Janine regained her sense of self through art.
Janine worked for 10 years as a drafter for architects and engineers, and was a part-time professor at a local community college. This world came to a crashing halt while working at a design firm when a co-worker got physical during a conversation about a work project.
She filed a sexual harassment charge, but it was dismissed for lack of witnesses. Word spread throughout the design community, and no one would hire her. In addition to this, her family was in crisis. She had endured difficult situations before, but everything fell apart when the harassment suit failed.
As a reaction to her recent trauma and extreme isolation, she began experiencing symptoms of Schizophrenia, with which she had been diagnosed at age 16. She became paranoid about her safety, and it was hard for her to leave her apartment. While walking in her neighborhood one day, she was nearly hit by a car. In her paranoid state, she believed the driver was trying to kill her, and jumped onto the car and off the back. First responders took her to UW Medical Center, but she was transferred directly to King County Jail and held for 72 hours in solitary confinement. She couldn’t reach her family, and began psychologically shutting down even further.
Janine was released into the night, but was still delusional. She wandered into the YWCA, where they recognized she needed intervention and took her to Harborview Medical Center. After six weeks at Harborview, psychiatric treatment brought her back from her delusional state and she was discharged.
One afternoon, someone at YWCA Opportunity Place, where she was then living, invited her to a Path with Art painting class. At that time, she didn’t care about much. She certainly didn’t care about making art. But she knew she needed to get out of her room, so she attended the class. Slowly, through painting in that class, she became more present.
“This class, the first of many to follow, began the process of helping me re-connect with myself and others. I was reminded that I had a gift for drawing. That I could do this. That I could connect to the world through my art. I also started feeling comfortable socializing with others.”
Janine participated in the Path with Art mural project at Harborview Medical Center. During this project, she re-learned the necessary skills of being part of a team, which she hadn’t experienced in a while. It was also her way of thanking Harborview for their intervention into her situation.
“Path with Art gives you a chance to identify yourself as a person who is more than just a diagnosis. You feel accepted. This gave me back my social life, and prepared me for what was to follow.”
Today, Janine is a Path with Art “graduate,” is self-employed as a Washington State Certified peer consultant. and supports peers through agencies and programs that empower individuals in recovery. She is one of many success stories from Path with Art. She continues her art practice, creating botanical art and scientific illustrations in her spare time.