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perkreations

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

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depression

The Point is Not to Please You, Dear Reader

I am forcing myself to write this blog entry. I just haven’t been able to get it together enough to string together even passable prose.

“I don’t want to do this! I don’t want to feel. At all,” is what my mind cries out to me lately. I feel paralysed. I’m afraid if I put it in writing my crazy will be naked and real, for all the world to see. Yikes!

For the last two years, right around now, I’ve fallen into deep, dark, grief-tinged depression with suicidal ideation and a side order of self harm.

Why does it happen now? My Mom’s birthday on Nov 21 (died 3.5 years ago) seems to send me reeling, circling the drain, sucked down with low self worth.

Following her birthday Christmas crap is everywhere reminding me just how much I miss her helping to lead the charge. It’s hard to cheerlead for something I don’t really believe in.

I just cherry pick stuffed stockings, shortbread, gift giving, dim sum downtown, spoiling my husband and Dad and wilfully ignoring much of the other Christmas nonsense and hullabaloo.

Even paring Christmas down to a very small size still eats away at me for no good reason. The last 2 years I’ve been admitted into the psych ward for a month or two before feeling safe and well enough to go home.

This year I have been feeling a lot better I think. I’m also really excited my Mother-in-law, whom I adore💜, is coming to stay with us and we havent had a Christmas together in about 10 years.

In spite of my better mood I do feel myself dipping lower into that deep, sad place. I keep my head above water though and I don’t go too far. I can still easily see the exit. So far I’ve just felt compelled to poke around in the dark here and there.

I haven’t been self-harming, although the thought has crossed my mind. I don’t know if it’s better to push all thoughts of my psych ward experiences down and away, try to unthink them, or if I should just calmly let them replay in the background and stay focused on right now.

I feel like I wrote a whole lot but said sweet fuck all. Sorry about that. The point was not to please you, dear reader, but just to practice the act of writing, prove to myself I still can.

K .

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To Toronto 4 Tori

(Written Oct 28th on the plane to Toronto)

And today’s the day I’m Toronto bound to make a long time dream come true. I’m headed to Toronto to see my favourite singer/song wtiter/piano prodigy/rock goddess, the indomitable Ms Tori Amos!

Me outside the venue before the show

When her latest album, Native Invader, dropped I decided now’s the time, I need to do this, the ultimate indulgence, I’m going to get tickets and I’m going to do this.

Tori is only playing a scant handful of concerts in Canada. No shows anywhere near where I live.

Thanks to a wondeeful friend who happens to live in Toronto I had someone to go with, and a place to stay. I swear this friend of mine is an everyday angel. Her kindness, generosity and warmth have made this dream of mine a, once in a lifetime, reality.

Even now as I sit on the plane, getting closer and closer, my heart skips a beat now and then and I’m shaking from head to toe. The reason for these bodily tics is simple – I’m terrified!

Here’s how it is in my head:

I’m going to see Tori fucking Amos! Holy cow! This is amazing!

But what if I have a panic attack and annoy my hostess with my scared neediness?

Should I really be doing this? I’m not a healthy person. My back is screaming at me. I’m beginning to ache everywhere. My ankle with the nerve damage has now joined the party and im not sure I can take much more of this.

Do I deserve this? What have I done to be worthy of such a luxury? I’m still on disability leave as my body and mind continue to plague me with problems.

FUCK IT! I’M GOING!

💛I know this post is really late. I’ve been back a week now and the recovery has been rough. It was an amazing, strengthening experience and so much fun!

I will write more as soon as my body and brain are feeling a little less burnt out. I will recover soon and the trip was totally worth it😁💛

K

Is This Enough for #Metoo?

When the #metoo movement began in order to raise awareness about how many women and men have experienced sexual harassment or assault I debated whether or not to include myself. How much sexual harassment is enough? How much sexual assault is enough? Does sexual humiliation count?

Perhaps these blurry grey areas are part of the problem. I suppose I have several stories but this one keeps coming to mind. You can decide if it’s enough, if I can say, “#Metoo”.

Long before the age of cell phones and texting, when I was about 19, I headed to a bar downtown with a couple of girlfriends. While they kicked up their heals on the packed dance floor I was on the sidelines avoiding the crowd and allowing myself to be chatted up by an older guy in his late 20s.

I felt witty and pretty and bright as we laughed together and talked all night. When the lights came on I couldn’t find my friends anywhere. I had no idea what to do when half an hour after close they were still AWOL.

The guy who’d been chatting me up helped me look for them. When we couldn’t find them he said he lived close by and kindly offered to let me use his phone. He even said he’d pay for my cab since I didn’t have enough cash to pay for a taxi alone.

