My name is Angel, and I am an artist living at the hospital with a condition called Schizophrenia. As an artist, my art practice lets me connect with like-minded people with mental illness and do portraiture with them – I love to paint quirky things in an abstract way. I am a member of community programs that bring me together with likeminded people with disabilities through art, music, and connection.
My story with Schizophrenia is a story going from sadness to happiness and back again. I developed Schizophrenia in high school, and the teachers at my school didn’t know how to handle it. Because of this I was bullied a lot and gave up on school early. I was depressed for several years before I enrolled in a TAFE course in Library Studies. I found my passion! I was lucky enough to find a job straight after studying and I worked in a lovely library for ten years. I loved my job and made amazing friends.
Then coming back to sadness – I relapsed into Schizophrenia at work again (bad advice from a psychiatrist – coming off medication), and just like high school nobody knew how to manage it. Again, I was bullied and forced to leave. When you relapse into mental illness a lot of people don’t understand and can be very cruel due to this lack of understanding. People’s misunderstanding can take away your voice, but you CAN find your voice again.
Back to happy again! As an adult, things started to look up again when I studied Visual Arts at RMIT. Just like Library Studies, I found my calling in art. I started expressing myself through art to raise awareness and break stigma through art. As an adult with Schizophrenia, I didn’t hide away for years like I did in high school. As an adult I chose to study art and use it as a tool for advocacy. What this journey has taught me is that through education, we can make the world fairer, and we can educate the community to treat people with disability with respect. It’s important people recognise the talents, skills and leadership of people with disability. I advocated about mental health at RMIT and at community centres, and who knows where else this art and mental health journey will take me. I love making connections with people who understand about disability and other disabled leaders.
Angel B is an artist, a gardener, a librarian, and an Aunty living with a disability. Follow her at @flowerycreativehorticulturist or my website: www.flowerycreativehorticulturist.com/ See the ability in disability!
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