Breaking the Stigma with Creativity

 Worth Living Ambassador Caitie Gutierrez

Caitie is a 26-year-old who resides in Sydney, Australia by way of New York. She struggles with chronic depression and anxiety and wants to dedicate her life to making society a better and safer place for all marginalized groups.

Caution: Caitie mentions the suicide of a friend, along with a memoriam video.

Being diagnosed with mental illnesses later in my teenage years left me feeling different, isolated and alone. I missed out on a lot of things because of how my diagnoses hindered my ability to function throughout most of my life. I have experienced two major depressive episodes where I ended up hospitalized. Throughout it all, the most cathartic coping method for me was creativity whether it was singing, playing the piano or guitar, listening to music, or admiring relatable illustrations.

In February, someone that I had known since I was very young passed away from suicide. Jimmy was always creative. He would impersonate Charlie Chaplin for our class in elementary school. He was always drawing and involved with the drama productions. He even got to direct a show our senior year. We weren’t very close, but we always stayed connected by randomly catching up on social media or running into each other at house parties of mutual friends. He reached out to me last year on Facebook after I started becoming more open about my own struggle with mental illness. He talked to me about his personal experience and encouraged me to continue being transparent about my own.

The loss of Jimmy left myself and many others including his close friends and family feeling devastated. He inspired me to put things in motion. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that so many people who struggle with mental illness are creative. Today’s society doesn’t exactly cater to the arts. Many feel invalid in their creative pursuits when they want to make a living by doing what they feel passionately about and love the most. We are told that we can be anything we want to be but when it comes time to decide on our career, a career in the arts is not encouraged or taken seriously. The creative world can also be very elitist, so with these two factors you will find people losing hope and burying their dreams.

So, I decided to create The Bumblefly Effect. It is an inclusive and intersectional collective of creatives all over the globe who are committed to breaking the stigma of mental illness. It is a platform where people can share their creativity and stories in hopes to normalize being open and candid about our mental health, as well as embracing the healing properties the arts can bring to those who are suffering. I hope that by curating these works of art, someone will be able to find some peace and solidarity in their darkest moments. Suffering is a universal human condition. I feel that it is crucial to acknowledge this and start creating a larger space for those who struggle with their mental health in our society.

Memoriam video for Jimmy made by his friend Derek

You can find The Bumblefly Effect on Facebook   Instagram:@thebumbleflyeffect and @caitie.bumblefly

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