Art Oracles – An Art Historian’s Wet Dream

If you know anything about me you’ll know that I spend several hours a week perusing the well-being section at local bookstores. I do not know if it was by divine intervention that yesterday I happened to find one of the coolest things I have ever come across before. I am not even sure it was meant to be in the well-being section but I happened across it there regardless and proceeded to jump up in glee when I realized what it was.

The object I am referring to is a box full of 50 cards with illustrations of artists on them providing advice on life, work and inspiration drawn from the individual artist’s life and work. They look like new age art history tarot cards. A booklet comes with the box to consult when looking for more information about the particular artist found on a card. It is not only a tool for inspiration for each card will offer some form of advice or sentiment about life, but also a great teaching tool for educating on the great canon of art history. I am a Art History major at Carleton University and I can tell you that these artsy tarot cards literally turned me on.

IMG_1885.JPG

The Art Oracle cards are simple to use in that you just choose one and read it, whether you shuffle the deck and pick a card at random or go through all the cards and stumble upon one that catches your eye. The point is to consult a card and draw what inspiration you can from it or if you’re a nerd like me see this card as a jumping off point for further research on the artist. I have decided to do a “reading” and consult the Art Oracles once a week and write a blog post on the inspiration I drew from this card and provide a short summary about the artist who provided the inspiration.

IMG_1890.JPG

Today, I drew the “Yayoi Kusama” artist card which is very fitting if you’ve been keeping up with my blog at all. Kusama has struggled with her mental health since a child when she first had hallucinations imagining a pumpkin was speaking to her. She dealt with her hallucinations by drawing repetitive patterns to “obliterate” the thoughts in her head.  Art became a form of therapy, what she would later call ­“art-medicine.” She voluntarily lives in a mental institution in Japan where she draws on her visions and hallucinations for inspiration.

Polka-dots are a reoccurring element in Kusama’s work which she describes as the shape that makes us humans (composed of particles), and unites us with the Earth and Sun. Kusama, however, is most recognized for her Infinity Rooms which are mirrored artistic chambers that multiply bodies and alter perceptions. Kusama’s kaleidoscopic environments offers the chance to step into an illusion of infinite space. The rooms also provide an opportunity to examine the artist’s central themes, such as the celebration of life and its aftermath.

Screen Shot 2019-02-26 at 8.58.24 AM

Installation view of Infinity Mirrored Room — Love Forever (1966/1994) at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 2017.

Yayoi Kusama is one of the artists represented in the Art Oracles. The image of her in a polka-dot dress against a similar polka-dot background is indicative of her art which heavily features this shape. The card offers three pieces of advice drawn from three key elements of the artist’s life. The advice is the following: 1. Your soul is composed of the same dots as the universe, 2. Distinguish yourself from your mirror image, and 3. Show them your hallucinations. I have provided an image of the specific artist card below:

IMG_1887

I found it interesting that the first card I drew from the pile of 50 artist cards was this one. The fact that the advice offered was to “Show them your hallucinations” blew my mind. I have been considering writing a chapter on my visual and auditory hallucinations for my autobiography. This card has inspired me to definitely write and include a chapter on my hallucinations. But what were the odds of me drawing first a card on an artist who struggles with mental health like I do!? I know what you’re thinking, 1 in 50, but I mean isn’t this a sign? I am not overly spiritual but I do believe we are meant to encounter certain people and things in our lives at just the moment we need them most. I think I needed to find the Art Oracles to remind me of the joy I experience when studying Art History and also to give me a little push to start writing that chapter on hallucinations sooner than later.

The Art Oracles are great if you want a bite-size Art History lesson and great for drawing inspiration if you are artistically blocked or need a push in the right direction. The cards themselves are also very beautiful pieces of art in themselves, illustrated by Mikkel Sommer. Sommer did an amazing job providing illustrations that really embody the life and work of the specific artist illustrated. If you have an infinity for art or for simply really cool things, I highly recommend purchasing the Art Oracles at your local bookstore.

