drawing of landscape with tree and river and words about self-compassion

Art for Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and Mental Health America has several initiatives to spread awareness during May. One of these is #mentalillnessfeelslike. Peruse different categories on their website, where MHA has compiled Instagram posts from people participating in the hashtag. It’s always comforting to find validation in others’ experiences.

The hashtag got me thinking about my own attempts to represent what mental illness feels like to me. This blog is mostly writings that describe my experiences with depression, anxiety, and their various treatments. So, for something different and a trip down memory lane, I thought I would take a jaunt through some of the art I’ve made on the topic of mental health/illness.

The following slideshow was my attempt to depict a strange sensation brought on by an antidepressant I no longer take. It left me feeling “better”, but in an artificial way, as if I could feel my depression just outside the boundaries of myself. It was sort of like being squeezed into a neutral mood that didn’t fit.

Depression 1Depression 2Depression 3Depression 4

And then we have The Potato Scale of Depression, born when I responded to “how are you” with “everything is mashed potatoes”. What I meant by that was that the world was dull, my senses felt mushy, and seeing past any of it felt impossible. The beauty of the potato scale is that it opens the door to describing your mood in a creative, silly way, while still communicating a serious topic. And, you get to have eye-opening conversations about how you and your conversation partner rank various types of fries. Of course, this is an abridged version of the scale; there’s a whole world of poorly-prepared potato dishes to choose from. (Soggy latkes, undercooked gnocci, etc.)

Potato Scale

Clearly, analogies are my favorite way to say how I feel. This next one is a good reminder for present me.


The rest are simply some depictions of what mental illness feels like to me.




6 thoughts on “Art for Mental Health Awareness Month

  1. Genevieve, feels like no one understands. Thank you. I want to try this but don’t know how. Email me if you can. Not sure it you can see this. I’m losing all hope. Pandemic kicked off my first episode of this magnitude in 12 years which ended in electro shock therapy which I’m desperate to not repeat. I never saw this coming….


    • Hi Greg, I’m so sorry the pandemic has worsened things for you. Is it ketamine you’re hoping to try? I can give you some information on how things work in the US, but if you live elsewhere, I unfortunately don’t know much. If you’re currently seeing a psychiatrist or a therapist, my first thought is that they may have recommendations for clinics in your area. I think many places require that you be under the care of a psychiatrist and be in therapy, so they will have to communicate with one another anyway. Because it is still not a very common treatment, some people do travel a ways to receive ketamine therapy, so if there’s nothing close to you, it still may not be out of the question.
      When I was getting started, Google was my best friend! Clinic websites should have forms or instructions on how to become a new patient, or at the very least, a number to call. You can always ask for a consultation or to speak with someone on the phone to get your questions answered re: insurance, travel logistics, what the research says, etc. Unfortunately, insurance usually doesn’t cover ketamine infusions, although that may be different for the nasal spray, I’m not sure. The nasal spray is another possibility to consider, but I don’t know a lot about it.
      I really hope this wasn’t overwhelming. I wasn’t sure how to find your email, so I thought I’d just reply to your comment with some general information. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer or point you in the right direction. Please take care. You’re not alone.


      • Wow… Genevieve, your writing and illustrations are absolutely beautiful! You so much describe and capture so much of what I have felt over the last couple of years. Sometimes I feel like I am alone in the struggle with this monster called, “depression,” but you have so disproven that belief. I happened to stumble across your blog accidentally while researching ketamine on Google. I made a WordPress account just to comment on how beautifully your describe the sad reality of depression and mental illness. I recently started ketamine treatments just this week, and they seem to be going fairly well. Like you, I have been resistant to a ton of medications. I’m hoping this medication will continue to help me as it has with you. I hope to hear back from you and continue to follow your blog!


      • Michael, thank you so much for going so far as to create an account in order to comment. I’m truly touched, and it is so rewarding to hear that my writing can do some good. You are certainly not alone in this.
        I’m so glad that your ketamine treatments are going well so far. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! If you’d like to, I hope you’ll comment again sometime and let me know how it’s going.
        Take care.


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