While the 27-year-old dabbled in painting during high school, she said she had largely abandoned the pursuit until she was diagnosed with a severe mental illness.
‘Three years ago I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder),’ she said.
‘I used to do a bit in high school, but it wasn’t until I became sick and was referred to Creative Expressions that it became a big thing in my life again,’ she said.
Ms Edwards has attended the Creative Expressions Centre for Arts Therapy at Graylands Hospital for the past three years as an outpatient, and she credits the WA Health Department-funded program with helping turn her life around.
CECAT uses art as therapy, encouraging patients to develop self-awareness and self-esteem through art, as well as helping patients manage their symptoms.
She says it was not always easy, but painting has helped her deal with her illness the best way she knows how.
‘During the first two years of the program I probably didn’t help myself enough, I was sick a lot of the time and often I wouldn’t show up for sessions.
‘Over the last year though something has clicked. I’m able to express myself now. I’ve made things and it’s given me structure and goals.
‘Painting is a part of my life now, it’s something I couldn’t imagine not doing. It’s my life now, it’s something I do every day and I can see how far I’ve come in the last three years.’
At a recent exhibition of her work, Ms Edwards sold 15 of her paintings, and said she is now considering a career change.
‘When I got sick I was studying nursing, but now I’m thinking going into art therapy as a way of giving back.
‘My therapists have inspired me and I feel that I need to use that experience to help people like myself reclaim their lives.’