Monday, March 29, 2004

Random Linkage

I was sitting outside smoking and watching a raven bobbing it's head and strutting along the road. I like watching birds walk when they could fly. It's kind of comical. Anyway, I don't have much to write about today, so I thought I'd do a random linkage list. Here's some stuff I came across recently, in order of no particular importance.

Thirzahs, Tirzahs, and Thirzas
The other day I found my name in the bible in Songs of Solomon. So did this woman, who has a page all about Thirza's she's found. The woman I was named after is one of them! (Thirza Jones)

St. Christina the Astonishing
She's not officially canonized, but her story is fascinating. Patron saint of the mentally ill, St. Christina died and came back to life, flew into the church rafters like a bird and refused to come down. She lived as a homeless woman feeding off her own lactations.

Vixen Love Bot
Yes, it's sophmoric and silly, but nevertheless this little bot is quite funny as she manages to elude and mystify would be cyber partners.

Picking your nose is good for you
How can I top a headline like that?

My pet fat
When Atkins isn't enough try lugging around realistic looking blobs of fat to help you in your dieting goals. No joking, this site is serious and I've seen it on CNN as well. Please, I don't want this for my birthday, I just think it's funny.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

1940's House - Feminist Reality Television

The other night I was at a friend's house channel surfing when I came upon 1940's House on PBS. A sequel to 1800 House, the show's premise is this: a family is chosen to live for a period of time in a house restored to accurately reflect life in the 1940's in Britain during the war. I didn't think anything could top 1800 House, until I watched three back to back episodes of 1940's House. The family dresses, eats, works, as historically accurate as possible, in the 1940's. And like 1800 House, the focus is mainly on the women's lives and their personal thoughts on how difficult life was.

This domesticity might sound boring to some who would rather watch people rappelling down buildings and eating earthworms to win thousands of dollars. However we aren't talking Martha Stewart here, these programs show that "women's work" is first and foremost WORK! Not only that, the women have the addictional burden of wartime, the Blitz, rations, air raids, black outs, and even nights in the bomb shelter where the sounds of nearby explosions are heard.

Maintaining a family during a time of great crisis becomes heroic. Of course to be as accurate as possible, the women sign up for the Women's Voluntary Service and are assigned jobs in an aircraft facility. The show even recreates the local grocery with rationed food. At one point during the war when cigarettes were scarce, women were no longer permitted to purchase them. One day when the grocer tells the women he doesn't have any cigs in stock, they duck behind the counter and steal a package when he's not looking.

I think what appeals to me the most about the period House programs is that it's a historical reality show which really does focus itself on women's lives. Since these are 21st Century women it's fascinating to see how truly uncomfortable the old roles were. So many women in my generation are afraid to call themselves feminist in part because they don't really understand what kind of struggles women went through to get us where we are now. They recieve all the benefits of feminist activism, but don't want to acknowledge how vital it has been for the contemporary woman's quality of life.

Like any reality show, the women do start to break under all the strain. What's different is that these women are a part of English history, this stress was a very real thing which a lot of women had to cope with. Add to that the haunting cry of the air raid siren waking the family from sleep. Although this family doesn't have to worry aboyt any real bombs, they do have to clean up shattered glass and dust from nearby "explosions." One of the youngest sons notes that he's learned war is not a game. How timely.

The series ends just as the war has finished, which is unfortunate because it would have been amazing to see how the women responded to attempts to send them back to the kitchen.

This is a truly smart reality show which is feminist in a way no other reality show has touched. We really have come a long way, and yet I can't help but wonder if in the future there will be a 2000 House and women around the world will wonder how we could stand living day to day under this current regime of white supremacist imperialist hegemony.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Went to see the doctor today. Good news, finally. It appears I am in the early stages of a full remission. Full remission, the words never sounded sweeter. It's funny, because while I was taking the bus to see my doctor, I was looking at all the people on the street and thinking "Wow, I feel normal." I wasn't even sure what normal was anymore, but for a moment I knew this was it. No weird thoughts, no agitation, no hyperactivity, no sadness. Just a nice even feeling, all balanced and happy. But not too happy.

What a fucking weird disease! It takes you up, up and away, in your beautiful balloon, then it slams you down into the deepest, darkest pit of despair. It makes you horny, makes you sluggish, no sleep, too much sleep. Day becomes night and night becomes day. And then it can fade away into remission. Go on then, you're fine now. Bizarro land.