We walked along the downtown streets, flirting all the way. Head thrown back with laughter I felt alive and attractive. He seemed kind and sincere so I let him lead the way.

We arrived at his place and his kisses kept me from calling home right away. I lost myself in his eyes and arms.

“Relax. I’ll pay your cab fare later. You can hold off on calling a while longer can’t you?”

I nodded and kissed him back, nerves fluttering deep in my chest. I really liked this guy. He laid me down on his living room floor and began tugging at my clothes. I tried to slow things down and he kept trying to speed them up.

Soon I began squirm beneath him. His weight bore down on me and the butterflys in my chest turned ice cold and I began to panic.

He suddenly pushed back from me, impatience and disgust now glowered at me where I’d so recently seen lust and longing.

“You’re a fucking virgin aren’t you?”

I nodded slowly. I was so embarrassed I wanted to sink into the floor. What had I been thinking as I’d followed him home like a lost puppy?

“I’m sorry. I’m really sorry.”

Anger sparked in his eyes, now cold and black.

“What did you think we were coming here for?”

“I… I… I couldn’t find my friends. You said I could use your phone. You said you’d pay for my cab. I thought you liked me. I thought you wanted to get to know me.”

“Whatever. Get out.”

“But I need to get home.”

“That’s your problem not mine. Get out.”

Crying now, I stuttered, “Will you still get a taxi for me? I don’t have enough money to get home.”

“I’m not paying for anything for you cock tease. Get out!”

Humiliation bubbled up and poured from my eyes, “can I at least use your phone?”

“Make it fast. Then get out.”

I called home. My parents and friends were there and relieved to hear from me. I stammered into the phone that I wanted to come home. They didn’t ask questions, just told me to take a cab and they’d pay.

As soon as the taxi was called I turned to the stranger I thought I was getting to know. He glared at me, all interest gone.

“Get out.”

“It’s 4am, I don’t feel safe waiting alone outside.”

“Too bad. Get out.”

I flowed out the door on a river of tears and waited alone, scared, tired, hurt and humiliated. I shivered and cried and wished I could just disappear.

Is this enough?

He didn’t rape me. I wasn’t brutalized.

Does this story count? Were my tears and humiliation enough?

I dodged a bullet didn’t I? Maybe I should shut up, count myself lucky? Shouldn’t I be grateful?

It’s not enough is it?

I’m not enough am I?

I can’t really say, “me too?” Can I?

K

Ashamed of Shame & laying blame

In grade 6 I got lucky and hit puberty early. For me, puberty brought on a generous helping of acne. It was great because nobody else seemed to have acne yet and because I was so far ahead of the game I got to hear all about it from the other kids.

My grade 6 school picture shows only a bit of acne but there was a whole lot of tears and face scrubbing leading up to this.

I was already a freak because I was constantly reading giant books, writing poetry and short stories, acting in school plays, and generally not trying to fit in. I was terrible at popular indoor sports like; volley ball, soccer, and floor hockey. I was always picked last and constantly ridiculed for playing poorly no matter how hard I tried. I frequently spent the better part of gym class crying in the change room.

The addition of acne brought on some next level shit in the bullying department. I became known as; Zit Farm, Zit Face, Pimple Face and pizza face. I was accused of rubbing grease on my face and told to lay off the chocolate and French fries.

Every day I would go home with a heavy heart and hurt feelings. I just wanted to curl up and cry or go to sleep and never have to face the kids at school again. I was so ashamed of myself because of my acne and couldn’t understand why I was the only one.

My Mom was horrified that I’d developed the angry red marks all over my face.

“I just don’t understand where these zits are coming from,” she’d say.

“I never had acne when I was growing up.9 Why do you have it? Don’t you wash your face?”

My Dad told her gently and repeatedly that he’d had acne so it was likely due to his genes. He even apologised to me but I still felt overwhelming shame about my face and just wished I could melt away for good.

My Mom made it her mission to rid me of my acne. She bought me various facial cleansers, skin buffs and wipes and spot treatments. She had the best intentions but I felt it hard to hold back tears when she’d pull me in close on a daily basis to get a better look at my skin, ask how I thought the latest miracle cure was working, inevitably mutter that we’d have to try something else and nudge me in the direction of the bathroom with orders to, “go scrub your face.”

As puberty progressed so too did the volcanoes that pushed up through my epidermis and eroded my visage. The kids at school got meaner and my Mom grew more frantic about my affliction. There was no where for me to hide. I longed to cover all mirrors and began to keep my head down, hoping no one would see me, wishing for a safe place.

My Mom kept leveling up from the drug store, to the cosmetics counter, and finally to endless doctors appointments to try bigger, badder, stronger cleansers, creams, toners, lotions, potions and pills.

