Ben Pascoe is a self-taught artist who is always looking for inspiration. He describes himself as a curious guy who loves listening to music and working with clay - but drawing and painting are his real passions. Ben lives with schizophrenia, and says in the pit of despair, ‘art brought me home to myself again’.
“I was diagnosed in 2015 and was very, very sick for a long time. My world was shattered. It took me years to recover, and I couldn’t function at all for a long time. I had a huge loss of identity and art helped me rediscover who I was and who I could be.”
Art gave Ben a sense of purpose and helped him channel his feelings and emotions in a positive, productive way.
“In terms of my treatment and recovery, I was always handing my power over to other people. Art helped me piece everything together and gain a solid understanding of myself. It was life-changing, in that it helped me explore my feelings, emotions and memories. I don’t think I would have survived without art.”
These days, Ben is committed to his ongoing wellbeing and management – he’s come a long way and isn’t about to turn around now.
“I used to use drugs heavily and drink a lot. Since my diagnosis, I’ve done a 180 from the direction I was going in. Once I made the decision, that was it. If I kept doing it, I was going to die. The journey to acceptance of my mental illness and subsequent recovery has been gruelling, but I try to always keep an open mind. I have a condition and it needs managing – so I try to stay as healthy and grounded as possible.”
|"God Help the Beast In Me" by Ben Pascoe on display at the 2021 Recovered Futures Art Exhibition.
Ben, who has exhibited in the Recovered Futures Art Exhibition once previously, says the sense of community is a vital component of the event.
“The feeling of community means you’re not alone. When you live with a mental illness, a lot of the time you can feel very isolated. But you learn there are others out there who are facing similar challenges to you - you’re not the only one struggling.”
To others walking their own path through mental illness, Ben has some key advice to share.
“Everyone goes through self-loathing and depression, but you have to learn to love yourself in order to move forward. Don’t give up on yourself and try your best to love and accept yourself for who you are.”