I am a Media and Arts Mental Health Advocate who publishes poetry works about my lived experience with schizophrenia.  My contemporary free-verse poetry and memoirs are auto-biographical.  I write for myself, as well as in the hope that others with similar issues can relate – at an emotional level.   I have published several lived-experience articles for Yahoo!7, Conexoz, and Mindshare, as well as created short films and photo-stories.

Poetry and photography are the preferred media for my arts practice, and this practice is also useful in managing my symptoms.   I find writing very helpful in getting my emotions down on paper, and it offers a personal pathway that is creative and therapeutic in nature.  Art plays a role in my recovery because I like being creative and helping people.

What is unique about being a poet is to write about my lived-experience so others can relate who share similar issues.  The feedback is that others too feel they aren’t alone when they read my poetry.

In 2006 I decided to write a poem while laying in bed for ten hours a day with clinical depression.  After finishing it, I moved onto getting out of bed for two to four hours a day.  This lead to showering, walking for an hour a day, and generally maintaining wellness.  Creating this poem about a thunderstorm as a metaphor for all my symptoms, it was published a year later under the title, The Storm of Schizophrenia.  Writing and seeing that I could finish something, even though my illness occurred, gave me hope for the future.  In 2015, my first self-published book was called The Gospel of Schizophrenia. I continue to produce a website that has all my published works on it, available over the internet, for other who have the lived experience, or interest to browse.

The recovery module – my psychiatrist told me – stated that even the smallest achievement could be built upon to lead to a successful recovery.   I write about both the good and bad influences.  If I feel in a bad situation, I want freedom from that situation.   In writing about a positive situation, it helps me in my recovery journey.

I found that some people weren’t so accepting of my mental illness, for whatever reason.  It took a while to sort out the good friends from the not-so-supportive friends, and to learn to accept that some people just won’t come around.   As I wrote about my lived experience with mental illness, I found that I began meeting like-minded people who had similar interests of advocacy.

Personally, I don’t want to rely only on Disability Support Pension but to be working again.  I want to maintain a relatively normal lifestyle regardless of the symptoms.   People can become productive members of society, even though at times dipping in and out of wellness.   Currently I am studying Laboratory Techniques to pursue my dream into reality.

 

Story told to Loretta Picone.

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