Tag Archives: mania

Vincent’s Lament (a rewrite)

(apologies for the redundant post, but I like this version better and wanted to share it)

You, rich off the back of

my frenzied labor. Auctioning me off

like those whores I painted.

At least they were up for an honest day’s work.

 

Wildflowers should be wild, you know.

Not withering on dorm room walls under

plastic pushpins and double-sided tape.

 

Where were you when I suffered?

Without a cent to pinch. No one to remove

the monstrous veil blurring my sanity.

But not even Theo. Nor Christ himself

could save me. The green faery

only taking me deeper into Hell.

The ringing in my brain. Relentless thoughts.

Blinding colors. Dizzying motion.

Visceral. Urgent. Competing their way

to the surface ‘till I could no longer breathe.

 

I was the slave of creation.

A little death in each stroke.

My pain, now your beauty. Enjoy it.

Vincent’s Retort

 

I see you,

Littering the earth with my constellations.

Yes, MY my dancing stars, not yours to hang

On tacky dorm room walls

With push-pins and double-sided tape.

 

And you,

Rich off the back of my frenzied labor.

Wildflowers should be wild you know,

Basking in the compassionate sun.

Not withering within your dank, pretentious walls.

 

You don’t know me.

With all your analysis,

And your theories,

And your feigned sympathy

For the cliché’d “tortured artist”.

You are so proud of yourselves.

 

But you have no idea.

I had nothing but the ringing in my brain.

The relentless thoughts,

The blinding colors,

The dizzying motion,

The visceral urgency,

All competing their way to the surface

‘Till I could no longer breathe.

 

I was the slave of creation,

A little death in each stroke.

My pain is now your beauty,

You’d better enjoy it.

I Pledge to Blog for Mental Health in 2014

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“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”  To learn more or to participate, please refer to A Canvas of the Minds: Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project .

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since my last post. I began this blog last September during some rare down time as I was starting to reevaluate the priorities in my life. I got off to what I thought was a good start but saw very quickly the posts began to devolve into what I felt was a whiny soapbox for a life which, considering my circumstances, was not all that bad. That nagging sensation caused me to back away from posting. I have been here all along, reading what others have written, empathizing with their stories, and commenting on occasion. I think the new year is a perfect time to start things back up and I am proud to participate in this year’s Blog for Mental Health effort.

For those of you who are new to my blog, I am type 1 bipolar with rapid cycling and mixed states. That being said, I am lucky to have been able to parlay this challenge in recent years into an uncharacteristically high-functioning existence, I don’t know whether it is pure stubbornness or ego, or residual manic delusion, but i know I am one of the lucky ones (as much as I may tend to forget at times). There were some years prior where I wasn’t so lucky, or responsible, or aware of the consequences of my actions and I continue to feel those effects, but I can only now look forward, change what I can, hope for the best, and help others when I am able.

It is my hope that the more of us who gather together to support one another and educate those around us, the faster we can begin to eliminate the stigma that still surrounds us. We are taught to hide in shame from our illnesses in fear of loss in relationships, friendships, and professional credibility. People fear what they do not know, so let’s educate the fear away, raise our voices, and support each other in the cause.

I pledge to become a more active participant in my own transformation as well as the transformation of public perception. I am not quite yet ready to “go public” with my real identity (as I see some of you…much braver than i…have started to do) but from this small, anonymous platform, I will toss my tiny pebble into the lake and see if I can make a ripple or two along the way.

On Crisis-Inspired Creativity

I painted a lot in 2004. A LOT. I love and take pleasure in art but different media mean different things to me. When I write, take photos, or make pottery it is a very introspective and calming experience. I am examining the world and/or myself with wonder. It is healing and unifying, a moving forward. While the outputs can be lovely, they are at times passionless, careful and restrictive. For lack of a better term, they are “well-medicated”. Ironically, so am I. (Maybe that’s not so ironic actually) Something is missing from me and from them…..the CRAZY.

That’s right, it has been anecdotally proven over the centuries that the most inspired artists are the crazy ones. There has to be some scientific backing to this in the study of the brain. (It’s on my to do list to do some research here. Anyone have any good book recommendations?) Something about neural pathways and synnapse firing or something, I fundamentally understand this at least on an intuitiive level. I’ve had a foot in both worlds. And there is a real danger here, especially for career artists. Ever wonder why a perfectly well-off highly-functioning individual with bipolar disporder would suddenly go off their meds? Well, I can only speak for myself when I tell you….because IT FEELS GOOD. Drugs suck. Drugs really, really suck when you are an artist.

I don’t know whether it’s the drugs themselves weighing me down or if it’s only “crazy me” that’s the artist. Either way, same result. I can only make good art when I’m manic. And on top of that, being manic is fun….until it’s not. But all that creative energy, the ideas and colors and motion and urgency are the siren’s call of drug-ditching.  What we forget is what that will ultimately cost us, cost those around us. We are emotonal bulls in a china shop with no sense of consequence. We are larger than life, bulletproof,  the smartest people in the room. We are also erratic, destructive, irritable and irrational. We are impervious to reason when reason wants us the most. Then we crash.

In 2004 I was at my peak of self-deluded manic greatness.  Plowing through relationships like a hot knife through butter. Doing the work of many but taking no prisoners in the process. Then one day I got fired. FIRED. Me? The supposed dream employee? Getting things done at all costs? Well I guess the price of that was just too rich for their blood and they cut the cord. Both the best and worst day of my life. My reaction after the dramatic HR scene I pulled was a strange one. All I wanted to do was make art. It wasn’t merely a therapeutic excercise or escape, it was this viceral need to purge what was inside me. I think I completed something like 12 paintings in 2 weeks. Not depressing dirgey paingings but lively, colorful ones. Almost happy looking. But when you look a bit closer, what seems lively is chaotic and frenzied. There is a desperateness in the brushwork, a cry for help in the brashness of the hues that I never noticed until years later. While I thought painting was my “happy place” it turns out that is was my attempt to purge my turmoil, to release the valve on the pressure cooker inside me.

For better or worse, those were the most creatively inspired and productive months I’ve ever had. While I know I can never go back there, I mourn the loss. Odd as that may sound, a part of me is dormant and I miss that part of me. A piece of my identity is gone (or in regression, like a sneaky cancer) But that cancerous identity has value. It was a living breathing force. Funny, smart, creative. I want to be those things again. More than anyone knows, but I also know the cost and it’s too high. So sadly I shelve a piece of my soul. And, yes, I do empathize with the manic indulgers out there, the ones who feel better less medicated. Because giving away a piece of yourself is painful, and pretty damn hard. So, don’t judge too much or wonder too much about their motives. Just love them and encourage them to find a healthy balance for themselves and the ones they love.