Demons and Drawings; One Man's Journey


Meet Sean.

Sean, 38. Born in NYC, raised in Columbus, Ohio and now a resident of Boston, Sean is living with and through a diagnosis of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with major depressive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.

More than a series of diagnoses, Sean is an artist.

As a 3rd grader Sean and a friend  built comic books and would sell them to classmates in elementary school.

“Art …. It’s a diverse form of expression that can thoroughly and dynamically be represented by an infinite number of mediums planes and dimensions. It is a state of mind that induces creativity and imagination from all aspects of the soul and used in a multitude of contexts.  It is an extension of the past, activated in the present, and redefined in the future. Art is a representation of Ideas. It is the portrayal of something, which can include anything and everything, and often nothing. It is spectral and tangible, subjective and objective, but above all else, it is panoramic.”

In August of 2012 Sean checked into McLean Hospital, one of the top mental health facilities in the country.

He remembers when his mind first broke down on him in middle school, when his mom developed cancer which led to many hours at the hospital and late nights in his bed analyzing his feelings about her pain. He started to develop severe OCD after he thought of hurting his father, thinking “I must be a bad person for thinking thoughts like this about him.” Those thoughts stuck with him causing him to act self destructively.

As a teenager his OCD become so bad that it would take him forever just to do one math problem. Thankfully, he found solace on the basketball court, where he could let go of the painful thoughts and feelings for awhile especially when drawing was so difficult for him because of his OCD. He felt it was a good physical and spiritual outlet for him to just be a kid —  normal if but for just 48 minutes on the court.

All of that changed in his senior year of high school. Sean’s OCD was near crippling, and his grades suffered as a result. He became ineligible to play basketball which made him feel “punished and unappreciated.” “Who was I going to talk to about this emotional pain I was going through?,” Sean said.  As a Catholic high school student, he didn’t want to tell anyone how he was feeling, and said he felt he would be ridiculed if he spoke up.

Through all his battles Sean has felt that “You have to go through some pain to gain strength to get through it better!”

The end of his high school career and into his 20’s Sean started becoming very self destructive. During that time, he said, spending 4 hours at the bar felt normal to him.“I got scared of feeling better.”  

These days you can find Sean at McLean Hospital as an employee as well as continuing his self care maintenance.  The hospital developed a position just for his unique artistic talents called the Advocacy Coordinator and Creative Specialist. He designs courses to help kids through creative art therapy.

“Art is a different perspective, it is parallax, and it begs you to lean forward and open your mind to its new interpretations of experience...  Art is more than “right there” it is “right now” with an undercurrent of wisdom forged from time… it is an engine, it is the fuel, an inspirational impetus. It Is the connection with “something” …. And It is the grand storyteller, the vulnerable narrator.”

Listen to the podcast interview here

alan scherer