Morgan Blair spends most of her between art, mental health advocacy, diving, and spirituality. Through an intern program at Arts of Life in Chicago, Morgan helps mentor artists with disabilities about art mediums; she also offer assistance in the completion of their projects.
Morgan is currently an art student at School of the Art Institute of Chicago studying primarily writing, video, and art therapy. When she is not working or in school, She is writing about explorations and documenting her recovery on her personal blog, UnPolished Journey. Aside from all that, Morgan is obsessed with the ocean, so obsessed she is an avid scuba diver. Whenever Morgan gets the chance, she takes small trips to various dive locations. There is something so peaceful about the weightless, silent wonder that she experiences submerged in the waters that leaves her feeling spiritually centered and connected. Because of this, she hopes to get into the field of underwater photography and videography when the time is right.
You’re an advocate for mental health. How did this commence?
MB: Mental health advocacy fell naturally into my lap as I embarked on my personal journey towards recovery from an eating disorder and PTSD. I have spent the majority of my last two years inside treatment centers and have experienced either through my own journey, or the journey of those in treatment alongside me, the weak spots in behavioral health care. I have seen countless men and women get denied coverage for a level of care necessary for the severity of their eating disorders simply because their weight was not low enough. I have seen people’s, who are severely depressed, insurance cut and they have to leave treatment within a couple of hours, distraught and now more emotionally unstable than ever. I have been told straight to my face that I will probably never recover, that I have a chronic eating disorder, or that I need to be “realistic” in what I can actually achieve through treatment. I have seen person after person give voice to traumas that society tells us we can never speak about. The list could go on and on, but the bottom line is this: I am passionate about bringing to light the warriors, fighters, and overcomes that exist in the recovery world. Because I can say with confidence that I have never encountered people with more resilience, compassion, and strength than those who have overcome mental illness. After all, it is a battle between them and their minds.
What change would you like to see in the world in regards to mental health?
MB: Majority of the changes I would love to see unfold in the mental health world start with awareness. First, I want people to be aware of the complexity of eating disorders and start to see the diseases as something other than a body type. Eating disorders are invisible to society because society is ignorant to what they actually look like. Second, I want men and women to be able to speak about sexual trauma without being silenced. Speaking our stories is what fosters connection and in connection we begin to heal. At least, that is what I am finding through my own recovery journey. The victim of such heinous acts should not have to suffer in isolation. I want to bring empowerment back to those who have had it stripped from them.
“The day I realized I held the power to react to life’s circumstances however I deemed fit was the day the course of my existence was forever altered because in this realization came the freedom to choose recovery despite the storms surrounding me.”
Who inspires you?
MB: So many people inspire me it is hard to choose! I have met countless warriors through my time in treatment centers and 12 steps meetings. But I would say that time and time again I am overcome by the strength that I see in my mother. She herself has overcome many trials and it never ceases to amaze me the amount of empathy and compassion she continues to supply to others. Right now she is battling Stage 3C breast cancer, which is only the tip of the iceberg of battles she has encountered over the course of her life, and yet my mother is still a consistently positive and motivated spirit . I have no doubt in her ability to kick cancers butt and it is her strength which encourages me to fight for my own health every single day.
Morgan shares a collection of her photos and quotes promoting recovery, mental health awareness, and healthy lifestyles on her Instagram: @unpolishedjourney.