Art & Recovery: Creating a Life Worth Living

Written by Reed J. | Transcend Mar Vista Client

” Recovery is not just being sober, rather it is building a better life for yourself—a life worth living. I desire this kind of life so strongly that I will do whatever it takes to get there. For me to achieve this I must continue to create. Just for today I will stay sober, create art, and day in and day out, continue moulding my existence into the life of my dreams.”

As someone who works professionally in the fine art field, I have found that the act of producing and creating art is an extremely important part of my recovery. I have often said I live to create and create to live. Years ago I found that when I am creating, whether it be painting, drawing, or any other art form, I am sent into a deep meditative state. During and after spending time working on an art piece I am overcome with a strong sense of serenity and a feeling of peace. For me, creating has become my most rewarding method of practicing meditation.

While I believe my art has been influenced by past drug use, I definitely recognize how much it hindered the creative process. During the times of my life where I have struggled with severe depression, spiraling out of control and only further fueling my drug use, I was never able to create art. No matter what drugs I tried, I was rendered completely unable to draw or paint—chronic drug abuse and dependency made this impossible. This inability to express my creativity in any meaningful way in my life would only intensify my depression which, in turn, would lead to using more and more drugs. Thus the cycle of depression and drugs became firmly rooted in my daily life.

This is not my first attempt at getting sober, but I do believe it will be my last. I have been doing so many things differently this time- getting a sponsor, working the steps, following suggestions, going to meetings, etc. These have all been important in getting and keeping myself sober. Getting sober, however, is only half the battle for me to get to the point where I feel I have a life worth living. This is because of how debilitating my mental illnesses can often become. Managing this part of my recovery is just as important for me as staying sober, which is where creating daily comes in.

My dream of leaving my mark on the world through my art gets closer each day I choose to draw or paint at least something. The most prolific artists possessed not just talent, but also grit and discipline. Talent may be something that is innate, but grit and discipline are learned skills that take continuous practice to perfect. For the past week and a half I have, for the first time in two years, been painting or drawing on a daily basis. Doing this has created a sense of accomplishment inside me and a great uplift in my mood. As I continue to pursue a career in the arts, it is important I continue to develop the skills of grit and discipline by pushing myself to paint or draw everyday, even if for only a few minutes. It is a vital piece of my recovery that I keep moving forward on this path.

Recovery is not just being sober, rather it is building a better life for yourself—a life worth living. I desire this kind of life so strongly that I will do whatever it takes to get there. For me to achieve this I must continue to create. Just for today I will stay sober, create art, and day in and day out, continue molding my existence into the life of my dreams.