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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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mental health

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. 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

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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

Dad’s Sage Advice

The other day I was angry with someone. My anger was based on an age old grudge my Mom, who died four years ago, held for something done to my Grammie, who’s been dead about 15 years. You still with me?

In writing it out I’m barely with me. Lol!😂

Anyway, I told my Dad and after a flicker of anger in his eyes quickly faded he asked me if I was really, truly burning with anger. I replied my anger had dulled to a glowing red piece of coal.

His sage and irreverent advice was thus,

“If a long held grudge has reduced itself to a small ember, piss on it, put it out and be done with it.”

And I laughed so hard I think I must have peed a little because my anger was gone.

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…

Sage Advice My Dad Plagiarized

For no compellingly good reason I climbed aboard the Twitter Train earlier this week. I toured around checking out the threads as they twist and tie together forming, what I imagine to be, an infinite, nonsensical quilt from hell.

The more I allowed the quilt to wrap round me the more I felt it fuck with my senses. I felt compelled to comment when I saw stupidity, or what I perceived to be stupidity, and I realized I was often feeling mean.

I trolled Trump a bit and I feel justified in this as it was a, mostly, constructive trolling. I didn’t just call him an ass. I told him how he was being an ass and how he might go about being less assish.

I didn’t expect trolling to feel so addictive. Soon I was sucked in and I realized I wanted not just to troll Trump but to troll those defending Trump in all his Trumpliness. I chose the most asinine ass, as I perceived it, and furiously began pounding out trollish tweets.

Fortunately, through the twists and tangles of the Twitter threads, I heard my father’s voice whispering to me from a glittering time vortex, a mystery in the matrix. I listened closer and I realized I wasn’t wrapped in the blanket of Twitter, I was caught in its wicked web.

The words my Dad whispered flowed out of the vortex, back into my brain. Bam! I was 7 again and I was telling my Dad about the perfect insult I had for a classmate of mine I didn’t care for.

“What would Thumper’s mother say?”

I stared at my father, puzzled for a moment, then it clicked. He was talking about Thumper, the bunny-best-bud to Bambi.

I shook my head, squished both brows inward and upward, indicated I couldn’t recall what Thumper’s mother was talking about.

“Remember how Thumper’s Mom reminded Thumper not to say rude or mean things to other people?”

“Yes”

“Do you remember what the rule was for deciding what to say and what not to say?”

I shook my head.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

My father, as he is wont to do, had corrected the grammar from the original Bambi script but the message remained the same. Throughout my life he has reminded me of this simple rule whenever I’ve expressed the urge to stop being constructive and start being mean.

So, as I tooled around Twitter, noting the tools, the sage recollection from Bambi brought back to me by my Dad, kept me from getting carried away in the Twitterverse. I can see I’ll have to be careful with the Twitter tool as I don’t want to become a Twitter Tool.

Above all I must remember behind even the most asinine of asses tweeting there is a real person. I beg you to suspend the Russian bot jokes. I must assume there is a real person with feelings behind each tweet and as a fellow human it’s better to spread kindness whenever possible and resist resorting to petty insults.

I admit, at times, there is no room for kindness or quiet. Sometimes we have to rise up and make our voices heard but I’m not certian Twitter is an effective place for an uprising.

If you want to promote an event or a brand or follow information about entertainment or community news bites, I feel, Twitter is the place to be. If there is a political or humanitarian issue you wish draw attention to you might use Twitter as a small part of your campaign. If you really want to affect change you must do many things to grow a movement. Write letters, make phone calls, knock on doors.

Above all things, when using Twitter or any other social media platform remember my father’s, blatently plagiarized and grammatically corrected, wise words from Bambi.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

K

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? My depression nearly drove me into the ground.

I’ve cried in bathroom stalls and book stores and and burrito joints (Really – I didn’t fake anything to make the alliteration work but huzzah! For the diversity of human ignorance) because of flip remarks as I’ve mentioned.

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

Grief From Moment to Moment

I knew grief was coming. I’ve felt grief many times before. It always feels distinctly like grief, yet no grieving situation ever unfurls and flows in similar fashion.

I am speaking specifically of grief felt when a loved dies. One can grieve the loss of a job or a home but those losses, for me, tend to bring forth an entirely different type of grieving.

My maternal grandmother died yesterday. Although she lived two provinces away we were still close. We became even closer after my Mom, her eldest daughter, died in early 2014. We both took her death very hard and struggled a great deal.

Yesterday I felt as though I should feel sadder, be more upset. I cried when I told my husband very early in the morning. He held me as I swiped at my eyes and tried to breath deeply and fully. Mostly I felt glad she’d gone quickly, with minimal suffering and I felt glad I’d told her many times how special she was to me and how much I loved her.

My husband and I had lunch with my father and his lady-friend yesterday afternoon. We laughed and talked and my appetite seemed normal. I suppose the only thing not normal was how guilty I felt for feeling so normal.

