UK artist opens up about experiences with mental health

A prominent UK artist living with anxiety disorder has opened up about his experiences in a bid to raise awareness of mental health conditions.

Scotland-based Michael Forbes is internationally renowned and perhaps best known for his psychedelic and humorous poster art – which spans from ‘mash ups’ of celebrity portraits to surrealist posters promoting festivals and events.

Last year, Mr Forbes designed a popular poster for Scotland’s Belladrum music festival, which featured flying cows wearing futuristic sunglasses, soaring high above the Scottish Highlands.

The prominent artist also has a keen celebrity following – with Madonna, Ricky Gervais and Terry Gilliam forming part of his ever-expanding fan base.

But Mr Forbes has had a lifelong struggle with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).

In a recent interview, he told BBC News that he had been affected by the condition since childhood – and has always turned towards humour for respite.

“I was always the class clown, trying to make my friends laugh. But I found one day I just didn’t want to go to school [any more].

“I ended up being at home for months,” he says.

The future artist struggled with mental health complications throughout his childhood, but was not diagnosed with GAD until he was in his 20s.

Describing his struggles with the condition, he said: “It’s a total loss of emotional control and an overwhelming feeling of disaster.

“It’s so consuming that the simplest of tasks seems impossible.”

Mr Forbes says that ongoing support and his commitment and dedication to painting have helped him to learn to cope with difficult times.

He describes these as “a few days of hell” interspersed with days of normality and contentment.