lead me to my own conclusions and taught me how to take action.

This was my first encounter with an art therapist.

I have always known that art making was a good vehicle for me to release pent up frustration, document successes, and unwind from stressful situations, but the thought of it actually being therapeutic was foreign.

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