So...I was recently contacted by a freelance journalist named Charlotte Colombo, who was writing a piece for Input Magazine about reborn artists in the TikTok community, and she asked me if I wouldn't mind answering a few questions about my experience for her. One of her questions was how I became a reborn doll artist, which forced me to write out my experience that I want to share with all of you! So I have copied my answer to how I became a reborn doll artist and pasted it below. I will post a link to the article when it has been posted!
"Becoming a reborn doll artist was actually a sequence of events in my life that started when I was six years old, and in hindsight, everything that happened in my life was a stepping stone to get to this point - but I will try to shorten my story for you!
So what do I mean when I say my journey started when I was six? Well, that’s how old I was when I experience my first panic attack that I can remember. Although at the time, I didn’t know what it was, and I had a hard time explaining it to my mom and dad, so I just quietly endured them for years, coming home from school about once every two weeks because of the stomach cramps and fear.
I always found comfort during those times in my dolls, often role playing being a mom or a teacher, trying to gain some kind of control in a life that felt very chaotic. I have also always loved painting, drawing, colouring, and writing stories. Every year when my mom would update my scholastic journal, she would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I faithfully answered artist every year, until grade 5, when she told me that artists don’t make a lot of money. So for grades 5-12, I had no answer in the spot where it said “what do you want to be when you grow up.”
School was rough for me growing up. My parents got divorced when I was in grade 5, just as I switched schools to join French immersion. At the new school, I was often bullied, I was shy, I had very low self-esteem, I suffered panic attacks almost daily in silence, I struggled to get just average grades, and just generally felt like I was different from everybody else and just didn’t fit in. I was struggling with symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), without even knowing it.
College and university were no different. I struggled to get out of bed in the morning and attend all of my classes, I suffered intense panic attacks that made me feel as though I was losing touch with reality, and usually ended in me going home, and I felt like I worked harder than everyone else, just to get average or below average grades. I was attending college for Police Foundations, and one of the classes we were required to take was Psychology. It was in that psychology class one day that I learned what a panic attack was, and that I had been suffering from them all of my life.
Immediately after learning what a panic attack was and putting a name to it, I went to see my doctor and began being treated immediately for depression and anxiety, which was the main focus of the next few years of psychiatrists and psychologists I saw, who all kept retiring or moving out of province. One day, I got a new psychiatrist, who diagnosed with ADHD for the first time ever. I was surprised, and relieved. Just a few months later though, I lost my mom after a long fight with breast cancer, and my anxiety and depression skyrocketed. To top things off, that psychiatrist retired as well, and I had to go without any support while grieving.
I didn’t deal with my mom’s death at all. I tried to avoid it by working and focusing on my career. In fact, I quit my job as a server, and went back to my previous job at the bank where I was promoted to financial advisor, and began taking on all kinds of courses to further my career. This made my anxiety and depression worse. I would often deal with estate settlements which constantly reminded me of the death I wasn’t dealing with, and sometimes I would even cry during appointments with clients.
I saw my family doctor several times that year, trying desperately to get a new psychiatrist, but there was a huge wait and absolutely no psychiatrists or psychologists in my home town. In the meantime, she referred me to a doctor who specialized in ADHD in women, and wrote many books on the topic. He was now working as a family doctor, but he confirmed my ADHD diagnosis and also diagnosed me with BPD at the age of 35. I was put on some new medications and I continued to try and further my career, until I worked myself into a nervous breakdown.
I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, I was having panic attacks all the time, I couldn’t shower without having a panic attack, I never wanted to leave the house, I withdrew from friends, I was always late for work, and then I would work through my lunch and stay late because of the guilt of being late to arrive in the morning…until one day I just couldn’t do it anymore. So I went to see my family doctor again who immediately put me on a leave of absence from work in August of 2019.
By October that year, I was feeling particularly down on myself. I no longer had a routine, I felt like I lost my identity as a financial advisor and the status that came with it, my savings were dwindling and my credit cards were increasing and I felt lower than I had ever felt in my entire life. So I decided to put my focus on my niece and nephew instead of how low I was feeling. I decided I was going to start Christmas shopping early, and give them the best Christmas they ever had.
I wanted to give them a Berenger doll each, but I didn’t know what they were called… I only knew what they were; and what they were, were anatomically correct baby dolls that I came to know about when I was six. At the age of six, my neighbour and friend Christine introduced me to her two Berenger dolls: a black baby girl and a caucasian baby boy. I fell in love! They smelt good, they looked incredibly realistic, and they were adorable!
So I started searching the internet for anatomically correct dolls and accidentally stumbled upon the big world of reborn dolls. I had never heard of them before, and what’s more, is that the one I found actually looked like my nephew! Now, my nephew was a twin, but my sister lost one of the babies when she was only a few weeks along in her pregnancy. So when I saw this reborn doll, I saw it as a sign and I just HAD to have it.
It was expensive though, so I could only afford to purchase one. I knew it wouldn’t be fair to give the reborn doll to my nephew and not give one to my niece, so I decided to go ahead and get them each a Berenger doll, but in my mind, I knew immediately that by the following Christmas, I was going to make and give them each a reborn doll!
I waited three long weeks for the reborn to come in the mail. When he finally came, I remember opening him up in my car and feeling nervous, excited and scared, because the box looked very tiny! But once I opened the box, there was the most realistic looking baby doll in there, and I felt a sense of elation I can’t even describe. All the feelings of bonding with my dolls as a little girl came back to me, and I felt an instant love for this baby. It felt so good!
Before the reborn had even arrived, I already started buying reborn supplies to get started, and by January 1st 2020, I officially launched my Facebook business page and started offering my work for sale to the public!
The process of reborning was an invaluable outlet for my anxiety and depression. It felt good to be able to be productive, even though I had extreme insomnia and could only work for a couple of hours in the middle of the night when the world was sleeping. It also introduced me to an accepting community of reborn collectors, most of whom also struggled with mental illness, were awake at the same time as I was, and who acted as a support group for me. When I paint, I’m forced to slow down my breathing, and focus on the small creases, tiny hairs, or nail tips that I’m painting, which often helps slow down my heart rate when I’m anxious.
I made enough money that year to be able to make my niece and nephew each a reborn for that Christmas! Unfortunately by then, my nephew no longer wanted the reborn or anything to do with dolls, but it went to my niece’s best friend, so it’s still in the family!
I can’t tell my story without starting as a young girl because my love for dolls and art, my mental illness, the loss of my mother, my nephew, my two teenaged dogs and several friends, all led to me becoming a reborn doll artist. In hindsight, I can now see that everything happens for a reason."