According to Wikipedia, “therapy” literally means curing, or healing. That is how art therapy is used in Art “Therapy”: A Documentary, which features five young people with some form of mental illness who have found ways of healing themselves through artistic expression. Here is the video along with a summary and transcript below.
Michael suffers from and is under medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. ADHD is a condition in which impaired functions in the brain produces hyperactivity and makes it difficult for a person to remain calm and focus on a single activity. He experiences a jumble of random images in his mind, and finds that if he jots these down in his sketchbook and paints them on canvas, they can be transformed into something profound.
Haleigh has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The brain is sped up and she finds that writing helps to relax the brain so that she can function more effectively. In her senior year in high school, she became the sports editor of the school newspaper, and in writing and working with junior writers, she experienced order and success.
Brittany suffers from extreme loneliness and panic from a fear of desertion caused by frequent absences of her mother during infancy and early childhood. The documentary provides a graphic showing how the brain functions in the development of social behavior, the lack of which brings sadness and loneliness. Brittany has found a way to express this loneliness and fear of desertion through the songs that she writes. These poignant expressions have sustained her and she feels she is stronger now having faced and expressed her pain.
Ashley (fictitious name because we could not identify the name used in the video) led a happy childhood but faced sadness, depression and panic attacks in her adolescence. These extreme emotions continue, but she has found an outlet in acting. Being on stage and taking on the personality of different characters gives her a chance to express her feelings and to connect with people in the audience. She brings great enthusiasm to all aspects of theater, and is happy with this passion.
Jack emphasizes how the pain of his depression and treatment experience toughened him and provides him with a bedrock of confidence. He now writes poetry and finds many ways to express his experiences and philosophy. He wears a heavy ring to remind him of his pain, and a cross on a chain to remind him of happy times.
Inserted among these personal stories is a short clip of Dr. Jody Culter, an art history professor, who presents her view of mental illness and great art. Her view is that the outstanding artists whose works remain and are celebrated by us were completed by artists who were in full control of their faculties.
She claims that they may have had an interest in mental illness, but were not ill themselves. An exception is Yayoi Kusama, a Japanese artist still living who paints her illness on canvas and has achieved her ambition to become a famous artist through this means.
In trying to understand the success the five young persons experienced, it may be helpful to establish some parameters. According to brain science, the teenage and early adult years are when there is a tremendous speeding up of brain development: change can occur either toward health or toward illness.
So it might be said that these outstanding young people were able to harness the energies inherent in their developing brains toward an integration that produced health. Somehow, the expression of their inner processes helped them to find an identity, a place to stand.
The video ends with an appeal to viewers to remove the stigma of mental illness from those suffering cognitive and emotional disturbances, and see these as being treatable through art science.
Brain Today, “The Power of Art Therapy”
National Institute of Mental Health, “The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction”
Science Daily, “Functional brain pathways disrupted in children with ADHD”
The mindful word, “Art Therapy: The healing power of art”
Art “Therapy” Documentary Transcript
Michael: ADHD is a problem that effects a lot of people. It really makes it difficult to be productive and focused. It has to do with the the synapses in the brain. I’ve heard it described as having wires that have the insulation stripped off. Just whatever part of the brain that would make it easy for you to stay focused just doesn’t seem to work.
One way to treat is through a stimulant, which is what I take. I take Adderall. It stimulates the part of the brain that would normally not function correctly. If it seems to some people that I just have mild ADHD believe me, that’s only because over many long years I’ve learned to deal with it better. That being said, it has been very rough.
For me, if I don’t take my medicine I have very hard time focusing on school work or productive efforts. Although sometimes I do experience flow in the sense that what I’m doing is challenging, but I see clear goals and rewards.
So when I am working on something like this, I get in the zone or in flow or whatever psychologists call it these days. I am able to focus on that even without medication, but you know it’s so hard to have that happen. I mean. Even when it does happen, you lose track of time. You forget to eat. So it’s two sides of the same coin, but it doesn’t make life any easier.
