It’s World Art Day and SANE – The Mental Health Charity asked me to do a drawing to celebrate and raise awareness of how affective art can be to help with mental illness.
Art saved my life. Not figuratively, but literally. I was at the end of the road in 2010, after suffering my 4th severe break down. I was suicidal and told that there was no support for me. I then stood at a cross road, with a paint brush in one hand and a self distruct button in the other.
Then I just started to paint.
I am able to communicate with art, sort through painful memories and help create change for others by raising awareness regarding mental health and the stigma people like myself deal with due to having mental illness.
I encourage people to find a creative outlet this world art day, you won’t regret it.
Please support SANE and if you need help or resources follow the link to find out more:
This piece of art represents the cognitive vulnerability of abandonment in early childhood.
The figure is genderless and ageless, almost fetus like, with an adult sized body; however retaining a childlike energy conveyed by the rough scribbles and marks made around the figure.
The colours remain playful, yet remind me of a false sense of safety and the forced love which was present in my visual world as a child.
The coarse oranges, cold blues and gender repressing pinks all mixed in with the greyness of the 1980s.
Reminding me of my plastic toys which were my main source of comfort as well as the adult world I was fully submerged in where I was a plaything, a doll or an inconvenience.
The cold as stone faces became distorted shapes and the words which hurt my childlike naivety (which should not have been heard) felt like tiny knives piercing my thin emotional skin.
This piece of art was created on emotional impulse.
A way to express myself through this period of time where I am exploring my childhood in hope of aiding my recovery and management of my mental illnesses.
A way to raise awareness, to allow for a visual representation to be seen by others.
I know I am not alone in this experience.
I would like to invite you as a reader of this to share any kind of creativity you choose to express yourself through. Contact me or visit my nonprofit Art Saves Lives International and send us a submission and we will share your expressions with others, with the hope of us all using creative outlets to communicate difficult and important subjects.
ART CREATES CHANGE!
ART CAN HEAL!
If you are interested in this artwork for your collection, for an exhibition, charity event or would like to buy a print, please use the form below:
As the Managing Director of ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL creating merchandise for our new online store (which will be launched early next year) is a fun project for me to take on.
We shall be selling posters, postcards, greeting cards, art prints, music, arts and crafts, T-shirts, stationery, books, online-courses and we hope to stoke items from artists around the world, so you can by from the artist through us! So as this is my baby, I decided to take the plunge and start creating.
Here are 3 NEW posters I have created the artwork for:
Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
“The animated bug has bitten pop culture. It makes me feel happy and free. When you don’t act seriously, you can make up your own rules.”
More artworks to come very soon…
We will also be doing competitions for artists to enter their designs to be featured on our merchandise.
Remember when we at ASLI talk about artists we are talking about all disciplines within the arts…
Such as: visual artists, photographers, writers, poets, dancers, performance artists, thespians, graphic designers, crafters and artisans, musicians, singers, cartoonists, fashion designers, film and documentary makers, journalists, bloggers… basically if you are using your artistic and creative self to make a difference we are talking to you!
If you have any questions about ASLI or wish to get involved please fill in the form below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
So it is a new year and with this comes the assumption of an internal reset button which one can press and start again. As far as notions go this is not a bad one if approached correctly with a positive attitude and an openness to whatever lays ahead.
I do not make resolutions as this kind of fait accompli put upon oneself is a recipe for disaster and failure. It does not allow for the mystery of the upcoming 12 months and what life has planned. So instead I set goals which do not have to be finished by 2016 but have to be started in 2015. I move forward with dreams and ambitions and make sure I do at least one thing I have never accomplished before. You may think I am just rewriting the new year resolution mantra and that it is not much different, however the difference is I do not “expect” things from myself, instead I imagine my future and am lead by my dreams and encouraged by my fears.
Last year was great. I became a published illustrator with The Wishing Machine which I am very proud of. Also I had 2 exhibitions one in Portsmouth and one in London, after 2013 I decided I would take a step back from exhibitions and concentrate on new collections. Myself and Sadie Kaye decided to take over the old ART SAVES LIVES and renamed it ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL. This meant I was Artistic Director and Co-Founder with Sadie.
I also joined forces with the talented Lisa Reeve and we are working together on a new book, a new online boutique selling handmade and recycled items as well as art from ourselves and selected artisans.
In late 2014 ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL was handed over to me and I became Managing Director along with my husband Mohammed Farhan and Lisa Reeve. Sadie Kaye remains Artistic Director but has taken a small step back whilst she concentrates on many other personal projects as well as her beautiful expanding family. We have decided to reinvent ASLI, with a new mission and plan. With ASLI set to become a registered Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) in early 2015 and already with a calendar booked up with exciting events, we are excited with our new venture.
Having any unseen illness is a struggle and for obvious reasons. Some say mental illness is not a physical illness which I strongly disagree with, how can the brain not be physical? Having had severe psychiatric illnesses since the age of 11 would make some assume I would be well adjusted by now or even that I must know my own illness through and through. These are all incorrect assumptions.
