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perkreations

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

Time to Move On

I’ve had the same psychiatrist for the past 9 years. At first he was great. I felt as though he cared, as though he believed in me even when I didn’t believe in me. I shed many a tear in his office but felt motivated to keep trying when I left our appointments.

This is the self portrait in question. My psychiatrist might not have appreciated it but I think it turned out well. 

Over the years, slowly, things began to change. My reward for being a loyal patient seemed to be shorter and ever more terse appointments.

Eventually I was seeing him for about fifteen minutes every three months for a prescription refill and a brief chat that often sounded like this;

“You’re still off work because of your chronic pain problems? It seems much of your depression is tied to the loss of your career.”

“Yes, and I would give anything to be deemed fit enough to go back.”

“You’ve had a hard time but you have to find other things to replace what your job did for you. I think it will be difficult. I would be very upset if I could no longer practice.”

“I’ve been focusing on art and writing as much as I can but it never seems to fully fills the void.”

“Well, keep working at it. Be positive. Here’s your perscription I’d like to see you again in about three months.”

I was delighted one day when he asked about what kind of art mediums I was working with. He seemed genuinely interested and even gave me an assignment.

“I want you to paint a self portrait by our next appointment. Paint how you see yourself. Let’s book a month from now. You bring the painting then and we’ll discuss what it means to you and how it makes you feel.”

I agreed with a smile, “challenge accepted!” and fairly skipped out of his office. I’d never considered a self portrait before, preferring to draw others instead, but the introspection of the assignment intrigued me.

I began my portrait that day with a little help from my art teacher at Grasby Art Studio. I finished my portrait in record time and was thrilled with it which surprised me as I generally don’t like pictures of myself.

I eagerly awaited my appointment and, when the time came, proudly carried my canvas into the Dr’s office.

“I finished the assignment you gave me last time. Would you like to see it?”

He glanced at my file with a confused look.

“You asked me to paint a self portrait. To paint myself as I see myself. I enjoyed the project and I brought the painting to show you like you asked.”

He nodded and I presented the piece for him to look at.

“That’s not really my taste. I don’t think it looks like you.”

That was the last we spoke of it. Dejectedly I put the painting on the floor and asked for a refill on my meds. I couldn’t wait to flee that office.

This one time I didn’t want him to see me cry. I couldn’t find the strength to get angry at him, defend my artistic liscense. I could only think to attack myself and my stupid, ugly painting.

I have since reminded myself that if I love my self portrait and good for me! Fuck what he thinks. The painting hangs proudly on my bedroom wall now.

After careful consideration I’ve decided instead of ditching my art it’s time to ditch the Doc! Obviously it’s time to move on. I’ve found someone new and I’m not going to look back.

K

Check out http://www.grasbyartstudio.com

It’s Only Dinner

Tonight I made dinner. Tonight I made dinner and this is significant because, since my Mom died 3 years ago, I haven’t had the patience or desire to cook anything but the barest of minimums. 

This is everything assembled and ready to go when the time comes.

Thank goodness my husband took over in the kitchen to a great extent and coaxed me to at least eat a bit when I had no desire. My appetite has slowly returned but between my issues with anxiety, depression, and chronic pain I feel as though I often have to force myself to eat the simplest of things, let alone the inventive meals I used to love.

I associate the kitchen with my mom. She was an amazing, adventurous, and fearless cook. I followed in her footsteps after leaving home, cooking up a storm and often phoning her for advice. So when she died I just couldn’t find that desire to channel my creativity into the kitchen. It felt too overwhelming, still does to a great extent.

I am pleased to report in the past couple weeks I have slowly begun to edge back into my old domain by baking muffins, banana bread, and even some cookies.

Today, for whatever reason inspiration struck and I found myself topping cucumbers with cream cheese and chili pepper jelly. Then I drizzled olive oil over shoestring sweet potatoes to be baked later along with sliced prime rib I rolled up with Italian Coppa Di Parma. 

While I may have shed more than a few tears as I assembled everything I’m pretty sure this meal is going to kick ass! And even if it doesn’t… deep breath… Tonight I made dinner.

K

Trump is Mentally Ill?

“President Trump is mentally ill, ha ha ha!”

