Mental illness is a taboo. Often, we fail to understand it. Why is this? Is it because we cannot see the problem? There is little harder than trying to explain the impact of depressive disorders. It’s truly heartbreaking, at times, when others don’t believe that I am not making excuses; I am ill.
I began painting 2 years ago. At that point, I had been diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety, but I was unaware how severe my illnesses were. I led a reckless lifestyle with no hope, no sense of direction. I had no understanding of who I was, or of the reasons for how I felt in every waking moment. After losing my job, I hit the bottom of the valley. I had no sight of a better future. My thoughts got darker, and I felt that I was drowning in despair.
The support of my amazing family got me through my darkest hour, and I made a decision to change my own world; to reach for a better life. I spent months at home hibernating, teaching myself to body-paint using my own body as a canvas to create every character I could imagine. As I lost myself in creativity, the depression began to lift. Creativity has been my saviour from this disabling illness. I produce my best work on my darkest days, channeling raw emotions and feeling into each piece.
I wanted to help others who suffer. I know how hard it is to explain this experience. I painted each feeling, attempting to visually describe what could not be seen. The impact these body paintings have made is overwhelming. To think that someone struggling may, for one moment, be at ease as a result of this work is truly gratifying.
Of all the people that have identified with my art, and with the poems I write about each piece, so many send me messages to express how they are feeling. My aim is to paint as much as I can on the subject of mental health, to do what I can to help others visualise and understand their own illness.
Since I started painting, I have also been diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder, and I’m now working on another project to help raise awareness about this diagnosis. My ambition, through my art, is to help others find the understanding they need to survive.
The Bipolar Clown
Me, without my paint
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