Creatives are some of the people that are hit hardest by a lack of focus on normalizing and improving mental health. As naturally sensitive people, we’re often times the ones that are struggling the most with balancing so many overwhelming emotions.
Cecily Campbell is a jack of all trades. She utilizes each creative layer of herself in a positive way that helps her heal. StayWhole believes that creative outlets indeed help individuals to stay whole and find balance within themselves. Self expression is key to releasing emotions that may not materialize through words. Cecily is a great example of this very understanding. Thank you for taking the time and sharing your story with the StayWhole Community. You truly have a light that should been seen and appreciated!
Passion Leads the Way
I have always had a passion for the arts. Some of my first memories are linked to singing, performing, and learning music. Music is my first love. It has brought me so many opportunities and still allows me to express those parts of me that just never find words. The older I get, the more confident I become in my talents as an artist, which has given me more space and permission to explore other avenues of expression. Painting does not come as “naturally” to me as music, but I love it.
My purpose is to bring this freedom of expression to my own fashion and also to the lgbtqiaa+ community while shopping ethically at thrift and resale stores. There are so many different ways to be beautiful and feel beautiful. I’m committed to helping my community feel empowered, confidently themselves, and ready to take on life’s challenges in the clothes that I pick for them. And do that by using items that have been recycled! There’s something magical about transforming a piece that someone else has discarded, making it your own, and giving it a new life. In a lot of ways, many people in the lgbtqiaa+ community can personally relate to this feeling. I know I can.
Mental Health VS Creatives
Mental health is complicated, underrated, wrongfully stigmatized, and essential to building and creating a life grounded in peace, love, joy, and gratitude. In fact, I believe the act of seeking out emotions like love, joy, and gratitude can start to change how you view the world and your mental health.
Creatives are some of the people that are hit hardest by a lack of focus on normalizing and improving mental health. As naturally sensitive people, we’re often times the ones that are struggling the most with balancing so many overwhelming emotions. Even when you think about famous painters (Vincent van Gough, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo, etc.) and their equally infamous mental health stories, we can see that the art they produced was closely linked to their mental health or lack thereof. I find that even now, I view my art in a similar way. On one hand, I paint, make music, dance, and sing because it’s healing. And on the other hand, all of those expressions are a window into the broken spaces of my mind that we sometimes call “mental illness.”
Staying Balanced with Cecily
Finding the balance is a journey. One that I’m still on today. I have struggled with anxiety, depression, anorexia, and binging, which really came to a head when I was in college. At the time, I didn’t know I was anxious. I didn’t know I could be depressed. I thought drinking water when you were hungry was better for you “because most people are more dehydrated than actually hungry.” Or at least that’s what I used to tell myself. I’d follow those periods with eating as much as I could or wanted because “I haven’t eaten much in a while and I could use it.” As I got older and started my first full time job as an entertainer at Disneyland, it all came crumbling down. I was sent to the hospital after having a panic attack while I was at work. After that, I was depressed for months, going back and forth between being anxious about disappointing people and pushing myself to a point of extreme discomfort just to be able to function on a daily basis, all while dealing with my first real break up. I was exhausted. I was hitting rock bottom. It was then that my brother helped me find a therapist. This woman changed my life. She helped me see outside of my own mind. She helped me realize that everything that was consuming my mind and thoughts did not have to be my reality. Once that door opened, it was like someone lit a candle in a dark cave. All of the sudden I started to see all of the places I was getting lost in, I saw the areas where my foot kept getting stuck, and I could even begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel. However, therapy didn’t last forever. As much as I wanted to continue, my therapist let me go. She said I had completed the work I set out to do and to call her if I wanted to start a new session. I was shocked, relieved, proud, and scared. I didn’t think I could do it on my own. I had the tools, I knew how to use them, but what if something bad happened? What if I got too anxious and the tools didn’t work? What if I fail?
As time went on, I did all of the things I was scared I was going to do. I got anxious, I stopped eating again, I got depressed, and then went on major food binges. I failed. Again, I was exhausted. I was at a new rock bottom. It wasn’t until I had moved to a new state, went through more heartbreak, and made moves to be able to live alone, that real, long lasting healing began. For about a year, I spent most of my free time alone. I was a hermit. With all of my friends and family in a different state, I had a lot of time on my hands. The only time I went out was to do the absolute necessary things I needed to do to stay afloat (aka I went to work and came straight home to do self care. Everyday. And even more on the weekends.) Little did I know, I was building a cocoon and a transformation was beginning.
