Rewiring the Brain through Art

“Neuroplasticity,” perhaps it is a term that most people are not familiar with.

I first heard the term when I was taking my master’s degree in the Philippines, one session in the Language Acquisition subject, my professor introduced the word to the class….

In a nutshell, neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain to reorganize itself in both physical  and functional manner. Thus, it makes humans capable of learning new skills, recover from stroke, injury and abnormalities during birth, and overcome different brain deficits, depression and addictions.

Anyway, this post is not a lecture about neuroplasticity, but a short account of how this capability of the brain helped me through another yet dark days of my life.

Disclaimer: I claim no scientific evidence, only based on personal experience. 

Recently, I found myself having an episode again. I was feeling helpless, hollow, broken and alone. I have so many repressed thoughts in my head that I could hear their voices already, and sometimes getting nuts in the deafening sound of silence. For a week, I would wake up in the middle of the night crying and hugging myself, while thinking that “this too shall pass.” The feeling was so heavy that I almost gave up with my life, but I fought real hard to win the battle. I gathered all my inner strength, faced the little demon and crushed him down to the inner core of my head.

However, I’m still grateful for this episode has brought me to another level of self-rediscovery. Channeling my artistic side, I used art to express my deep and unspoken emotions. I started with the sketch of the legendary god Suzaku.

The Legendary God Suzaku

While I was looking at my drawing of Suzaku, I realized that like a phoenix, I have to be born out of the ashes of broken dreams, resurrected from the flames of adversity and become stronger and more beautiful. Since then, a series of artworks has followed, I was able to draw a rose, an eye, and a face in front view, side view and 3/4 view, in which some of them, I have given my heart and soul….

The British Association of Art Therapists defines art therapy as “a form of psychoteraphy that uses art media as its primary mode of communication,” (Frank, 2015, Huffpost). It uses the creative process of making art (such drawing, painting, playing musical instruments, dancing etc.) to express unspoken feelings and improve the physical, mental and emotional well-being of a person.

Even before I learned about this art therapy, I have been using my creative side to express myself, improve my moods, and as an outlet for my depression. That is why I have been playing the organ and recorder, writing poems, or sketching whenever I’m having an episode.

And now, I’m taking my sketching to the next level as I could already draw things and faces in more realistic manner. Thanks to neuroplasticity and art because I’m able to improve my mental health without hurting myself. Thank God for neuroplasticity; it is so amazing how our brain works to help us cope with problems and injuries.

So this is an appeal to those who are also suffering like me, please, don’t hurt yourself, use art and seek help.

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