Growing up gay and with mental illness in Alabama in the 1980s was a major challenge. I denied my mental illness for many years. I didn't cope well and resorted to cutting and burning to relieve my emotional pain. In my 20s and 30s, I turned to alcohol to numb those painful feelings. By the time I reached my 40s, I realized I had to do something and I finally accepted my mental illness and started taking medications and going to therapy. My road to recovery has been long and slow but sure and somewhat steady. Four years ago when my mother died a mentor suggested I take up acrylic painting. I've been painting ever since. Trying new things and techniques. Recently I moved out of transitional living and into the community on my own. My recovery is ongoing and I am learning each and every day how to cope with life's challenges.
This piece is called Mental Illness 2. The colors represent diagnosis. Many of us have the same diagnosis (color) but we are each different, with differing symptoms (shapes). The black and white orbs represent the stigma, condescension, pity, fear, misunderstanding, and general crap we get for being mentally ill.
Mental Illness 2
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