Welcome to week 2 and post 8 of my series, Blogging Against Stigma. Someday, with a cumulative effort across society, people may stop dying from things like depression, anxiety, and psychosis. Someday relationships and families won't be irreparably damaged by partners or members who behave in ways they can't control or explain. Towards this end, this post is dedicated to Pablo Picasso (1881–1973), an artist that is beloved by many, but whose career and personal life were impacted by periods of decline in his mental health. His struggle with mental illness is being shared as a means of combating the one remaining factor that continues to haunt our approach to mental health as much today as it did throughout Picasso's lifetime - stigma.
Pablo Picasso struggled through long periods of major depression, and with limited success in maintaining healthy relationships through those periods. His emotional and interpersonal distress is often reflected in his paintings which have become, ironically, celebrated today. What people fail to realize is that, at the time, his career suffered. His marriages ended as he self-medicated through promiscuity. During his 'Blue Period' (1901 - 1904) no one wanted to decorate their homes with paintings displaying human suffering. And yet his depression was so severe that, for almost four years following the suicide of a close friend, all Picasso could bring himself to paint were monochromatic depictions of men and women, struggling to survive through begging and prostitution. Today we have come to celebrate his portrayals of such tormented lives. And yet, when we see this same suffering up close and personal, in the lives of strangers we pass on the street, the typical response is too often frustration and indifference.