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Teapot Trust: Art Therapy Charity

Emma Thomson

Writer Emma Thomson has been undergoing art therapy in order to help her deal with some of the feelings and symptoms experience due to her sleep disorder called Narcolepsy with Cataplexy. Here Emma tell us about her experience.

Recently I have been undergoing art therapy. This article will be about my experience with this.

I have been undergoing art therapy in order to help me deal with some of the feelings and symptoms that I experience in relation to the fact that I have a sleep disorder called Narcolepsy with Cataplexy. Narcolepsy is mainly characterised by Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS). Other symptoms include Cataplexy (muscle weakness & loss of muscle tone); restless nighttime sleep; sleep paralysis; hypnagogic & hypnopompic hallucinations; and vivid & realistic dreams.

The art therapy has been facilitated by the Teapot Trust, an art therapy charity that works with people with long-term and chronic health conditions. The charity's office is based in Musselburgh in England.

Since starting art therapy, I feel that my creativity has increased. I have had many new ideas for artworks, which has upped my desire to create art. It has also increased my motivation to be productive, which I sometimes struggled with before. My tower piece was one of the pieces I made due to my increased creativity. It was inspired by My Chemical Romance's latest single, 'The Foundations of Decay', and I made it after seeing them in concert in Glasgow on May 30th. I cut out photos of flowers I had taken to create the tower and cut up some old black and white drawings for the rubble at the base of the tower. The flowers are supposed to represent new beginnings, the parts of myself that are healing, and the pieces of old drawings in the rubble, the old parts of myself.

Tower artwork

I have also started to develop ways to use the waste from other art projects to create new artworks, as I want to try to make more sustainable pieces to reduce my work's impact. One of these pieces includes a paper collage I made with the leftover offcuts from the flower photos I cut out for my previous piece. On top of the white paper, I added wrapping, and tissue paper left over from Father's Day. I enjoyed creating this piece because of the freedom I was given by not having to think about what I was making.

Paper Collage

Another way art therapy has helped me is with processing my nightmares, which can often be graphic and disturbing. It has helped me to visualise and articulate them in a way that doesn't mean having to explain them using words, which I often find quite difficult. This has had the effect of making them seem less real. One of the pieces I created in relation to this was a fire artwork after I had a dream about a fire apocalypse just after the war in Ukraine broke out. I think this was probably triggered by the almost constant coverage of the war and my anxiety surrounding it.

Fire artwork

One theme that has been the subject of quite a few of our sessions is resilience. An artwork that I created concerning this theme is a woven work. My art therapist used the analogy of how the different woven pieces were similar to how I weave the other parts of my life together, which I really liked. We talked about how I can use the positive aspects of my life and myself to help me overcome the negative parts and the setbacks that I experience as part of my condition.

Weaving work

I have also learned about and come across new artists, which have helped inspire me. My favourite artist I have come across was Jean-Michel Basquiat, which my art therapist recommended because she thought I'd enjoy his book 'Life Doesn't Frighten Me'. I relate to the work in the book a lot because it reminds me of my nightmares.

I have tried counselling before, but the art therapy sessions have been more beneficial because I think sometimes it's easier to explain things visually than to find the words to describe thoughts, feelings and experiences. I have also enjoyed being able to talk to someone about these things whilst also creating art, and I think it has been beneficial and such a positive experience.

To find out more about the Teapot Trust and the work that they do, please visit their website at:

Teapot Trust’s office in Musselburgh is in fact in Scotland not England.

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