 

Thank U, Next

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 6.00.21 AM

Thank U, Next is powerhouse Ariana Grande’s fifth studio album and arguably her best album to date. I call Grande a powerhouse because she literally does it all. Her single “Thank U, Next” was on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks at number one, her track “7 Rings” has been on the chart for three weeks at number one, and the single “Thank U, Next” also made Grande the most-streamed female artist in a 24-hour period on the app Spotify. “Thank U, Next”‘s 9.6m streams replaced Taylor Swift’s 2017 record of 9.1 million streams of 2017 single “Look What You Made Me Do.” Grande proves over and over again she can do it all and proves this the most by releasing the album Thank U Next shortly after releasing her fourth album Sweetener.

She is changing the way the music industry thinks and releases music by bombarding us with a plethora of new material to listen to, and just when we think that’s it, that’s all, she teases us some more and releases even more music. Her new album was produced exponentially fast by anyone’s standard as she mentions in a interview for Billboard for which she was awarded Billboard Woman Of The Year: “Thank U, Next was mostly written in a week, with the people she’s toasting in the control room, and recorded in two weeks…It was the product of a lot of “feminine energy and champagne and music and laughter and crying. This [album’s] not particularly uplifting,” she says. “A lot of it sounds really upbeat, but it’s actually a super sad chapter.”

In her interview with Billboard Grande says she wants to produce music the way a rapper does: “My dream has always been to be — obviously not a rapper, but, like, to put out music in the way that a rapper does. I feel like there are certain standards that pop women are held to that men aren’t. We have to do the teaser before the single, then do the single, and wait to do the preorder, and radio has to impact before the video, and we have to do the discount on this day, and all this shit. It’s just like, ‘Bruh, I just want to fucking talk to my fans and sing and write music and drop it the way these boys do. Why do they get to make records like that and I don’t?’

She is already using social media sites like Instagram and especially Twitter to work for her. In a Tweet posted January 10, the singer captioned an image of a defaced door frame with seven ring emojis and the date: “1.18”. Leading fans to wonder if she was teasing a new song titled “7 Rings” which she most definitely was. “7 Rings” was probably one of the only songs I found on the album to not be as relateable as I had hoped. It sounded more like a hip hoppy pop anthem for the 1% than an anthem for friendship as the singer claims in an interview with Elle: ” “Seven rings is jus like…..a flex. Friendship anthem. How the homies WANT u to feel. What the ‘thank u next’ energy evolves into while embracing a new chapter (even tho both moods /energies are v present).”

“7 Rings” has a very real backstory as the singer recalls in her interview with Billboard: ” ‘It was a… challenging fall day in New York,” she begins, cracking up. “Me and my friends went to Tiffany’s together, just because we needed some retail therapy. You know how when you’re waiting at Tiffany’s they give you lots of champagne? They got us very tipsy, so we bought seven engagement rings, and when I got back to the studio I gave everybody a friendship ring.” She flashes a diamond ring on her right hand. “That’s why we have these, and that’s where the song idea came from.’ ”

As much as I love to hate on how out of touch this song really is when compared to the every day life of the average person, I can’t help but jive to it and find myself laughing when I realize some of these lyrics actually relate to me. For example, when she sings  “You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it” I can’t help but relate as someone who spends part of her income on fresh hair extensions. People compliment my hair all the time and now I feel like my response should be “Gee. thanks, just bought it!” However, she also sings things like “Yeah, my receipts, be lookin’ like phone numbers” that have me and I think most people relating more to the popular parody of “7 Rings” than the song itself. Check out the parody below for a good laugh!

I think the parody’s really basic manipulation of Ari’s lyrics ” I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it” to “I see it, I like it, I want it, can’t buy it” sums up my and most people’s lives. Just because we want something doesn’t mean we can afford it unless we ‘re Ari, which is really what I am taking away from this song. And when the down and out girl sings “Been through bad shit too, turned me to a sad bitch. Got nothin’ from it but student loan baggage” in the parody I could not help but want to laugh and cry at the same time because I felt that shit. But I also felt the impact of the original lyrics from “7 Rings: “Been through some bad shit, I should be a sad bitch. Who woulda thought it’d turn me to a savage?” and you can’t help but be in awe of Ariana Grande a little bit. The woman has experienced real trauma in her life and she’s coming back stronger for it. I mean she lost Mac Miller and Pete Davidson in a matter of months, and let’s not forget that time her concert was targeted by a suicide bomber in Manchester. But what does Ari do? She comes back with twice as much love and twice as much passion for her craft which was evident when she put on a benefit concert for those affected by the bombing.

