A set of 7 cards with hand-drawn illustrations on them. The largest in the centre has a drawing of an easel with a black canvas painted with fireworks
Navigating with Kindness by Lydia Bevan

Navigating with Kindness series – a reflection from Symone Crouchman

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21 May 2020

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week we asked artist and former People United participant Symone Crouchman to contribute to our series of responses to prompt cards from our resource Navigating with Kindness.

Symone was a creative champion during People United’s community-led arts project The Best of Us. She chose to respond to the card “Let the art do it”, pictured below, along with the following prompts:

Making, writing, playing, singing, filming, building, editing, improvising …these are all great ways to work things out. When you need to make choices, consult, reflect, or revive, art and creativity can be used to provide the way forward.

Art is evident in so many collaborative projects springing up across the country, from the rainbows appearing in windows everywhere to online choirs, concerts, and creative workshops. Creativity in crisis is blossoming, and its making difference. How are you using, supporting, experiencing art and creativity as a way to navigate these times?

Symone responded by making art, including an introductory description in her own words. We’d like to thank Symone for her honesty and vulnerability in creating these pieces for us.

Content warning– the following artwork and description contain references to self-harm.

Navigating with Kindness by Symone Crouchman

This is my art blog. As a proud transgender woman, I have complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At this time in lockdown it feels like my mental health is in decline. Not being able to sleep at night looking for that on/off switch, my brain can be exhausting. Anxiety and depression stopping me in my tracks, trying very hard to not hurt myself again. Having good friends and family is so important as they don’t judge me even when things get bad.

Now I am becoming the woman I am – and should be – this is a real positive in my life. This artwork reflects my feelings and emotions at this time. I have created artwork for the NHS as it is the one thing I can do for others; it is very important to recognise what people are doing, so when they have a rough day they know they are appreciated for what they do.

In my head I feel I am not good enough and why would anybody like me? This negative thinking can be diverted by being creative and making a difference to people who need to be recognised. Art in any form will take you from darkness to light. You need to remember how strong you are. You are never out of the fight. You can, and will, make it through this time. Mental health problems are a real problem for many people and will now affect a lot more during this Covid-19 crisis. We need to talk openly about this and break the stigma. This artwork is about where my head is at. There will be many people who recognise these feelings. This piece of work is for everybody. Do not bottle stuff up, let’s talk about it, do not suffer in silence as isolation is not healthy for anybody. Let’s be honest.

Funded by

Arts Council England
Paul Hamlyn Foundation