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An artist whose depression and anxiety almost forced him to give up his love of illustrating says drawing saved his life.

Raj Singh Tattal of York Road in Leyton had drawn religiously since childhood but put down his pencils after graduating from university because he suffered from depression and anxiety.

Finding himself unemployed he sought help through the NHS in 2012 and was later diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of 37.

“This diagnosis finally made me realise why I had so many issues throughout my life and why holding down or even getting a job was so difficult,” the 38-year-old said.

“And behaviours that I had always felt were a big negative, such as being extremely obsessive and reclusive, I now decided to accept and start using to my advantage, and in September 2012 I had an overwhelming urge to draw again.”

Mr Tattal, who also uses the title of the Pen-Tacular Artist, says since then he has not been able to stop drawing and has been perfecting his craft by with “religious practice” in his room, which has helped his mental health.

Now, he has just completed his first exhibition and has four more in Waltham Forest planned for the coming year.

“I feel great, I was in a really dark space but drawing saved my life,” he said.

“It’s a big step for me to start showing my work and I’m happy for it.”

He added that he hopes to become a “hyper-artist” this year, achieving picture-quality realism in his drawings.

See Mr Tattal's Facebook page here for more information.