Creativity at Half Mast: Navigating Mental Wellbeing


Kellee 00:00
And I hope that this trend continues to normalise the fact that we all have a different way of working through this world. And I would love it if we can help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness by bringing more awareness to it. And that's why I'm just speaking, so candid with you right now about my journey.

Kellee 00:29
You're listening to Unfold with Kellee Wynne this is an unpolished, imperfect and totally honest podcast, and I'm talking to all the artists, creatives, visionaries, and changemakers, who want to live a life by design and not by default. If you're ready to have thought provoking eye opening and heart centred conversations, that explore the stories that made us who we are, and break through the boundaries of expectations than you are in the right place.

Kellee 01:01
Hello, hello, my friends, artists changemakers out there who are listening to Unfold with Kellee Wynne, welcome to this episode, I had something else scheduled for today. But the world has kind of cuckoo pants out there again, and I wanted to come in to you with this heartfelt message. Hopefully it'll land in the right place. And just speaking from the heart today. Look, it is not easy being human on planet Earth, I have no doubt about that. But I just want to be able to share a little bit of my own mental health journey today, and to talk to you about what we can do in hard times as creative beings and as sensitive souls. I get it, it's been pretty challenging. It's been challenging for all of us many sad crying days, to tell you the truth. on again, off again, this whole year, we thought was going to be bursting out into a bright new future with less COVID restrictions and more abundance and more time to be able to spend together and I do hope that you're spending more time with your loved ones.

Kellee 02:07
However, I do recognise at the same time as we keep trying to move forward with our life and our dreams and our goals and our creativity and our art. We keep getting hit up against this one after another of tragic things happening, of exhausting things happening. Political and emotional and sovereign places that we want to be able to be in this world, especially as women and minorities. And we feel like our voices just not being heard. I'm with you on that I feel the same way. And yet I do have to stop and say how can I move forward with grace in my life and with my business and with my family, so that I don't have a complete mental collapse, which is so easy to do in this world if we reflect always on what's happening externally.

Kellee 02:59
So I want to bring it in just a little bit to the internal, what we can do us as artists and as beings in the little world and bubbles that we create. This is not to spiritually bypass what's happening in this world. This is not to say that we aren't going to be grieving that we aren't going to be dealing with pain, sorrow and mental health in our own personal ways. But it is to say that there are things that we can do about it to keep moving forward. And so I just want to talk about my personal journey, and see if maybe it resonates with you. Because, you know, all I know is what I have experience with personally, but my ears are open, my heart is open. I'm listening to what is being said, especially by those who are going through the actual suffering themselves. But I want to kind of reflect on the fact that today is May 31. And it is the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month. And I didn't even talk about it. And I think we didn't even have a chance to think about it because we've been inundated with so many other things happening. You know, beautiful, wonderful things have been happening as well as the hard and the tragic that is life tragically beautiful, beautifully tragic, whatever way that we want to look at it. But let's kind of dive into what we can do. Right here right now. I'm going to read to you a quote which I think I read to you before, because I find that it's really pertinent to who we are as creative beings and artists.

Kellee 04:29
Okay, this from Toni Morrison. And she says, this is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self pity. No need for silence and no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. And I will add to that we paint and we draw and we sculpt and we knit and we photograph and we make theatre and we make music and we sing and we connect and we create something in this world. And that is the reason that we keep moving forward is this beauty that we all have this ability to continue to contribute. And if we shut this part of ourselves down. Now, while there is so much other negativity in the world, we're not able to really communicate and put out the beauty that we're naturally born to do.