So I'm going to stay on all these things I'm taking, since it seems to be working. Maybe in a year or two the doctor and I will try going off my drugs, but I don't really mind if I have to take Epival forever. All I want is a normal life, or as close to normal as I get.

And for people who think psych drug consumers are all being conformists, I should state I am still as much a weirdo as I ever was.
Mars is in retrograde so I am eating it and there's no more left for you. Apparently communication breaks down when this happens. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of the cosmos.

So I thought I would be a bit more experimental in my blog today.

This is what a writer looks like who is writing and has nothing to say, we all do these things day to day. Talk talk talk and there's nothing to talk about, or what needs to be said will never be uttered. A collection of words beaded for traders cast aside for a statement about safety. Slipping candied ginger on the tongue over and over. Repetitive, I can't avoid using the letter a. Patterns of symbols clatter to the floor, and in the end all we can do is sleep.

Monday, March 22, 2004

People killed outside and inside of mosques, churches, synagogues, temples. These are supposed to be safe places, sanctuaries. A still place to escape the world and feel faith. What a world we live in. The world is condemning Israel for killing Hamas leader Yassin. Egypt decided not to celebrate the 25 year anniversary of the Camp David accords with Israel. That's spooky. It looks like things are going to get a lot worse, these things have repercussions all around the world.

But one really cool thing I read about recently was Jimmy Carter condemning Bush and Blair for the war in Iraq. I mean really, it is just him trying to make his daddy happy, it has very little to do with ending "terrorism".

I'm tired of hearing GW Bush say "Evil-doers" and "Madmen". Evil-doers just sounds like some kind of elementary school playground slang. "You broke my sand castle! You evil doer!" I don't think evil doer is even a word. Maybe the Bushes will patent the phrase, the way Trump just patented the words "You're fired!"

Here are a couple of questions I have about America.

Why was it that on Sept 11, 2001, the only plane approved to fly after the attacks was carrying the Bin Laden family out of America?

Was 911 allowed to happen as a publicity stunt to garner support for two unrelated wars during a single term in office?

There are a lot of conspiracy theories on the subject. I was a bit of a conspiracy theory junkie for a while, so I have probably heard them all. The ones where they start talking about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion I just ignore right away. Those are totally worthless and I don't like reading the hate stuff.

I wish there was a nice conspiracy theory. Something about giraffes eating sugar pears and saving the world through tantric giraffe sex.

Well, here's a link to the article on Jimmy Carter

Sunday, March 21, 2004

I used to have dreams of snakes, black mambas to be precise. They slithered into my house and I had to catch them. I never got bit, and they never out ran me, even though they are the fastest, deadliest snake in the world. Someone told me that all snakes in dreams meant sex, but that interpretation never sat well with me. It just doesn't seem to fit.

Maybe we all have our own black mambas to chase and tame. Maybe it's just a representation of that something within ourselves that could ruin us if we're not careful.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Things about Saskatoon I remember

So I'm having a beer with this queer friend of mine who lived in Saskatoon ages ago, he's asking me about what's been happening in our old hometown.

"Cher was at Fuddruckers this past year."

"Nooooooo! I don't believe it!"

It's true, for those who don't know, Fuddruckers is kind of like Chucky Cheese. I used to get free time on the air hockey table because an employee went to the same queer youth group as me. I was actually living in Saskatoon at the time Cher made her glorious appearance at Fuddruckers. I don't remember what they said she played there, maybe it was air hockey.

What I do remember is the radio stations kept playing "Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves" over and over. It got to the point where I could sing a few bars and be guaranteed to drive my mother spare.

Fuddruckers is on 8th Street. 8th Street is the main driving route of all the bored teenagers. They just go up and down this one street. Like sharks, always moving. I was one of the teenagers that drove around too, but I hung out with gay boys, so we drove up and down the strip where the boys were, listening to New Order and generally acting dramatic about everything.

I think everybody in Saskatoon does it, the driving around thing. Joni Mitchell probably did it too. She went to the same high school I went to, and the school was so proud of that fact. There was a signed photo of her in the trophy cabinet. Of course, at the time there was no music program, no art program, no writing program, and no theatre. So, there you go.

