ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – You wouldn’t know just by sitting down with Abilene artist T.M. Gand that she was carrying something more heavy than just paint.
“Decades of psychological, physical emotional abuse and sexual abuse. It started so young that our memory kept getting wiped because it was such an unreal reality,” said Gand.
These events pushed Gand into years of depression and anxiety that went undiagnosed, holding on to her twin sister Samantha Manski who’s recovery process lead her to mental health advocacy.
“Mental health challenges whether it’s grief that wont go away or strange thoughts that come in someone’s mind that they cant let go of and don’t know what to do with,” said Manski. I think that isolates us from each other, we cant be our real selves.
For Gand it wasn’t until she picked up her first paint brush that things started to change.
“That creativity gave me a focus and then from then on I just kept developing it,” said Gand.
While most may think she paints darkness, its actually the opposite.
“I let myself just dive in it’s just kind of like swimming in happiness,” said Gand.”That’s why the studio looks as bright as it is, it has all these words so it’s counteracting my programming I call it from my childhood so it’s trying to lift me back up and rewrite the messages.”
It’s a passion that’s helped her heal and forget about her worries.
“I am very fortunate I get to heal my brain this way but I think anything that you do it could be gardening, anything that you love that gets your hands moving and gets your hands going and connects your brain in a different way then you normally do will help your brain increase new neural networks and that increases your joy in life,” said Gand.
Whether that joy comes from an object, a painting, or pretending to be something else for a while, it’s all part of the journey to recovery.
Gand will be one of the featured artists at Mental Health America of Abilene’s annual Art Gala, raising awareness for mental health and wellness. That event will be on Friday from 7-9 p.m.
Tickets are $50 and can be purchase on the Mental Health America of Abilene website.