The Importance of Community in Recovery

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Bouquet’s Danielle E. Faulkner on using her own experiences to help others

Banding together, despite differences, amongst a mutual enemy is a common human tendency. Most experience this on a minute, though feisty, level during childhood. For instance, hooting and howling for our Middle School teachers to allow us to have a snowball fight in the playground is one of many memories. As an adult now, it’s understood that they were tending to our safety. But how is one to respond when an adult disrespects your identity?

As an inpatient to a major NYC Hospital in 2010, being monitored for attempted suicide, I consequently was given medication for depression & PTSD. Treatment via pharmaceutical means was the norm for most to all of us in the ward; as is the case I hear with other testimonies of psych-ward experiences. For some, medication was perhaps a means of subduing (true from what I hear regarding Prozac), or of genuine assistance. Nonetheless we all were minority teen inpatients for serious Mental Health related reasons, not to be talked or looked down upon by staff, in particular the nurses.

One afternoon, during downtime as we watched a movie, commotion began to arise between a few others. The nurse assigned to watch us told a male patient to calm down, mispronouncing his name in the process. He attempted to reasonably correct her, to which she replied, “I don’t care what your name is!” Generally, most tended to band together against the doctors regarding participating in activities or carrying out requests, but we collectively rallied against this nurse. It was clear that the staff didn’t have much compassion. I personally experienced mild lack of empathy from the main doctor assigned to my case. The one and only time she saw me, whilst looking & typing away at her cell phone, was to tell me what my treatment plan was and what it took for me to leave. She could not look me in my eyes, and that is the only memory I have of her.

Though as I looked at myself, fortunate enough to have insurance to be in such a place, it forced me to realize that not all have such luxuries. I’ve been in my talk therapy process for almost a decade (three years of which have been a psychoanalytic process). Not all have the capacity or tools to verbally express their troubles and emotions. And for those who are in the system (even as outpatients), I ponder over do today’s youth have the proper tools to verbalize and/or express their emotions.

The concept of Bouquet is to provide a place of genuine love & expression to minority artists; who may not have another means of dealing with their pain & struggles. To assemble artists who may be sensitive to the brute realities of today’s art world, to spread awareness of all Mental Health categories and representation to those who battle them, is my life’s goal. Though I may battle my own hindrances, I refuse to have my experiences ignored, overridden or misspoken. Many paths who’ve crossed mine question the power of my voice, a minority female voice. I create art to rebel, to raise awareness and to one day provide solace, security and love to the voices who don’t know how or have the tools to express themselves.

You Matter. I Love You.

Danielle is the founder of Bouqueta community platform for artists of colour dealing with mental health issues.

Image credit: Danielle E. Faulkner

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