Joyce Savage, 46, from Ontario in Canada is a poet and blogger and for this issue of the ASLI magazine Joyce has submitted a poem tackling the subject of BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). However Joyce doesn’t just confine her Artistic expression to writing poetry and blogging,but also enjoys knitting, crocheting, baking and photography; All disciplines that she describes as mostly self-taught.
We are great followers and supporters of this artist’s website and our MD Charlotte Farhan who also suffers from BPD is a avid reader of the blog which Joyce writes Make BPD Stigma Free
We at ASLI decided that we would like to know more about Joyce so here is our interview:
What motivated you to deal with your chosen submission subject?
At the time of writing this poem, I didn’t know that I had BPD. I just wrote what I felt in my heart.
I Am The Shadow
I am the shadow,
I exist in a world of light,
Blending into the darkness of night.
My face you cannot see,
My expressions, sometimes misleading.
If you hear a whisper in the wind,
It may be me.
I am the shadow,
I exist in a world of sounds, good and bad.
You think that I feel nothing,
But you are wrong.
You think that I do not cry,
But I weep silently.
You cannot see the tears that slide down my cheeks,
But they are there.
I am the shadow, you cannot touch,
Always within sight but never within reach.
I am the shadow, afraid to trust the light for it distorts me.
Please forgive me if I trick you,
I cannot control it.
I long to live in the light,
To be held and loved,
But I am only a silent shadow,
Watching but unable to take part in it all,
What others do, I can only dream of.
So I lurk in corners,
Always waiting for the night to come,
Always dying but never dead.
I am the shadow, I have no friends,
Even in a crowd, I’m all alone.
Existing in somber shades of gray,
A lonely shadow,
I’m doomed to stay.
By Joyce Savage, 1990.
What is your process when creating?
A lot of writer’s block. I get some inspiration from comments from my blog and my Facebook Page.
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for…?
I am passionate about mental health, specifically BPD, because it needs more recognition and less stigma.
What do the statements “art saves lives” and “art creates change” mean to you?
I believe that art may make it easier for people to understand and deal with mental health issues.
Have your artistic and creative outlets saved your life in anyway and do you think your message within them could help create change in the world?
I think that my artistic and creative outlets have definitely caused a huge change in my life for the better.
What are your present and future goals for your art?
My present and future goals for my art are to get my book published.
The following question are about mental health:
Can you tell us about your own experiences with mental illness?
I was misdiagnosed as just having depression and anxiety for about 20 years. It wasn’t until I was properly diagnosed at age 35 that I finally received the right help in the form of Dialectical Behaviour Therapy.
How does your artistic /creative expression help you with your mental health?
My artistic / creative expression helps me with my mental health by reaching others.
Have you ever experienced being stigmatised or marginalised due to your mental health or have you seen this happen to someone else?
I have been stigmatized by my family before they knew my diagnosis and understood it well.
Have you ever received treatment for mental health and if so, what was it, did it help and was it private or state funded?
I received help in the form of DBT. It helped a lot. It was very difficult at times, but so worth it. It was funded by the province.
Do you think society and culture is accepting of people with mental illness?
I think that, overall, society and culture is not very accepting of people with mental illness, and much more work needs to be done to erase stigma and increase compassion and understanding.
How do you feel your Government in your country helps people with mental illness and could they do more?
I think that the Canadian government is doing not too bad a job helping people with mental illness, but that it could be doing a lot better.
Have you ever had any creative therapies as part of your treatment, did it help?
I did have Art Therapy as part of DBT. It helped quite a bit.
What made you want to get involved with ASLI’s MENTAL ILLNESS, HEALTH AND RECOVERY CAMPAIGN?
I wanted to become involved with ASLI’S MENTAL ILLNESS, HEALTH AND RECOVERY CAMPAIGN because I thought that I could reach more people than on my own.
Do you believe in more rights for mentally ill people in the workplace and for equal opportunities?
I definitely believe in more rights for mentally ill people in the workplace and for equal opportunities.
We at ASLI want to de-stigmatise diagnosis labels within mental illness so that people treat others and their own mental health label as that of a diabetic or any other chronic “physical” illness, as we know the brain is physical and this would further improve stigma and marginalising mental illness. How do you feel about diagnosis labels?
I think that labels are partly in how you use them. They can be damaging if used in a derogatory and defaming way.
Everyone within ASLI is affected in some way by mental illness, with our MD having several chronic mental illnesses and other members either caring for or dealing with mental health issues. Would this make you think twice about working with ASLI? And does this make ASLI “less professional” in your opinion and if so why?
I don’t think that having mental health issues makes you “less professional” at all. I think it increases your understanding and compassion. I would not think twice about working with ASLI.
Finally is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or your experiences?
I would just like to help people get their diagnosis sooner, instead of going through years or decades misdiagnosed like I was.
If you would like to find out more about Joyce follow these links: