Local woman uses art as outlet for schizophrenia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - Think about what you might do as an outlet to get away from something on your mind.

For a woman from Morgantown who suffers from Schizophrenia, she has turned to writing, art, music, and poetry to help as a distraction. She's spending part of her Friday at an art show at the Monongalia Arts Center.

It started in the 1970's when she was in Hawaii.

"Hallucinations," said Ellen Pirlo. "Delusions and hallucinations."

That's when she learned she had Schizophrenia. For years, she wasn't seeking any sort of treatment. She was diagnosed in 1973.

"We were always on the move because my husband was in the army," Pirlo said. "I never received treatment for my schizophrenia until 1985."

She hasn't let this get the best of her.

"It's good expression of yourself," she said.

Over the years, she has turned to hands-on activities, such as art, to keep her distracted. She says it's important to have an outlet.

"It's an outlet," she said. "It's an outlet for your creativity. Most people with disabilities are really quite creative."

She spent several years writing a book about her life, and all she has accomplished.

"It's about schizophrenia and my life," she said. "And my travels and so on."

The next step is getting it published. Now, she's enjoying another year at the art show -- something she's been going to for more than a decade.

"You may not understand somebody, but you have to love and appreciate them all the more," she said. "No matter what the performance is or what the artwork is, you have to appreciate the fact that they're really trying to and striving to make a place in the world."