Grande has been through some serious bad shit and has definitely come out of it a savage. She is in full beast mode with the release of her latest album and each song is a testament to her genius. My favourite track on the entire album, however, is one which has yet to be made into a music video nor really promoted much and that is “Needy.”  In the song she sings “Sorry if I’m up and down a lot, Sorry that I think I’m not enough.” These lyrics for me personally were the realest. I think everyone in the world can relate to not feeling like they are enough, if not now then at some point in their life. I believe it is one of the biggest struggles we face – our worth. I gained that much more respect for Grande when I heard these lyrics and felt a sense of empowerment in the idea that if Ari, a mega superstar, has similar issues with her self-esteem than I think I can come to terms with my own.

 Thank U, Next has a track for everyone whether you’re in the one percent or part of the masses. Grande bears a large part of her soul and let’s you come inside for something that is truly special. You can listen to the album from the beginning to end without skipping any tracks – each song is equally as good as the one before or after it. I strongly recommend this album for anyone but especially for those who have experienced heartache. Ari sings her most honest songs yet in this album and through sharing her feelings, lets her listeners feel a little more at peace with their own.

Would I recommend this album?

Absofuckinglutely!

The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck

Screen Shot 2019-02-16 at 7.54.11 AM

Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck is not about “not giving a fuck” but rather choosing to give a fuck about what is important. Manson introduces quickly and abruptly our impending mortality in his book.

Manson writes: “You’re going to die one day. I know that’s kind of obvious, but I just wanted to remind you in case you’d forgotten. You and everyone you know are going to be dead soon. And in the short amount of time between here and there, you have a limited amount of fucks to give. Very few, in fact. And if you go around giving a fuck about everything and everyone without conscious thought or choice – well, then you’re going to get fucked” (Manson 13).

The thing about Manson introducing our mortality so early in the book stands as significant to me because I tend to think a lot about death. I have been fascinated by it and entranced by its notion for hours, some times days at a time, since a child. My father dying of cancer when I was a mere fifteen years old probably had something to do with it. I watched him deteriorate from a person into a ghost rambling incoherently and screaming at me to cut off his legs, because they had been rendered useless through paralysis. The point is, I think about death a lot and if I was going to take someone’s advice such as Mark Mansons’ in The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck, I knew I would be more receptive and could trust someone who just put it out there –  “hey, we’re all dying here. Why don’t we choose to dedicate our time to a fuck worth giving.” Of course I am paraphrasing – quite horribly might I add – here. What I am trying to say is, Mark Manson had my trust since page thirteen when he laid it all out there and had his readers confront the realization of their own death.

Now you could argue “Well, that’s a little dramatic, ain’t it?” And I would argue yes and no. The point is not to scare you or make you envision your death in grueling detail, but rather get you thinking about your life and what you’re choosing to give a fuck about. I realized as I read this and reflected on my inevitable death, I had been selling myself short. I was giving too many fucks about the wrong things like if so and so found me interesting or cool if I did drugs with them. I was also giving way too many fucks about what other people thought about me because of my mental health and history of multiple hospitalizations.

I realized reading this that I was wasting my time giving a fuck about pointless shit I cannot change when I could be choosing to give a fuck about something worthwhile – like blogging more, which is what I am doing right now. If Manson can shove in my face that I’m dying and word it in a way that my perspective towards my life shifts and I am better for it, then what are you waiting for – buy, steal, borrow this book. It is worth the read because it prompts you to rethink what you truly should give a fuck about.

Manson breaks down the subtle art of not giving a fuck into three subtleties: “Subtlety #1: Not giving a fuck does not mean being indifferent; it means being comfortable with being different” (Manson 14), “Subtlety #2: To not give a fuck about adversity, you must give a fuck about something more important than adversity” (Manson 17), “Subtlety #3: Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about” (Manson 19).

