Anwar Floyd-Pruitt

Anwar Floyd-Pruitt's painting

Artist Victoria Charleson is “a stigma warrior.” For as many years as she can recall, she has struggled with co-occurring mental illnesses, searching for tools to mask what she couldn’t escape. Despite living a high-functioning life, Charleson remembers many unanswered cries for help as a child — like starving herself so her family would notice her sick appearance, the precursor to a lifelong eating disorder — forcing her to carve a path to wellness alone.

“I view me, what’s wrong with me, as a medical condition,” says Charleson. “Just like with diabetes, or any illness, I follow a map — I take certain meds, I live a certain type of lifestyle, I get enough sleep, I don’t drink alcohol, I go to therapy, and I do all of the things that are assigned for treatment.”