At 56 Yaho has “learned’ to be content doing his art. Since 2007 he has participated in many classes, workshops and open studios at The Art Studios. With fond memories, of art classes of old he had a lot of pleasure working with the various Occupational Therapists and Rehab Therapists of Art Studios in and out of these classes.
“I’ve been told that I have a little natural talent which always feels good but something else was going on and it seemed more important. I began to meet people, talk and socialize: it seemed like my isolation had left me a little terrified of those sort of things but I stuck it out. At first there was one person I talked to, then two, then more.
My name is Iris, I have a diagnosis of Clinical Depression, Anxiety and P.T.S.D. I have been coming to the Art Studio for the last six years. At first I was very reluctant to go, it took me a couple of months just to be able to sign up for it. When I was called in I had doubts and tried to come up with excuses not to go. Thankfully I did go to my orientation. I was really scared not knowing what to expect, I hadn’t done any art since I was in High School, ages ago. I then signed up for the Beginners Drawing Class and got in fairly quickly.
I moved to Vancouver from Canmore AB, my home for nearly 30 years. I had friends, an incredible recovery community and good home to live in. My clinical depression had been successfully treated for about 10 years, but my daughter was in Vancouver, and we only saw each other once or twice a year, and that somehow wasn’t enough. Along with the depression, I’d been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and discoid lupus. I’d been in pain with osteo-arthritis since I was 8 years old.
I can remember the days when there were some O.T.s who ran some classes in printmaking, drawing, pottery and painting. But they had a big dream of having a program called “The Art Studios” where there would be a variety of different classes, run by the members for the members or the O.T.s assisted by a member. There would be a coordinator and other staff. In time it did happen.
I am an Occupational Therapist and an artist who has worked at the Art Studios since its early beginning. For twenty years I have been privileged to work with many individuals who have a mental illness and/or addiction who are artists. They did not know they were artists before they came to The Art Studios and participated in classes.
When I was 22 years old I had my first nervous breakdown and was diagnosed as Bi-Polar, with PTSD and Anxiety. After initial bad experiences with doctors and medications, I refused to take any medication for years. And I refused to accept my diagnosis.
Being connected to and a part of The Art Studios program has helped me tremendously throughout my recovery and journey to heal. I have been a member of the studios for several years now. Back when I first started as a teenager I was recognized as an agoraphobic. Attending the Youth Group was literally the only thing that motivated me enough to step outside my front door. I have grown so much since then and The Art Studios continues to play a major part in my life.
The Art Studios has given me motivation and inspiration, to work and create independently. It has taught me skills to transfer to other areas in my life and helped me in building relationship with others. I have the opportunity to work one on one with a deaf individual and use my A.S.L. skills. It has given me a place to make art in a safe place to express myself and use my creativity. Despite my mental illness I have been accepted for who I am. And the staff and instructors have been wonderful.
“It has been a place which was part of my recovery from mental illness. Many of my friends use the Art Studio services to help their own recovery. I believe that Art has a special place in the recovery of patients.”
“This program is a lifeline to the hundreds of people who use it…there are no other such programs.” David (editorial in The Province)
“Many of my patients have benefited greatly from attending The Art Studios, becoming much more functional as a result of their participation in the art program. The Art Studios provides people with mental illness with a much needed social network which prevents isolation, and for some, may be the only social outlet they have. At times, The Art Studios have been a life-line for my patients.”
“I have always been impressed by The Art Studio as it has provided a safe space for people who suffer from mental illness to go, to learn and practice creative and positive activities. It gives people a purpose in life, a reason to get out of bed.”
“It provides very genuine services that bridge to move from formal psychiatric setting to the lager community. It is a service that clients have initiated and continue to support since 1992”
“I am a professional art therapist and in the past I have recommended the program to clients. I know from my own experience as an art therapist and my and my personal experience, how art making can help alleviate depression.”
“This program is so successful it is heralded as a Psycho-Social Recovery model nationally and abroad. Some clients have been invited to share their stories in PSR (Psycho-Social Rehabilitation) conference presentations given by The Art Studios staff.”
“I do not know the history of The Art Studios other than it has existed for so long and I can only imagine the amount of work and energy it took to set up such a program.
Driving by The Art Studios has always lifted my heart both by the beautiful mural that participants have painted on the outside and by the thoughts that our society offers such a sensible outlet for people with mental illness.”
“We have seen people grow through their connection to The Art Studios and we have seen the studio grow as a result of the member’s connection to it.”from The Art Studios’ Portfolio Newsletter: Spring Issue 1998