My friend just told me she went to the same high school as Neil Young. Too funny! What a pair we make.

There's this local legend about the train bridge where Joni lost her virginity.
The place I lost my virginity in burnt down.

And that makes me think about my Neil Young friend's favorite pizza place, Dynomite Pizza, which blew up. For real.

That's not a Saskatoon story though.

When I was a little kid I was convinced my mother was living a double life as Nana Mouskouri. She went off to Canada Council juries and I would be left alone trying to process where she could be. I saw this woman on television, Nana, and she looked just like my mother. Nana was touring. Nana sold records.

Nana wasn't my mother, but it took me a few years before I was sure.

18 years of living in Saskatoon and I had never seen the fabled Joni Mitchell. This was it, I was at the airport, on my way to my new adult life in Vancouver. I was all fresh faced and hopeful, and there, sitting in Robin's Donuts, was Joni Mitchell. My mother was trying her best to impart advice about life and how things would be. I could only see Joni Mitchell, drinking coffee and waiting for the same flight as me.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Last night I had a dream about Eclairs. Not the pastry variety, the sync 16mm cameras. I was surrounded by all this shiny old school technology, god, maybe it was a wet dream. I would love to shoot my feature on actual film, that would be so nice. It's so pricey though, bleh. I heard a nasty rumour that Kodak is going to stop making film and just stick to digital. I think that would be tragic, there's something so gorgeous about film.

Oh, now I'm hungry for a real eclair. Mmm, eclairs! Stop it! Stupid Zyprexa gives me carb cravings like you wouldn't believe. When I was on it before if there was a carb within ten feet of me I'd eat it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Dream Cup

I just had the weirdest dream. My cousin took this coffee mug I had that had the word Dream stamped on it in iridescent lettering and threw it on the floor. But instead of shattering, it just melted into nothingness, then he smiled at me and the alarm went off and I woke up.
It Gets Dark, It Gets Lonely

So I am finally feeling like making art after 3 years of not producing anything. I've been an art bum. Crud. But now I'm inspired, and I'm just thinking about what it's like to make art. It's so hard sometimes, just me and my thoughts alone in a room with some technology and dirty laundry piling up. The blacks get washed with the whites because my brain is somewhere else. And it's so constant, I'm sitting down at breakfast with pen in hand scribbling in case the magic sentence that works will show up for some coffee. Walking down the street so fancy free and I totally space out while my characters have a conversation in my head that I need to go write down. Recently at an art event some friends were surprised that I brought my sketch book.

The Muse strikes at odd times, it's true. Sometimes a gentle tapping, sometimes a full on punch in the face. Sometimes she's there for hours getting giddy and you have to call her a cab to send her home. Sometimes she runs into my bedroom in the middle of the night and shakes me awake with the perfect moment.

The hardest part is when the concept is still so abstract, so fuzzy and out of focus, far away but you just know it's there. Excavating your soul until you can make sense of it, and then trying to put it into a form other people can make sense of.

It's worth it though, I think. I try to believe that anyway. I make work so other people don't feel as lonely as I do. Yeah, if someone asked me today why I make art, that's what I would say.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Another day, another blog. Every site about mental illness should have the obligatory famous people roll call. So here it goes:

Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, Eugene O'Neill, Robert Schumann, Leo Tolstoy, Vaslov Nijinsky, John Keats, Tennessee Williams, Kurt Cobain, Vincent Van Gogh, Isaac Newton, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Michelangelo, Winston Churchill, Vivien Leigh, Patty Duke, Margot Kidder, Charles Dickens, Lyndon B. Johnson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, Paul Gauguin, Mark Rothko, Britney Spears, Tori Amos, Connie Francis, Peter Gabriel, Kristy McNichols, Kate Millett, Charley Pride, Axl Rose, Ted Turner, Edvard Munch, Jackson Pollock, Theodore Gericault, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Courtney Love, Rachel Griffiths, Eric Clapton, Johnny Depp, Francis Ford Coppola, Princess Diana, Harrison Ford, Cher, Sally Field, Winona Ryder, Victor Hugo, Audrey Hepburn, Francisco de Goya, Graham Green, Buzz Aldrin, Alexander the Great, William Blake, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Jim Carrey, Albert Camus, Frederic Chopin, Dick Clark, John Cleese, Leonard Cohen, Samuel Coleridge, Sheryl Crow, Emily Dickenson, Thomas Edison, T.S. Eliot, Queen Elizabeth I, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sigmund Freud, King George III, Ernest Hemingway, King Herod, Heinrich Ibsen, Kay Redfield Jamieson, Charles Lamb, Joan of Arc, Job, Jerimiah, Karen Kain, Larry King, Jack London, Greg Louganis, Emelda Marcos, Herman Melville, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ralph Nader, Florence Nightengale, Ozzie Osborn, Dolly Parton, Ezra Pound, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Rivers, Anne Sexton, Mary Shelley, Lord Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Louis Riel, Queen Victoria, Mike Wallace, George Washington, Walt Whitman, Brian Wilson, Mary Wollstonecraft, Agatha Christie, Tim Burton, Marilyn Monroe, Han Christian Anderson, Patricia Cornwell, Liz Taylor, Carrie Fisher, Larry Flynt.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Eating breakfast and I feel like I'm gonna throw up. Nice beginning sentence for a blog Thirza, I'm sure people want to know that. (I talk to myself sometimes, good conversation is hard to find and I like the arguements.) It's these new drugs I'm on, hello Zyprexa. You have a Z in your name too so we should be getting along better. This side effect of nausea is supposed to go away in a week or so.

Side effects of psych meds, I hate them. Lithium, the drug of choice for bipolars, is horrible for me. I get shakes and tremors, my cousin got them too. The doctors didn't listen to him when he told them what was going on, he ended up in muscle spasms on the sidewalk in PoCo. Turns out he could have died, it could have stopped his heart. So yeah, lithium's not the best choice for our family. Epival, otherwise known as Valproic Acid, is far better. I haven't had any terrible side effects beyond weight gain. Sometimes you lose hair, but zinc is supposed to stop that.

The problem with Zyprexa is that it can cause diabetes, or at least, heighten your risk of becoming diabetic. Diabetes also runs in my family, as it does in many native people today. So that's not very nice.

And the good old anti-depressants. Ah, now there is something sure to kill any desire for sex. Even if you're temporarily celibate like I am, losing your libido totally sucks.

The problem is that psych drugs start off a domino effect, today's drugs can't target just the one thing without throwing everything else out of balance. It's such a hassle. But you know, life is like that. Nothing can be perfect.

I just want this side effect to pass soon so I can eat without wanting to hurl.

The good news is that I have my CareCard finally so I can go to the hospital if I need too. However the mini crisis has passed, so it's a bit of a moot point. I think it's going to be a long while before I ever have to go to the hospital again. Maybe I will never have to return. I have another close relative who was hospitalized at around my age, and I don't think she's ever been back. Something good to remember.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

I have a confession to make. I love watching Star Trek Voyager. It's this little weird passion of mine that started when I was living with my mom in Saskatchewan and had nothing to do but surf the net and watch television. I got hooked because of the Captain, all sexy husky voice and hands on hips, she could be a dominatrix. Space dominatrix! Then I watched her and Seven fall in love subtextually, and I had this voyeristic need to watch them do it! That lead to a period of voraciously reading J/7 fan slash.

Recently I was watching an episode called The Voyager Conspiracy. The plot goes like this: Seven of Nine has decided to upload information while she regenerates into her cortical processor, in an attempt to perfect herself and make herself more efficent. She uploads too much information into her processor and begins to weave paranoid conspiracies about why they are in the Delta Quadrant, in the end believing that the mission was to capture a borg drone and take her back to the federation to dissect her. So she runs away to destroy a catapult (a space catapult) and Janeway talks her down in what is considered by many in the J/7 shipper community as a romantic moment. (It is.)

What interested me is the approach that Star Trek Voyager takes on issues of mental health. The Voyager Conspiracy is basically about Seven having a manic episode (albeit minus the cute trying to spread love and happiness around). And there are other episodes about characters on Voyager in mental crisis. The Doctor has a guilt loop in his subroutines after he makes a medical decision which saves one patient and loses another, Tuvok, B'Elanna, Vorik's pon farr incidents, and a lot of Seven's left over borg processors going hay wire.

