It seemingly comes as a surprise that when my thoughts are expressed in a disjointed manner, when my ramblings do not make sense, when my prose is aloof and fractured that some are instantly alarmed, as though Bipolar disorder is a condition in name only, without any visible repercussions and when I am told, that I am nonsensical, that my writing is drunk as though composed on a liquoured whim, it is expressed with genuine surprise, a dog eared memory attached of the old me, pausing for it to be fixed accordingly and the words to be reprimanded and put back in their correct, sensible order.
My mind is broken. I could not express it any simpler. There is no escaping that obvious fact, or perhaps it really isn’t that obvious. Let me assure you I do not pretend to be something that I am not. Why would I want to be you when I can be me? However, there are some inconsistencies to the uninitiated that seems very curious indeed.
They must, I tell those who have difficulty, reconcile the fact that who I was and who I am are two different people.. There is a patience that has to be acquired by those who have broken minds to ensure that those who have whole minds can accept the fracture.
To be of fractured mind is to have sentences turned inside out so that the tag is showing, dressed ideas which hang upside down, showing their underwear to the public and an imagination that is far too veloute, rich in fantasies and hallucinations that are as sporadic as they are uninvited.
There is a fine balance between the broken, the medicated and the old life. A new normal is created and the jigsaw pieces have to be refashioned, sanded back and cut a little in order to fit together again, but no matter how much you sand them back, there will always be gaps, with some pieces overlapping each other and others that simply refuse to fit because the space is either too big or too tight.
I do not wave Bipolar disorder as some sort of victory flag, blowing a whistle for all those to see. Waving arms frantically shouting; “Look at me, look at what I have become and who I am”.
My blogs and posts, I would like to think, are a mere understanding, an expression, a commentary if you like of my inner workings, in the most humble, gentle and unassuming way possible.
Do you know what it means my dear and lovely reader, when you are diagnosed, that your mind does not and will not function properly. Words will swill in your head in a drunken stupor, pouring out uncontrollably, and at times embarrassingly, like an infant who has little control over their bowel movements? How devastating and unromantic it seems when, like a stroke survivor, you have to invest your strength and time, and with all your might, reorder your mind, knowing that you can never get back who you used to be.
I am exhausted. With all that I have achieved this past year, and completed, created and surmised, I am spent and ready for bed, to sleep disjointedly and to fight through the visions of heaven and hell. This is not written so that I may be pitied, I thank you, but I have no need to be pitied, rather it is written to explain and perhaps even to educate, what it means to be broken, to go through life in disjointed pieces, like Humpty Dumpty with all the King’s horses and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.
As one of my completely and utmost favorite authors, New Zealand born Janet Frame CBE, a Burns Scholar, a Katherine Mansfield fellow, an honorary member for the American Academy of the Arts and Letters, Order of New Zealand and author of twelve novels. A prolific, talented writer with a mental illness who, like Van Gogh, spent her time divided inside and out of mental institutions. She was facing a lobotomy before her works became published and clearly abolished the need for the procedure. She on the very first page of her brilliant book, “Faces in the Water” surmises all that I have felt in two poignant paragraphs:
“The streets throng with people who panic, looking to the left and looking to the right, covering the scissors and sucking the poison from a wound they cannot find, judging their time from the sun’s position in the sky when the sun itself has melted and trickles down the ridges of darkness into the hollows of evaporated seas.
Until that day, how can we find our path in sleep and dreams and preserve ourselves from their dangerous reality of lightening snake traffic germs riot earthquakes blizzard and dirt when lice creep like riddles through our minds? Quick where is the Red Cross God with the ointment and plaster and needle and thread and clean linen bandages to mummify our festering dreams?……..Loony loony down the line, mind your business and I’ll mind mine.”
Within the darkness and despair however, comes a seed of hope and a ray of sunshine, through blackest of clouds its breaks but it is not easy to turn your face toward the light when the black dog persistently gnashes at your heels, not by any stretch of the imagination.
So I ask a small favour of you my dear reader, when you read my posts and see my accolades, my awards and achievements, my art work and my blog, please remember and consider, even for a short moment, the monumental effort and hard work it took and continues to take, to carefully string the delicate and fleeting thoughts in a neat balanced order so that I may function in society.
To have made it to art school class on a weekly basis required a constant pick up and drop off by an understanding mentor and friend who kindly took payment in chocolate when crawling on my blue depressed knees to the train station was at the best of times, impossible. The blessed teamwork, to have had help with the kilns, to light and to take out the hot steaming fired work when my hands shook in a nervous uncontrollable anxiety, the constant re-reading of my book of dreams and the unconditional love and support of my beautiful and encouraging life partner and dear husband when the consistent negative nagging voice of “drop out” and “give up” came beckoning during my weaker, more tired times.
Please, dear reader, don’t assume that it all comes easy to me, like it perhaps used to in the past and without strict dedication. That my academic background with all my university degrees and diplomas automatically carries me. The unadulterated, difficult, triumphant untold hours invested, trying, attempting, discovering, falling, failing and retrieving are all there, waiting to be counted but not required to be acknowledged because they exist in their own right.
My sense of pride and accomplishment and inturn my self worth, comes with these wonderful achievements, but not because of the awards bestowed or grants won, but the journey it took to achieve them is my reward in itself, no matter how difficult, is a prize worth fighting for. I have learned much but I also continue to learn. Sometimes I get it wonderfully right and other times I miss the mark abysmally. I will continue to live my artistic dream one step and one work at a time, bipolar disorder, mental illness or not, a life to live and to prosper, “Just because it hasn’t been done before, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible”, said the Mad Hatter to Alice.
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