Later on I suddenly felt incredibly irritable. I snapped at my husband, immediately apologised, snapped again, apologised, and lathered, rinsed, repeated until I was in tears for behaving so poorly and he was bewildered.

We watched a movie I chose and I complained about how terrible it was the whole way through. I stomped upstairs after the film and shuttered myself in my art studio. I was, at once, angry at myself for choosing such a shitty flick and annoyed at my husband for insisting we finish it.

I decided to take part in a 30 paintings in 30 days challenge suggested by an old friend and fellow artist and participant. I completed a small abstract piece last night and found myself going from soothed to impatient as though riding a pendulum as I worked. I was satisfied with the finished painting and surprised how much the colouring and style reminded me of my Grandmother.

My sleep was wrought with tossing and turning. I woke up really early for coffee but found myself dosing off an hour later and returning to bed for rest of the morning.

For the rest of today I’ve found myself on an un-merry-go-round of irritable, sentimental, guilty, confused, and numb. This is what grieving my Grandmother feels like so far.

I’ve also found myself with a sour stomach, a sweet tooth, shakier hands than usual, and struggling to cope with higher than usual pain levels.

I never would have predicted this would be how I’d feel. I’m doing my best to surf the emotional waves rather than fight them but it’s difficult as I keep feeling as though I’m not doing this right and I know that’s not possible.

I’ve learned we all experience grief differently and grieving will be a different experience every time. So I’ll just keep trying to honour my grandmother’s memory as best I can and honour my feelings as they ebb and flow. If there’s ever a time to go easy on myself and practice self-love and self-care it’s now.

K

Panic Attack Drawing

After deciding to take a crack at using the drawing prompt #fear from #sketchbookskool on Instagram today I thought of what makes me fearful and immediately thought of panic attacks. Thus I decided to try and draw what a panic attack feels like to me. Here’s how my drawing turned out…

K

Panic Attacks as a Child

My heart pounds so heavily it reverberates through my entire body. This feels terrifying and only adds to the worries bringing me to this elevated state of arousal.

I am supposed to be sleeping but it’s clear relaxation is a ship long since sailed and I am stranded on an island of anxiety. My mind races. On this night one small worry has become a storm and soon swirls into a fucking tsunami.

This particular tsunami is not a current concern. It is a memory of a string of my very first panic attacks. Awww, such sweet and special memories😛

I didn’t experience a lot of anxiety attacks until my late 20’s and 30’s but the more I consider the first pushing of my panic button the earlier in life I can recall it happening.

When I was around 9 years old we were studying World War 2 and the holocaust in school. I was also reading Anne Frank Diary of a Young Girl. The more I learned the more disturbed I felt.

I cried in my mother’s arms for ages when I finished the book. I couldn’t, still can’t, comprehend the hatred shown for differences that shouldn’t matter. We’re all human and no one person is better or more valuable than another.

I lay awake many a night terrified of World War 3, the possibility of conscription, concentration camps, torture, and the possibility of the end of the world. I shook with fear, sobbed into my pillow, felt the terror of hyperventilation, and I was tormented by nightmares bringing all my fears to life.

My parents spent a lot of time reassuring me that WW3 wasn’t nigh. They were also real with me. They told me the holocaust was an unforgivable crime against humanity and that many people, including Anne Frank and most of her family, had died painfully and needlessly.

I often worried my father would be conscripted and have to go fight in a war or that we’d be forced into a death camp and be gassed in a “shower” room. I was scared a dictator would come to power and slowly strip our country of rights and freedom. The more I learned about the 2nd world war the more I feared hubris, ignorance,and forgetfulness would plunge our world into a similar state of chaos.

Perhaps my fears were over the top and incredibly dramatic for a 9 year old but my Mom and Dad listened to my concerns patiently, gave me honest answers to difficult questions, and they reassured me with logic and reasoning rather than empty platitudes. They also didn’t tell me to stop reading and learning so intently. To help reassure and encourage me they kissed me, held me tightly and told me they loved me.

Looking back I still feel the fear and panic that came with learning about such a difficult and terrifying subject. I cannot even imagine how awful it would have been to have lived during that time. I don’t regret the learning for one second though. Some subjects are scary but we cannot sensor education just because it’s frightening. We must remember to learn from the mistakes of the past.

I think my parents did a commendable job dealing with my first panic attacks and many more to follow. The fact that I suffer from panic attacks is nobodys fault. My Mom and Dad did a great job making sure I felt safe and loved even if panic seized and I am forever grateful for this.

My hope is this will reassure others that although difficult subjects may lead to difficult times we shouldn’t be ashamed of fear or avoid learning. Sometimes the only way to cross a river is to swim no matter how swift the churning current and rollicking rapids.

What are your thoughts about panic attacks or any other psychological challenges during childhood? I’d love to hear any stories or advice.

K

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