I realized recently how morally wrong this statement/joke is. Now that I’ve realized it I hear it everywhere and I just want it to stop. I must admit, in the not-so-distant past, I’ve been guilty of uttering similar phrases about the American president but I’ve stopped. Here’s why I think you might consider stopping as well.

Please don’t think I’m saying Trump is a precious snowflake and his feelings need to be protected. He signed up for endless scrutiny and he certainly behaves in a manner inviting much criticism but as a society we must be responsible with our criticism.

Once we make it ok to constantly question Trump’s mental health and also make his mental health a punchline on a regular basis we make it ok for this to be a real-world criticism, a real-world punchline.

This is not an ok trend to nurture. Hasn’t society supposedly been trying to destigmatize mental illness? Isn’t it supposed to be ok to be coping with mental illness and leading a rich and successful life? 

Sure President Trump, in my opinion, is not an example of the type of human we need in the world but please let’s stop using questions about his mental health as insults and punchlines to prove this point. 

Mental illness is very real for many individuals, including me. In order to make progress with destigmatization we must remember to shine positivity and hope onto mental health issues rather than using speculation about a person’s mental health to tear them down.

K

Enough

So, after a two month stay in the hospital for severe depression and what turned out to be a severly low hemoglobin count I’ve been at home for more than a month. I’m feeling better about my life in general. In fact, most days, the prospect of getting out of bed doesn’t feel so overwhelming I suspect my head will explode.

Yeah me!

I think I’m actually on the mend. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my friends and family who’ve been supportive and caring in so many wonderful ways during this difficult time. I also owe heaps of thanks to the many kind and patient Dr’s and Nurses and hospital staff.

I’ve been doing well at keeping my expectations realistic. I’ve been spending a lot of time indulging in long-lost rituals of self-care, and self-love. And I’ve been trying to function in a manner that gives love back into my community. 

But I’m not on top of it all yet. I could easily make a list pages and pages long of gratitude I owe and people I haven’t reconnected with and visits postponed and how I CANNOT EVEN FIND THE STRENGTH TO CONSISTENTLY CONTRIBUTE TO THIS BLOG OF MINE!

Now, as my heart pounds with panic and my brain feels like a hampster on a wheel going full speed towards… what?

This is where I must give my head a shake and go back to being that self-loving, gratitude-having, nurturing person I was at the top of this page.

So, I will publish this little snapshot of how I’m doing a month and a bit after release from the psychiatric ward and I will say to myself, “This, all of this, is better than it was and that is enough for now.”

K

Overwhelmed 

I have just been released from hospital after spending 2 months in the psychiatric unit for reasons I’m not ready to share just yet.

Here is me just prior to being moved from the Emergency Ward to the Psychiatric Ward.

I feel overwhelmed almost every minute of every day with every fibre of my being. Overwhelmed. This word rattles round my head and I’m having difficulty putting the overwhelmed feeling aside and just noticing all the beauty and love there is around me. I will get there. I will.

I am grateful to my friends and family for their patients, kindness, and understanding. Wholehearted thanks to you all❤

This is all I can write for now. And that is OK. 

Take care dear readers. 

K

And She Backslides…a lot

And so once again I have been admitted, submitted, and fitted into the psych ward for depression. Feeling rather ill-qualified to write about mental health so I’ll instead write of my mental illness. Let’s just say I’m sending away for my frequent flyer dicount card which includes discounts on antidepressants, free coffee mugs from Pfizer, and a secret decoder ring.

I’ve been slipping for weeks now. Diving deeper into darkness and I’ve run out of breath and I don’t want to drown. So here I am needing help to beat back my own demons because they have me surrounded and I seem to be armed with nothing but limp spaghetti and, let’s face it, that’s not a weapon that’s going to win the battle let alone the war. So here I am…getting help.

K

Strength?

Why does society seem to place so much import, emphasis and value on the characteristic of strength lately? Sure it’s good to be tough in some situations but does strength really outdo vulnerability, empathy, and emotional inuitivness? I think not. 

This is strength to me. A tree goddess grows and nurtures her tree with peaceful love and fluid strength enabling her to adapt and change depending on the needs of her collective. I painted this gorgeous gal in Radium over the summer.

I don’t think I’m particularly strong, does this make me less of a person? I think not. I pride myself on my empathetic view of the world as this allows me to see all sides of issues and keeps me from turning myopically inward.

