by Jade Christiane Raymundo

I paint colors in the lives of others. I am the ink to their all-too-vivid sentience, and the light in their restless worlds. My name is Twist, and I am an artist. 

I didn’t know I had it before, not until my mother accompanied me to this expert she knew; Dr. Richter, if I remember  correctly, a renowned psychiatrist in a neighboring city. Clear as that sunny day I recollect riding the bus to his research  center for a check-up, and after quite the assessments he finally dropped the news: I had a mental illness. Major Depressive  Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder. He recommended various treatments, offered to conduct my therapy but I so  blatantly turned him down, thinking I didn’t need it. It was expensive, for one; second, he was too far away from where I  originally reside, and third, I simply didn’t want to. Not when I myself think that I’m actually faring okay. 

Dr. Richter didn’t push me that day, and only reminded me of the importance of therapy. He said he’d be willing to  accommodate me if I ever change my mind. Sure, I hope I do. 

I haven’t come back, since. I have preoccupied myself with something; with something I’m good at, a skill which I possessed.  I draw lines and they’d turn into swirls and with deep strokes they cue into curls. My eyes against the bright – and potentially  unhealthy – blue light of my tablet and desktop I create my masterpieces, my offering to them – to the people like me, to  those who suffered the very same fate as I do. It was the only thing I could do to help, to show the kind of person that I am 

and I only got to do that through art and so ever since I discovered I suffered from a mental illness, I have decided to be  there for people who are the same. 

At least mine was not as severe as them – or that was what I always made myself think. I only experienced palpitations,  worry, and sadness every once in a while; others have deeper and darker miseries, even having the attempts to end their  precious lives. I didn’t experience that, or at least, not yet, and so I wanted to do my part and create art for the sake of these  people. My own people. 

Not just through art, of course. I encounter people like me on a daily basis: my classmate who appeared like she was the  happiest person in the world when in fact she’s not, my professor who was so kind at heart but suffered severe anger issues  at home; I have a friend who seemed to be normal at first sight but when you look deeper, more carefully in his eyes you’d  see them: the loneliness, the loss of will to continue living. I hated that for them. I didn’t want these people to feel such 

unfortunate things – I felt some of these ill-fated emotions myself, and I know just how difficult they are.

And so every day, as much as I could, I made sure to work hard, relentlessly to provide them my utmost support, assistance,  and compassion. Nor only did I spend restless nights to create beautiful arts for them, making them happy; I also tried new  things such as learning how to bake so I would bake pastries and sweets for them to taste. I took them out on friendly dates  and even treated them with food; Dr. Richter told me how vital it was that a person suffering from mental illnesses be shown  love and care, for at least someone to make them feel like they are not alone, and that someone is actually there for them.  That was what I ought to do. If Dr. Richter himself confirmed to me that one has the ability to recover from this fate without  a psychiatrist’s therapeutical conventions, maybe then I could help the others fight their fears and face the challenges on  their own. No, not on their own, but with me. With Twist. 

I found out it was true. It was effective, this technique Dr. Richter had told me about. Maybe he meant it for myself but that  didn’t matter – what mattered was that it indeed helped my friends, my people as they recovered from this ill fate. Little by  little, through slight pushes and efforts made by yours truly, through the small dates and gifts to telling them head-on how  much I love and appreciate them these individuals learned how to deal with their difficulties, with or without me. Somehow,  the ones who loathed themselves slowly ought to love and care for themselves now, much unlike their self-treatment in the  past few months. The magnum opus I created hanging onto their walls, a beautiful display, they said, a gift from someone  who had a beautiful heart, too. They have no idea just how happy I was when I heard those words from them. Sure, I was  flattered they loved my masterpiece – but I was more joyous upon hearing about their recovery, of them becoming okay,  even if it was a process that went so slowly. 

Until my condition worsened. 

I didn’t realize when it all started, when my once light symptoms turned into heavier, much scarier whims of agony. It was  a mixture of dirt-deep sadness, anxiety and the utter loss of will to live. It took turns, day by day I experienced the throbbing  punches of reality – that I had suffered from something serious and I brushed it off for such petty reasons.  

I stopped creating. I halted working on my art. I couldn’t process a single thing, not even an idea came to mind anymore;  my once optimal brain, its gears always on the go, was now completely fried and dead and so my skillful hands could  produce nothing. My mind was always so addled, and I couldn’t concentrate no longer. Not in class, not in my craft. I had  trouble sleeping and experienced much more difficulty gathering my inner thoughts and keeping myself together.  

And yet no one came to save me; none of those friends thought of me. Rescuing me certainly didn’t cross their minds. I was so angry at myself. I hated this feeling, this reality. The savior needs saving, too. 

As I was too distracted with my present vulnerabilities, I slowly lost interest in everything. My tablet, stuck at the deepest  trenches of my worn-out bag; my desktop never again turned on, my stylus not in need of a new battery since its owner  didn’t use it anymore. Suddenly my life was a maze in which I myself have lost myself into, a dark pit with a peak I couldn’t  reach. Even if I extended my arms in an attempt to escape it. There was this line separating happiness and loneliness, and I  sat at the bottom’s lowest point. 

Until one morning my phone rang – when I saw the caller ID, my face lit up into a smile. Thank God was the only thing I  could ever think of. I slid the answer button so quick I almost ended it, and I almost teared up the moment I heard that deep,  dulcet, comforting voice that I haven’t heard of for months since I turned him down. 

Thank goodness there was Dr. Richter. 

“Hello, Twist. I called to check up on you,” he had said through the line, “how are you faring? Have you been well?” 

“No.” My answer was swift. But it was true, I was far from being alright and I knew I needed help. “I’m sorry for brushing  off my illness, Dr. Richter. I think I’ll pay you a visit as soon as possible.” 

There was only quietness before I’d heard a relieved – overjoyed, more like – sigh at the end of the line, as if Dr. Richter  had been waiting for me all along. “Mm, of course. I shall book you an appointment with me within the week. You know  how to get here, yes?” 

“Thank you, Dr. Richter,” I said, and all he told me was, “I will see you soon, Twist. Do take care.” 

The days had passed in a blur, as if I had unconsciously intended to disregard unimportant days and instead look forward to  my appointment with my psychiatrist. It was only then that I realized the long travels and the early get-ups didn’t matter, for  what mattered was my mental well-being.  

When Dr. Richter warmly welcomed me in his office, new assessments in hand – I could only feel a smile creasing on my  lips. The savior needed saving – but the only one who could save the savior right now is me.  

Me. The savior. My savior. 

I paint colors in the lives of others, but I fill hues for my own, too. I am the ink to their all-too-vivid sentience and mine’s,  the light in my once restless world. 

I am Twist – and I am an artist.