Tell us a little bit about yourself! You can speak about your identity, your interests, your background, the things that make you tick, the people in your life, or whatever else feels empowering for you to share so people can get to know you.
Hello! My name is Danielle but, ever since I was a child I have been called Dani and have always been a Dani. It seems to suit me. I am an abstract oil painter that has a deep love for creating art, art history, yoga, and discovering new information. Abstract oil paintings came to me as a slow discovery. My whole life I have been painting, creating, imagining. I took this seriously in my undergraduate degree however, my medium of choice then was photography. I started to make composite images by overlapping photographs of the outdoors, this led me to creating landscape oil paintings. However, around 3 years ago, the more I kept painting landscapes, the more I realized I was choosing landscapes because of color. Color has always driven me to create and express. I hope everyone can find those small discoveries in their lifetime. It is entirely rewarding.
If comfortable, tell us how/why you got into the mental health field or mental health advocacy.
If I am being honest, Mental Health advocacy had not been something I thought about much until the summer of 2014. That summer I had graduated from my undergraduate degree, moved back in with my parents, and was searching for a new job. However, something was different. I was different. I had begun panicking; regularly having panic attacks. After a whole summer of keeping it to myself, I finally sought out a therapist because I truly thought I was going insane. My brain wouldn’t shut off, it kept spinning round and round, usually asking many “What if” statements. I found myself with no control over my thoughts or emotions. By that autumn, I was officially introduced to the term O.C.D. or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Ever since then, I have been healing, learning, and adapting to understand how my brain operates and using my abstract oil paintings to aid in that process for myself and hopefully, to inspire others that may deal with similar struggles I have.
If you are leading an organization/company in mental health or working in the field of mental health, tell us about the work you do.
After three years (and counting) of therapy, healing, and self-reflection, in January 2018 I found myself in a position where I wanted to share my experience and my oil paintings. This is how Embracing Obsession was born. My personal understanding of O.C.D. is purely obsessive. It lives and breathes inside my head. I wanted to channel all of this knowledge of myself and this mental health issue into my own expression of painting. I wanted to embrace my experiences past and current, instead of hide them or ignore them. Many of my early paintings reflected the struggle, the misunderstanding I have felt from the outside world. You can find “Worry” or “When Will it End?” These were in reference to the endless thought cycles I would find myself within. Now, two years later, with even more therapy and self-reflection, the paintings always hold the weight of my mind but, have expanded to mental wellness, instead of disorder or illness. More recently, you can find paintings titled “Bravery,” “A Space of Feeling,” or “How Does One Receive Joy?” My mission is to create paintings that speak to minds that never tire with a focus on the fact that they can still be well, be healthy, while still being different.
What is something you do or use that benefits your mental health that you want to share with others?
There are three things that have exponentially benefitted my mental health that I have implemented in my life. The number one thing I love to do is yoga. I know this is currently a popular habit to take on, but as a former dancer I have fallen in love with the movement and stretching. However, the breathing techniques you learn and the physical exertion it can lend your body is calming and effective. Number two, I became responsible for the food I put into my body. Changing my diet to include veggies, healthy fats, and bacon (because who doesn’t love bacon?!) allows me to see the difference in my overall well-being. Number three is something I have been doing for a very long time but, did not understand its benefits until I had stopped doing it. I journal. I sit with my thoughts and I write them down. For someone with an obsessive mind like mine, it can be scary, because a lot of times you can feel deeply afraid of your own thoughts. However, writing down your thoughts, your life, and your experiences gives you the power. Anyone can be powerful
Is there anything else you want to share with the readers of this email that they would find valuable?
If you are not listening to Brene Brown’s podcast Unlocking Us, go listen! I promise you will not regret a single second. However, healing, dealing, and understanding yourself is a trial and error, you need to find the things that work best for you. Listen to yourself and you cannot do any wrong for your well-being.
You can find my paintings on my website www.embracingobsession.com or my Instagram @embracingobsession As I always say, keep embracing!