Introspection-aholics™ Podcast 003: McKella Sawyer, Artist and Joy Seeker

The Introspection-aholics™ Podcast is a bi-weekly mental health and self awareness podcast focused on helping women thrive in their life by showing up for their wellness!

Featuring interviews with real people who suffer with mental illnesses and those support them as well as discussions on general wellness, self care and current mental health talk.

Pulling from my own experiences with depression, anxiety and postpartum depression, I’m your host Kendra Kantor and I’m ready get real on these hard topics to help YOU re-define, re-align and discover who you really WANT to be.

Introspection-aholics™ Podcast 003: McKella Sawyer, Artist and Joy Seeker

McKella Sawyer is an artist, writer, wife, and joy-seeker in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her art and writing focus on the internal landscape, overcoming obstacles on the path to personal growth, and living with SAD, depression, anxiety, and struggles with food and body image.

Her artwork is available on Etsy and she blogs regularly at her website. When she isn’t writing or creating art, she loves to hula hoop, ride horses, read, and spend time with her loved ones and furry family members!

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McKella just discovered Ed Sheeran and now listens to him while she paints!
2:20ish : Nelson Mandela: “May your choices reflect your hopes not your fears.”

310ish : I understood I was different when I realized that I felt things more deeply than others. I seemed to be more concerned with certain things. I also realized when I couldn’t create anymore. I’ve always been an artist, a writer, creating in any way I could. When I found myself depressed and obsessing over food instead of the things I loved, I knew I needed help.

3:44ish : It started with Seasonal Affective Disorder in signal digit years. For me it was the winter and I found myself crying a lot, not understanding why I would gain weight. Grades would tank and in junior high that mutated to an eating disorder.

4:10ish : I found that I could control my body and that obsessing over food, either restricting or eating compulsively was a way to numb or give myself an illusion of control. After high school I sought help for the first time.

5:02ish : I found that being introspective and examining those issues allowed me to manage those issues and still live a good life and create again.

5:28ish : Exercise is a big part of it [my wellness]. Especially outside, I just walk and gotten into hula hooping. The sunlight helps with the Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is the only problem I now have. I don’t have much problem with eating disorder unless I’m in a stressful point and then I recognize and know I need to do some work. Sunlight and exercise helps get out of my head and into my body.

6:18ish : Anything that helps me slow down me get in my body and from there I can examine the thoughts that are causing the depressive or anxious episode.

7:04ish : Since having problems with food in junior high, I was tallying up calories and reading about food instead of making art. When I find something doing something like that, instead of creating I know there is a problem.

7:28ish : Creating take a lot of energy and so does depression. It takes a lot to just get through the day and you don’t have anything left to give to art.

7:56ish : When I’m depressed I don’t want to go that deep, I stick to the shallows but it’s unsatisfying because there’s a lot down there that needs to be expressed.

8:12ish : It’s difficult to live without creating because there’s a blockage there and it becomes harder to feel your emotions let alone express them. It becomes hard to interact with other people because you aren’t in touch with yourself. It’s very complicated.

9:24ish : Some days I write or journal instead of painting if I can express myself better that way. I trust the expression will come out how it needs to.

10:13ish : I knew I wasn’t enjoying life, it was the most depressed I had ever been. I hadn’t created in months, I hadn’t been working on my novel, I hadn’t painted in almost a year. It was hard to function in everyday life.

10:48ish : When I realized that I could learn from this experience and it wasn’t just here to taunt me. I didn’t have to believe every thought that popped into my head, that’s when things started to turn around for me. I realized that my problems were inside me and not necessarily a problem outside of myself that I couldn’t control.

12:05ish : My family understands, especially my parents that saw how I got in the winter since I was 6 or 7 and knew it was not normal and I wasn’t doing it to get attention.

12:40ish : He[my husband] is one of those lucky people who has never had problems, happy go lucky and a go getter. But it helps that he can say, “Kella, it’s okay. This is just how you get, there’s nothing really wrong. Just take a breath, everything is okay.” He can help me get an outside perspective. Help me recognize it’s just me and just thoughts.

14:00ish : They didn’t understand it, they didn’t really know how to help. I didn’t have friends or support outside the home…but at home I felt safe. That really helped. With a depressed person, making them feel safe, giving them that space is one of the best things you can do, even if you don’t understand what they are going through.

14:30ish : After not painting for a long time and feeling better after seeing my doctor and learning to talk back to my thoughts…I got the urge to paint again and what came out was a perfect visual metaphor for problems or obstacles I had been facing. I have a distinct set of symbols, most of my paintings revolve around trees and dancers and celestial bodies. I realized I was subconsciously working through problems as I painted.

15:30ish : There’s one painting called Step By Step, a silhouette of a girl on stepping stones with trees and a lake. At that time I was wanting to promote my art more and I was overwhelmed with life in general…I didn’t even know what I was going to paint when I started…I realized it just like the stepping stones, I just need to take things a day at a time, a little step at a time.

16:10ish : That’s how I work, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to paint, I might have an idea but it changes as I work. I just let it go where it needs to go, I figure where ever it ends up is where it needs to end up.

17:05ish : It’s fun because it doesn’t feel as urgent as a negative thought that’s general to life.

17:17ish : If that inner critic comes out and it does, I don’t have to believe it. It’s just my brain saying something dumb, it’s not something I have to believe.
When that comes up in art, I can practice overcoming those so when bigger scarier ones happen in real life I have practice under my belt.

18:40ish : Introspection allowed me to get to a manageable place where life is good and depression is more of an occasional thing. I have bad days now instead of the occasional good day.

19:05ish : I can examine something until it falls apart and that’s when it’s useful to exercise to get out my of head and into my body. Or talk to my husband for an outside perspective.

19:46ih : Advice to a creative teenage girl with constant overwhelm: Nothing lasts. That was me as a teenage girl. When in that yucky spot and your hormones are going everywhere and you want to fit in. it’s easy to think you’ll feel bad forever. But you won’t.

Get a free monthly art journal page when you sign up at McKella’s Website and check out her art on Etsy.

If you enjoyed the show, please leave a review on itunes.

Want to chat with other introspection-aholics™? Sign up here to gain access to my private group The Introspection-aholics™ Anonymous, for women who are ready to start thriving by focusing on self care and improving their mental health. Re-define, re-align and discover who you really WANT to be in Introspection-aholics™ Anonymous group. 

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  1. […] about her experience with Seasonal Affective Disorder. (don’t forget to listen to her on the podcast as […]

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