Being Creative Has Helped Me Feel Good About Myself – Gary’s Story


My name is Gary H Kleiner, and I’m a blessed person today. I’m blessed because my plan to die didn’t succeed in the fall of 1998. I received a gift of creativity. I want to teach others to use the skills that I learned over the years. The skills I used to make myself feel good, I want others to learn and use these tools improve their lives.

I have had an active imagination since childhood. I questioned the meaning of life as a child. I had learning disabilities since I was 13, diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) at age 20 and anxiety and depression by the time I was 30.

All of my disorders made me feel inferior to my peers, and I had trouble making and keeping friends. After suffering from these disorders, with little hope for many years of feeling better, I decided that I was going to end my life.

I made a plan to die attempted suicide in the fall of 1998. In a split second, before I passed out, I called 911 and I remember talking slowly to the operator about how I felt and what I did. I hung up the phone and it seemed like the ambulance was there in minutes. I asked God to forgive me and crossed myself before passing out. I woke up in the emergency room days later. I was on a breathing machine – it would be days before I would recover. I remember people talking over me about the suicide attempt.

My parents were standing over me when I awoke.

They both in unison asked me “Why?” I didn’t say why because I knew they didn’t understand mental illness, I didn’t have to tell them why. That was the first time I stood up for my illness. After I recovered from the suicide attempt, I was transferred to a psychiatric hospital on the other side of the Hudson River, in the town of Katonah, New York. Four Winds Hospital was the best of the best. I was to recover here for the next three months.

I had a lot of spare time while in the hospital so my mother, who was an artist, brought me drawing supplies. I picked up drawing to pass the time and it felt really nice and natural to draw and to experiment with drawing. It was fun like I haven’t had since I was a child.

I learned several uses of drawing. I could draw to be a better artist, and I could draw out my emotions. I started feeling better and came to realize that maybe one day I could tell my story to people inspired by my story and art. I want people to take control of their lives by controlling how they create things.

My message is that life is worth living, you may not have discovered your talent yet but you will. People do care about you. God cares about you. I was blessed with the ability to use creativity to help me with my life, as well as to show others how they can use creative activities to make their lives better. I discovered God was in my life and was my partner for life. Please reach out to me if you need help with using creativity in your life. Bless you.

GH Kleiner, Artist

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