Speaker 3: [NO SOUND 00:02:54 – 00:03:27]
Michael: I got into Art quite by accident because I mean, I’ve always you know consider myself very right-brained. I wasn’t a very good student but I was always creative and tried to pursue things people would say, “Oh he’s very talented.”
I was a jazz trumpet player for over 4 years at some point in high school as I after I didn’t have the PE requirement that I was able to take an Art class. I stated realizing, hey, this is fun. I’m good at this. I’m enjoying it. But I didn’t really see it as a long term thing.
And then the next year I got a little bit more serious and realize I am definitely enjoying Art more than Music because it is much more rewarding. It was at that point senior high school looking for college that I realized that being creative in music meant that I’d have to start using the left side of my brain and understand things like music theory. Things that I was also not very good at.
And I started honing my skills throughout college and taking different classes like Print Making, was the one that really really stuck with me because I wasn’t confined to very traditional kind of cutesy kinds of art like landscapes and things like that. I was able to do much more creative things.
A lot of the imagery I use is spontaneous to the point where I have a daydream or just a weird random thought because I started thinking about one thing then five jumps later I’ve gone from thinking about tacos to rocket ships with bird wings. I’ll write that down in my sketch book and see if I can put this strange, bizarre imagery that I am hoping no one else had ever thought to use before, and kind of stitch it together into a composition.
The ADHD, because you know it kind of lends itself towards daydreaming a lot, so I cam up with a lot of these. Kind of freeing knowing that you know, I don’t have to keep all this stuff in my head. I can put it down on paper. Incorporate it into work and things that seem just disjointed and weird by themselves look interesting and profound when their juxtaposed to other unrelated forms.
Haleigh: With ADD, you easily get distracted. So with writing, it kind of relaxes me easier. A lot of people don’t really see writing as something fun. For me it’s just easier and makes me feel good, really.
Speaker 3: ADD is very similar to ADHD. Enough Dopamine is released to control impulses. However, the mind still wanders and focussing is still extremely difficult.
Haleigh: In high school, I was in Journalism so [inaudible 00:07:14] Articles I did. This was my first one.I did like … [Showing portfolio 00:07:26 – 00:07:42]
These first ones were taken during my junior year of high school. Then for my senior year, I became Sports Editor of our school newspaper. So that was like more responsibility to help other people that were on the paper that were first year students. To like be the editor to their stories for sports. More responsibility on my part to make sure the paper was good. The best it can be for when we send the issues out.
I think it just relaxes my brain a little bit and makes it easier to understand. Other subjects, it’s so much learning material it just goes so fast through my brain. Sometimes I can’t understand it all the time. With writing, because it’s just like a slow process. When you’re doing it yourself, you can kind of think of it on your own. Personally I think it just helps the brain focus more.
Brittany: When I was younger, I had a lot of issues with my family, because when I was two and three years old, my Mom traveled a lot. So for a good portion of the year, probably about eight months out of the year, she was gone to either New York or New Jerey or what have you. So I didn’t really have that Mom figure growing. It kind of felt like I was left alone a lot.
My sister came into the picture when I was two and a half, so the attention had to get split between the two of us whenever Mom was home. When she wasn’t home, my Dad kind of had to pick up the pace with us.
So growing up, it just kind of makes it harder for me to trust people. When I have friends, it’s typically a very small group of people that I talk to a lot. I avoid getting in a large group of people just because it’s easier and safer to spend time with all of these people that I trust with my life, because I know they’re not going to leave me. If I have a larger group of friends, I have a harder time making sure that they are not just going to up and walk out of my life.
Speaker 3: According to “The Neuroscience of Human Relationships, Attachment and the Developing Social Brain,” a book published by Louis Cozolino in 2006, the idea that the brain is a social organ that desires attachment was first developed in the 1970s. In 1976, two researches by the name of Kling and Steklis found that lesions in the brains of certain monkeys caused lack of social behavior and general loneliness.
