“Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in a cage. A cage created by my own mind that cannot be penetrated by even the strongest forces. I am a prisoner. Lying in wait for a savior to rescue me from a barricaded fortress I created. Words pierce through my tower like arrows from archers on a hill. I am stuck in my cage. Being struck by every word. Crazy. Nuts. Psycho. Insane. Nothing can liberate me from my sentence. I am destined to stay in this cage. Longing to break free, but never getting the chance.”
People with mental illnesses are often placed into a “cage” by the people around them. The words we choose to use and things we say can stigmatize mental illness. It is imperative for us to be more mindful of the effects our words can have. Mental health is not a physically observable illness. We can’t see everything that mental illness affects. This does not make it any less real, important, or difficult than physical ailments. We will never be able to tell what a person is going through on the inside. Unless we take the time to build each other up. Stand with people who need support and have courage to admit when we need support ourselves. This is what can help us begin to break out of our cages and be free to live our lives.
For my applied project, I chose to use black out poetry to depict stigma of mental illnesses. In this piece, I created various poems using pages from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and Cut by Patricia McCormick, two books with a heavy emphasis on mental illness. I used twine to make a cage like structure over the poems and made hands pulling the cage open. I hoped to create a look of liberation from the negative words and stigma produced by society’s stigmatizing views of mental illness. On the outside of the cage are quotes that explain the importance of mental health and how stigma can reduce a person to a diagnosis. This project was so much fun and very enlightening on the fact that our language is so influential. Often, we have no idea that our words can promote stigma. That’s why I implore you to be more mindful with the words you choose to say!!! Even if you don’t mean to, our words can cut to the bone. Be kind and support the people around you!
Here is a video of the process! Please don’t mind my horrible videoing skills! The exhibit can be found in Lamson Library between room 109 and 110! Check it out if you get the chance!