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National Wellness
Week 2014

September 15–21

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Last Updated: 1/30/2014

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Artistic Expression for Wellness

The Wellness Initiative encourages individuals, communities, and organizations to harness their creativity for the “Artistic Expression for Wellness” national activity, aimed to inspire wellness for people with mental health and substance use disorders.

To celebrate creative expression and the second annual National Wellness Week, National Wellness Week 2012 Honorary Chairperson, national author and recovery expert Stanice Anderson wrote an original poem, “I Can’t Turn Back Now,” about her own journey to wellness through mental health and substance use recovery. In her poem, Anderson shares how artistic expression was an essential part of her recovery process from clinical depression and addiction and helped her find her voice and share her story of hope and recovery with others dealing with similar challenges.

Throughout the country, many other peers and persons in recovery created fantastic artistic expressions in honor of National Wellness Week. The Wellness Works Initiative, consisting of various technical assistance centers, showcased creative works crafted by persons in recovery which express what wellness means to them personally. Submission categories included art, poetry, songs, and videos. You can see the submissions at External Web Site Policy.. Visit the 2012 National Wellness Week Map to learn how other communities and organizations celebrated and participated in Artistic Expression for Wellness.

I Can’t Turn Back Now

By Stanice Anderson, National Wellness Week 2012 Honorary Chairperson

I can’t turn back now. I’ve come too far from that dark and lonely place
A mask on my face; Pretending, never-ending
Wanting the world to think I’m fine. I’m okay.
Perpetrating a fraud, day after night after day.

Family and friends cared. I shunned. I turned their help away.
Cloaked in denial, “Leave me alone.
Maybe I was born to live and die this way.

But in the stillness of a briskly cold, full moon; one hopeless night
I raised my fists to the heavens and shouted repeatedly,
“At the end of this tunnel, I was promised LIGHT”
My shouts became a whisper, then a whimper, as I cried myself to sleep.
I only meant to wet my feet; but now I’M IN TOO DEEP.

Neither had I fought the gloom nor felt that I could change
But that next morning, it was different. It was strange.
Like a long-forgotten video, suddenly uploaded to my brain,
A woman made me laugh and cry telling her story of triumph wrought from pain.
She said, “People gave me hope; helped me do what I could not do alone.”

Like her, my recovery began with “Help me,” I said, to whoever answered the phone.
I took suggestions, used the Arts to heal, and unmasked.
I began my search to discover the real me;
I took drawing, public speaking, writing, and vocal classes,
My dream rekindled, one day at a time; I found who I was born to be.

I write my life experiences, strained from pain and poured onto countless pages
And then I watch my stories come alive as they’re acted out on stages.
When I sing, I feel an inner confidence and hope for my future rising up inside of me.
I know how a caged bird must feel when, after years as a pet, it’s set free.

I still dance like no one is looking and I still speak secrets that die in light of exposure
Creative Expression helped me heal; find my passion, purpose and closure.

So, you see I can’t turn back now
I’ve come too far from that dark and lonely place
No mask on my face. No more pretending, never-ending.
Living well to live longer, staying free!
The light I searched for was right here, all along—inside of me.

© 2012, Stanice Anderson External Web Site Policy.

Stanice Anderson

Stanice Anderson was the National Wellness Week 2012 Honorary Chairperson and is a recovery expert, speaker, blogger, and author. Through her writings and speaking engagements, Stanice shares her inspiring story that includes overcoming clinical depression and addiction, low self-esteem, and trauma and abusive relationships; as well as her journey forward with faith and confidence to realize her dreams. Through her work and words, she encourages others to share their stories of mental health and substance use disorders in order to release themselves from pain of secrets and silence and start the recovery process. She is a blogger for The Huffington Post and writes about recovery and faith in her signature storytelling style that transports readers to an emotional place where tears, laughter, and hope collide.

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