Amanda had her first episode of post-partum psychosis the night after her daughter was born.
“The nurse came in the next morning and asked me how I had slept. I said ‘not bad except for the screaming babies all night.’ She said ‘that’s interesting considering your daughter is the only one in the nursery and she didn’t cry all night.’ I knew from then on that I wasn’t right.”
Now 35 and living in a little town in Southwestern Ontario with her husband and 10-year-old daughter Adelyn, her mental illness led her on a path that saw her give up a career as a manager of recreational therapy in a nursing home to pursue her passion for painting and other visual arts.
A few months before the pandemic began, she had her first solo art exhibit in Toronto, and asked that a portion of the proceeds from any sales of her work be donated to the CAMH Foundation Gifts of Light program that provides basic necessities for people with mental illness.
“When I heard about Gifts of Light, it matched up perfectly with everything I believed in professionally as a recreational therapist. I knew what it felt like to feel dehumanized. When you are a patient and you don’t have basic toiletries, you feel like nothing.”
While the pandemic put a halt to many of her ambitious projects, she found a surprising silver lining that has allowed her new career as an artist to flourish even more than before.
My husband (an electrician) has a woodworking business as his side hustle. He had all of these 2 by 6 inch wood cutoffs that he wasn’t using for anything. Since I didn’t have access to my regular art supplies because the stores were all shut down, I started making bees and hummingbirds and dragonflies on the wood cutoffs and put them up for sale. I’ve been told that dragonflies hold a lot of meaning for some people, a spiritual thing like feathers that symbolizes a loved one nearby.