It seems, as of late, strength is one of the only qualities worth emphasizing. Although, perhaps, I’ve been paying too much attention to the cluster-fuck that is American politics.

First we heard from one of her brothers that Ivanka Trump wouldn’t allow herself to be harassed or raped because she’s too strong. I’m paraphrasing, but one of her brothers actually implied if a woman is raped she’s just not strong enough. I call bullshit! 

Next Melania Trump trumpeted in an interview she is a paragon of strength because…because…well I don’t think she really said. It’s not like she threw down and bench pressed the interviewer. 

Her explanation of wanting to be at home for her son rather than campaigning is noble and important to her, but she didn’t use this as example of her strength if I recall correctly. She simply mentioned it was the reason she hadn’t been spending time on the campaign trail.

Here’s the dictionary definition of strength:

strength [strengkth, strength, strenth] Show IPA

noun

  1. the quality or state of being strongbodily ormuscular powervigor.
  2. mental powerforceor vigor.
  3. moral powerfirmnessor courage.
  4. power by reason of influenceauthorityresourcesnumbersetc.
  5. numberas of personnel or ships in a force orbodya regiment with a strength of 3000.
  6. effective forcepotencyor cogencyas ofinducements or argumentsthe strength of hisplea.
  7. power of resisting forcestrainwearetc.
  8. vigor of actionlanguagefeelingetc.
  9. the effective or essential properties characteristicof a beveragechemicalor the likeThe alcoholicstrength of brandy far exceeds that of wine.
  10. a particular proportion or concentration of thesepropertiesintensityas of lightcolorsoundflavoror odorcoffee of normal strength.
  11. something or someone that gives one strength oris a source of power or encouragementsustenanceThe Bible was her strength and joy.
  12. Power to rise or remain firm in pricesStockscontinued to show strengthThe pound declined strenth. 

To simply, without evidence, claim to be “strong.” This isn’t enough for me. I guess I want anecdotes and learning tales, humility, and demonstrated involvement whenever you claim to have a trait or assign one to someone else.

Show me with words, with actions, what strength is in these tumultuous times and perhaps I’ll be a believer. Don’t forget to demonstrate empathy and compassion too as these qualities are just as important. 

K

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Losing a Parent is Rough at Any Age

When I was in 3rd grade a family myself and my parents knew very well were in a terrible car accident. The father and two sons survived but, tragically, the mother did not. 

I recall my mother being grief stricken by this loss as she and the deceased were very close. They took turns babysitting us kids and we also often played together while our Mom’s gabbed over coffee.

While I understood on some level the tragedy that occurred I hadn’t the life experience to fully grasp what this would do to the family. My own Mother’s death two and a half years ago has given me new perspective on how the children were affected.

I am the same age as the eldest son and shared many classes with him at school both before and after his Mom died. I recall how a sweet, sensitive and caring child became desperately angry, misunderstood and unpredictably tempestuous.

He would often act out in class, erupting with rage spewing forth like hot lava over seemingly trivial things. His signature move was throwing, yes throwing, his desk before stomping from the room yelling, cursing and crying. He seemed to have lost his ability to cope with life in a reasonable manner and was often feared by teachers and ridiculed by other students.

Knowing what I did of his personal life to some extent I often reached out to him as a friend and defended his actions to our peers. I would occasionally explain, in a hushed and sober tone, that his Mom had died and he needed extra understanding from us all.

My Mom died when I was 35 and I often tamp down the urge to throw things and scream from the rooftops how unfair this loss is. I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult it would be to lose a parent as a child. How outrageously unfair!

I have long ago lost touch with this childhood pal but I often wonder how he’s made out in the world. My hope is he’s found a sense inner peace and personal success. 

Just as we will all die someday so to will our parents, some earlier than others. I miss my Mom desperately this time of year. No sooner does her birthday pass than we are into the dreaded and somewhat empty-feeling holiday season. 

I will try my hardest to get through this month by looking for simple joy and resist the urge to begin hurling Christmas trees round department stores. I hope my old friend finds the strength to do the same.

K

So Long Lenard Cohen 

My life wouldn’t be the same without the work of Lenard Cohen. Here is a half hour sketch of my Canadian hero.

K

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