Let’s address subtlety #1. Manson introduces right away, before the reader can be disillusioned into thinking otherwise, that there is no such thing as not giving a fuck. As he puts it: “You must give a fuck about something” (Manson 15). The suggestion here is that if we can get over the fact that there is no way avoiding giving a fuck we can then choose to be more selective of what fucks we give. Manson also suggests we can not give a fuck about what ultimately does not matter – in my case whether or not someone thinks highly of me.

The second subtlety introduces the idea that adversity can be overcome by “giving a fuck about something more important than adversity.” Manson suggests in his book that if you give too many fucks about trivial things than you most likely do not have an important fuck to care about. For example, I have been giving too many fucks about whether I have the latest moisturizer or lulu lemon sweater lately when I need to give a fuck about what’s important – finishing my degree/ finding a way to continue my education.

This leads into the third subtlety: “Whether you realize it or not, you are always choosing what to give a fuck about” (Manson 19). When put simply and in swear-word form, this statement blew my mind a little. It wasn’t anything I have not stumbled upon in my own thought processes, but to have it re-instated in a way I could relate to, led to a deeper reflection of these words. It helps you think more clearly about what you’re choosing to find important in life and what you’re choosing to find unimportant. This book is so special because it encourages you to have difficult conversations with yourself and to re-evaluate your life and priorities.

When reflecting on these subtleties, I realized my life had become a mess of choosing to give a fuck about what’s ultimately unimportant. I was caring too much about superficial things like whether my hair was long or shiny enough, and not focusing my energy on what is important to me – building a future for myself. The great thing about this realization is that I can also choose to give a fuck about changing it.

I have decided after reading this book to start giving a fuck about the things I used to give a fuck about when my life seemed rosier so to speak – things like self-care, my education, and respecting, loving and caring for others. I have already started to take action by arranging counseling for my addictions, quitting smoking, and contacting my University to see if I can graduate with the credits I do have so far. With the help of this book, I’ve realized it is up to me to change and decide what is important in my life. There is a great deal of ownership introduced in the ideas Manson talks about. Two sentences in particular that Manson writes stand out in my mind after consuming this book: “There is a simple realization from which all personal improvement and growth emerges. This is the realization that we, individually, are responsible for everything in our lives, no matter the external circumstances” (Manson 94). It is ultimately up to me to change and as much as that is scary, it is also a beautiful thing because I can begin to exert some form of control in my life.

Would I recommend this book? Abso-fuckinglutely.

But here’s the catch – this book is not about the subtle art of not giving a fuck but rather about choosing to give a fuck about what is truly important. It is not a manual on how to live a carefree life devoid of fucks but rather a careful reflection on how to live a more purposeful life full of the right kind of fucks – the important ones. If you’re down with re-thinking what you truly give a fuck about then this book is fucking perfect for you!

Girl, Wash Your Face!

Screen Shot 2019-02-13 at 6.33.54 AM

As I mentioned in a prior post, I recently went to the local bookstore looking for books to nourish my soul and if that’s what you’re into look no further than Rachel Hollis’ book titled Girl, wash your face.

In the book, Hollis addresses common lies told to us or that we tell ourselves such as “I’m Not Good Enough” or “I Should Be Further Along by Now.” She breaks down these lies and how they are not true through clever use of anecdotal stories from her past.

In her final chapter, Hollis writes: “Girl, get ahold of your life. Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid, stop giving away pieces of yourself, stop saying you can’t do it. Stop the negative self-talk, stop abusing your body, stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday or next year. Stop crying about what happened and take control of what happens next. Get up, right now. Rise up from where you’ve been, scrub away the tears and the pain of yesterday, and start again…Girl, wash your face!” (Hollis 213).

A lot of this resonated with me such as to “stop putting it off for tomorrow or Monday or next year.” I have been putting off writing my memoirs for a couple years now afraid I will fail. I am afraid I cannot sit down and be motivated enough to write it out in the first place and then there is the fear that nobody will be interested or read it.