The fact is my life has become more of a struggle with age. Being 30 now has made me want to take charge more than ever but to my surprise it is proving far harder than I would have imagined as my younger self. As a young teenager I did not understand and just felt out of place and suicidal. Then as an older adolescent I just became reckless and would put myself in dangerous situations. My twenties became a decade of denial, I did not want medication, therapy, hospitalisation or even to really admit my illnesses to my friends. I drowned my emotions and masked symptoms and behaviours with alcohol and drugs.
However, mental illness does not just disappear in fact it spreads like an infection and causes more illness until the infection is so severe the body crashes and there is no other option but to admit defeat and seek medical attention. This is what happened to me at 28 and has been a uphill struggle since. Although this has made my life more difficult it has not stopped me having a successful marriage and a progressing career.
A detailed list of the unseen illnesses I suffer from
Here is a list of my unseen mental illnesses the definition and severity. The list is done from the most severe to the least. As well as identifying which illness (untreated) led to another.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – develop after a person is exposed to one or more traumatic events, such as sexual assault, warfare, serious injury, or threats of imminent death. The diagnosis may be given when a group of symptoms, such as disturbing recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and hyper-arousal, continue for more than a month after the occurrence of a traumatic event
Borderline Personality Disorder – is a cluster-B personality disorder, is a pervasive pattern of instability in interpersonal relationships, self-image and emotions. Impulsive behaviours, self-injury, experiencing severe mood swings, feelings of emptiness, and intense anger.
Depersonalisation Disorder – is a mental disorder in which the sufferer is affected by persistent or recurrent feelings of depersonalization and derealization. It is classified as a dissociative disorderand an independent neurotic disorder. Feeling disconnected from one’s physicality or body, feeling detached from one’s own thoughts or emotions, feeling as if one is disconnected from reality, and a sense of feeling as if one is dreaming or in a dreamlike state.
Agoraphobia – Anxiety about being places or situations from which escape might be difficult or in which help may not be available in the event of having a panic attack. Situations are avoided or endured with marked distress, many require a carer or companion.
General Anxiety Disorder – is a neurological anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry
Panic Disorder – is an anxiety disordercharacterized by recurring panic attacks. It may also include significant behavioural changes lasting at least a month and of ongoing worry about the implications or concern about having other attacks
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions), repetitive behaviours aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of such obsessions and compulsions.
Diabetes – Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly.This is because the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin, or not enough insulin, to help glucose enter the body’s cells – or the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance).
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – is a condition in which a woman has an imbalance of female sex hormones. This may lead to changes in the menstrual cycle, cysts in the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, fatigue and chronic pain.
Anorexia Nervosa (Restricting type) – individual does not utilize binge eating nor displays purging behaviour as their main strategy for weight loss. Instead, the individual uses restricting food intake, fasting, diet pills, and/or exercise as a means for losing weight.
Chronic Erythema nodosum – is a type of skin inflammation that is located in a part of the fatty layer of skin. EN results in reddish, painful, tender lumps most commonly located in the front of the legs below the knees. With chronic pain and tightening of the skin.
Depressive Psychosis – refers to a major depressive episode that is accompanied by psychotic symptoms.
With these unseen illnesses it is hard to explain on any given day why I can’t do what I need to do, or why some days I am able to do these said things. As someone who as had these issues longer than not, I am unaware sometimes that people take me at face value and as I appear “well” or “normal” to a certain extent people can often disbelieve if told or just can’t understand as I am not in a straight jacket, rocking in a corner, dribbling or fit into any other misconception or stereotype people have about mental illness.
So this can prove to be very distressing in our world. As a survivor and someone who will not give up, I am left with only one option and that is to share my story, educate and break down these rigid ideas of what mental illness is. Mental illness does not mean you cannot have a life, friends, family and a career. However it does mean you may need to alter your opinions on what social norms you wish to follow or like myself hope to create a diversity in our society that will accommodate us all better. Such as attitudes towards work, money, health care, relationships and appropriate behaviour. These are all areas which may need to be reinvented and philosophised to draw the best conclusion for your life.
You will still be met with certain attitudes and archaic beliefs.
TOP 10 WORST THINGS SAID TO A PERSON WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
“Don’t tell people you have mental health problems, they will not understand.”
” You always seem so happy, confident, well… I can’t believe you have a mental illness.”
” Everyone feels like this sometimes.”
” Why can’t you work in proper job?”
” Stop focusing on the past, negative, bad times…”
” Get over it!”
” You would be fine if you just went out.”
” Your illness is a state of mind.”
” Stop mentioning your illness it brings people down and makes you seem like an attention seeker.”
” I don’t believe in mental illness.”
Living with my unseen illnesses everyday is just a fact of life. I don’t feel bitter or unlucky. All I wish for is that the world would see us and accept us. We are here on this planet and we deserve a voice and consideration. My wish is to stop negative associations with unseen illness, to break down the separation between mental and physical illness, to allow people the freedom to speak of their illnesses in social and work settings without the fear of stigma and unfair treatment.
My unseen world is not unseen because of shame or fear. It is unseen because many choose not to see it. It is unseen because people don’t listen and it is unseen because I gave up explaining. However now I am not giving up, I shall explain and speak up and I shall not hide the truth. This will not change things over night but it will be my change, my contribution. I am a warrioress and my fight has just begun.