About communication and self-expression when you have schizophrenia (and depression)

There’s a saying that goes “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak”. I have always loved this quote. When words failed me, I could always express myself through my clothes. When I was a teenager, I felt like a walking contradiction; super-quiet, but always dressed in bright colours. I didn’t own one piece of black clothing, and even my braces had multicoloured bands.

I read another quote recently: “If a composer could say what he had to say in words, he would not bother trying to say it in music”. A slightly different take on the subject. It got me thinking; thinking about my own struggles and difficulties with communication. In a way, my schizophrenia diagnosis in 2012 came as a relief; now I finally had answers to why I’d struggled socially all my life. I started my first blog in 2016 as a way to express myself – through writing, I could say everything I needed to say, in a controlled and personal manner without interruptions or misunderstandings. I hoped it would clarify things, both for others and for myself – which it certainly has.

However, writing has not been my only therapy (aside from the regular sessions with my psychiatrist). I have also used art as a means to communicate who I am.

When I was younger, I drew manga girls in different outfits. When I was even younger, I drew animals. Now, I draw and paint portraits – to order, when I’m able to cope with it. Schizophrenia doesn’t like to make things easy, and even my artistic side suffered during the worst period of the illness; I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a pencil. This was particularly devastating when I couldn’t rely on my mouth to articulate everything on my mind; I felt like I’d lost myself.

The portrait I entered in the competition. “Jay Pee”, 2020-21, acrylic on canvas.

I recently entered a portrait competition. This was a HUGE hurdle to overcome for me, despite being something I’d wanted to do for a while. My ambivalence (a crippling by-product of schizophrenia) means that, even when I have a strong desire to achieve something, my brain goes into overdrive finding all the reasons why I shouldn’t try. In the past, this would be accompanied by aggressively critical voices (the kind only I can hear) and, as a result, nothing would come of my aspirations. I’m not saying it’s much different now – I still have to design my life around my illness – but I’m hoping that, with effort, I can keep pushing the limits at my own pace and not let the darkness win.

As it so happens, I received a diagnosis of depression not long ago. I may have to grapple with my own mind for a while yet, but at least I have my creative outlets.

In any case, it definitely won’t stop me wearing bright colours.

A Little Poem (by Georgia Brask)

Sometimes, in life, the hand you’re dealt is mightily unfair
Could write a trilogy of books and still have prose to spare
How could the higher power be so merciless to me?
I’ve always seen myself as good; I wouldn’t hurt a flea
Zoning out is how it started—my mind would disappear
Overrun by voices, the kind that only I could hear
Paranoia creeping in and making life chaotic
How was I to know that this was called being psychotic?
Rightly, I soon was sectioned to a psychiatric ward
Each day a mix of medicine, care and feeling rather bored
Now, it’s been almost nine years since my time in that safe space
I’m further, strong and happier; the problems that I face
Are by no means easier, I’ve just learned to get better …
… and if you’d like to know my fight, read each line’s first letter.

NEW BLOG:

>>> https://georgiasvoices.blogspot.com <<<

For anyone visiting my site for the first time, or wondering where my old blog is:

My original blog from 2016-2018, ‘Georgia’s World’, is closed. I’ve written a few posts here on georgiabrask.dk, but my new blog, ‘Georgia’s Voice’, is where I’ll be publishing my thoughts (exclusively in English) in future, and you can access it via the link above or even follow me on social media:

Facebook – Georgia’s Voice
Instagram – georgiasvoices

//Georgia