Stop the Stigma

Stop the Stigma


Dawn Bland


I am a poet, painter and activist trying to stop the stigma of mental health. It’s been tough duringLockdown as I live on my own and am struggling with isolation.

Without any face to face contact I have found things very hard. I have OCD and struggle to wear a face mask, it makes me feel like I am being smothered by a pillow.

I am a survivor of childhood trauma, keeping my hair short is important to me and normally I go to the barbers regularly – throughout Lockdown I’ve not been able to get my hair cut, I have a phobia about it growing to do with abuse when I was a child. So Ive cut my own hair to keep my anxiety under control, but it’s not cut well so I’m wearing a hat now to hide it.

One day when I felt very down, I went into Iceland, a security guard there helped me – without him I would have self-harmed. I did a painting to say thank you. Wakefield has many hidden heroes. A lot of people are struggling with mental health now.

The Postcards from Wakefield project on Facebook is good, it gives me something to focus on and gives me a break from my head. It has helped me stay connected to people. I have been painting in response to seeing how other people are feeling or coping. I paint what I can see in other people, I want to capture the struggle, its my way of reaching out to people, and to say to other people who are struggling “don’t feel ashamed”.

Through Spectrum People I’m making a photo book of my artwork and poems, today 2 friends turned up with over £400 they’ve raised to help get the book printed, I also won an art competition – all the money is going to Spectrum, and any from the book sales, to help them set up a support group for people suffering from childhood trauma and domestic violence.