Project name: Beyond Diagnosis
Participants: Self-isolating patients with chronic illness
Lead artist: Paul Whittaker
Digital platform: Digital workshops
Patients with chronic illnesses often experience ‘illness identity’. After you receive a diagnosis it can become the defining quality in how others relate to you, including yourself. Accepting a definition of yourself as your symptoms can impact on your hope, social interaction, relationships, self-esteem and even symptom severity. Artist and writer, Paul Whittaker will lead a multimedia writing programme with patients at University Hospital Llandough who are currently self-isolating to create their own autobiographical collages that can be shared with staff and a wider audience.
Paul Whittaker is a multi-disciplined disabled artist with a diagnosis of Bipolar. In 2017 he held his first solo visual arts exhibition, miscellaneous RULES, at the Hearth Gallery, University Hospital Llandough. As a writer, he created a digital collage (part journal / part children’s illustrated encyclopaedia) that showed how the rules he lived by over his lifetime have evolved with his condition. Psychiatric staff from Hafan y Coed were so affected by the candour of the piece that he was asked to work with staff in training. The work is now permanently displayed at the Hospital.
“Mental health & physical health are often separated within a care setting but I know from experience that they are intertwined. For me creative writing has always been therapeutic, but it is also much more insightful than conversations in a clinical setting because you are freed from the roles of Patient & Professional.” – Paul Whittaker