This lead to the discovery that the frontal lobe and right temporal parietal junctions in the brain contributed to social behavior. The frontal lobe impacts social skills. The right temporal parietal junction impacts theory of mind which leads to the correct processing interpretation of the thoughts of others.
In humans, if these forces of the brain are not stimulated correctly from attachment while they are developing, the brain will have trouble processing social interaction, causing feelings of sadness and loneliness.
Brittany: When I was in eighth grade, I started writing a lot. So I just kind of picked up a pen and started writing out songs. At first they were really, really bad. I just kind of kept with it and tried to fix my skills and train myself to write better so that I had a release from all of the stress and frustrations. If someone canceled plans or whatever, then I had something else to do that could distract me and take all the anger out, and get my emotions on a paper, which actually felt a lot more intimate than me sharing my opinions and concerns with other people sometimes.
I’ve written a lot. I’ve probably written two hundred songs. I don’t really publish them. I don’t really show them to a lot of people. This one’s called “Moving Forward.” I haven’t written a chorus or anything for it yet. I haven’t written accompaniment for it. I’ll go ahead and read it.
“Only reason I know I’m still alive is the breath I’m still feeling. This wound’s got me reeling, spiraling out of control. I don’t know what to do. Feel like there’s no where left to go. Now how do I keep living when I know that life is gone? How do I keep dreaming when they’re all dead and gone? How do I keep breathing? I’ve got to do this on my own. There’s no one there to trust anymore. I guess I found the right door.
You’re on your knees, begging me to stay for just one minute. I can’t bring my eyes to find your face through all the demons. My world is crashing down on me. How could I not see it? There’s no one left to save here anymore. How do I keep living when I know that that life is gone? How do I keep dreaming when they’re all just dead and gone? How do I keep breathing? I’ve got to do this on my own. There’s no one there to trust anymore. I guess I found the right door.”
I guess writing, in a lot of ways, has kind of become my best friend. I feel like I would have much more traditional style had it not been for all of the stuff that I’ve been through and all of my family drama and all of that. Struggles are what make us unique. Struggles are why we persevere.
It’s why we learn to push through even though everything sucks. It makes it so much easier to just quit if you’ve never had to deal with anything in your life. If you are, not used to hanging, but if you’ve felt it before, you’re more likely to be able to respond to it and come up with something to find a silver lining. So writing is kind of been my silver lining.
Dr. Cutter: From the point of view of an Art Historian, something that goes back to the Classical era and this idea that artists have this sort of craziness. A lot has been written about sort of… “Born Under Saturn” is a famous book that I can recall where others don’t understand artists and think that they’re a little bit crazy and outside of the norm, when it’s actually just their product that aspires to take us outside. Not necessarily those that really do produce art, because it is complicated to produce it.
Generally, the art that we have from history is not produced by people that are not in full control of their facilities. More in the past, with Art History, the ideas that artists and others have been interested in the relationship that artists have with the idea of mental illness, but not mental illness per se.
I think I mentioned to you before, Romanticism, it really came full force. People like Goya, Gericoult, many artists interested in this idea of studying or knowing the minds of the insane, sometimes just by literally representing them in their art. I can think of a sculptor as well as those painters. But they, themselves were in full control of their facilities as far as we know. Certainly they were not using their art in any way to relate to how they felt mentally. So that’s a big difference.
Then I was mentioning getting into the Freudian era. Of course, artists are more and more interested in all this, but still coming at it as outsiders, trying to understand or trying to use what they think are a little bit crazy.
The whole myth of Van Gogh has pretty much been dispelled because we know that he had a physical ailment which was most likely epilepsy. So really his bold colors and angst-ridden kinds of brush work were not at all related to … They were studied kinds of new art. So that’s a kind of a mythology.
Then the Surrealist, who tried to appear crazy. Again, those that became very well known certainly were not. I did mention to you one gentleman associated with Surrealism did go a little bit crazy, Antonin Artaud. His art reflects that, but it reflects a deterioration. It doesn’t reflect him going to the art to help himself in any way or to acknowledge or to work through any of that.
