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My Therapeutic Yellow Wallpaper

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MARCH 03, 2023

If your personal environment reflects your mental state — mine is a messy smorgasbord of junk. 

At first glance, my room and its decorations may seem overwhelming, but this is wholly by design. A colorful, cacophonous design composed of newspaper clippings, magazine editorials, pamphlets, posters, business cards and various other colorful scraps of paper accumulated as I roam. It is an effigy to my past, an anchor to the present moment, my main creative outlet and the cheapest way I’ve found to creatively adorn my desolate dorm walls. 

Arranged by color, I’ve created a rainbow of one man’s trash to create my own safe haven. Each piece of paper is a snapshot of my past, inextricably linked to where I discovered each scrap and my accompanying feelings. It is a forcible reminder of the passage of time, showing a smattering of ups and downs that led me to my life in Berkeley as well as the rollercoaster that has been my first semester.

I used to flee the past and begrudged existing in the present at all. However, years of therapy later, I have realized that I must acknowledge my past if I ever wish to grow from it. 

History must be confronted or it will unknowingly consume you.

Through my walls, I process on my own terms. I rip each piece from its original state, cut it into pleasing shapes I can comprehend and fit them into my greater design. Years of tears and struggles, paired with exultations of joy, all fade into spectacles pinned in place, awaiting my contemplation. 

Frozen in place, complemented by hue, even the most difficult memories shift into digestible forms. 

Yes, one corner of my yellow wallpaper was once a cheery leaflet for art therapy found in a therapist’s waiting room when my mental state was decidedly uncheery. Yet, a year and a half later, the vibrant tones stand still, complementing canary clippings of a concert pamphlet and editorial portraits of hot girls clothed in gold. Life’s unpredictability fades together to please the eye, soothe my woes and remind me how far away my troubles really are. 

This constant work in progress mutates with me. It cradles in its colors the patterns of my semester — the ups and downs, laughs and cries and the days out and most nights in. My wall-to-wall wonder, coated with every corner of the color spectrum, is my own chromotherapy — exposing me to the bright, multicolored, brilliance of life even in my darkest moments. 

My quest of art accumulation also focuses my mind upon the current moment. To discover art, to seek color amidst the world’s pandemonium, one must be observant. One must detect the designs that often lie forgotten on the sidelines as we rush through our lives. A swaying poster sun-bleached onto a telephone pole; a creative business card in the corner of a waiting room; a colorful leaflet sitting on a club table; a variety of old, free books sequestered in a campus corner; and a protest pamphlet discarded on Sproul steps. All adornments lost and now found in the bedlam of Berkeley. 

One must, in essence, lie in the moment, removed from the clatter that fills the mind. I have turned my surroundings into a scavenger hunt to counteract my ever-present preoccupations of worry, anxiety and overthinking. I search through my days for material, noticing more than ever before and am developing the habit of looking and living in the present day — not tomorrow, not my new concern nor some embarrassment my tongue let slip yesterday. 

The world becomes a picture book of pages to tear out, moments to pluck and commemorate upon my wall. A sea of little tidbits for me to behold every morning when I wake up. 

I find that decorating your room, in many ways, is a form of creative self-care: crafting a refuge to retreat when life’s stress weighs heavy on your mind. Your best atmosphere must come from within you, tailor-made to mold to your quirks, needs and personality. Mine is loud, gaudy, passionate, perhaps dissonant and sometimes bittersweet: a kaleidoscope of my character. 

My rainbow wallpaper is uniquely made in my image. Evolving with me, integrating memories as they are made and reflecting my vivid passion back to me. Be it colorful or colorless, maximalist or minimalist, whatever your heart desires, your walls are your canvas, and the world is your oyster, full of material to discover.

Contact Elise Cline at [email protected].

MARCH 03, 2023