When Hollis says “Stop medicating, stop hiding out, stop being afraid…stop saying you can’t do it” it really struck a chord with me. If I am being honest with myself I have been self-medicating for awhile now with drugs and alcohol. I realized too that I have been in fact hiding out – hiding out at my parent’s house not moving forward and too scared to make moves to do so. I never fully recovered from losing my dream of finishing my Bachelor’s degree. Sure, I licked the wounds but I never really healed from them. I have carried that failure with me for what seems like a lifetime and have allowed it to affect every decision I make – whether it be not returning to school for fear “I am not smart enough” or not taking that job because I feel I will not be good enough and inevitably be fired.

Enough is enough. I need to as Hollis says “…scrub away the tears and the pain of yesterday, and start again…” and I need to do it sooner than later. Yes, I did not finish my degree due to the onset of bipolar disorder but this does not need to be the end of my story. I can not take “no” for an answer which Hollis addresses in her book. She states that “No is the Final Answer” is a lie and that we need to fight for what we want. She writes: “When it comes to your dreams, no is not an answer. The word no is not a reason to stop. Instead, think of it as a detour or a yield sign” (Hollis 58).

So I have decided the big nope that is/was my bipolar disorder should actually be viewed as a detour. A detour that led to a better understanding of life and that led to the experiences I have which make me a qualified mental health blogger and writer. Maybe I needed this detour to gain the experience needed to write that ever allusive book. Maybe my bipolar disorder was a detour in my education but will ultimately lead to me continuing it like perhaps studying psychology the second time around instead of focusing on Art History. I refuse to take no for an answer when it comes to my education or let my bipolar disorder get the final word. I have faith I will return to school one day and finish a diploma or degree program. In what? Well only time will tell.

This brings me to the final lie Hollis mentions in her book that really stuck out to me and that is that “I Should Be Further Along by Now.” I think we all fall trap to this lie in what shape or another. We constantly focus on what we want to become rather than enjoying who we are and the process of getting there.

Hollis writes “I can’t count the number of times in my life when I’ve beaten myself up because I thought my goals had expiration dates…” (Hollis 104). This more than anything stood out to me as a problem. I do the same thing. I always thought I’d have my degree by 22, a master’s by 26 and a PhD by 30. The truth is there is no expiration date on your goals and they will always be there if you continue to put in the work and effort. If you finish your degree in four years or six what does it really matter? The goal is still the same. I think I needed to be reminded of this cause I’ve been beating myself up for not finishing my degree for years. But I can now re-frame this goal and decide to accept it may not happen right now but maybe some day. If something is important to you, do not let time limits define it and decide for you when it is appropriate or not to chase it.

Overall, Girl, Wash Your Face was a treat to read and I definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for some insight. It changed my perspective and the way I relate to my goals. It reminded me that I am more than capable in achieving my goals and to not let anyone or anything get in the way.

Girl, Wash Your Face!

Delusions of Grandeur and Just Plain Delusions

The third time I was hospitalized it was for a manic episode. I was experiencing delusions of grandeur which is a clear symptom of mania. I wholeheartedly believed that I was a celebrity with millions of dollars at my disposal and this belief was erroneously wrong. I was admitted to the hospital for something so simple yet very indicative of mental illness – I was walking around in a onesie in public handing out brand new perfumes like Chanel Chance and Ariana Grande’s Ari perfume as part of a marketing scheme to promote my Instagram account which I claimed and believed was dedicated to a business I had created. I thought I was in charge of a talent agency of sorts which brought together photographers, models, and the like. I believed I was the Madame of the entertainment business connecting talented individuals to one another and promoting their work. I even believed I was a drug dealer to the stars, providing all entertainers with a good time.

You can look back on my much older posts on Instagram and find ones that indicate this slip from reality. In one I post a picture (or rather steal) of a man dangling his legs from a high up building and below are the rooftops of nearby buildings. I wrote a post under this photograph saying FearANDSelf-Loathing was hiring photography interns and that best believe we pay! FearANDSelf-Loathing was actually my first ever WordPress blog that I wrote during my undergrad at Carleton. It was poetry, speculations and my journalistic portfolio. However, in my delusional mind it became a company that I ran and what I believed to be a million dollar revenue company.