Basically, it continues this interest well into the twentieth century. The only well known artist that I could think of, focusing on post World War II art especially, that really goes to the art to try to control and adjust their mental state of mind is this woman Yayoi Kusama, who was born in Japan in 1929. She’s still alive. She still produces art. She has become internationally famous. She’s said, from a very, very young age, that she did go to her art to fight what she basically self-diagnosed as some sort of neurosis.
It all started with her being aware of having these visions. She’s told this story quite a bit in interviews, as a very young girl, having these visions. The first one she remembered was being in a room with flowers on a flowered table cloth. The pattern starting to go up onto the walls and going all around her until she felt like she was going to be obliterated by these visions.
Then gradually, they simplified into just dots. She would see these endless, endless dots. She would have episodes. It wasn’t a constant, everything she saw, but she would have episodes of these visions.
She did realize, and this is young adolescence, ten or eleven, or twelve years old. She did later feel that it came from “Mommy issues.” She had a very strong, aggressive mother.
She was interested in art from a very young age. That’s what I was, I guess, showing you. One of her earliest published drawings, shows already an image of her mother that was kind of like a childish self-portrait. However, it’s not a snow storm. It’s how she saw her mother with the dots at the particular time of the portrait.
So that’s a pretty good document. I mean, when you’re ten years old, how would you even think of that if you didn’t have some sort of vision or hallucination. So that’s where she was really aware.
Then it was exacerbated by the fact that her mother found her behavior not acceptable, and was very strict, and even very aggressive, strong, even punished her for this awkward behavior. So she did, very early on, sort of withdraw into her art.
She came from an artistic upbringing. Her mother was somewhat artistic, arts and crafts, things like that. Her mother didn’t want her to be an artist. She came from an upper class Japanese family. That was not really acceptable for a woman to be going into that field. They wanted her to be an art collector. If you were interested in art, it was much better to become a collector. She wanted to an artist. She felt very strongly about it.
I should mention that she did have a nominally Buddhist upbringing. Not a strictly religious family. She does talk in interviews about going and sitting in rainstorms and things like that. She was kind of a loaner and kind of isolated at a young age. As I said, she was involved with art.
She befriended an artist that’s become very famous. He’s dead now. His name is Donald Judd. He was very, very famous. He was experimenting with large-scale what would be called Minimalist paintings. So she, this little girl, wanted to out do. She made these huge, huge paintings.
The difference was they were little, little, little, tiny, tiny … This obsessive kind of patterning that came from two patterns: the dots and the space between the dots that ended up being a kind of lace-like webbing. Just repetitive, over and over. Compulsive, over and over and over again. She felt, too, it was a two-fold. It went with the style of this repetitive Abstract Minimalism.
It also helped her fight these visions so that she could produce. So that she could become this famous artist. It was very important to her to have a strong artist’s persona. Not only did she want her art recognized, but she wanted to be recognized to give her a sense of personhood.
To fight this idea that she would be obliterated by this imagery that she, by then, had realized was a product of the repression. It was a sort of neurosis. It was a product of lack of love from her mother. This kind of repression of her earliest sort of dreams and that idea.
It seems that she sorted it out. She compartmentalized it that it could all go together. She seemed to handle it very well at the beginning. She did rise to stardom.
For example, everyone’s heard of Andy Warhol. This was the time when Andy Warhol was also, in a different vein of art, Pop art, but at the same time, rising to prominence. She said, “The only person that had as much attention as me was Andy Warhol. We were the two biggest stars.” These were quoted in magazines and things like that. She really put herself up there as the up and coming artist, other than Andy Warhol. Andy Warhol was interested in her work. He also writes about going to see this crazy artist.
I mean, people weren’t sure. At this point, people felt that she was using this idea. One of her quotes, “I paint visions that only I can see.” She used to say that a lot. People really didn’t know where was the reality, the hyperbole. How famous did she want to be and all that.
Over time, over several decades of her latching on to these patterns over and over again, people have realized obviously there was something. You can’t be that obsessive without having something.
