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Coping through art

I do a lot of abstract art. It’s what comes out of my head. I have schizoaffective disorder — I was diagnosed in 2018, and art became a therapeutic way to deal with it. It helped me grow as a person.

I’ve been in therapy for three years. Art helps me deal with the breaks from reality I experience. My therapy has taught me a lot of coping mechanisms and grounding skills and how to structure my life better.

My breaks in reality can be so unorganized and messy. To get past them, I have to dissect them. Drawing them out on paper allows me to give my thoughts meaning, put them aside, and move on.

Breaking taboos

My face tattoos came from a belief I had that if I changed how I physically looked, I could reflect that change inside. It sounds weird. Face tattoos are a taboo thing in much of the Western world.

They either intimidate people, or make me more approachable. The second one is interesting — I’ll be at the park, and random people will approach me and talk to me. I like that. My tattoos attract the right people and repel the people who won’t understand me.

They do make employment harder. When I first got a job cleaning offices, I was afraid that people wouldn’t like me or would find me threatening. I look out of place in an office setting, but I’ve gotten to know a lot of tenants. My initial assumption about what people would think of me was wrong. People don’t see me as a bad person because I decided to do this. They see the good in me, that I’m just another human being trying to make it, pay my bills, and live my life.

Finding peace

I want to be content. We treat happiness as an unachievable destination, but if you’re content and at peace, that’s more empowering. I want to be more at peace with myself.

I want to make something out of my art. I go by the pen name G.G. Fasthands. I hope to start a clothing brand — I make patches for jackets out of canvas and fabric markers and sew them on. I’m also experimenting with custom finishes like leopard print collars. They look pretty cool.

I had a bit of an epiphany: Every time I make a men’s jacket, I get too attached and I want to keep it. Today I bought a couple women’s jackets to work on, and that way they’re easier to sell when I’m done.

Learn to have compassion for one another. In the tech age, it’s easier than ever to believe stereotypes before you know who someone is. Not everyone is out to get you. Put yourself in others’ shoes.

If you have suggestions for My Name Is, please contact David Gilbert at dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com.