As part of Be Kind to Your Mind, we asked young people who've lived with mental illness questions about their experience. Here's what they told us.
Following story as told to Fairfax media.
Living with complex mental illness is hard enough, but the accompanying stigma and isolation make symptoms worse and act like a handbrake on recovery.
That was the case for Aaron Fornarino, who was first admitted to a mental health facility at age 14 and eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). He spent his teenage years and young adulthood in and out of psychiatric wards and foster homes, where he struggled with self-harm, anxiety, depression and impulsiveness.
“It was just a really chaotic time,” says Fornarino, now a 37-year-old public servant in Adelaide.
“Borderline personality disorder wasn’t taken very seriously back then. I was sort of treated like an attention-seeker or a pest.”
On Thursday 28 March, Julia Young, Curator at The Dax Centre, sat down with four artists from their current exhibition—STIGMA: dismantled, revealed to talk about their experience of stigma, self expression and art making.
Once the audience had indulged in cheese platters and drinks, they gathered around Cornelia Selover’s oil on board artwork, The complex heaven of a broken mind, to hear Simon Crosbie, Lucy Hotchin, Kylie Steinhardt and artist in residence Jessie Brooks-Dowsett participate in a Q&A style panel conversation.
“What are your experiences of stigma, and how do you feel we can dismantle and reveal it?,” Julia asked the artists.
“I think my own self stigma was my biggest obstacle,” Kylie said.
“Emergency room stigma from doctors, nurses and the medical system is the worst. That’s the part of the stigma that gets in your soul,” Lucy added. “The whole idea of doing well whilst experiencing mental illness—you can actually be in a state of flux and still be doing well in life.”
SANE Peer Ambassador Cameron was one of the participants in the two-part SBS documentary How 'Mad' Are You? We asked Cameron, who lives with schizophrenia, to share his thoughts on taking part in a series that questions society's assumptions about mental illness.
I've just received an email from a former colleague, telling me what she said in a referee statement.
'I talked about the value you add to a team through creative thinking and said you are that rare person who combines exceptional creativity with solid administration skills. I told them they'd be very lucky to have you'
By the time I've finished reading, I'm sobbing.
I am the woman you want on your trivia team. I have an obsessive memory for facts. I thrive at work because I can draw on obscure documents I read four years ago.
I remember the birthdays and phone numbers of people I went to primary school with. I learn things quickly. I rarely get lost because I can look at a map and it imprints on my mind.
But about ten years ago I noticed something.