It’s a well-known truth among artists that creativity can be an incredibly effective vessel through which to express difficult emotions and experiences in a healthy way.
Prolific artist Varinia Street is one of Communify’s most engaged community members, with a personality as vibrant as her artwork. Varinia is known for her enthusiastic participation in many of our art and music groups, and beneath her sunny exterior lies a strength and resilience that has helped her overcome many challenging circumstances in life.
Varinia was originally referred to Communify by her drug and alcohol counsellor for addiction recovery support and management of her PTSD and anxiety. Having battled with addiction, isolation, and the effects of abuse and intergenerational trauma for decades, Varinia was stuck in her own shell and struggling to cope with daily life.
Communify initially assigned Varinia a support worker to assist her with attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and to provide other supports for her addiction. However, it was when Varinia’s support worker introduced her to a theatre group that she really began to build her confidence, feel a sense of connectedness, and blossom into her true, joyful self.
“Connection is the best medicine for insecurity and isolation, and creativity expresses my personality. I always loved to create things. Connection is the opposite of addiction, and Communify completely assists my isolation. My support worker started Black Crayon Theatre which I really, really enjoyed. I had dropped out of applied theatre at Griffith University due to my mental illness. But [getting back on] the stage fuelled my motivation and this reignited my performance skills.”
Not long after this, Varinia discovered her love of singing upon joining Communify’s Spring Hill Music Group. After a shaky start, within two weeks she was performing live at the Communify Christmas Lunch, and Varinia attributes her much-improved performance skills, confidence and self-esteem to her participation in the band.
But her talents don’t stop there. Varinia unlocked her full creative potential by participating in Communify’s art therapy group, and many of her paintings are now hanging proudly in the North West Brisbane Community Hub centre foyer. See below just a few examples of her work:
Embracing her artistic spirit isn’t the only way in which Varinia has transformed her life since coming to Communify. She has also benefited from accessing several of our mental health support programs. With Communify’s help, Varinia was able to successfully secure ongoing disability support through the NDIS.
“I attempted to apply for NDIS myself but failed. NDIS is no easy process, but Communify made it an easy transition from a life of bumbling around, not realising I suffer from a mental illness.”
Varinia has also completed the Springboard program twice to aid her in her recovery from addiction, and she was then further connected with the Recovery and Discovery Centre for ongoing management of her mental health. Now, she connects with Communify five times a week through group participation or to receive supports.
“My art therapy class at Communify has brought so much to my life today. Communify has become a vital component of my recovery journey. The connections I have made will be for life.”
Feeling more empowered than ever, Varinia is now studying drama at university while balancing her pursuits in the arts as well as stand-up comedy. She runs twice-daily Zoom meditation sessions for her addiction recovery support group, and is remaining strong in her own recovery journey.
Not only has she discovered and nurtured her creative passions, Varinia has also found a community in the mentors and friends she has encountered through Communify. Her story is a wonderful example of how Communify can help our community members to embrace life’s opportunities and live life to the fullest, by supporting them on all sides.