This 18-Year-Old Artist Draws Her Hallucinations To Cope With Schizophrenia


Kate Fenner is an 18-year-old who was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 17. She says she has always been an ‘artist,’ she just didn’t realize what that meant until her mental illness appeared. “I despise the term ‘mentally ill; it implies that who I am as a person is fundamentally corrupted and broken." she says, and adds: “Unfortunately, as soon as I tell people what I struggle with, I feel like that’s all they see me as. They see the stigma perpetuated by the media, and the inaccurate stereotypes portrayed in Hollywood. That is precisely why I am so open about what I live with.”


1. She believes inaccurate media portrayals fuel the cultural silence that surrounds mental health.

“People are afraid to be open about it for fear of being ostracized or looked down upon,” she says.

2. She experiences anxiety and depression linked to her illness and hallucinates seeing bugs and hearing voices.

3. “I understand the risks of being public about hallucinating bugs and voices, but I’m willing to take those risks in an attempt to normalize mental illness and to educate people.” she explains.

4. Much of Fenner’s art is based around flies, which she chose to represent how she sometimes feels “worthless, insignificant and annoying.”

“It often feels like bugs are crawling in and out of my skin,” she says.

5. She said people are often confused when she tells them she hears voices, but she hopes her art will change that.

“When I tell people I hear voices they give me a sort of bewildered look. Which I understand, however, it’s normal for me,” she says.

6. This is her self-portrait.

"I looked in the mirror and my eyes did this thing. I painted it."

7. "I have a lot of intense emotions, and hear voices telling me to light things on fire."

8. Here is an example of the disembodied eyes she sees. "They surface in a mounds or masses on my walls or floors. They warp and move."

9. "This is Birdie, she sings to me."

10. "My self-esteem is at its lowest, and I feel insignificant. I always wish I could shapeshift into a “prettier” person."

11. "What eyes sometimes look like, with more of those odd colors and circles."

12. "Organization, communication, paranoia, depression, anxiety, and managing my emotions are the biggest struggles for me." she says.

"What I live with isn’t easy and it can be debilitating, but I’m not living out on the streets screaming about alien abductions. That’s not to say there aren’t people out there who are that severe – there are. However, there are also people like me who just stay at home most of the time cooped up in their room. It is a spectrum of symptoms with varying severity levels. Each person’s experience is unique." 

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