Despite the universality of the experience of grief and loss, there are few cultural outlets for expression of these states of being. These emotions have dominated my life journey and directed my life as an artist and writer, leading me to work within Disability Arts. Psychiatry would suggest the health issues I live with are down to genetics and chemical imbalances in the brain; whilst ideas within the recovery model are less prone to see grief and loss as an illness and more inclined to understand reactions to these experiences in terms of environment and lack of opportunity for expression of the impact of these emotional experiences. My project Knitting Time is my attempt to tell something of my life story through artwork and poetry. I want to use the project to open up a wider discussion about grief and loss and the way it impacts on mental health. Societies taboos on talking about the difficult or impossible situations that life presents ends up with the victimization of individuals by the mental health system with coercion into taking dangerous medication, which brings on a whole host of other health problems.
The statistics on what constitutes a mental illness are getting alarmingly wider. In the USA the number of people officially diagnosed with a mental illness has gone from 1 in 300 of the population to 1 in 72 over a relatively short space of time. It won’t be long before every thought process will have a clinical diagnosis, based on the spurious Bible of Psychiatry – the DSM-5.
I am writing about my experience of developing the project on my blog at http://www.knitting-time.com and would welcome comments and feedback.