Jennifer Woronow

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Illustration ’06

Living with co-occurring mental health disorders has taught me a great deal about personal resilience. I am in recovery for Major Depressive Disorder, General Anxiety Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I also live with a type of obsessive-compulsive behavior called dermatillomania. I experienced psychiatric hospitalization when I was in my early twenties and have overcome suicidal feelings. Today I can successfully manage my symptoms with the aid of trauma-focused therapy, exercise, and medication.

There was a point at which depression and PTSD made me feel very detached from myself and from the world around me. During treatment in 2016, my therapist recommended that I reclaim my creative side as a way to help heal. I make mixed media paintings as a reminder that my mind has healed and is capable of producing creative, intuitive thoughts. I see myself as a changed person and never a broken one. I make art to affirm that my life is worth living. It’s important for differently-abled people to recognize their strengths and achievements. My mental illness informs how I navigate the world, but it does not define me as an individual. As a person in recovery, I want to tell others that finding self-acceptance and your place in the world is possible.