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Hello, I'm Kimberly

 

Artist. Desert dweller. Bipolar. Saguaro obsessed. Typography lover. Maker. Newspaper guru. Traveler. Mom. Wife. These things inspire & inform my art. Kimberly Kalil is a mixed-media artist living in Southern Arizona.

 

 
 
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HERE’S WHO I REALLY AM

 

I'm bipolar and suffer from acute depression. My highs are really high. My lows are unthinkably low. I've always know something about me was different, but when I started having trouble getting out of bed, when tears soaked my pillow for no clear reason and when as an adult I fantasied of running away from my life ... I knew I had to do something.

I don't know what know exactly what others living with mental illness might be going through or feel, but I do know how the feeling of hopelessness can eat you up, slowly gnawing away at any peace and normalcy you desperately crave. I know what it's like to stare at a darkened ceiling planning your escape from the life you can't fathom living. I know what it's like to have tears pour from your eyes and no idea what's crushing your soul an causing you immense pain and sadness. I know what it's like to be unable to sleep as you flutter through the darkness on a heady high, though manic moments that convince you that you're capable of doing anything you put your mind to.

I have a good life. I have a good family. I have beautiful and amazing children. I have a great education.  I have a great job full of adventure and excitement. I have some of the most precious friendships with kindreds across the globe. My life is so good. From the outside, there's nothing that should cause me to be so sad. But that's just it, it's not my life that makes me sad. It's my mental illness that does. I have a disease and that disease makes my heart hurt, the tears flow, the frustration bubble, the manic moments fly by ... But it's a disease, just like diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure.

It's taken me nearly 40 years to be comfortable with who I am and it's time I use my voice + story to help those around me. It's scary to "let it all hang out." There are people who hear my story who don't "really" know me. They might very well judge me.  

Some of my co-workers and business colleagues don't know my whole story. They might very well judge me. Heck, my family might be embarrassed or ashamed of my coming out. So be it. I'm will not let shame dictate the choices I make. I am more than my mental illness.

In my struggle to know myself and learn to live with mental illness — and not let it rule my life — I discovered the most amazing thing: art is a powerful weapon in my fight to have a full and meaningful life. Creating art has healed me in a way other therapies couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong ... I still take medication. I still see a therapist. I check in with my psychiatrist every three months. I make time for regular exercise. But that treatment plan wasn’t enough. Something was missing. And that something was art.

Do you know that feeling when your head is so full of things it might burst? Or when you can’t stop bouncing your leg or pacing in a room? Or you talk a mile a minute, non-stop ... to yourself? I feel like that a lot. Pretty much all the time. But when I paint … my head clears. The chatter stops. The pacing and bouncing stop. And my world is still. It’s the most magical thing ever. I’m not too happy (manic). I’m not too sad (depressed). My worry (anxiety) is gone. I’m not too busy  or too overwhelmed. I just am. 

Art became a priority in my life about seven years ago after attending an art retreat. I came home with but it didn’t really start healing me until I was more intentional with my creative time. The more time I gave myself over to art, the better I felt. In 2017 I decided to experiment with committing to creating daily. Each day, no matter what I had going on, I carved out a little time to paint. Holy. Shit. What a game changer. I’ve never felt better. I’ve never felt more grounded. 

Art heals. Art heals. Art heals.