I'm having a similar experience. I'm sorry I don't have a solution, but I can sympathize.
I get some engagement, but not as much as I expected. I'm writing a werewolf story and drawing art to go with it, so I share links to my story with hashtags and pictures. The whole reason I post is because I want people to see my work and follow the links to my art blog. I feel like that’s a normal reason to use Twitter. But you're the second person I've heard say that Twitter punishes links, so... I'm not sure what to do about that.
Politics. I mute or unfollow anyone who posts politics. Some artists I followed post 4 or 5 hot takes per day, and Twitter promoted those takes instead of their art. Twitter also promoted tweets from users who "liked" those takes. Even though I was following artists, Twitter turned my whole feed into politics. I fixed this by aggressively unfollowing those people and muting anyone who “liked” political threads. I felt bad muting people at first, but my feed is much calmer now.
Overall, Twitter is a terrible experience. It’s hard to get noticed, and it rewards angry political takes instead of art.
My only suggestion is to comment on art threads you like. Some people will see your comments and check out your page. If they like your art, they’ll follow. But Twitter is designed to be addictive, and if it’s bad for your mental health, you should take a break. Prioritize your health and happiness first. If Twitter always makes you unhappy, stop using it.
Speaking of quitting Twitter, I’m open to switching to a different site. If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears.
In the meantime, here’s my twitter page because why not: https://twitter.com/raaky_draws