Doctors couldn't diagnose my mental health problems. But then they saw my art

I was sectioned until painting changed my life. Now I want to help other people heal through embracing their artistic side

I spent nearly 20 years of my life mentally unwell, detained in various psychiatric hospitals while doctors argued about what was wrong with me. I received numerous conflicting diagnoses which I would add to my growing collection, still feeling unheard and misunderstood.

While I was in Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge, I would paint how I was feeling. Suddenly, I would begin to splash paint around my room, on large pieces of paper placed on the floor. It was very messy but incredibly cathartic. I would interpret my pain and torture, and create dashing, blurred, abstract compositions or wonky self-portraits. There seemed to be a metaphysical transition from my illness to the painting. I was never very good at drawing objects or people accurately, but these works would directly and precisely express my illness.

Related: I thought my career as a doctor was over. It was the arts that saved me

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