She made a film which was quite beautiful. In experimental film making, again, she had artist friends that were involved in this. She had these superimposed dots coming into all her images. At the beginning of the film, which I’ve seen, it was very beautiful where the dots were kind of this artificial snow and fantasy.
By the end, they became more and more over every image. You could kind of get the idea of how frightening whatever she had really was. That it was really a real thing. She really was fighting it by doing it more and more. By confronting it, in that sense, fighting it. She was very aware of what she was doing.
Right now, as we’re talking, a huge exhibition of her art opened in October at the Pompidou Center in Paris, which is one of the most famous museums in the world. A retrospective of her art. She did attend the opening. She’s more incredibly more famous now than ever. She achieved her goal that she had when she was twenty years old, of becoming an internationally famous artist and using her illness but also keeping herself alive.
Ashley: I’ve had depression and anxiety since October 2010. I’m still recovering. I’m not in any way completely over it. But I have it under control. I guess it probably really started summer of 2010, when one of my family members had to go to jail for reasons. That really hit hard on me. So, while she was gone, I guess I developed some sort of depression. I guess I just didn’t realize it.
Then she came home and everything was fine, or I thought everything was fine. In October of 2010, I started getting really, really sad. I didn’t know if it was stress or what it was. I really thought I was depressed. Then I started getting these panic attacks, or what I thought were panic attacks. When I talked to some other people who had anxiety and took medication for it, they told me it was actually panic attacks. I was like, “Oh great!”
My Mom, I tell my Mom everything. I told her I thought I was having panic attacks. She was like, “Oh, it’s nothing.” Just brushed it off. Well, they started getting worse. I figured maybe if I went to counseling, they would get better. So I started going to counseling. It was kind of hard at first. At that time, I don’t want to talk to adults because I thought that they were after me for some reason. So I refused to talk to her for a few meetings. She was like, “Well, you know I can’t really help you unless you talk to me.” So I would stare at the ceiling and talk to her. Then eventually I warmed up to actually talking to her.
After going to counseling for a month or two, I actually was taking my friend home from school one day in high school. I dropped her off and then I was going down the Interstate. It was only five minutes from my house, but it was a quicker drive to go on the Interstate. So I hoped on the Interstate and hopped off. Then I started getting a panic attack, another one. I was trying to calm myself down. It’s like, “OK. No. Not here. Not here.” Then of course I started freaking out internally as I tried to calm myself down, I started freaking out more. Then when I was getting closer to home, my hand started going numb. Then my whole arm stated going numb. I was like freaking out. I was like, “Oh no, oh no.”
I finally got home. As soon as I got home, I stumbled inside and got on the couch and just cried and everything. It lasted probably like 15 minutes total. That was the longest one I’ve ever had. It was scary. That’s, I think, when my Mom and I finally realized that I really needed help. That’s when she realized that I was really having panic attacks.
Speaker 3: [NO SOUND 00:26:59 – 00:27:54]
Ashley: I love theater. I am such a theater geek. I love acting. I love all the preparation and the memorizing of lines and getting everything together. I’ve always done theater. I did theater in high school. I’m doing theater here, in college. It’s just great.
Recently, I’ve been in Initiative Theater’s production of CNU, not production of CNU, a production of “Macbeth.” Initiative Theater is the student run theater here at CNU. So I was in “Macbeth,” which was awesome. Then I also did spotlight for “Brighton Beech Memoirs”, one of the fall plays at CNU.
In high school, my senior year, the fall play that we did, I got the lead role in “Stage Doors,” Terry Randall. That was great. I had so many lines. I loved it. The cast was so great.
Then my junior year, the fall play we did was “Acts of God.” There’s only like ten or twelve people in the cast. We pretty much all had main parts. I was the one of the only cast. So I was excited about that.
I also did a Shakespeare program this past summer with Richmond Shakespeare called Festival Young Company, where we had Shakespeare “boot camp” for about two months. Then, when Richmond Shakespeare did their productions in the summer, Festival Young Company would go out an hour before hand and perform Shakespeare monologues for the people that were waiting. It was so much fun. We got to wear Shakes garb and sweat through it all. It was great.