The characters are never considered flawed, only that they are currently "malfunctioning" and that it can be fixed, either in sickbay or in a holodeck. They return to their jobs and are welcomed back into the community without reservations. I mean, wow, if only we were as forward thinking. I'm generalizing, I know, people close to me have been steadfast, but in the larger scope, many people who "malfunction" for a period of time do get shunned. Out of fear, out of people not knowing what to say or being under the mistaken belief that their loved one is no longer really there. But when I watch Voyager I can forget all that, oh dear, Seven has Dissociative Identity Disorder today, bring on the Vulkan mind meld!

Well, that wraps up another blog. If you want to read some J/7, here are some recommendations from my months of one handed research. You'll never hear the Captain say "Do it!" the same way again!

Delta Quadrant of Venus
For funny ha ha sexiness read The Borg With Five Fingers and Bride of Arachnia!

Novel Expectations
Home to Gina Dartt's infamous Just Between series, an epic series about an ongoing relationship between Seven and the Captain.

Pink Rabbit Consortium
Home to lesbian fan fic on everything from Buffy, Alien Ressurection, Xena, and some hot J/7 slash.

If you'd like to read something more academic about Trek slash, I highly recommend Constance Penley's NASA/Trek. The focus is more on Kirk/Spock Slash, but it paints an interesting picture of the slash community.

P.S. My current favorite slash pairing is Sara/Catherine from CSI. So if you stumble upon a hot story in this vein along your internet travels, email me a link!

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Am I back to myself again? Hmm, can't tell. Feels like it.

The funny thing about Manic Depression is that you really can live a normal life most of the time, if you take your meds, keep it all in check, learn the tricks of remaining stable, respect your health. So I say "Today, I believe that I am healthy."

The magnolias are blooming, I feel an affinity with them. For a week or two they are florid and gorgeous, pink splendor dotting the city and gracing us with their presence, and then they fall apart and it is over.

Friday, March 12, 2004

The sun sets and the mountains turn purple, my rat has crawled into his bag of food. Finally today I have written something that feels right. Hey, I learned a new word the other day. Hypergraphia. It means the need to write. I definitely go through periods of hypergraphia, sometimes for the purpose of making art, sometimes to heal, sometimes both.

I have heard it said in contemporary art circles that art shouldn't be about therapy. I'm not sure who invented this rule, as I believe that many major artists were creating work to get out of some kind of personal hell and torment. It seems to me that the art I see where someone has gone through hell to bring out something beautiful and/or meaningful has more resonance within it. I feel blessed for being trusted with such a personal story, and through the artists healing, I heal as well.

In other thoughts, I have been thinking a great deal about aboriginal women I know. So strong, so fierce, we are powerful women, and yet instead of solidarity I see our community tearing at each other's necks. It saddens me. There is still so much work to be done, and yet we have so many divisions. I would love to see a day when all of my communities band together for civil rights, and yet I feel that day is still so far away.

I find myself singing songs as I walk down the street.

A new short video is on it's way everybody!!!
I was watching the news tonight with my friend S. about the massacre in Madrid. What a sad thing. The world is in such turbulance, but it was always like that. We are such a brutal species, we can think of the most appalling things to do to each other.

I try to be good, sometimes I think I fail miserably at it. Today I saved a snail from being smooshed by a careless footstep, I moved it back to the side of the path. But I ate a hot dog, and wore a leather jacket and shoes. I accidentally signed up to be a member of Greenpeace, and now I'm dodging their phone calls for their monthly membership fees. I am a bad person.

I am on a new drug now, Zyprexa. It made me feel like a zombie and gain 45 pounds the last time I was on it, but this is a low dose, so hopefully I won't have to buy a new wardrobe again. I wanted to buy leather pants, but my fluctuating weight won't permit it. So far the Zyprexa is working well, I'm feeling a little more even, it makes me sleep like a ton of bricks though. But yeah, I do feel more like my normal self.

We are all crazy on this planet.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

I am tired of being considered a youth artist. I don't know what ever happened to the term Emerging artist, althought after nearly ten years of creating video work I don't believe I am really an emerging artist anymore. Who knows? Who decides? Art is an institution these days.

I am at a critical point in these new projects I am working on, this one hurdle I always seem to have where I start to wonder about my audience and if they really care to hear what I have to say. Then I remember the words of bell hooks, who says audiences are made from the art, not the other way around. Once you fall into the trap of pleasing people, your art suffers.

