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Artist Spotlight: Nick Birch

Nick Birch is the first to tell you he knew nothing about mental illness prior to finding himself in the grips of an episode in 2012. A high-flyer in TV production, Nick was forced to abandon his career to fight his chronic treatment-resistant major depressive disorder and chronic anxiety. It’s been a rocky road to acceptance for Nick, who continues to struggle with the debilitating nature of his conditions.

“I was unwilling to accept my diagnosis for many years; I raged and fought against it. I still fight against it. I hate the limitations it places on me; I go and overdo myself then am left exhausted. I’m still learning how to pace myself. I’m still learning to be kind to myself.”

 
Artist, Nick Birch likes to seek out everyday moments of magic to be creative, which bring him great joy.

Over the years, Nick has become a full-time dad to his children aged nine, six and two. The transition hasn’t always been smooth, but it’s somewhere he’s found great meaning.

“Stopping work was hard, as it was a big part of my identity and I loved it; it was exciting and fun. After that, I felt completely useless. For years, I’d been drinking a lot to deal with my feelings. It got to the point where I had to choose between alcohol and my family – so I chose my family.”

“I do find value in helping my family unit run smoothly on the back end. Some people think I’m just at home doing nothing, but I’m working hard to keep the family running. My family have kept me moving forward through everything. They’re my anchors. It’s all about my wife, kids and dog - everything I do is for them.”

A keen cartoonist as a kid, art re-entered Nick’s life at his most vulnerable.

“When I was at my lowest and most broken and couldn’t communicate, I put pen to paper and started scribbling again. It’s interesting that I felt the need to go there in that moment.”

"Breaching the Blues" by Nick Birch is on display at the 2021 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition.

This will be Nick’s second time exhibiting in the Recovered Futures Art Exhibition – also presenting in 2019 and selling both his pieces. Nick likes to seek out everyday moments of magic to be creative, which bring him great joy.

“Art permeates every aspect of my life - whether it’s the way I arrange rocks that I’ve gathered from the creek, or lay out lost buttons in the laundry, or the way the wood’s stacked for the fire. I like making things look nice and interesting.”

As he journeys along his path of recovery, Nick is learning that life is a marathon, not a sprint. He’s also discovering the power of a little self-compassion.

“I’ve learnt I’m not superhuman; I can’t keep going and going until I break. Because I can break. I once thought I was invincible, but I’ve learnt that’s not true. I’m still learning to take care of myself.”

“Over the years, I’ve had every reason to give up – I’ve tried ECT, TMS, CBT, every class of medication imaginable, and been to rehab. I wouldn’t wish this illness on my worst enemy; it’s absolutely horrible, it’s a nightmare. But I won’t give up; I will always keep moving forwards.”