It was bad enough that I couldn’t exchange my face for another. It was bad enough the kids at school kept tormenting me. It was bad enough my Mom accused me of not scrubbing my face enough, of not caring about my skin, of being ugly. It was bad enough, it was bad enough, it was more than enough and there was no escaping my face.

Mercifully by half way through grade 7 almost everyone’s skin was as bad as mine or worse so the kids stopped teasing. I managed to find a group of friend who thought my weirdness was cool and I finally began to fit in for not fitting in. I discovered make-up and fashion and my Mom eased up.

I still get the occasional pimple but age seemed to be the cure for my acne. I’m still extreamly self conscious though and my self esteem, on a good day, hovers somewhere between crap and shit.

I assume people won’t like me or they’ll mock me or I’ll say the wrong thing. I always say the wrong thing. I’m ashamed of my ugly face, and unwashed hair, and too thick thighs. I’m ashamed that I’m still ashamed of myself. Years of therapy and I still haven’t fixed me.

Most of all I’m embarrassed and ashamed of partially blaming my Mom for my low self esteem. She was just trying to help. She bent over backwards to find me help for my face. Even worse, she’s no longer here to defend herself. I’m speaking ill of the dead and I loved her with all my heart, I still love her with all my heart and I feel such shame for the blame that I feel.

K

Mental Health Super Hero Begins

Sally Semi-Colon helps her first soul and discovers her power to emit epic empathy. Johanna’s cried an ocean when Sally finds her and helps her begrin to heal.

This is the first test frame I’ve developed for my mental health super hero, Sally Semi-Colon. She follows the credo that one’s life sentence can continue with a semi-colon, even after or in spite of dark depression, attempted suicide, or any other mental heath struggle, rather than end with a period.hhb

More information about the Semi-Colon movement can be found in the documentary film regarding high school sexual assault and the devastating mental health impact available on Netflix, Audrey and Daisy. There is also a book called Project Semi-Colon featuring,”essays and photos from the Suicide Awareness Organization that has helped millions, as well as plenty more information on line.

After watching Wonder Woman recently I was struck, once again, by something that’s bothered me for a loooooong time. There is a severe shortage of comic books, films and graphic novels featuring female super heros but no shortage of real world super women.

I understand I am not working for Marvel or DC and the characters I’m working on may or may not be going anywhere but that’s ok. I just feel like it’s therapeutic for me to try to create a Group of female super heros who might begin to fill in the giant gaps in the female super hero world.

What do you consider your own super power to be?

K

Mental Health Super Hero

I’m pleased to present my latest creation, Sally Semi Colon!

“What are her super powers,” You ask. She’s gifted with acute senses of empathy, understanding, kindness, love, advanced active listening skills, a great sense of humour, and a light for the darkness.

She can offer reliable therapy on a moments notice and is familiar with all forms of treatment conventional and non. She can offer up tough love if needed or tell when it’s time to relax and recommend self care.

She even carries an endless supply of self care items like; face masks, good books, great music, a selection of herbal teas, word games, art supplies, journals with pretty pens, nail polish, and other sundry.

Sally is a mental health maven bent on battling mental illness, stereotypes, stigmas, and assholes who don’t understand!

More to come…

You Down With OCD? Probably Not

I am tired of actual psychiatric disorders being used as casual slang when REAL fucking people, ACTUALLY fucking suffer from the following and many more psychiatric disorders!

Here are some real life examples so you know what I’m ranting about.

  1. “Dude’s a total Schizo, he’s was fine one minute and just freaked out like 10 seconds later.”
  2. “I’m so Depressed I didn’t get those concert tickets.”
  3. “Oh my God, I couldn’t find my keys for, like, 2 minutes, and I totally had a panic attack!”
  4. “My computer was fine yesterday but today it keeps going Schizo on me.”
  5. “Don’t mind me, I’m totally OCD, if I see a crooked picture I just want to level it.”
  6. “She’s such a psycho, I heard she bedazzled his favourite hockey jersey after he cheated on her.”

Please Note: some of the above quotes are fake but I feel I’ve heard some version of each at least a few times – Ok, ok I planted #6 on purpose because it’s a brilliant revenge idea, and it doesn’t make one a psycho to take some small revenge if he’s a cheating asshole.

Imagine speaking to someone or overhearing someone use your actual, diagnosed, psychiatric affliction as a throw away term for a bad habit or an instance of unique or strange behaviour.

It’s a really shitty feeling because it diminishes the severity and seriousness we mentally ill people have to cope with in a huge way every single fucking minute of every single fucking day. It makes me feel as though my psychiatric problems are a punchline rather than something that’s compelled me to self-harm and plan my suicide, sent me to the psych ward. Is that something I should take lightly?

