Art/Museums/TheatreMental Health

Six Cats and a Black Dog: The Importance of Colour, Energy and Possibilities

Donna Brown1359 views
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Blog for Mental HealthLast year I made a Blog For Mental Health pledge. Sadly, there is no pledge in 2016 and the Blog for Mental Health site is no longer being curated, though it is currently still accessible. However, this was a wonderful project (and it ran for several years) and I’m truly glad it got me blogging about this subject.

The importance of colour, energy and possibilities

I shared something on Twitter today with the message “Just stunning”. I was struck – as I have been so often recently – by just how frequently I do find something stunning, or beautiful, or inspiring. These are not just hollow words about something that really, at best, is quite nice or fine or a pleasant diversion. I genuinely am finding beauty and colour at every turn at the moment. And that matters.

Often, people I have spoken to have the assumption that depression is being very very sad. For me (and here’s the massive disclaimer that this post can only speak to my own perspective and experience), that’s not totally out of the park. Depression can hit me in huge waves of sadness, suddenly and sometimes over the strangest of things. However, there’s also anger, guilt, fear or the feeling of being trapped (especially at times when anxiety factors in). There’s often this awful, lingering, nauseated feeling that something bad is going to happen. Actually, though, as strange as it may sound, sometimes I almost welcome those feelings. At least they mean I am feeling.

BarrierWhat I hate about depression is the times of absence of feeling. The muted feeling that you’re talking/listening/seeing through a blanket of fog. When empathy becomes something you have to work at and feeling love becomes harder than it ever should be. When you feel like you’re in some kind of force field, banging and crashing and screaming in the hope that the outside world will break through and all that comes out is a whisper, quickly lost on the wind.

The return of colour

Colourful flowers bloomThe marvel of that is that – and trust me that it’s taken a long time to appreciate this – when the fog lifts, everything is so much more remarkable. Music feels like it jumps from my ears to my brain to my heart and wraps warm hands around it. Colour seems so vibrant and glorious that I feel I’ve been welcomed into some sort of secret club of beauty and vitality. Even the cold crispness feels fresh and inviting: “come and walk and be restored”. I feel like I smell more acutely or, more likely, I just pay more heed to the smells around me. Unfortunately for my waistline, I savour food and its tastes and textures a bit more than I should!

I feel like I see colour everywhere. Through that, I feel like I see life and energy everywhere. I don’t need to look for meaning or explanations, just possibilities. I’m not religious, not even particularly spiritual but I do believe in the law of conservation of energy that states that “energy is neither created nor destroyed”. What does that leave other than boundless possibilities?

Appreciating colour

I’ve been remarkably lucky to see many wonderful things this year – paintings and sculptures, talks, plays, ballet performances – but I’ve also taken a lot of joy out of other things. A song I love and hadn’t listened to for a while. The colours of the leaves all around me as I took a walk. The simple pleasure of a cup of tea and half an hour with a book, a cat on my lap.

IKB 191, monochromatic painting by Yves Klein.
IKB 191, monochromatic painting by Yves Klein (public domain via Wikipedia)
I recently saw Yves Klein’s work in exhibition at Tate Liverpool. Painting after painting of the most stunning blue (International Klein Blue). Not to mention his remarkable fire paintings. I commented to my friend, “I don’t think we appreciate colour enough” (I’m possibly paraphrasing myself here). By which I meant that we always seem to expect to see something or find meaning. We expect our brain to have something to fathom or work out. Actually, sometimes it could be enough to just open yourself up to the colour and let warm hands hold your heart. To know that all around you energy is neither being created nor destroyed but changing, ever changing, as we change.

And isn’t it beautiful?

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Donna Brown
Avid reader/audiobook listener, fan of podcasts, prone to the odd Netflix binge. Mum to six crazy and incredible rescue cats. Occasional writer of short stories and poetry.