NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — When Valerie Mitchell sits down with a box of markers, there’s no telling what she’ll scribble.
“I’m a stick figure girl. That’s what I draw,” she said.
It might not be what you expect in an art therapy session, but Eastern Virginia Medical School art therapy intern Jillian Ulery explained that it’s absolutely OK.
“You don’t have to have any artistic abilities. It’s not about making pretty art, it’s about making meaningful art that heals you,” Ulery said.
Mitchell made the call to try art therapy six years after her breast cancer diagnosis, as she was waiting for results to find out if her cancer was back.
“I just went with this wave feeling because that’s what was coming out of it, and I drew an umbrella with like a strong wave coming in,” Michell explained as she showed her art.
“Cause I just felt like I might get hit by a category four, category five, my life could be really upside down.”
Ulery helped Mitchell translate her scribbles into a story.
“I love the question, ‘How did you get me to talk about this through an art piece?’ Like, this is crazy! I’m like, it’s art — it’s art therapy!” Ulery exclaimed.
Getting the emotions out of her head and onto paper did wonders for Mitchell’s mental health.
“It just felt like a release, it sounds kind of bizarre, but it is really so helpful,” Mitchell told WAVY.
It’s also important for healing physically as well.
“So the good news is the forecast was wrong, it was more like a tropical storm,” Mitchell said of her most recent diagnosis. But she is not boxing up her markers, she’ll continue to scribble as a way to see the sunshine that comes from the emotional support.
If art therapy isn’t your thing, there’s a list of other options, including music, massage, Reiki, Tai Chi and yoga.
Mitchell did her therapy at the Sentara Brock Cancer Center in Norfolk, which offers all of it.