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perkreations

Honesty about creativity, art, mental illness, grief, feminism, human rights and chronic pain with a healthy dose of sarcasm

Month

September 2016

Hello, is Marilyn There Please?

“Hello, is Marilyn there please?”

Five little words bring my morning to a screeching halt. 

“M m m marilyn?” I stutter after a long pause.

“May I ask who’s calling?”

“This is (so and so) from (some charity I can’t recall.”

“Uh, I’m afraid she’s deceased.”

“Blah, blah, blah”

“Thank you, goodbye.”

Our exchange lasted hardly a minute. It’s amazing what can happen in a minute. I stare off into space after hanging up and then the tears come. Great heaving sobs.

My mother is deceased. Still. It’s not likely the situation will reverse. 

It’s been 2 and a half years now and lately I’ve felt the soul wracking grief has softened. Yet all it takes is one simple phone call to make my recent acceptance revert to missing her desperately.

To be honest, I’m not sure why they called my home number looking for her. I haven’t received such a call since immediately after her death. I cannot imagine what it must be like for my Dad. He must field similar calls on a more frequent basis.

The death of a loved one is the gift that keeps on fucking giving!

Here is a sneak peak at the new Strange Birds piece I began today

Rather than spiraling downwards further I begin an art piece for my ongoing Strange Birds collection. I make sure to give many birds the nobly knees my Mom was so fond of.

As always, I am soothed by the feeling of pen on paper. I slowly begin to feel better and soon can scarcely see the phone call in my rear view. 

K

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Monk and My Mental Health 

During a particularly difficult time in my life, when I first began having severe panic attacks and felt completely off kilter, I came across the TV show Monk, starring Adrian Shalhoub and I fell in love.

Shalhoub plays an incredible detective with severe OCD. His rituals and nervous manner are nearly completely debilitating but somehow he manages to find the help and strength he needs to make it out the door and do brilliant work that changes lives.

Shalhoub does an incredible job of playing the quirks up without over acting and brings out an intensely vulnerable and human element at the same time.

I would binge watch episodes on Netflix until they broke my heart and pulled the show 1 or 2 seasons before I’d seen the end. I missed the show dreadfully. More than a person should really miss a TV show but that’s neither here nor there.

The show meant so much to me mainly because the character, Monk, made me feel like my struggle with mental illness might have some silver lining. For instance, I realized my sensitivity allows me to empathize with most individuals no matter their demeanor. I also am able to transfer my anxiety and depression into intense creative undertakings.

Monk made me feel like I might be able to be highly functional in society despite my mental health problems. I felt like I wasn’t alone.

Recently I saw Adrian Shalhoub guest starring on a different show and tears immediately sprung into my eyes.😭 I was so happy to see him but saddened by thinking about that particularly difficult time.

After my tears subsided I vowed to pay tribute to Shalhoub and the character he breathed so much wonderful life into. I feel this creative non-fiction peice of writing is the perfect way to show my appreciation. So thank you Monk and thank you Adrian Shalhoub your show had a profound influence on my life and I can say that about precious few TV shows.❤

K

Anxiety Cycle

I’m feeling paralyzed again. Mind can’t think and body feels like it’s vibrating. Chest is tight. Breathing seems hard to regulate. Too deep or too shallow, that’s me.

How many days now? Four I suppose. When will this cycle end?

Painted today and that helped for a while.🖌🎨

Tired of avoiding caffeine.  I like a good cup of coffee or 2 but I just can’t tolerate it when I feel this jangled.🍵🍵 Not even decaf.

This will pass. This will pass.This will pass. This will pass.This will pass. This will pass.This will pass. This will pass.This will pass. This will pass.This will pass. This will pass.This will pass. This will pass. 

Right?!

K

Facing Anxiety – Small steps are still steps

And anxiety takes over yet again and the more I fight it the harder it tugs. Sinking in quicksand. Will I ever find my feet? 👣

Would that I could wish it away but wishes like that just beg it to stay. Scanning thoughts to find the cause. Scanning because it’s not obvious. Trouble is, when I’m unsure, the more I scan the more I find to be anxious about.

