aside ASLI Team member and artist Lisa Reeve talks about having mental illness and using art, “I find art a less threatening way to articulate my thoughts and feelings, it is great therapy and gives me a sense of achievement and productivity”.

Lisa Reeve ASLI Artistic Projects & Campaign Director at the Mental Illness, health and recovery pop-up exhibition.
Lisa Reeve ASLI Artistic Projects & Campaign Director at the Mental Illness, health and recovery pop-up exhibition.

Lisa reeve 31 from Southsea, Portsmouth, UK is ASLI Artistic Projects & Campaign Director and for this campaign and all others we like to get anyone on the ASLI team to be involved and share their stories via any artistic medium they choose. Here we speak to Lisa about her mental health and how she uses her creativity to manage her mental illnesses. 

Here are Lisa’s two paintings and accompanying poems, along with her interview:



The Rose Garden - By Lisa Reeve
The Rose Garden – By Lisa Reeve

The Rose Garden

There once was a girl who owned the most beautiful rose garden in all of the land.

Her roses were so beautiful that everyone wanted one for themselves.

The girl loved how much joy they brought to the people she gave them to, so she eagerly and generously gave them out.

She soon realised that all of her roses had been picked and her beautiful garden was bare.

She walked through the tall bleak stems and found one last single rose which had fallen on the ground.

As she picked it up a boy came over and asked her for the rose.

Without a second thought she handed it to him and he left.

She had given out her roses so abundantly that they never had time to replenish.

The girl had worked so hard to make these roses so beautiful but never had the time to enjoy them and now she was left with not a single one for herself.

By Lisa Reeve

The Girl With The Serpent Hair – By Lisa Reeve


The Girl With The Serpent Hair

I want to give a part of me to everyone I meet

I can’t hold back on anything,

an open book I read

You have my attention, I hear your tale, you are my best friend

I give you all the time I have, self indulgently you spend

I didn’t know it wasn’t right to invest this love in you

I thought I was being a caring friend,

now you stick to me like glue

My heart is worn on my sleeve but doesn’t mean it’s yours

You believe it is and you take your chance, I now want to withdraw

I feel mislead, a stupid girl, I made you believe,

that we could be more then friends and now you turn on me

Why can’t our friendship be Enough?

I gave you all I could

Your eyes strip me to my skin, you misunderstood

I feel so used, I feel ashamed, I want to make you smile

You had other plans for me and now I’m here on trial

A relationship ruined yet again, that girl she is a flirt

I didn’t know how to read your book,

your words cut deep they hurt

Why do I not know these boundaries that everyone else can see?

I just want to love the world and want the world to love me.

By Lisa Reeve


Lisa, Can you tell us about your own experiences with mental illness?

I have suffered from Derealisation and Depersonalisation permanently for 14 years, It wasn’t until last year that I met another sufferer who has this persistently too, until that time I had battled this illness alone, I have been diagnosed with BPD ( borderline personality ) PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)  OCD ( obsessive compulsive disorder), depression and general anxiety which combined can make my life hard and holding down stable relationships very difficult.

How does your artistic /creative expression help you with your mental health?

I find art a less threatening way to articulate my thoughts and feelings whilst putting them in an understandable context, it is great therapy and gives me a sense of achievement and productivity.

Have you ever experienced being stigmatised or marginalised due to your mental health or have you seen this happen to someone else?

I try to be open about what I have in the hope that I can be better understood and encourage others to speak up about any mental health issues they are troubled by. This is normally received well and I see positive changes happening and beating negative stigmas.

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 am lucky to have a small group of NHS healthcare professionals that work closely with me. They have supported me through CBT therapies and with my detachment. I am now I am receiving CAT therapy which has been very beneficial, helping me to make and maintain healthy relationships. I have also attended group recovery sessions and workshops of a creative nature.   

Do you think society and culture is accepting of people with mental illness?

I think that it is getting there. I have received so much support however there have been times in the past that I was ignored or laughed at for trying to reach out for help which made me feel ashamed, isolated and guilty.

How do you feel your Government in your country helps people with mental illness and could they do more?

If funding was more available for this it would be great. I believe there could be a better education available at school age on mental health along with any other health talks. I believe that life takes its toll on most people so understanding psychology and the effect it has on your physical health could be a great starting point. If children had one to one sessions with a caring adult professional then that child can feel validated and important, especially if a problem at home has not been noticed. this small act could make or break someone.

Have you ever had any creative therapies as part of your treatment, did it help?

I have found mindfulness very helpful to bring me into the present and filter unwanted thoughts. Activities such as learning a musical instrument or painting a picture can reinforce achievement, promote confidence and help with low self esteem

Do you think artistic / creative expression can be used to help people with mental health problems?

Absolutely, it can help raise important issues globally , giving others hope and inspiration.

Do you think artistic / creative expression could help raise awareness and communicate how mental illness affects people?

Yes, as we are all affected differently,  art allows them differences to be a personal delivery from one person to another, communicating our diverse experiences, our version of  life and how we perceive the world.

What made you want to get involved with ASLI’s MENTAL ILLNESS, HEALTH AND RECOVERY CAMPAIGN?

As an active team member of ASLI I want to be an example to all of our followers that life can be challenging but you can make the most of what you have and in turn something good may come from it and help others in the process

Do you believe in more rights for mentally ill people in the workplace and for equal opportunities

I find everyday tasks very hard to do some days so working can become challenging . we are often seen as weak when we express a negative emotion which can cause us to feel  victimised, therefore if we were introduced to metal health awareness in early years it would be seen for what it is, the same as having a physical disability and people will know that mind and body work together.

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 find labels helpful as I can get the right help, advise and learn from other survivors with similar symptoms.

Are there any artists/creatives/performers which you admire, who suffer from mental illness that you feel use their work to discuss or highlight mental health?

My best friend and MD of ASLI Charlotte Farhan has saved my life and is the light at the end of my tunnel. She is brave about her feelings and illness and this gives me strength to carry on.  Also the people I meet in group talking therapies who are open and share practical ways to relieve painful thoughts.


ASLI MD Charlotte Farhan and Artistic Projects & Campaign Director Lisa Reeve
ASLI MD Charlotte Farhan and Artistic Projects & Campaign Director Lisa Reeve

If you would like to find out more about Lisa follow these links:


Facebook Page 




Also Lisa has a Facebook page dedicated to Derealisation and Depersonalisation which are dissociative disorders and sever mental illnesses, follow this LINK to find out more…

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