Kellee 05:26
I would like for you to kind of reflect back to Episode Eight, Exceeding your surge capacity, I reviewed a bit on what to do when the world gets a little bit heavy, and some steps to take. But I want to kind of jump in from another perspective today, which is actual care of mental health and my journey that I've been through. See, I was lucky to be born genetically predispositioned to anxiety. I know this because it runs in my entire family, all the way back, we have history and documentation to great grandmother and great great grandmother. So look, it's just for some of us, we're wired differently. And once I learned that, and acknowledged that there was nothing in my own personal power that I could do to just rewire my brain, I turned to support and help. I postpone getting this help for a really long time, I can go back into my childhood and my teen years and recognise some of the things that I struggled with then early adulthood from sleeplessness, from chest tightening type things to spiral, and especially thought control. This is a big symptom for me for anxiety is not being able to control where my brain goes, and how it wants to obsess and circulate some thoughts that are unhelpful. Maybe you relate to that, I don't have social anxiety so much as I have like just the weight of thought and ideas, and the world and the people around me that become very oppressive and suffocating. And it got worse and worse after parenthood. And yet, in my mind, I thought, oh, if I just eat right, and exercise and do the things that I know, I need to do to be healthy, I'm going to be okay, but here's the funny thing about that when you're not okay, it's really hard to do those things. And no matter how much you do those things, if the chemicals aren't connecting in your brain, right? It's not going to get right.

Kellee 07:27
And I have my breaking point after the 2016 election. I don't think I need to say more about that. But it became so terribly daunting to me in my life. I couldn't sleep through the night without waking up with horrible thoughts, whether it was about how terrible of a parent I was, which was not true, or how horrible the future was going to be, which is unwritten, or any of the other things that would just spiral in my mind over and over again, and day to day making it harder and harder for me to make art, to have healthy relationships, to be able to love my children fully and be present for them as a strong parent role. And honestly, to be able to build my business that I had been working towards, for at that point at least eight years.

Kellee 08:15
So what was I to do? and I finally had this point that I recognise, I needed help when I no longer suffered from anxiety, but I had turned everything into a deep depression. And I'm telling you this from an honest point of view, because I know many of you suffer from these things, sometimes our anxiety and our depression and our mental health is not something that's coming from an outside source. Any one person could deal with something tragic and be able to deal with it differently than somebody whose chemicals in their brain aren't working right. And when I got to the point where I was envious of the dead carcass on the side of the road being eaten by vultures, I knew that I had gone too far. I'm not saying that I felt suicidal, but I felt envious of not feeling. And that wasn't the place that I wanted to be because in my heart, I'm a light, loving, happy person. But in my mind, it was fucking me up. I don't know how else to say it. So when I finally got therapy, and started medication, mind do my doctors have been asking me for a decade to start medication. But when I finally did it, it was like this huge cloud lifted over my head. And Zoloft was the key for me. And talk therapy, all the things that I had been resisting doing made a huge impact. That was 2017 when I finally reached out and did the thing that I needed to do. A low dose of Zoloft is all it took for my brain to go and no longer have the mounting anxiety. I'm not saying I live without anxiety, but I can cope with it now. And talking through things and learning healing techniques, and I want to tell you about a few of those things that I learned going through therapy and through self discovery that made a difference to help heal my heart, and keep me from being anxious as often. Or if I'm having one of those over ridden and anxiety moments, which I still do quite frequently, I just know how to deal with it a little bit better for myself now.

Kellee 10:26
Some of those things include a gratitude practice, which seems so obvious and talked about all the time. And we can say, Oh, I've heard of that. That's typical, that doesn't really work. But if you really stop for a minute, and you become present, in the moment, and look at what is right here, in this moment, not what went wrong before and not what you have to worry about in the future, and you become present, and you become grateful for the little things, there is a sense of peace that comes with that. And so that gratitude practice, for me, made a difference in healing. Another thing was coming to a realisation that the world is vast, and time is long, and the Universe is big, and my puny little brain can't comprehend it all. And so because I know that I can't comprehend it all, because I know that I am just a little pin point in time, it gives me permission to let go of more. And that might seem kind of altruistic, but for those of you who hold heavy on beliefs, those beliefs that might or might not be causing you to have more depression or more anxiety, I'm just saying take a look at this, this possibility of not having to know and not having to figure it out, and not having to have the answers. And being okay with not having control because we don't, and coming back to presence again, oh, hey, look, I just brought that back again, presence, it really is a centering thought to be here in the moment and love the people who are right in front of you.