Last night I couldn’t nail it down but it comes into sharp focus this morning. I am venturing out to watch my friends son curl and although I am excited I am also terrified.😨

I’m heading back to a place where many of my dreams came to be. Where many of my dreams came true. So much history. Unfortunately this is not a world I’ve been part of for years. Now I’m outside looking in.👀

My injuries keep me away and I live in fear of questions about what I’m doing now, where I’ve been. I thought I’d set the curling world on fire someday.♨ It’s hard to make disability leave sound hopeful. 

Back to this morning.🌞 I arrived and watched my friend’s son play and he had a great time and so did I. I did see people I knew but, of course, they were all gracious and kind and genuinely curious about what I was up to.❤

I’m glad I went today. It was scary but I feel good about it. I don’t know when or if I’ll be back on a more permanent basis but that’s OK. I don’t have to have it all figured out just yet. Small steps are still steps after all.👣

K

Body Image: Caveat This MF!

Oh goodie! I’m allowed to have stubborn fat around my midsection if I’m a woman who’s had children, says the advertising campaign for a popular breakfast cereal. Well thank goodness there’s finally an allowance for less than perfection, and such a generous one too. 

It’s easy to look in magazines or at billboards and get discouraged by the sheer volume of mass marketed perfection. Finally I can rest easy knowing if I’ve worked my ass off for years trying to fight a predisposition for pudge I needn’t worry because I’ve given birth. But wait! I haven’t. I guess all of us who hoped our hard work would at last be enough better get our asses back to the gym because we sure as hell don’t qualify. 

I’m tired of mass media telling me what perfection looks, tastes, smells, and feels like. I am more than enough and I don’t need some marketer telling me I finally qualify because of their latest supposed fucking loophole!

Unfortunately my revolution isn’t likely to make it round the bend before being cock-blocked by the establishment. But I can stand proud and let this moment of truth ring clear. 

Perhaps if enough of us begin our own quiet revolutions society will finally realize status quo is boring and diversity is what really counts.

K

Crazy

Something to call me

whenever I’m fucking nuts

or just cracking up

K

Finding a-MUSE-ment

Being creative doesn’t always come naturally and even if it does, from time to time, every artist finds themselves uninspired. A creative block, writers block, missing muse… call it what you will, if you feel this way it can be tough to snap out of. Here are a few tips for getting that creative mojo back!

Here’s a small sample of a piece I’ve been working on for weeks. I’m not always sure where it’s going but I’m learning from it and I know I can see it through to finished if I persist. 

Grind it Out – Keep drawing, keep writing, keep dancing, just keep at it. Keep grinding away and you’ll soon get back on track.

Try setting a timer and don’t stop grinding it out until time is up. It may feel as though nothing produced during this time will be of use but you’ll likely be surprised. Often I’ve been able to push through in this manner and I then find myself feeling re-energized and inspired.

Practice Every Day – In order to succeed the only way to improve is with practice, practice, practice. If you want to write spend some time each day either reading or writing or both. 

You needn’t stick to your main project and its research, any sort of practice helps. Play with writing prompts for both fiction and non. Try reading a wide and unusual array of books. Even try subjects you think you’ve no interest in. You never know what may strike your fancy and inspire you to new find unique new ideas and initiatives. 

Try Something Different– If you write try painting. If you paint try dancing. If you choreograph try poetry. Switching from one creative medium to try out another doesn’t mean abandoning your art of choice. On the contrary, by trying another medium you expand your horizons and will likely find inspiration to take back to your choice medium… who knows, you might even find another choice medium.

Give Yourself a Break – That’s right folks… you heard it here first. NOBODY is ON all the time. Honestly; I garuntee even the most successful folks out there falter from time to time because they’re human and so are you. 

It’s OK to rest and recharge. We all feel uninspired from time to time and that’s OK. It’s OK as long as we keep picking back up and trying again and again. 

As an artist (holy-pretentious-sentence-stater-Bat Man!), I have often felt like I’ve reached the end of my creative life and I’ll never find my muse again. Fortunately my muse isn’t as mellow dramatic as I and has never failed to return and gift me with another idea, another spark, and that’s all it takes before I’m off and running with another project.

There’s always more creativity left to find, the trick is to persist. So keep kicking down doors until you find where your muse is hiding and take back your mojo!

K

Suicide Prevention Day

This post is going to be tough. I’m already sobbing and I’ve scarcely begun to write.

