Mental Illness and Art have combined long ago and grow stronger in giving a voice to those who suffer from Mental Illness of any kind. That voice is not only for those who hurt from it, but hurt near it as well. In giving a voice to something many people have treated as shameful for a long time it is causing an awareness that it is much more the norm, than it is not. And the voice has created a center stage on the horrible treatments recieved…or the very lack there of. A voice that is created because many children in schools suffer from it. Many people die from it. Many jobs are not being performed because of it. And many jails are full due to it. But also many people who live very normal lives and struggle with it every step of the way. And still have to whisper about it.
Shame should not be a part of the description of Mental Illness any longer. From the child on pills in your classroom to the mother suffering postpartum to the Veteran who has images they can’t get out of their heads to adults who carry tragedies of childhoods and more. The brain is a weird and most misunderstood thing. We cannot control it as well as it can control us. But through awareness we can learn from it.
One such Mental Illness Awareness in Art is the Journal The Painted Brain which published my poem The Sadness (below) this past month. I wrote this a little over a year ago after a time when someone’s depression reached me very closely. This was soon after Robin Williams chose such a path of suicide. And this was after seven months being in a jail surrounded by nearly a thousand women in that time out of which maybe only two didn’t have a diagnosed mental illness. This was written while listening to the music at the end of the movie GRAVITY (Esp Above The Earth by Steven Price .)
This comes knowing that Depression is hard. It is hard when you have it. It is hard when you know/love/are around those who have it. We try. We who stand in the non-depressed shoes don’t understand. But we try everything. We hold them, we cry with them, we watch over them, we care for them, we love them and sometimes their depression not only breaks them, but it breaks us, too.
This is a piece about how depression hurts. Not only does it hurt those who suffer from it, but also those who suffer from loving those with it. It’s hard. It’s hard for both sides. It’s hard feeling as if you’ve failed, with depression, or failed in loving someone with depression. It’s hard to live with when you don’t have the choice. It’s hard to live with when you do.
There are families torn apart when the person with depression chooses to leave this world, often believing in doing so to be ‘doing what is best for them’ that ‘life would be better without them in it.’ Because life has been so hard with them in it sometimes.
But this piece is about the utter suffering that, depression or no, suicide hurts them more. Yes, there is a hurt after suicide. There is an anger. And that gets a voice, too. In doing so, you give mental illness a voice.
I am an advocate of depression and mental illness awareness, care awareness, and families of those who are depressed and suffer mental illness awareness.
I know my writing is a tool of mine in life, not just a luxury or a hobby or a passion. But of awareness. Of conversation. This piece shows that it is not just one thing. One person whom it hurts. It shows an anger that people are afraid to feel, show…to admit.
But also the lack of understanding the depression at all.
It is about the ‘after’ of suicide. To see depression is to see it from all sides. To heal depression and mental illness is to open the eye’s of those who don’t have it, to make them aware. This piece is about suicide. It is about loving someone who is depressed, loving someone commits suicide. It is about how those left behind feel after someone they love committed suicide.
It is a piece to show the pain on a hope to create the healing. Awareness isn’t only for those who are depressed to talk about, but also those who are not. We can’t expect the broken to be the ones who fix it. Not alone. And in America Mental Illness is something that needs help, from young children to aging adults. From the ‘functioning’ to those I’ve heard the wailing cry of in an isolated jail cell from, to the Veteran with PTSD.
This is only one of many writings and actions of mine now and to come in hopes of bringing awareness and hopefully because of it, healing. I hope that you enjoy the writing, but I hope that it moves you. Teaches you, opens an awareness in you. I truly suggest you turn on the soundtrack to GRAVITY, read this out loud. One day I would like to do this in recording but for now I leave it to be read. And if you didn’t cry, if your chest did not seize, I didn’t do my job.
Sometimes….sometimes there is such a deep sadness in a person and you just can’t reach them. You see the pain in their eye’s but you can’t fix it. You can not take it away. You can not help. But you feel them slipping away, out of your grasp. Slipping away from this very earth. Slipping into the scary quiet of space that is beyond your reach. Into a space with no oxygen, and you feel the need to breathe air for them. You hold your breath on their thoughts and you try to reach out to bring them back, back from a lonely quiet that exists in their minds. To wipe tears away from their eye’s, to embrace them and let them feel your love for them. Hoping that will save them.
But the more that you reach, the more out of reach they become. Until their fingers slowly slip from your grasp. Until their finger tips hover….for just a second… on yours. Before you’ve lost them into their empty, quiet, doom of space and your heart aches… because you try. You try so hard to bring them back to you but you can’t and you feel as if you’ve failed them and your heart breaks with their hurt but you….just..can’t…save them.
And you are standing in an empty field on earth looking up into the sky , imagining them in their space, out there, alone. In their sadness , they have left you alone, torn, your heart broken, and tried. But you failed…
Having given you so much love. Having tried so very hard to save you from slipping so fully away that when you did…that when you left….you took the last that they had in them with you and now they are left standing, bound on earth, alone…without their hearts left to let them go on.
In your hurt, you’ve hurt the person who loved you most. Who gave themselves to save you. And you aren’t there to wipe the single tear from their face or to give them your embrace.
Which you fiercely feared most…
Now you are …
And alone, You have left them…
The brightness of the sun will consume them, and you…are still alone. Broken…Breaking…in the darkness of your space.
Other Mental Awareness in the Arts