Kellee 11:59
And I'm not saying that this heals all and I am not an expert. And I do not have the answers for everything. This is one really important thing, that when I stepped over that threshold of letting go and coming back to centre and being in this moment, I'm focusing on what is right in front of me and the people who are here in my household that I can love and that I can help. Because I can't be all things to every one, I can't fix relationships that aren't fixable, I can't solve the world's problems. I can't fix world hunger or war or mass shootings, or what the Supreme Court is going to do. I can't fix it, I can, I can stand up and use my voice and I can use my dollar. But there's only so much I can do. So I have to come back to presence. And what I have control over which is myself, and how I interact with the people that I have in my life on a day to day basis. So it may seem like an over generalised solution. But I'm saying coupled with therapy and with medication, and with the deep work that is necessary to understand yourself. This is also one of those layers that when you can come to and come to again and again because it's easy to forget that things seem to be a little bit easier to move through this world.

Kellee 13:25
And so this is just one little bit of advice that I wanted to share with you in this last day of mental health awareness month. I don't know if you realise this, but mental health awareness month has been recognised in the United States since 1949. And yet for some reason, it's only in the last few years that we've really brought it to the forefront. And I hope that this trend continues to normalise the fact that we all have a different way of working through this world. And I would love it if we can help eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness by bringing more awareness to it. And that's why I'm just speaking so candid with you right now, about my journey.

Kellee 14:11
I want to tell you a couple of other things that I've been working on in order to help my mental health. And these are more of the personal spiritual practices. Hiking in nature is like meditation to me. A chance to disconnect and to go closer to the earth and to the growing. And the being of something that is a beautiful miracle that happens. No matter how hard we try to kill this planet. It's still here. The trees are still growing, the flowers are still blooming, the birds are still singing and so I tried to connect with that. And hiking means turning off electronics, it means not having any external stimulation other than the world around you, right there at that moment. It means being thoughtful about every step that you take. And so for me hiking is my favourite form of exercise because it is a form of meditation to me. And I don't think I do it often enough, I will be honest with you, but I try to get out at least once a week, or every other week to take a good hard hike in nature, I go with my dogs and my husband, you might be able to see a few pictures of those, um, every now and then I post it. But it's really been a beautiful bonding experience since 2020, when the world shut down. And we finally realised the only thing that we had was the outdoors. It brought that practice back to me something that I had done in my youth. And I've brought back now and I have this passion for this idea of trekking more, of hiking more, of moving through other beautiful parts of this world while they still exist. While I still exist. While I'm still capable, while I'm still physically able to. So that's one of the reasons why I put Nepal and the Annapurna track on my big wish list, and it's coming true this fall, as long as everything goes to plan, thank you world that I have no control over. So hiking, and maybe your form of moving through this world is different. Maybe you're into kayaking, maybe you like to play racquetball, I don't know what it is that works for you. But the actual physical movements of our body make a difference in our mental health and our well being. Of course, I want to go back to that moment where I said to you, I couldn't do those things until I got help. So if you're struggling to even do those things, maybe the first step is to get therapy, maybe medication is right for you. Maybe there's something else that needs to help come before the actual steps to the rest of your mental well being. I encourage you with wholeheartedness, that it's okay to look at that as an option for you. And we're going to work towards destigmatizing taking medication in order to feel well and to have those synapses work properly in your brain. So that you can to go out and go hiking, climb mountains, dance again, and make more art, which brings me to my other bit of therapy, making art in a playful manner.

Kellee 17:16
Many of you who are listening right now take art very seriously as part of your life. It's part of your goals, it may even be part of your career path. I mean, sometimes we get so caught up in the making for a career that we forget about the making for fun for play and for enjoyment. And it is in that process of play, that the true joy comes out. And right now I'm just finishing up an entire month of the virtual art Summit, where we talked about our style, our voice. And if there's one thing that I've come to discover, after talking to each of the guest artists in the virtual art Summit, is that through this activity of play, and fun, is when they find their best work, and that they make work that connects with their audience, and that they make work that is highly sought after to purchase because it's coming from a place of exploration and self discovery without worrying about the product or the outcome. And so when I realise this, that I've been kind of stuck in making the product or the outcome, and sometimes that's for making courses, making products, making artwork for sale, that I've missed that process of play. And so I'm coming back to play more this is a big aha shouldn't have been a big aha, it should have been pretty obvious. But it's been a big aha that I've come back to now. And that is part of the healing like that Toni Morrison, quote, we need to keep putting this beauty into this world because that is what we're here for as as how civilizations heal, is by our creativity.