Maybe people do want to see boring bland art. I can't argue with that. I don't want to make it though.

The youth label does trouble me though. Jim Morrison died when he was 27, yet we don't consider him a youth poet/musician. Someone told me I was considered youth because I'm native. This is also a troubling assertion because it implies a paternalistic colonialist viewpoint of native people being far more immature than a white person.

Personally, I think the whole "youth" label in art is just another way for the baby boomers to put us down and shut us out of their institutions. We'll have to kill them. :P
Don't tell me I'm too sensitive because my emotions can be fragile, it's part of my illness and my hide is as thick as it's ever going to get.

Don't tell me not to take my pills, I did all the holistic treatments for years and got little out of it but scars and dark nights.

Don't make jokes about the crazies and then try to justify yourself by explaining that I am not crazy, I am, it could just as easily be me on the street.

Don't discount my concerns or my ideas because of my illness, just because I have a brain that functions oddly from time to time doesn't mean I'm stupid.

Don't tell me to suck it up and get over it, if I could have I would have, years ago.

Don't assume I am weak because I get suicidal or manic, I have survived some of the most horrific moments that would convince a "normal" person to take their own life.

Don't count me out of life or love.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Madness, provided it comes as the gift of Heaven, is the channel by which we recieve the greatest blessings . . . the men of old who gave things their names saw no disgrace or reproach in madness; otherwise they would not have connected it with the name of the noblest of all arts, the art of discerning the future, and called it the manic art . . . So, according to the evidence provided by our ancestors, madness is a nobler thing than sober sense . . . madness comes from God, whereas sober sense is merely human. Socrates

When I took a trip to Paris and Berlin, I came back to all these friends asking me "how was it?" I never wanted to really talk about it much, being that my vaction was a largely solitary one of visiting historical sites and looking at historical art. When I took a trip to Crazyland, nobody really wanted to ask me how it was. I was a little disappointed by it actually, because for once I had seen things that I wanted to talk about. But very few people feel comfortable listening to stories of visionary moments, especially when the moments are connected to psychosis.

Can it be that our contemporary visionaries are being silenced? One must remember that even Louis Riel was a mental patient. People nowadays want proof, something solid and tangible which can be measured, catalogued, grouped and ordered. A photograph, a big hand waving from the sky Hello! A new Jesus among us to put needles in and see that he bleeds.

I don't consider the apocalyptic visions I had to necessarily be a real prophecy, rather they were more some kind of spiritual educational film that I suppose I had to watch to be able to feel like I could go on to the next level of my life. And as destructive as the episode was, there were some very real emotional events happening that never got addressed by my p-doc, by my friends or family, they were just waved off as unreality.

How do we define the real? For instance, a broken heart is considered a real thing, even though our hearts do not actually break, they don't bust out of our chests and lay bleeding on the floor (although it can feel like that).

I was reading an article about Margot Kidder and her very public manic episode, aftwerward she went to an acupuncturist on Vancouver Island and was telling her about her delusions. She didn't know what to do with the feelings around her brain's journey, people said it wasn't real, but she was still feeling very traumatized by the whole events. The acupuncturist said "Well, if it felt real to you, let's treat it as a real event and help you come to terms with it."

Can you imagine how much more humane it would be if our psychiatric system had spiritual councellors who would come in and help patients assimilate their visionary experiences in with their regular lives? Would it help keep the relapse rate down? Would it make seeing and hearing other realities a less shameful thing?

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

One bad night, no sleep, racing thoughts, so intrusive and loud you can't ignore them. Winding up for something worse, oh god, I don't feel like visiting the hospital again. The next day I call up a relative with the same disorder I have, looking for advice. She sent me to the store with a list of things to get, milk (for the calcium), vitamin b stresstabs, omega 3-6-9, sleepytime tea. I did all the calming down things, and jeez, within two days I seem to already been sleeping soundly yet again.

