Lorna Collins is a Peer Support Worker with Oxford Health NHS eating disorder service, and she is Patient Representative at the Royal College of Psychiatrists Quality Network for Eating Disorders. She is an active researcher in the field of Arts in Health, beginning from her PhD as a triple scholar at Jesus College, Cambridge University. During her PhD, Lorna explored how and why art helps us to make sense of ourselves, and the world. This research, and instigating its practice, remains her vocation. Lorna is now a member of the steering group of the MARCH Network and the Arts Health Early Career Research Network. Lorna’s work with the NHS and the Royal College of Psychiatrists aims to improve and open access to care for people who have eating disorders. An author, she writes articles in a number of newspapers and journals, campaigning to change stigma and discrimination against mental illness.

My story: 

When I was 18 I had a severe traumatic brain injury and fell into a coma. When I awoke, I had total amnesia and did not know who I was, who anyone was. I developed a number of psychiatric illnesses, and was locked away for nearly 2 decades. During this time, art was my saviour. I would paint to express the inexpressible, my sheer misery. I would paint, write, express what I could not say. Eventually the doctors would look at my paintings (etc.), diagnose, medicate and treat my illnesses. Art became my medicine (on the list of the drugs I had to take). My creativity nourished me, drove my eventual recovery, feeds my life. In March 2020 I did a TED talk, ‘How Creativity Revived Me’, about this theme.