Suzana Harris

Monuments of Hope - A personal narrative of mental distress, healing and recovery

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It is with incredible joy and gratitude that I celebrate reaching my $3000 goal and set a new stretch goal of $8000!

I never imagined meeting my minimum target goal within 24hrs and would like to thank every single individual that has donated for their love and support.

With still a month left of my campaign I have set a new goal of reaching $8000 to include the costs of extra advertising and materials. It also includes the DREAM of a group mental health art exhibition in 2020 that will keep building on this message of hope, not just hope within myself, but hope within others too.

Your generosity, empathy and hope has and will continue to get us there. 

Thank you for giving me this gift, it is days like this I never dreamed possible. 

Love Suzie 

Monuments of Hope is a dream I have carried for many years. A dream that was born in the Wellington Hospital Psychiatric Unit of Te Whare o Matairangi in 2012 at the age of 22.

I had been struggling with deep anxiety, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, self-harm and suicidal ideation from the age of 13 and had finally reached the limits of my strength. I was tired, so tired. Most days even breathing felt tiring.

While in hospital I was struck by the deep hopelessness within myself and the people around me. People trapped in a revolving door of appointments, medication, meetings and sighs. Some of these friends died from suicide, people just like me who once had dreams, passions and goals. People who had lost their way and tragically not found their way home.

It was a regular day when I first dreamt of an exhibition. In an effort to prevent single-use waste, I started saving the polystyrene cups which were brought to me to take my medication. On this particular day, when I had collected a large supply, I began to notice the depth of meaning the cups held for me. To the general eye, these were common items, but for me they became precious mementos that seemed to represent the passage of time and struggle I felt and saw in the people around me. I started imagining ways I could restore the cups, ways that I could put hope back in them, even while I still feared to hold hope for myself.

The collection of artefacts grew larger after 5 years in and out of hospital. By the end of my last admission, I had a large supply of cups, medication pots, bandages, gowns, blankets and notes. I have spent the last few years working with them, creating artwork and messages of hope to speak to those in distress:

hope for those that have struggled through this day with their mental health,

hope for the families and friends that fear they will lose the ones they love,

hope for the people working in the sector feeling disillusioned and discouraged.

It is a message for all of us here in New Zealand, that hope is here, present and alive in us all.

On Mental Health Awareness Week from 23rd - 29th September 2019 in Wellington, I will be finally exhibiting Monuments of Hope.

Along with my creative practice, running has also played a key part in my recovery and is important for me to include in my exhibition. For this reason, I have spent the last 6 months training for the WUU2k, a 62km Ultra Marathon which is happening in a few weeks on July 13th! The run will be exhausting yet barely compares to my hardest days struggling with my mental health. The finish line for the marathon is in the same place I took my last overdose 6 years ago, an embodiment of this exhibition and redemption of those darkest days.

The money raised for this exhibition will cover necessary costs such as venue hire, framing and displaying the artwork, food and drink for opening night, entry for the marathon and equipment, advertising costs, printing, which I have budgeted at $3000. Any extra money raised will allow me to spread my message further and create further artwork to support my cause.

If you would like to hear more about my exhibition and story, please have a listen to this podcast I recorded with spoken word poet Joel McKerrow in March 2019.

Donations for this exhibition through Boosted are eligible to be claimed as donation tax credits through IRD which is super cool. If I unfortunately do not meet the $3000 minimum then I will receive none of the donations.

Thank you for your time.
Thank you for believing in me.

Suzie <3