Elric’s Story *

Training to be an Artist

“Start has been for me a major factor in maintaining my stability or returning me to stability when my mind has started to go slightly askew. The philosophy of training to be an artist allows the development of self-confidence and self-esteem. Also within the training I have learned to take risks again. I have become more experimental in my art work and learned to perceive art differently. These new perceptions carry over into life outside Start and help me manage my illness. So for instance I have learned to accept the ‘life-style message’ that, just because the end results of my art work are different to those expected, they are not necessarily wrong, just different. I am no longer obliged to live within the self-imposed limitations of illness – I am free to imagine any possibility.

“At Start I am encouraged to develop my creativity; working on a new piece can bring calm to my mind and a sense of satisfaction that is often denied by mental illness. By developing my creativity I have developed self-confidence that not only overlaps into everyday life but also take on challenges that I have avoided for decades.

“The staff at Start work on the principles of humanitarianism and non-judgementalism, both essential in working with such a diverse group of people who may only have mental illness in common. Both of these qualities contribute to promoting the individual to view life in a more positive light and help counteract the self-destructive tendencies associated with mental illness.

“Start has been for me a sanctuary, for a time, to escape the pressures created by my own mind. However the staff are committed to helping people move on so that the culture of dependency is actively discouraged. Start aims to help me achieve far more than the limitations that my own mind would impose; to return to being an individual who accepts the responsibility for my own life and welfare and not a chronic dependent expecting the system to provide for all my needs as a human being.

“I can speak with authority that the philosophy that directs Start works. Start has been the most effective means of illness recovery I have ever encountered.”

* Not person’s real name

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