Story collage by “R”, mentally ill adult
Very often the mentally ill are suffering from more than their diagnosed problem/problems. Usually before the (correct) diagnosis is made the mentally ill person has already had significant social troubles – they have been bullied, arrested, or dropped out of school. They have been subjected to harsh discipline, physical and sexual abuse and nobody has believed a word they say. This is because the undiagnosed/untreated mentally ill individual “stands out” from the crowd and becomes a target in the family, the neighborhood, the class or the job. Add this baggage to a diagnosis of mental illness (and the side effects of psych meds) and you see how difficult recovery is.
Before she knew she was ill, “R” participated in and witnessed some horrible things. Above is an art-inspired memory. As a young child “R” watched an older boy take advantage of her 8-year-old friend. Sixteen years later “R” is just now talking about it, using art to express what she has been unable to express in words. Because I feel the power in the collage, I know she has gotten some relief just “getting it out”. Carrying around toxic memories like this one is hard. Sharing and releasing this memory – being heard and validated – opens up a new possible place of healing.