Kellee 17:16
So I encourage you to continue to make even when it might feel pointless, even when it may feel daunting. nurture yourself, care for your emotions, but also don't give up on your passions and your dream. If what you have to do is take a black marker and scribble it an ugly mess and anger, get that emotion out. I've done that before and it is the most freeing, amazing thing that means that what I'm creating isn't for other people it is then again for me, and my play and my fun and my emotional release. And so I'm going to say what the heck are we doing here? If we're all artists, turn to art as part of your healing journey as part of your joy. As part of your way of staying sane in this crazy, crazy world.

Kellee 19:42
There are a few things that I need to do in order to have better mental health that I have not accomplished yet. So I wanted to share with you where I've gotten stuck this year because in full transparency, I have been running myself down the same path as I have before in burnout which is taking on too much, and also avoiding self care. Honestly, self care isn't about getting your nails done getting your hair done taking a bath, doing these like outwardly self care things. So those can help. But in order to do self care, we have to come back to the first things that I was talking about, which is the personal healing, which is the making art, for joy, for taking time to strengthen your body, mind and spirit. So whether that's meditation, exercise, eating well, having deep conversations with people that we love, that self care is an absolutely essential part of keeping yourself from burning out, and to keep your mental health strong. And I've not been so great at doing that. Yes, I took a three week trip with my mother across the Southwest, which was super wonderful and healing, but it was still not putting me in a position where day to day living, I remind myself of self care. And so there are a few things that I've been doing a little bit more concerted effort.

Kellee 21:11
So part of my self care journey is actually turning off my stupid phone. And that's really been a hard addiction to break. And it's also something that's keeping me stuck from having better self care, better boundaries, and better mental health. So I've started a practice, I'm going to start and implement it a little bit more and more, one phone does not go into my bedroom at night, when I go to sleep, I used to be very religious about not doing this. And yet I found myself bringing it into my room, looking at for the last 10 or 20 minutes at night before falling asleep. And then that screen time and that input was disturbing my sleep. And then the first thing I would do in the morning is wake up and look at my phone again. And so if you were saying Ding, ding, ding, this is part of my problem, too, I want you to give yourself some self care boundaries, which means putting your phone to the side, get an old fashioned alarm clock, whatever you need to do, put it in the room next to you with the buzzer on in case, you're concerned that you need to be able to get a phone call in the middle of the night, but don't put it right next to your bed where you can reach for it. And the other thing I'm doing is shutting off my phone on Sundays. This is hard to do, again, this natural habit to just check for a second or two, who did I get it get a nice hit in the brain, the serotonin levels because someone left a nice comment or sent me a message. But it's amazing because when you shut it down, you get so much done. There's art time, there's cleaning out the pantry in the fridge, there's spending more time with your family and conversation. And so this is something I'm going to continue to integrate and actually add more days and maybe even weeks at a time where I actually shut the phone down. It's a hard balance to do because I also run my business through social media. So shutting that down for even a day seems kind of scary. And yet, the truth of the matter is my business keeps running just fine if I take weekends off. So these are a few things that I'm working on is my boundaries with my phone, my self care, my relationships and deepening those because as I have deeper relationships, it makes a huge difference in my mental health, and my happiness, and purpose. You know, to get through these hard times we can look at the people that we love, hold them a lot tighter. And say this is what I get up every morning and do this all for is my family is my husband and my three boys. And to look at each of them and their needs. And to connect with them deeper has been really something that I've been working on. It's always been a lifelong goal. But in the last couple months, this has been one of those things that I've actually taken a deeper stretch into my habits, and how I organise my time and my day and make them a priority.

