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Psychosis stole my art skills and my will to live.

Community Member

I had devastating manic psychosis June 2020. After coming out of the ward I noticed my art skills alone were absolutely destroyed. I need to say that I was a professional artist before my accident. I did animation work for Dreamworks and Netflix shows and went to a prestigious internship and school prior, but my whole life I had gotten this far by working hard.

Now however, I can barely do a sketch and the sketches always came out wrong. I am losing my ability to communicate this because I'm so upset. This is NOT creative deficit (aka. laziness) like many bipolar people say they have post mania. This is genuinely some cognitive issue keeping me from doing the fine decision making that it takes to be ME-level good at art. I can't attach an image of how I used to draw, it wont let me.

I kept hoping these last two years that I'd see improvements. Sometimes I saw glimpses or so I thought, but they always end up as mediocre, broken and lumpy drawings. But art is subjective right? Other people in my life have told me my art looks fine. They have told me to be more 'well rounded'.

Yeah tear off a butterflies wings and tell it to go do something else.

It was my favorite thing and opened up the world. I'd draw at cafes, draw on trains and trams, doodle in class and create massive elaborate pieces late into the night when I was at home. I wont discard how art has shaped me my whole life. Art was breathing. Art was joy.
Since my accident, I had to give up seeking freelance work, since I plain and simply couldn't damn do the work at the speed and skill level required. I hoped for a recovery, but until this day my drawing hasn't regenerated. I struggle, my brain gets tired. It just isn't high quality anymore. It's destroyed my self esteem, as everyone I know can see I'm worthless now. 
My psychiatrist hopefully isn't lying to me when he says I don't have brain damage and that it's just a matter of healing. Still I spent countless hours Googling trying to find information. Weirdly enough I can walk and talk and be me, just without the cognitive ability to draw.
Maybe I just want to tell my abridged story, for some dingus doctor to get their act together and start helping people maybe? I'm seeing my psychiatrist in two weeks, it is never when I need it. I wish I could trust his words that I'll get better, but the world is unbearable and my head is screaming for escape.


5 Replies 5

Hey Retronoodles,

Welcome back to the Forums. Thanks for sharing this, it sounds like it would be really hard to deal with and we think it will be really good to hear from the community on how other's have coped with huge adjustments like this one. 

If you want to reach out to our counsellors to talk this through, we’re on 1300 22 4636, and you can reach us online here. There’s also our friends over at the Suicide Call Back service on 1300 659 467, or Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you’re feeling suicidal or are having thoughts about harming yourself, it's important that you take steps to keep safe. If at any point you feel unable to keep yourself from acting on thoughts about suicide or self-harm this is an emergency and you need to call 000 (triple zero).

We hope that you find our forums to be a safe and supportive space to talk through your thoughts and feelings. Our community is here for you, and we’re sure they’ll spot your post soon enough and have some kind words and understanding for you. 
Kind regards,
Sophie M

P.S. We love your profile image. Is this one of your own art works?

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Retronoodles~

I'm going to prefix this by saying I'm no doctor, but have gone from a person totally dominated by mental illness so as to be basically incapable of many things -reading being one. Now I'm one who leads a pretty good life.


I'm not saying reading is in the same class as creative artwork, I am saying I had to re-learn. I went from speed-reader to someone who could re-read the same line several times and still not be able ot say what I'd read.


Due to a very kind psych nurse I was given material that was inherently interesting (and better than just sitting in a ward) and that gave me the motivation to try.


Now I'm back to speed-reading.


No, our circumstance are not the same, I know that -also the improvement was not instant by any means.


I might suggest though that having been born with an outstanding talent and then find your abilities have been degraded is a devastating thing - and so easy to give up hope and see no future.


I should know, I lost a lot apart from reading.


I'm also not going to use the cruel wings analogy, not only becuse it is cruel, but also because I suspect it is entirely wrong.


May I suggest to get back to where your were will take a lot of re-learning. Baby steps. It might take you a long time to place one line the way you are happy with it, then two, then more until you have a simple undemanding object you would scarcely have thoght about at all - too trivial.


If you are like me the loss of what was inbuilt was not only devastating, but felt I was no longer me and a great discouragement in trying. When I did try the distance I had to go to recover seemed impossible.


Perhaps expecting little plus determined action may help


Feel free to say I'm talkng twaddle if you like 🙂





Thanks for your story. I have wondered if it takes some "trying" as my psychiatrist has said that the neurons or whatever may take some time to heal and reconnect. I've worked very hard at drawing in the last two years, but feel Ive achieved no real results. In fact, it feels as scratchy as the days after I was released from the ward.


I am still traumatised by what I have experienced in psychosis, and then this happens to screw me over even more. I remember seeing photos of myself out of the ward, and I seemed like such a broken woman, a sadness that has only deepened with every day passing without my "art brain" back.


I have to find a reason to live, a reason that isn't living to express myself. People around me are insistent I need to do different things. Yeah like have my favorite thing taken and only skill, completely destroyed.


It screams of brain damage in my opinion. Although my psychiatrist says otherwise. What am I saying, of course I want to beleive in hope. I'm crying a lot lately, as I've repressed thinking about art for a long time, but I can't avoid it forever. 


I want to hear other experiences with psychosis, true experiences. That's all I'm unable to find.

Yes it's my old artwork before psychosis ruined my brain.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Retronoodles~

Please understand I'm just chatting as I've no expereice other than to say the brain can indeed compensate for matters that seem lost.

As an example I can forget a word - quite an ordinary everyday one, the mental path to retrieve it is simply gone. Then one day, having constantly having to remind myself with cues outside myself another path to that word takes shape and I no longer forget that  word.


Your art appears to be very intuitive, with consistency between frames.


I was trying ot think of a modern artist famous for his artwork which consisted of photo-realistic simplified industrial scenes, his most famous being a truck parked beside a wall.


This leads me to think  it was firstly a matter of training the hand to follow the brain's command exactly - and litle else. Like learning scales on a piano, no art involved.


I would be interested in your thoughts, would this be the first half of art, to train the brush to obey the brain?


Then when that's accomplished plug in the ideas you may have and the acquired skill may allow you to produce those ideas? So a v shape can become a crack in a mug perhaps.


I'm probably just talking nonsense, however I'm curious as to your views.


The only thing I cna say with confidence is trauma and fear - including the fear of no recovery -can stifle all sorts of endeavors (tell me about it:)