NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Aerin Williams believes art has saved their life.
"Loneliness is something I've struggled with my whole life," Williams said. "I pretty much had social anxiety and still do."
Williams said art has helped when dealing with the struggles that come with anxiety.
"It became a way for me to connect with people," Williams said.
Two years ago, the loneliness became too much. With the pandemic shutdowns, Williams' once-busy city was often empty. Work was suddenly from home. It was a forced isolation.
"The addiction just spun totally out of control," said Williams. "It was alcohol and narcotics. I knew I was dying, and I did not want to die."
Williams entered an alcohol and drug treatment center. Williams was taken by something printed on the front of a handbook, "Addiction is a disease of isolation."
"I had to have other people or I did not have a chance," Williams said.
For someone with social anxiety, the group sessions weren't easy, but there was someone who helped.
"Yes, Teague helped a lot," Williams said. "Teague is here for emotional support."
Teague is a recovery dog at Cumberland Heights.
"Everybody loves him," said Cumberland Heights counselor Michelle Johnson. "He is the bomb dot com. The patients say they're taking him home, but they have to fight me to get him out of here."
Teague's the best bud of everyone there, but for Williams, Teague is actually something even more.
"Teague made it easier to be with people because he's such a huge source of stress relief and love," said Williams.
Williams doesn't do portraits of anyone they know. However, they made an exception. Aerin created a portrait of Teague and gifted it to Cumberland Heights.
"That attention to detail and to capturing him, it was a bid at connecting with the staff and other people here by illustrating something that we all love," said Williams. "One of the things I've learned in recovery so far is even though I'm not the person I want to be today, I can still love the person that's sitting here. I'm a year and three months sober now. [The portrait] was a massive thank you to the people who made it possible for me."
So, in the portrait of Teague, what do the eyes say?
"Says I'm here for you," Williams answered. "I'm going to be here no matter what."