As an actor, it’s necessary to feel all the emotions. When you’re acting, you’re not you. You’re the character. So what the character is feeling could very well be totally different from what you’re feeling, and usually probably is. That’s what makes acting great.
The thing about me is that I lived a very sheltered childhood. I didn’t have, and I don’t mean this in a weird way, but I didn’t have varied emotions. I was just happy all the time. I would get sad or get scared over little things, but I was pretty much happy all the time.
Going through depression and and anxiety, that helped to broaden my spectrum of emotions. I now know what it feels like to be scared of life. To be anxious. I now know what it feels like to be so sad, so gloomy that you don’t want to do anything. I now know else you know what it means to feel complete hatred toward somebody. I know what it feels like to be ecstatic when that day comes and you realize that you haven’t been depressed for a week or two.
That really helps my art because I can recall those emotions. Granted it might take a little bit, but I’ve felt it. I know, if a character is depressed or anxious, I know what that is. I can be that. I might have to tweak it little bit from how Ashely feels to how that character feels. It’s still the same emotion.
Another thing that I’ve noticed is that theater is a great stress reliever for me because I get to go out there and release it all. Whatever I am feeling. Even if I’m happy and the character is happy, but I still have hidden anger inside, just doing warm ups, just getting out there and moving helps to get it out and helps to express yourself.
I love performing in front of the audience because when I perform, it tells my story. I might not directly be saying lines and they are exactly what my story is. Metaphorically, they tell my story. Having an audience in front of me, that’s people I can talk to. Sometimes, I don’t reach out to people enough and ask them to talk to me. I love talking to people. Sometimes I’m not good at reaching out and saying, “Hey can I talk to you? I just really need someone to talk to.” I think that’s hard for a lot of people.
So when I have people in front of me as an audience, I’m talking to them without actually feeling pressure to be like, “Hey can I talk to you because I just really need somebody to talk to.” Even if it’s just like one or two people, I’m telling them something. I’m getting it off my chest. That way, they can sort of feel what I’m feeling.
I think part of the reason my depression anxiety got really bad was because that time was in between a play and a musical at my school. There was nothing really acting for me to do. I think there was no way for me to release it or at least I didn’t know how to release it other than acting.
Now, I’ve figured out other ways. I’ll go outside if I’m feeling stressed or anxious or really sad, I’ll go outside and I’ll play guitar. I’m not the best guitar player in the world, but that’s OK. I’m performing and even if no one is listening, I know someone, somewhere is listening and that’s good enough for me.
Jack: I had depression in my junior year. It was pretty serious. I went to a school in DC, so the commute was kind of hell. It’s just a little bit more of a strain, a little bit more stress. Since it was an all guys school, it’s a little bit more of the making fun. There’s always jokes about homosexuality and stuff. I’m not. It’s just things that guys do.
It just a lot, a lot, a lot. The pressure built up. It was just a lot of circle pressure. So I kept going in and out of depression. It got so bad that in about September or October 2009, I started trying to kill myself. I would just go home every night and put a knife to my throat and just kind of hold it there and contemplate everything.
So I started seeing my therapist again. We started working it out. Eventually we decided that I should be put in a mental hospital.
Speaker 3: According to “Depression Beyond Serotonin,” published in Psychology Today Magazine in 1999 and last updated in Feb 2010, depression disrupts the structure and function of brain cells, setting up neural road blocks that prevent positive thoughts from being generated.
In a healthy brain, a chemical called serotonin is released which causes feelings of happiness, worth and motivation. In depression, only low levels of serotonin are released because of these neural road blocks. That leaves feelings of sadness and helplessness.
Jack: I was in there for a week. After that, my insurance wanted me out for a week of out-patient. They didn’t want me in the hospital. So I said OK. I ended up getting out of the hospital on my birthday, which was kind of cool.
So everything like that kind of went well. It definitely changed me for the better a little bit, just getting the treatment and everything.