Kellee 24:02
And of course then the last thing that has been on my goal list for a long time that I'm working towards more and more is a deeper practice of spirituality, which to me means my own personal connection with whatever energy is coming to me whether that be God, whether it be the universe, whether it be the energy that I share between people, whether it's learning how to communicate with myself, that my heart and my soul, but that deeper spiritual practice and wonder and awe allowing that to be part of my daily life has been a healing thing, but it's still a huge practice for me learning how to meditate, learning how to do deeper breath work, especially in those moments where anxiety is high.

Kellee 24:46
And I've been learning from a Reiki practitioner and she's been kind of helping me go through some of these ideas of how energy moves through us and how we can be more grounded for ourselves and our mental health. I love this one little practice advice that she gave me. Thank you Patti Hernandez, by the way, she goes by Patti Mara Posa, or stress less with Patti, you can find her. She's just such a beautiful kind soul that's really brought some awareness to the forefront to me. Which this is the next time that you're feeling this overwhelming rush of anxiety, try going out and being grounded, which is a really a simple idea of get closer to the the earth. And for me, that's just going barefoot in my grass, and it feels fabulous. It changes the way my brain is working. I found this moment of beauty yesterday where for some reason, both my middle son who's 19 years old, and I were feeling anxiety at the same time, and I came down from my studio, and he came up from the basement, and we met each other in the living room at the same time. And I'm like, what's going on? He goes, I don't know, I just feel this overwhelming amount of anxiety right now. And I'm like, me, too. I wonder what's in the air. I wonder what's going through energy wise around us. Because it was undeniable, we both felt this, maybe it was just a sadness of the world that hit us both at the same time. And I said, Come with me come outside, I want you to try something. And of course, he rolls his eyes. And I'm like, the whole idea of standing here in the grass right now in our bare feet, is to just change the way our brains are thinking, the way we feel the energy that we're getting stuck in obsessing about whatever thoughts are on our minds, or the the tightness in our chest. And I just I have to say this is like a beautiful, brilliant idea that Patti gifted to me in one of our recent sessions, and I wanted to pass it on to you. And I watched both he and I, my son and I, our whole energy just shifted in that moment. And it wasn't perfect after that. But we did feel more grounded.

Kellee 27:01
So these are a few little ideas for you to consider. If you're struggling as we all are with mental health, to come back to centre, to come back to grounding. To practice deep breath work, we are just made of energy. And we need to fuel that and every little bit of our body will react to our emotions. If we allow the anxiety to sit in our body long enough, it does poison our spirit and our mind. And I know this from my own personal experience. And maybe it's something different from you. But I can't move forward in this world and serve my people. Well, if I allow this negativity to stay stuck in my body, I can't create the next programme for you the next art course for you. I can't show up here on this podcast. Unless I do these things for self care for better mental health for a lightness of spirit in order to move forward and speak to you with a place that's a little more calm and full of joy. And honestly being able to just talk to you today on this podcast at this moment in time has relieved so much of the building sadness in my heart and anxiety that's been carried with me for the last few months of how the Earth has been in despair. And yet I don't want to be in that place of despair myself. I can hold space for the sadness. And I can empathise deeply. And yet I know that every day I need to wake up and do my best to bring beauty into this world again, because this is precisely the time when artists go to work.

Kellee 28:46
Thank you so much for joining me on Unfold. And next week, we're going to come back with a whole new episode with Alice Sheridan so you were not going to want to miss it. We're going to start talking about following those dreams, making a bigger impact, creating the remarkable business of your dreams. It is possible still, even with all it is going on in this world. I believe that it is still our calling to show up and bring forth what's in our hearts and our minds and our souls what has been given to us as gifts and present them to the world. Okay, so my friends, thank you so much. And please share the word about Unfold if this podcast episode meant something to you, if you recognise yourself in this, if you know anyone that this might have made a difference. Please share the podcast please leave a review. You can find all the details in the show notes that https://www.unfoldwithkelleewynne.com/ And I just want to let you know that I love you. I appreciate you and I want the best for you. Okay, thank you so much. Bye.

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