Art expression is a great tonic for mental distress: Sandra Tournemille on Staying Sane

Sandra Tournemille
Staying Sane
Girl curled up with anxiety and mental distress

Sandra Tournemille is an animator and illustrator who lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

As an illustrator, she communicates visually through art expression more than in words.

Because I wanted a diversity of voices and expressions, I invited her to contribute to the Staying Sane series.

I invite you to take in Sandra’s words, then to take time to sit with her illustrations. You might like to notice what you learn from them and what they evoke in you.


Social Phobia

This is an anxiety that has ruined many opportunities in my life.

The definition of social phobia is the fear and anxiety of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.

I feel overwhelmed at the thought of going to large social “mixers” or parties.

I love live music, but I really can’t handle the crowds anymore.

When I was a teenager, I would binge drink at parties to feel “normal” and try to fit in with the party mentality.

Now when I look back at this, I realize I was trying to calm my nervous system to function around large groups of people. Deep down, I was convinced there was something terribly wrong with me.

person bound feeling mental distressAs an adult, I am less self-destructive – although you won’t find me at a networking event without a drink in hand if it’s available.

Or you may find me hiding in the bathroom for most of the evening.

I am guilty of cancelling events at the last minute because the thought of being in social situations is just too much.

Even at the expense of finding new business or meeting up with dear friends with who I would generally love to spend time.

During the pandemic, you would think I would thrive under such anti-social lockdowns.

But in fact, it’s been the opposite.

Although I am a mess in social situations, I need one-on-one time with close friends, and small gatherings of 4-6 people are necessary to my survival.

When the conversation has a chance to move deeper than small talk, I feel so very human.

And my mental health is restored.

Internal Excavation 

How’s your pandemic lockdown going?

I’m over here experiencing an identity crisis of sorts: severe anxiety over my business and my hot and cold desire to burn everything to the ground. ⁠

I decided to draw about my internal excavation project.

Heart illustration depicting fear anxiety mental distress

It’s ongoing. It’s painful.

I feel quite a bit of shame for being in my mid-forties and still not understanding who the hell I am. ⁠

Isn’t your 20s the time for self-discovery?

Some would call this a mid-life crisis. I can’t disagree.

But I would also like to mention that the added spice from our lovely global pandemic, combined with the financial and emotional shit show we’re experiencing, is something to consider.⁠ ⁠

But you know, suffering is typically a ripe time for creativity.

So, why should I hold back?

Also, art expression is an excellent tonic for mental distress.⁠


Connect with Sandra

w | Image Propeller Studios

p | Image Propeller on Pinterest

ig | Image Propeller on Instagram

e | mightysally: Canva Templates & Clip Art for Online Business

p | Mighty Sally on Pinterest




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About the author 

Shulamit Berlevtov  -  Shulamit (she/her) is the Entrepreneurs' Therapist. She is working passionately to mitigate the entrepreneurial mental health crisis through keynote speaking and educational workshops and by supporting women entrepreneurs 1:1 to care for their mental and emotional wellbeing and their money psychology in an era of relentless stressors that can make you want to lose your crap on the daily.

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