Artist Nathan Wyburn has opened up about his battle with anxiety which has stopped from drawing even the simplest of stickmen. The Britain's Got Talent semi-finalist, from Ebbw Vale, shot to fame in 2011 with his remarkable artwork depicting celebrities using nothing but food. In recent times he has presented Dame Shirley Bassey with a golden portrait on the day she was given the Freedom of the City by Cardiff Council, and given singing sensation Mariah Carey a portrait using only glitter. He is also one half Radio Cardiff's The Wyburn & Wayne Show and is a vocal ambassador for the anti-bullying charity Bullies Out. But while the 29-year-old has been in the limelight for almost a decade, under the surface he has had to contend with crippling anxiety, panic attacks and bouts of depression. And he said his mental health problems have severely affected his ability to paint and draw. To mark World Mental Health Day on October 10, he shared a candid post about his mental health problems and how important it is to talk about them.
Hey, I’m Nathan Wyburn. I guess known for being the 'artist to the stars', often in the media and that smiley, gay tattooed ginger one that can been seen out literally everywhere. I'm all that...along with the fact I suffer with severe anxiety, panic attacks and bouts of depression. I've known this for many years now and have always found it extremely difficult to talk about. It’s time. I guess I’m coming out, again. It often feels like I'm an 'anxiety addict'. I use the word addict because when I fall into an episode, it's all-consuming. The misery takes over and it feels like I crave it, but I don't, I really really don’t. It's like falling into a black hole in which each time you're uncertain if you’ll return. Everything around me turns to grey, the colour is banished out of life. I find it hard to do everyday simple tasks. The weight of a kettle for a cup of tea seems twice as heavy, opening my eyes from a sleep just seems an unbearable task. I cannot seem to enjoy time with people I love. I often have to find a way of scaling back my plans (I'm always on the go 24-7) so that I can sit alone and hope it all goes away, often cancelling work and I despair letting people down. People are always saying not to feel guilty for taking time for 'self care' - but I do. I feel guilty about everything. The thoughts get dark, sickeningly dark. Loved ones try really hard. I LOVE them with every fibre of my being but the feeling of being a burden or a moan is crippling - no matter how many times they say it's not. It's a very sharp double-edged sword. The most painful aspect for me during these times is that I cannot create. I was born to create. It goes from being able to make the most beautiful artwork to not being able to draw a stickman. It's that extreme. It's ironic because when I am creating art, I forget about the world, time travels so quickly and by the end of it, the satisfaction of having created something that didn't exist in the world before is like no other feeling. So imagine knowing there's a cure to your illness, but when your illness comes you can't have the cure. It begins to feel like a curse, like I'm supposed to feel that low, so that I feel and experience the highs so that I can be creative again. That just seems unfair. I just don’t know the answer. I don't know when it all started. Maybe the years of bullying in school? My self-esteem has always suffered. I'm abnormally conscious and critical about my image. Maybe my line of work, with it being so public, has also had an effect. And social media is a huge factor without a doubt, but I need it for my work. There's that doubled-edged sword again. It hurts. The spells of anxiety over the past year have been much worse due to some factors and a traumatic event that be happened to me in my personal life. I've sought help, targeted those issues and they're being dealt with. I’m trying, I'm trying every day believe me - nobody wants to feel like this, nobody should feel like this. I'm not really sure why I'm writing this but it's been oddly cathartic just doing so. I have an incredible life, a career, family and friends most would dream for. I'm grateful everyday - don’t get me wrong on that. It's just there's a lot of doom and gloom in the world right now, so please, whenever you can, try to make someone smile, put your phone down and start a conversation. We need to go back to the world where we say 'good morning' to someone on the street, not walk past with our head in our phone. You never know just how much those two simple words could help someone that day. Who cares if one more light goes out in a sky of a million stars? Well, I do. Mental health matters. Look after yourself, love Nath x