I can only imagine what it’s like for children and teens. Kids can be cruel when someone is different. Teens can crush windpipes with a withering look and break the windows of the soul with a minimum number of syllables.

I believe people are generally good. I don’t believe these misused words are being bandied about for the sheer assholery of it. It comes down to stigma and a lack of community education.

Go ahead, call me a bleeding-heart, liberal, politically correct, pinko, snowflake, snob, I can take it. I can take it because I am a grown ass woman and my mental afflictions have decreased in severity recently.

This is why I continue to write this blog. I want to smash stigmas, offer my own stories and observations, and provide hope that someday soon those who suffer won’t feel as though their afflictions aren’t valid or they have to hide.

None of that kumbaya shit though, don’t worry. I enjoy sarcasm and wit far too much. My hope is just that we can all learn to have more empathy toward each other because I believe it’s one of the keys to peace✌

K

Spinning Sky Series

Here is another painting from my Spinning Sky Series. I have titled this one, Drama’s Brewing. Painted with acrylic on canvas.

K

Part 2: Welcome to the Psych Ward

Bare footprints disappearing in the snow, heading further and further from home. Finding a well hidden snowbank she lays down, blue silk nighty billowing then settling around her, staring up into the silent, swirling snow as the handfull of sleeping pills begins to take effect. Soon she stops shivering, closes her eyes, lets the hypothermic warmth take over and eventually she is no longer.

This was the suicidal plan that played out over and over in my mind last winter. I saw my demise as a favour to my friends and family. Finally they’d be able to move on from my constantly bringing them down and holding them back with my depression and pain and anxiety and defectivness.

I often researched suicide methods and statistics online, wanting to make sure my first try would be permanent. I began punishing myself, for failing to get on with my plan, by burning my flesh with the hot metal of a lighter, carving up my arms and legs with scissors.

I had eaten only cheerios for the better part of a year, bringing myself to a point of malnourishment where I grew lightheaded frequently and occasionally passed out.

In a last ditch effort to save my own life I wrote out all of the above in point form and shakily handed it to my psychologist one day. I was finally telling him what I’d managed to keep secret from him and my loved ones for so long. I remained silent as he read, folding in on myself, dry eyed and staring into space.

My psychologist called an ambulance and this was how I ended up in the psych ward. It was discovered that my hemoglobin levels had dropped to 75 and later down to 45 (normal is 120 – 160 for females). This extreme anemia came from my self-induced malnourishment and led to intravenous iron infusions and, eventually, the discovery of a stomach ulcer and acid reflux, which had likely occurred from taking my meds on a frequently empty stomach.

There are parts of my first few days on the ward I’ve no memory of. I was so ill I could scarcely make it out of bed, let alone out my door and into the common areas.

When I grew stronger and would slowly make my way to a common tv, clinging tightly to the wall railing lest the lightheadedness get the better of me. I’d lay on the couch either staring blankly at the tv or falling asleep as the other patients chattered around me and controlled the remote.

As my physical symptoms began to heal I was able to spend more time focusing on the reasons for my suicidal urges. This led to a focus on self esteem and expression of anger.

A particularly memorable breakthrough came when I told the loud-mouthed, bully of the ward to, “fuck off!”

I told my nurse about my vulgar admonishment of the man, expecting to be scolded. I was surprised and elated when I was told, while this wouldn’t be the best way to handle all conflict, I should be proud for having stood up for myself.

Slowly but surely I found myself again, a strong, robust woman who’d become trapped inside a girl who’d lost sight of self love. I gradually met goal after goal, in spite of numerous setbacks. My recovery has never been a straight, upward line, but upward has been the overall direction lately.

At the end of January I left the hospital scared to be back in the real world but I felt hope beginning to stir within my soul. As I’m writing this now I can finally see how far I’ve come and I can’t help but smile and be proud. Tears also sting my eyes with conflicting emotion, how did I ever get so very low and am I destined to take a dive again if I’m not ever vigilant?

I know I’ve a long way to go but I am finding more and more hope in my heart and more motivation to keep working to get better.

I am so thankful to my incredibly kind, sensitive, unconditionally loving husband who did so much to help me pull through and convince me he would not be better off without me. My father and father-in-law and mother-in-law visited me often and showed so much unconditional love it was overwhelming.

The rest of my family and friends from near and far away also expressed their deep concern and love when I thought all was lost. I still feel unworthy of this amount of love but I’m beginning to accept it and I’m trying to love everyone back as hard as I can.

This is where the second and most severe mental health crisis in my life has led. I’m still fighting maddening chronic pain but I feel like the fight within my mind is less and optimism is beginning to win a little more each day.

K

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