Dear America, I can recall a time in high school when I was sitting in a class called “The History of the Americas,” and our teacher, Mr. Perles, said to the class: “remember, always be skeptical.” As I heard these words, I felt a sense of liberation, but in the moment, I didn’t know why.
When I see the word “mental illness,” my mind goes straight to the word “illness.” Then a host of other words start to flow through my mind: disease, disability, impaired, bad, inferior, unworthy. The list continues, but the negative connotation of the words remain the same.
These self-portraits were made by William Utermohlen, a 20th century contemporary artist. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1995. At the onset of his Alzheimer’s, he decided to sketch a portrait of himself once a year until 2000—he died in 2007.