Have I ever felt suicidal? Yes. Oh my goodness yes.

Why am I still here? Many reasons, but the biggest reason is family. I couldn’t bare the thought of what my self-imposed early exit would leave behind in its wake.

Perhaps it helps that I have seen the heartbreak caused by suicide on more than one occasion. The wife of a family friend committed suicide a number of years ago and she left behind something for her husband I had never considered.

You see, not only did her poor Husband have to find her he also, as a matter of routine, had to be investigated by police. The thought of this additional insult to injury just never sat right. I could not bring myself to leave such a possibility for my own loved ones.

A coworker of mine committed suicide a few years back and I’ve never forgotten the broken look in his parents eyes at the memorial or how the tears at work didn’t cease for weeks. He was so loved and cherished by so many but in the end it came down to not enough love for himself.

My great Uncle also committed suicide after many failed previous attempts. I recall being so sad for my great Aunt who found him. Dead. Dead on the floor by the phone with a belly full of pills.

Ultimately, for me, I can’t see a way to commit suicide without leaving behind untold heartbreak and hurt. Simply the idea of what a mess I’d leave behind makes me want to hold my loved ones a little tighter, linger a little longer, and love myself a lot more.

Recognizing feelings of deep depression and suicidal thoughts has been key in keeping myself alive. No matter how difficult or uncomfortable, I’ve always dragged myself to my therapist to talk as soon as possible, called the Distress Center in Calgary http://www.distresscentre.com or 403-266-HELP, and/or gone to the hospital for help.

These services are there for everyone. Never think you are not worthy of seeking help. Dig deep to find even just a spark of self-love and save yourself with the help of others. There’s no shame in needing help and you are worth it.

K

Isolation and Illness 

Isolation due to hurt or illness begins as soon as illness or injury prevents one from participating in activies of choice. The longer one is away from familiar activities the more isolated one can grow to feel. Isolation may become even more pronounced should it be decided one will likely never return to the previous activity of choice.

The persistent plant shown here could easily feel isolated amongst the stones

For me, my life revolved around the sport of curling and building up as much knowledge as possible over 25 years. When it was finally decided that my career in curling would have to end due to injury I cannot begin to describe the loneliness and sense of hopeless isolation this brought. 

Suddenly the network of friends and colleagues I’d spent three quarters of my life building was roughly ripped away from me. Sure, I could visit, but I dreaded the questions and the looks of pity. I also dreaded simply being around what I couldn’t have. It was too painful. To this day there is a giant curling rock shaped hole in my heart.

Illness can also feel physically isolating. Once my back problems began to cause issues with low impact activities like walking, hiking, and biking, I began to feel isolated. I dreaded telling friends and family I couldn’t keep up or had to turn back earlier than planned. 

Did my anxiety and depression develop just because of chronic pain? Probably not. Frankly, a lot of shit has gone down since my initial injury. 

Chronic pain has definitely contributed to my mental illness. That is for sure. I find my mental illness to be isolating as well as it’s still somewhat taboo to talk about and can be difficult to understand if one hasn’t been there.

Others may empathize, in fact, empathy is the best we humans can hope to offer each other as we all have our burdens to bare. What of it when confronted by an individual with an inability to empathize? Is it worth trying to explain or should I just mutter something about my situation being complicated and hope the conversation drops? I’m not entirely sure but in recent years I’ve begun to tend towards the latter.

What has worked for me to combat isolation? I started taking art lessons and practicing at home as well. This gives me some sense of pride and accomplishment and I have started to make a few friends within that community. 

I have started this blog and I find sharing my stories and feelings to be quite cathartic. I can only hope that my blog offers solace, insight, or a sense of understanding and/or camaraderie to readers. 

I try to schedule at least one social outing a week along with my Dr’s appointments so I ensure I get out of the house for fun occasionally. 

I try to schedule something outside my home almost every day, such as simple errands, and brief trips for groceries. This also combats isolation because I must leave home and dwell amongst the living for at least a little while each day.

Most importantly, when I begin to feel isolated I check my schedule and start calling friends and family. Sometimes we just talk and sometimes we make plans. Either way I begin to feel a lot less isolated and far better equipped to cope in general.

K

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