I always wear two things. I always wear my ring, my class ring. It’s kind of heavy. It’s kind of big. The weight reminds me of what I’ve overcome and I can’t let myself get bogged down too much by what other people say and do. [inaudible 00:36:08]
This is a cross from a school retreat. Even though I’m not especially religious, it reminds me of the good times when I started really connecting with my friends from my school. So this usually reminds me of the good times and this reminds me of the bad times where I can kind of overcome.
I think that’s kind of poetic, kind of symbolic, because what I do is I write poetry. Actually, one of my favorite poems that I’ve written is about my ring. If my computer will work right now, the poem, “My Ring:”
“The heavy burden of gold and stone’s weight takes me back to other days, times laden with hate. You see, I’m a changed man. Not what I used to be. I used to sulk around all day. Darkness everything to me.
Those days are far behind me now. I’m not longer plagued with strife. I’ve finally found some meaning. I can newly appreciate life.
So now this weight reminds me. My own Marley’s chains. I’m glad that of those dark times, this ring is all that remains.”
So that’s kind of how I think about it. The phrase that I really liked in there was “My own Marley’s chains.” That was written in a poetry class that I took in the spring semester of my senior year, where I really started to get into poetry.
I also kind of write pretty vague poetry, without a specific subject. This one is more about the personal going beyond the usual and making yourself better. Stretching and striving for a goal. So this one is “Follow If You Dare.”
“The westward wind whispers with a lover’s tone. Come to your bedroom. [inaudible 00:38:06] be alone. I can’t I reply though myself my heart betrays. You see, though I want to leave, I’m stuck within [inaudible 00:38:11] The streets and smog and screechings often block the stars. We’re caught up in what we’re doing. Forget who we are. I’ll leave this living labyrinth someday, I swear. You’re all welcome to join me. Follow if you dare.”
This is another thing that I always keep with me. It’s a notebook that I just kind of slip into my pocket or in my backpack. I write some poetry in here. Let’s see. How about a … Once I get a … What’s the one? Oh, this is the one. This is untitled.
“Against the throes of ignorance and conformity, we boldly press on to the shores of peace and serenity. We battle till the war is won. We draw our lines and raise our weapons and hesitantly take aim. We protect ourselves from that which threatens. Our enemies do the same.”
In going through all of the things like that, people just say, “Wow, how’d you get through that?” I said, “Well, think about how people used to make steel and swords and stuff. You have to like put it in fire and let it burn and become red hot. Then you have to beat the crap out of it with a hammer.”
So through all of that hellish experience, it’s molded into the fine steel, fine iron and stuff. So I always thought that that was a good metaphor for how I’ve developed as a person. So, yeah, it was a pretty bad past, but now that you get over that, you’re better for it. You develop, is how I look at it.
Jack: I wouldn’t say that I enjoy having ADHD, but I would definitely say that learning to cope with it and using it to my advantage is something that really worked for me and really helped me make some things that I hope not only people haven’t seen much of before, but is almost a little hard to swallow for a lot of people. If they can get a taste of what it’s like in my head, maybe some of the…Oh, what’s the word…Misinformation and negative feelings towards it can be resolved, at least slightly.
Haleigh: So I think I write better because of it. I was trying to prove to myself that I can do it, even though I do have this disability.
Brittany: I don’t think I would write. I think I would find something else. I don’t think music would have been as important. I don’t think I would be as strongly connected to people’s opinions had it not been for the fact that I felt like people were just disappearing left and right.
Ashley: I feel like I’m telling them something and I’m getting it off my chest. That way, they can sort of feel what I’m feeling.
Jack: My past got me thinking about who I am. I thought that a really good way to express that was through poetry. I think that poetry is sort of like a puzzle of sorts. You have to develop the rhyme and you have to get the meter going. While you’re thinking about the message you want to put across, namely, who I am, where I’m coming from, after all that experience, you have to use all of that and fit it in. I don’t know if that makes sense or not.
Image credit: EaglElla (Creative Commons BY-NC-ND—no changes)