Inspired by her experiences of living with epilepsy and anxiety, jewellery designer Kim Tiong shares how she has created jewellery to help people with anxiety and depression.
Kim Tiong was diagnosed with epilepsy while she was studying at University.
Like most people, it took Kim a while to adjust to living with epilepsy. However, being a part of Epilepsy Scotland’s wellbeing group helped Kim accept and deal with her diagnosis.
Since then, Kim has been inspired by her own experiences to create jewellery to help people with anxiety and depression.
Kim said: “I found out when I was at my second year of University in 2016. I went to University in Dundee, which was the first time I had moved away from home.
“This was when I started having more anxiety because I didn’t know how to live on my own. It was adjusting to that kind of lifestyle.
“There were a lot of scenarios that made me feel uncomfortable. I started taking panic attacks and that triggered off my epilepsy.”
At first, Kim started to have tonic-clonic seizures and admits it was hard to accept her diagnosis.
She said: “I couldn’t believe it. I think it took a while to adjust that I had it.
“I kept ignoring it for a long time, thinking it would be fine. Then I started to realise that there were certain things that I can’t do.
“I found Epilepsy Scotland’s Wellbeing Service who helped me think in different ways and to accept that this is who you are.
“I have epilepsy, but it made me think that I am still me.
“It is just something I have to deal with, and it helped me accept my epilepsy. It’s part of me but it’s not really me.”
Kim began designing an amulet for someone who was suffering with anxiety and depression during her second year of University.
Using art therapy drawing and infusing the jewellery with lavender, made the person feel at ease and have a new perspective in life due to the uplifting colours.
Having this reaction gave Kim more of an incentive to design pieces of jewellery that would make a difference to people’s lives.
Kim said: “I think it is very therapeutic along the lines of that it will help other people but also help me as well.
“I think about the experiences of people. When I research, I’m not thinking about my experiences. I would sit down and talk to people about what they are going through, which helps make it easier to make something for them.
“I did a project when I was in second year at University and it was about having an amulet for someone who needed help. There were students who made things for people with diabetes and Asperger’s.
“Even though I had anxiety, someone who I lived with had it worse.
“So, I did things like art therapy, getting her to draw, colour in and paint. Asking her what calms her down, things like lavender.
“When I created this piece, the colours reminded her of the sea because she is from the Philippines, so this reminded her of home.
“I made a necklace for her and when she wore it for an exam, she said it helped her calm down throughout her exam.
“I didn’t realise that jewellery could have that power, that affect. To do something along those lines, made me think differently, as to how jewellery is presented instead of it looking pretty, looking into things to help mental health.”
Kim believes the hardest part when being diagnosed with epilepsy is to accept that you have the condition.
However, she feels it helps to have a good network of people to support you and have people to talk to, who are going through similar experiences.
She said: “The hardest part is to accept that you’ve got epilepsy. It is quite a big shift.
“If you have a good community and network of people like your friends, your family.
“Talk to other people who have experienced epilepsy, so you don’t feel alone.
“It is good for your mind set.”
If you would like to learn more about Kim’s jewellery, please go to her website at www.kteodesigns.com.
If you would like to share your experiences of living with epilepsy and join in our #TalkEpilepsy campaign, please email David Coates our Communications Officer on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0141 427 4911.