Brooke’s success story: schizoaffective disorder

Artwork created and copyrighted by Brooke Schnelle

This is Pitch Black, a character I deeply relate to for many reasons. I live with schizoaffective disorder, and during a mood episode, I drew this image to vent my emotions.

The focus of the image—Pitch reaching out to a victim—symbolizes his acting like nothing is wrong and that he’s fine when he’s truly not inside. The man behind him was him when he was human and had a family. The black pouring out of the scars symbolizes depression and inner pain. A small ray of light shines on him from the upper corner, as this is who he is supposed to be, and can still be if someone would reach out to him. The colored floating faces are the emotions he feels all the time: yellow, one fear; red, one rage; and orange, insanity.

When I drew this, I was struggling with depression and hypomania. Along with those, anger and anxiety. Like Pitch, I keep people at a distance, hiding the chaos inside while the true me is buried underneath the schizoaffective.

Unbeknownst to me, for 10 years medications were the demons holding me down.

Everything began to change in January 2016, when I started the Truehope program, and over a few months time, I tapered off the various medications I was on. Three years after quitting them, with support from the EMPowerplus, I control the schizoaffective and am improving my life in so many ways I never thought possible. Quitting them has allowed who I really am to surface. My disorder isn’t who I am, nor does it define me or confine me to my bed.

There will always be struggles and at times it will bury me, but I will keep moving forward no matter the obstacle.

The character Pitch Black is from the movie Rise of the Guardians, which is based off a book series The Guardians of Childhood by the author William Joyce. The movie, was produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The man standing behind Pitch in my image is Kozmotis Pitchiner; he wasn’t in the movie but he’s in the book series. Kozmotis isn’t pictured in the books, so this is how I envisioned him.