Being hypervigilant about my health drives my friends spare, I'm sure. I'm always talking about meds, about new models of psychiatric care, about moods and triggers and blah de blah things. I guess I am pretty obsessed with it these days. But then I think about my life, and how I have always been fighting for an awareness of social issues. I guess I feel like I'm willing to spend some time these days destroying the stigma of mental illness. And I understand that not every c/s/x wants to discuss it openly, for various reasons. It can be really difficult when you're already feeling fragile. Talking about mental health is taken as an invitation for ridicule and derision in our society. It also really freaks people out to think that they could cross the line of sanity at anytime, and that's an unsettling thought.

The weirdest part is that this latest hypomanic period has brought a lot of fascinating artistic ideas that I want to work on this next while. What a looney disease! :D I'm a nerd, it's true, I use smileys and I shouldn't, it's not professional of me.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Why is there so much art about nothing these days? It all looks nice, but it never says anything, there's no point, and as soon as I am done watching or looking at it I forget about it entirely. It bugs me. It's a tease, promising an engaging moment between the viewer and the screen, and then turning out to be about bugger all.

Perhaps we all finally have nothing left to say. There are no more stories to be told, no stigmas to be broken, no new ground to cover. Everyone said everything important and now it's like we're sitting in the parlour having our tea, with an uncomfortably long silence. Everyone wants to pretend like the stalled conversation is okay with them, "everyone has stopped talking, an angel must have flown by."

Somebody, for the love of all that is holy, make some art that blows me away!

Friday, March 05, 2004

Testing something, did you know 40 is the new 30, and 50 is the new 40, which means I am turning the new 16, and started making videos when I was the new 6. In the immortal words of Helen Reddy, "I am still an embryo, with a long long way to go!"
"The more I am spent, ill, a broken pitcher, by so much more am I an artist - a creative artist . . . this green shoot springing from the roots of the old felled trunk, these are such abstract things that a kind of melancholy remains within us when we think that one could have created life at less cost than creating art" Vincent Van Gogh

With the exception of Anhedonia (which was created during a major depressive episode, or perhaps created the depressive episode itself), the majority of my creative works have been completed during my seasonal hypomanias, April and May or in late fall. Oddly enough these periods are usually the most productive for artists and writers with manic depression. Lucky for me they also happen to fall at the end of the semesters at Emily Carr. I am not saying that I am an artist because I am crazy, I am saying that somehow like the Borg I adapted and was able to use my moods to fuel artistic ventures, as did many great artists.

Possibly one of the most difficult things about treating manic depression is that the drugs can minimize creativity, sometimes even destroy it entirely. If your vocation happens to be a creative one, the possibility of losing your edge in order to maintain your sanity is pretty frightening, and probably one of the big reasons why people quit their meds. And to be perfectly honest, after you see the face of God, who would want to go back to a hum drum existence?

I have self destructed numerous times in the name of art, to the point where I expect it. I wonder sometimes if that is just the way my particular creative process works, or if it is the way my manic depression works, or is it both? I find increasingly that I cannot seperate the illness from myself, as much as others would like me to. It is a part of me, like the air I breathe, and as much as it can be a pain in the ass, I also have a fond respect for it.

In Kay Redfield Jamison's memoir An Unquiet Mind, she says that in order to defeat a monster, you must first make it beautiful. In my own way, I am trying to do that. I believe madness has a role in human society, I believe that there is a place for us. We were once honoured people who had visions and went into the wilderness and brought back ideas for our community. Now we're just sick.

There is a way to bring the visions back into the world though, there's art in all it's varied forms. Norms might not realize it, but their world is constantly being influenced by madness, by the people who go to hell and back and bring with them some blood, some love, some god. I wish that for every crazyphobic media propaganda about madmen killing people, there was an acknowledgement of the huge contributions to society which the "mentally ill" have made and will always be making.

Thursday, March 04, 2004


Last night I went to the Ridge to see Sylvia, a film about the life of Sylvia Plath. I wanted to write an interesting and insightful review of this film, but the fact is, I can't. I cannot get over the fact that the film is basically all about Sylvia's life in relation to a man. Why do these films about the lives of notable women artists and writers always focus on the men, how the men in these women's lives impact them? Why is it not the other way around? Why is Sylvia's life before Ted Hughes not important?