I used my time to teach myself how to paint, which was something I had always wanted to do, but never tried because of that little voice in my head that told me I would never be good enough. I danced freely because no one was watching. I started to look at my body in the mirror and telling it how beautiful it is and thanking it for all the hard work it does to keep me alive every day. I started to look at my natural hair, not as a burden, but as a bonus. I started finding ways to make grocery shopping more manageable like ordering online from meal planning services to avoid the stress and anxiety of being in the grocery store. I started listening to what I had to say to myself when no one else was around. I started saying yes to my wants and needs. I found self care practices that helped me release that built up tension and gave me more appreciation for the skin I’m in like using bath bombs and face masks. I started listing all of the things I was grateful for before bed until I just fell asleep. And before I knew it, I enjoyed being alone. I enjoyed my own company. I no longer was scared to go out by myself or get a drink at the bar without a friend. I found I had more energy to go out and try new things. I started doing yoga at home and taking an introductory class in Circus aerial arts and found a new reason to love my body. But I also learned that healing is not linear. That year of growth was life changing. It also was followed by a plateau, a dip, and the feeling of “will I ever feel that good again?”
And the answer is yes. Healing is cyclical. Everything you learn in a time of accelerated growth and healing still exists in those times where it feels like it’s all crumbling down around you. I was able to look back and realized just how far I’ve come.
Today, you’ll probably find me with a book about how to change the chemistry in your brain in my bag, or listening to an audio book about relational psychology. You might notice I’m in my own little world, taking it all in. But the thing is, I got here because I didn’t give up. I am learning to become more at ease in trusting the process and being compassionate with myself for not being perfect and not knowing everything. I’m learning that we all have things that we do and thoughts that we listen to that do not help us. But the balance is found in your response once you realize that your mind is playing tricks on you. It comes when you can learn how to love yourself through it all and share that love with others. It comes when you can find something to be grateful for on the hardest, darkest days. It comes when you can embrace the darkness without fear because you know you are filled with the love you cultivated for yourself and the love that already exists unconditionally for you. And that love is the hope and light you need to find your way. You are the light you’re looking for in the darkness. You are that candle in the cave, so you don’t have to be afraid. You can trust yourself to find the way out of darkness and start fresh every day.
How Do You #STAYWHOLE
I LOVE musical theater. I’m such a proud theater nerd. I equally love jazz just as much. Listening to live musicians in a jazz bar or going to see a show are two of my top favorite things to do. Along with catching some sun at the beach and shopping, of course.
My favorite sport to play is tennis. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching it too, but basketball is one of my favorite sports to be a spectator at. Don’t ask me who my favorite team is right now because I’m still hurting about the Lakers “rebuilding” and feeling some guilt about my new found devotion to the Golden State Warriors. Also, Go Dodgers!!
I pass time with the things that either help me grow, bring me joy, or help me express myself. Like singing, dancing, painting, journaling, meditation, self care, etc. Well, and watching Netflix, haha. I’m personally drawn to animation, comedy and documentaries about artists and musicians. Hearing their stories about the struggle and the come up never ceases to inspire me to keep going and not give up. Success isn’t in the winning. It’s in consistent trying.
I have a beautiful, passionate, brilliant girlfriend who’s in school to become a dentist, and she’s a DJ. Does it get better than that?? (The answer is no). She’s on the list as one of the best things that’s ever happened to my life. The growth I’ve experience while being in relationship with her is like none that I’ve ever experienced before. She pushes me to be my best self and reach for my dreams. She supports me when I’m going through particularly hard days with my anxiety, depression, and eating disorder. In short, being in love with her is like swimming in cotton candy with red vine floaties. It’s magical. She’s the peanut butter to my jelly and the Bugs Bunny to my Babs.
I have the sweetest puppy in the world. Her name is Nicki. I’ve had her for 5 years and she’s my rock. We’ve been through good times and bad times together and she’s held my paw through it all. She’s a schnauzer/poodle mix, and essentially a walking cloud on q-tips. She’s amazing.
Creative Profession: fashion consultant/stylist, model, painter, singer, pianist, actress
Location: Long Beach, CA
Instagram: @odessa_v2 @cecilysplace