This is the titular
Discarded Narratives piece.
Constructed from accumulated pill bottles, this artificial garden grows from the tension between necessary medicine and harmful plastic waste.
The leaves hold anonymous comments on what is left behind in the course of medicinal mental health treatment.
Respondents were asked to respond to one of the following questions:
What have you lost/let go of/left behind as you’ve received treatment? What have you seen your friend/family member leave behind as they’ve received treatment? What have you lost by not being able to receive meaningful treatment?
The responses are written on corresponding colors.
I wrote out each of the comments left through the online portal on a construction-paper leaf. These were all of the comments submitted as of April 14, 2020, when I first attached leaves.
While I initially asked for responses of 5 words or less, which is why most are so concise, some respondents left more than 5 words, and I felt like it was more important to represent what they felt they needed to share than to stick to the 5-word limit.
Check the image captions for the original typed-out comments.
“I left behind a sad college experience” (1 of 2) “I think I have lost a lot of innocence and honestly a bit of hope. For me receiving treatment is better than not, but the exploration I have needed to do in myself, diving into my past and my trauma, has a brought both a needed awareness of who I am but a disturbing realization…” (2 of 2) “…that I need to continue to live with this knowledge. I can no longer keep it buried after it has been brought to the surface, and sometimes I wish I didn’t know all these things about myself. Ignorance is bliss. This also means I have become somewhat reliant on treatment for now, and the longer I receive treatment the better I feel but also the less hope I have for weening myself of this treatment. I don’t know that I can deal with leaving behind treatment yet, but not knowing how long I will need this for before I am “okay” is frightening.” “I no longer really trusted myself to know if I was doing well because of the medication or because of me? I guess I lost autonomy to a degree. I ultimately decided to take myself off medication and I think I’m fine doing that but I now others aren’t.” “Feeling alone” “Control over my own life” (1 of 2) “I don’t think I let this go as much as the SSRI has reduced the issue, but it used to be that the moment my mind wasn’t completely occupied with something I would give in to complete despair. It was at the point where…” (2 of 2) “…I dreaded weekends because they left me too much free time and I was scrambling to fill any free time that I had, at the expense of other aspects of my mental health.” “Privacy to hide the bad” (1 of 2) “Mostly dignity, and quite often self respect. Once, when I was being prescribed medication for bipolar disorder “because your mom has it and it’s probably genetic”, even though I had never once exhibited symptoms, I lost the ability…” (2 of 2) “…to sleep/eat for a full 48-hour stretch because of a medically-induced manic state due to improper medication.” “Countless friends, all my innocence” “Extreme highs and lows” “My memory” “Friends. College. Body. IQ. Men.” “Self-hatred and misery” “My confidentiality” “Everything about me from before” “The only things I’ve lost or left behind when getting treated for my depression and anxiety are bad things, like being hung up on what others think of me and crazy jealousy.” “obsessive thoughts” “Walls and dealing with things alone” “I’ve left behind way too many pill bottles and a ton of plastic wrappers for daily dosage dispensers from Amazon’s pillpack service.” Responses from people undergoing medicinal treatment for mental illness.
“Their sense of self” “Hope – sadly” “Their internal flame” “trauma and pain” “stable sleep and diet” Responses from family and friends of people undergoing medicinal treatment for mental illness.
“Sleeping without getting drunk/high first” (1 of 2) “I would say a sense of finality or at least growth? I don’t want to say I feel unheard or unaided- I have a strong network of folks who have similar experiences and who obviously don’t replace therapists but who at least help me feel supported and in a community even without professional help…” (2 of 2) “…The loss there is that I have no litmus test by which to judge how much, if at all, I am progressing in my relationship with my illnesses. I am left feeling uncertain of any kind of endgame for my struggle. And I just don’t have the means to address that lack.” “Hair” “IDK how my brain works” “Hope” “stability, purpose” “untreated Bulimia – lost happy college memories, healthy relationship with food, Div 1 track experience, and enamel on my teeth.” “Hair” “The ability to create lasting and effective coping mechanisms. I resort to things that keep me distracted from the problem, which eventually always leads to it brewing up at inconvenient times.” Responses from people with untreated mental illness.
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