I found the same thing happened in Frieda. One might say that it's because of the times in which those women lived. However I think there are far more interesting struggles going on in the lives of women such as Sylvia Plath and Frieda Kahlo. Consider Kahlo's self portraits examining her relationship with chronic and severe pain, or Plath's writings on madness. These lifelong struggles situated within the female body are minimized and ignored in favor of whatever penis was strutting around at the time. The implied message is that the only important part of a woman's life, even a woman such as Sylvia Plath, is their husband and the things they do for their man.

The good news is that since it was a reperatory cinema I only paid five bucks.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The Joys of Mania

Possibly the most difficult part of being manic depressive is the highs. When I'm low I know something is wrong, even if my brain starts spinning stories of who hates me and why they hate me. But when I am high, I have no idea how sick I am getting. It feels good. It's like being on drugs. And when you're used to being depressed and down and ready to snuff it, being happy is a revelation all on it's own.

Being happy isn't a bad thing, but this kind of happy is deceptive. Suddenly you're a superhuman, not needing sleep or food, thinking all the time, and creative thoughts start pouring out. It's the creativity for me that makes me want to hang on everytime the mania comes out.

There are definitely things I hate about having a chronic brain disorder. I hate not being able to discern between a genuine emotion and a symptom. I hate the physical exhaustion of depression. I hate the wild paranoid thoughts of mania. I hate the fact that 90% of marriages with someone who has manic depression end in divorce. I hate that I'm 25 and my mother still has to worry about me.

But I love the creativity.

I love the spiritual epiphanies that occur. I love the fact that I can absorb new information like a sponge. I love the abstract thoughts, the symbolism, the expansion of mind that lets you go just that extra step further to make something powerful. I love the energy that can get poured into a project. I love the sudden insights that come one after another.

Manic Depression is a curse, that's true, but it's also a blessing in an unusual way. A lot of creative people with manic depression don't want to get rid of their illness entirely. It gives you shining moments of brilliance inside of a dark world.

Sometimes I think, maybe I have this disease just so that I can feel everything in a far deeper way than most people.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Welcome to Fit of Pique. I will be your host/ess. I am someone who lives in between worlds, between white and native, between boy and girl, alternating manic with depressive. Two-spirited dyke queer indian halfbreed crazy mad lesbian boy butch homo.

A year ago I spent six weeks in a psych hospital in Montreal for an episode of manic psychosis. I'd spent years trying to avoid a hospitalization. And in some ways I always knew, I ALWAYS knew, that I would end up there. I have mixed feelings about the entire situation. In a lot of ways it was a really abusive, scary place to be in. In other ways it probably did save my life. I also have problems with my medications, I don't trust the pharmaceutical companies, I think their primary concern is money, obviously. And yet my mental health depends on these drugs that have made me gain a lot of weight and put me at risk for diabetes. As someone once pointed out to me, I could be fat and sane or skinny and suicidal/manic.

Madness is still something that a lot of people have shame around. How could you let your brain go bad like that?! There's an assumption that crazy people (I am reclaiming the word crazy) really do have control over their illness, that they have chosen to be crazy. The fact is, nobody chooses it, it chooses you.

My particular brand of craziness is manic depression, my first manic episode was kicked off by Effexor, an SNRI classed anti-depressant. (SNRI means Seratonin Norepinephrine Re-uptake Inhibitor) Some research being done now suggests that migraines and epilepsy are connected to manic depression. Perhaps it's happening in the same area of the brain. What is interesting is that when I was growing up I had horrendous migraines which would last hours, often with severe visual disturbances that basically would leave me blind until it passed. I also had seizures growing up, usually the staring variety, but one time I blacked out and woke on the floor with my mother in a panic saying I had a grand mal. The medication I am on now was actually developed with epileptics in mind, and is still used to treat epilepsy.

Madness is a difficult illness to educate people about because the injury is inside of the brain where no one can see it. I was surfing around one day and came across this link which shows different brain scans, including a scan of someone with bipolar. It was amazing to see the proof. Being manic is a bit like having every switch turned on, all the lights, the t.v., the stereo, toaster, blender, computer, vacuum, a whole house of things going going going. Everything matters. Thoughts fly faster than the speed of light, space-time becomes warped, and if it gets really bad the hallucinations start. Being depressed, on the other hand, is like everything is off. There's no more electricity. There's no sun. There's no feelings sometimes. Nothing matters.

My name is Thirza, and I want to be your friend probably, but I am socially awkward, so sometimes this is all you're going to get.