Mental illnesses expressed through art

By: Grace Blummer-Lamotte

There are many different mental illnesses in the world. This can include depression, anxiety, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Schizophrenia, ADHD, and many others.

Some choose to show their feelings through journaling, painting, drawing, sketching, charcoal, and other mediums. Usually many different artworks have a bigger meaning behind the actual art: it could be a personal connection or a traumatic experience. 

Around the end of June, in summer 2020, I struggled a lot with my mental health. I went through many different programs and I still am. I like showing my feelings of my mental illnesses through art. I do not like talking about it because I feel like I can’t find the words, but I can draw pictures of it. I currently have a sketchbook full of many of my paintings of my feelings throughout the past 4 months. 

To other people, they just see a simple painting. They don’t see the big picture behind it. One of my paintings has a human head profile that appears to be drowning, with their mouth stitched up. Many people just see an amazing painting and don’t ask about the story behind it. My story behind this specific drawing is when I was at the lowest point in my life I felt like I was drowning. I was drowning but I couldn’t say anything because my mouth was stitched up. The water represented my thoughts and feelings. I just had to sit there in my thoughts and feelings and not say anything about it; drowning silently while having no one notice, no one care, no one supporting me. 

According to the Western Journal of Medicine, the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh had evidence of manic depression and alcohol abuse. Much of his artwork could suggest a bigger story behind them. He uses the color yellow a lot in all of his art; that could be because of his alcohol abuse, as he drank absinthe that contains thujone. “Excessive consumption of this liqueur may cause the consumer to see all objects with a yellow hue.” Another explanation of this theory was Van Gogh using overmedication with digitalis. When people receive large doses of this medication they often see the world with a yellow/green-tint. In his most famous painting, “The Starry Night”, he produces a bit of the color yellow around the painting. Sadly in 1890 he committed suicide.

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