October / November 2014
St. Hedwig Hospital, Berlin.
"You're in a car and you're driving against a wall. You already have a neck brace on. Isn't it time to get out of the car?"
- But my foot has been stapled onto the gas pedal.
"Then we'll pull the staples out of it."
This series is one of my most personal works and is thus owed a longer explanation. The experiences depicted informed a lot of the work that followed and the direction of my artistic and professional interests and what kind of doctor I want to be one day.
The stay on a specialist psychiatric ward dealing with depression and crisis intervention does leave an imprint. While it is a safe space, it is also one that may be helpful to some and on top of that traumatising in itself to others. In short: it gives insights into areas healthy people are rarely able to dive in to. Be it the way patients are treated by medical professionals, the hierarchy within the microcosm of a hospital, the often old-fashioned way specialist psychiatric hospitals / wards are conctructed, or the way patients deal with their respective illnesses, the stigma associated with mental illness and how they treat their relatives and medical professionals. All of this found its way into how I approach my work.
Later on, as a student of Visual Communication at weißensee kunsthochschule berlin, I was able to take part in visions4people, where I could provide insights into the perspective of a (former) patient. It was a pilot project that tried to find both artistic and practical ways to change how psychiatric hospitals are run so as to improve the quality of life (and work) for patients, staff and visitors. It used the building of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of Charité Berlin (CCM) as its model building.
On a more personal level, my stay added fuel to continue being outspoken about mental health and that there is importance in visualising abstract concepts as it can literally save lives. I have been healthy for over three years now.
Berlin, February 2020.