Painting a bright future through depression

When Marnie Higgs sought help for her anxiety and depression at Epworth Clinic, she never expected to tap into a well of undiscovered creativity in the process.

But it was during her time as an inpatient receiving treatment that she felt compelled to pick up a paintbrush — resulting in a newfound love for creating meaningful art that Marnie has since shared with others.

Developing post-natal depression with the birth of her second son, and then facing the news of the same son’s diagnosis of kidney cancer when he was just a year old, Marnie struggled with severe depression and anxiety for years, trying various forms of treatment on and off, including medication.

At Epworth Clinic, it was recommended Marnie undergo a course of TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) — a treatment option involving a series of small electrical pulses transmitted through the brain via a coil placed on the scalp. It is a painless procedure with few side effects and has been found to be an effective form of treatment in depression, particularly for patients who have not responded well to medication.

For Marnie, TMS has certainly produced positive results.

“It’s worked absolute wonders for me,” she says. “I am very healthy and feel better than I have for a long time.”

As part of her program, Marnie received treatment daily as an inpatient over a course of 20 days, returning after a one-week break for a further course of treatment. During this time, Marnie found herself searching for a way to pass the time outside of her TMS program and quieten her often-busy mind. It was then she decided to focus her efforts on creating art.

“At night after an early dinner I would still be wide awake and thinking, so I asked the nurses if I could use the group room,” says Marnie. Joined by others who took up their own hobbies each night, Marnie began to paint.

“The painting came quite naturally. In a way, it’s the real therapy. I can let emotions out and communicate things I may not be able to talk about,” she says.

Painting a bright future through depression

As Marnie’s passion for painting grew, she channelled her emotions into themes which then became a distinct series of works. And with the encouragement of friends and family, she’s now printed and sold copies of her art — something that has given Marnie a deep sense of accomplishment and worth.

“It has made me feel that what I am doing has meant something to others and could touch other people in a significant way. It’s made me feel on top of the world and that I am doing something truly creative and worthwhile,” says Marnie.

“Ever since I started treatment at Epworth, I now have the bravery to put paintbrush to paper. My perfectionist traits take a back seat to my desire to let go,” she says. “Receiving TMS along with a few changes to my medication and the painting have come together to form a beautiful change in my condition.”

Learn more about Marnie’s story and see her artwork on her website,​​