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Artist Uses Creations To Help Others Understand Schizophrenia

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago man describes having a schizophrenic episode as having two radio stations playing in his head at the same time.

CBS 2's Dana Kozlov reports, the man is using more than words to try and help others understand the illness.

Matt Bodett says his studio is his sanctuary: a place to create, while reflecting on what it's like living with schizophrenia, which he has done for 13 years.

"The art making process, for me, is very meditative," said Bodett. "It allows me to sit, contemplate different aspects of the illness and say 'Okay, I have hallucinations. What does that really feel like?'

It's an inner journey with an outward goal of helping others understand it, as well.

"I try to find a way to say there are hard parts, dangerous parts, scary parts, but overall it's still a very human disease," Bodett said, expressing that through his drawings, prints, poetry, and performance art.

He says he hopes his work is educational for others, while cathartic for him.

"To come as far as I have and to be working, to have a master's degree. All of this are things I never believed were possible because no one ever said it was," Bodett said.

He claims that needs to change, along with eradicating the mental illness stigma and increasing services.

Mental health advocates echo that, pointing out Illinois' mental health and addiction treatment funding has been slashed in half over the past decade.

"I think we see acuity rising in the community. The resources that had been available were no longer available," said Jennifer McGowan-Tomke, Associate Director of NAMI Chicago.

He says is goal is to spread the word that those who have schizophrenia are still people.

"We're people. It really is that simple," he said.

It is estimated one percent of the population has schizophrenia.

Bodett, who also teaches at Loyola University, says it presents itself differently and in varying degrees to those who have it.

Bodett is having an Open House at his Studio in the Fine Arts Building on Saturday from 10am to 2pm.  The building is located at 410 South Michigan, Suite 420.

For more information, visit his website

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