Teen's Incredible Illustrations Depict Life With Schizophrenia
From an outside perspective, it's almost impossible to understand what life is really like for someone living with a mental illness.
And it certainly doesn't help that the stigma surrounding mental health issues, while is certainly better than it used to be, has yet to be fully shaken from our society.
Despite feeling misunderstood by many of the people around her, Kate Fenner, an 18-year-old woman diagnosed with schizophrenia, has found a way to allow her illness to inspire her creativity.
The results have been nothing short of absolutely stunning.
Fenner was first diagnosed with schizophrenia last year.
Since then, she's taken to expressing her struggles with her illness through beautiful illustrations.
Fenner's artwork captures the many hallucinations she experiences on a daily basis.
She manages to harness what is truly terrifying, and she transforms those fears into bona fide art.
Schizophrenia is defined as a brain disorder characterized mainly by hallucinations and delusions, which can lead to difficulty concentrating and a loss of motivation.
The hallucinations give me anxiety and a sense of malice. They do happen regularly. Auditory hallucinations are an everyday occurrence, so it's a constant stream of noise. I can't sit in silence, so I always have music playing. Tactile hallucinations are sometimes accompanied by visual, like spiders and bugs.
Though there's technically no cure for schizophrenia, most people afflicted by the illness can improve their symptoms over time with treatment and still live the life they want.
I started drawing my hallucinations when I felt trapped and suffocated by them. It often feels like everything is fake, and the world around me is a big conspiracy. So drawing started to become comforting.
Despite admitting how scary it is to share her artwork online with so many people, Fenner makes a good point about the resiliency that living with a mental illness has taught her to have:
I'm not bothered by any negative comments; if I can live through schizophrenia I can handle someone's harsh opinion. Overall, people have been very kind to me and tell me I inspire them, which is my goal. I want people to pursue the things they love despite any challenges they face.
Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding schizophrenia is rather harsh, and it often doesn't receive the same public attention as other forms of mental illness.
According to Open the Doors, which is the World Psychiatric Association's global program against schizophrenia stigma and discrimination, the public often mistakenly characterizes people with the disorder as violent, dangerous, unreliable and unpredictable.
Kate Fenner's artwork shows us that, not only is it unfair to place all people with schizophrenia into these ridiculous stereotypes, but she reminds us that no one should have to hide their mental illness from others.