When I was sick with these delusions in the hospital I continued to believe I had the means to purchase whatever the fuck I wanted. They give you access to a telephone and at the lobby you can find magazines filled with adverts for local businesses. I began calling all of them trying to order , well, stuff! I called the local Ford dealership and tried to order five brand new Mustangs. These people of course thought I was insane but some people on the other line of the phone believed me because I spoke so confidently. However, when it came to pay and I actually lacked the funds to bankroll these ideas people quickly came to realize I might be insane.

As I write this chapter of my book, I’m sitting across from my mother who is sorting her taxes. She asks what the topic is and I say without hesitation, “my delusions.” She laughs and responds, “I can list a few if you’d like.” I hesitate, because as much as I am writing about this topic now it is still a hard pill to swallow – that I lost my mind and my entire family witnessed it. It is hard to reflect on and harder so when I realize I was not the only one there during my delusions of grandeur. I smile and reply “sure” to my mother. She begins to list a few of my delusions , “that you were going to buy and live in a mansion. You called several real estate agents looking to hire them promising a large commission if they could find you a mansion in the Decew Falls area. You tried to arrange a big wine tour with twenty of your closest friends and called several wineries looking to book. The strangest was you asked me to order you an engagement ring.” We both laugh and I say “Aren’t you so glad I’m sane now?” She smiles and says “For now.”

I wonder where these delusions came from and if they are rooted in any truth. Perhaps they reflect my subconscious drive for fame. I never realized I had this within me but it could very well be a real thing. It could maybe even explain my Instagram addiction, haha kidding! Whether it was rooted in some deeper meaning or not, the fact is these delusions occurred. I was the sickest I have ever been in my life, mentally that is. I spent three months in the hospital being pumped with all sorts of mood stabilizers and anti-psychotics. I eventually came down from the high that is the delusion of grandeur and realized I was simply one of the masses, the many.

Another interesting thing to note was my steadfast belief in my delusion. Despite a lack of proof or evidence that I was a celebrity with boat loads of money, I still clung to the belief that I was. I would practice songs in the corridors of the hospital mentally preparing for my next concert I would put on as an entertainer. I truly believed with all my heart that my delusion was reality. I was so lost in the deepest recesses of my mind, I could not get out without the help of medical intervention. I am so thankful to my mother for recognizing the signs of my bipolar disorder and getting me to the hospital in time before I did any real damage to my self or others.

I am so thankful for my closest friends who visited me during this tumultuous time in my life at the hospital. They are my real friends because they never have thrown into my face that I’ve been seriously mentally ill. They stood by me while I was having delusions and even played along with them. My best friend of all time recalled that I would phone her from the hospital trying to get her to order limousines and other bizarre rich people things. She said she would always agree with me and play into my delusion because when she did not, she noticed I would become quite stressed and agitated.

Thankfully, after three months I was ready to join the real world again –delusion free. However, my third stint in the psychiatric unit of the hospital was not my first experience with delusions nor was it my scariest. The scariest delusion I have ever had was that I had been raped and it was during my very first manic episode that I was led to believe this.

This book is called The Secret Diaries of a Manic Depressive Girl because I will be including images of diary entries from my actual diary during times discussed in the book. Below are images of when I was first admitted to the hospital for a manic episode, one symptom being my delusion that I was raped two years ago by a club assistant at a prominent Ottawa nightclub. You can see in these entries that I actually believed I had been rape and am trying to cope with that belief which I thought was reality.

IMG_1874

Diary Entry #1: Sept 4 2014. (the year is dated wrong in the original)

In my first diary entry of my journal at the time of my delusions I allude to a terrible memory I am attempting to suppress. This would be the memory or rather delusion of my rape. I mention I was purposefully not taking my anxiety medication so I could keep that memory docile. How anxiety medications and a memory of rape correlate I’ll never know but remember I was really sick and held on to strange beliefs – one being that I was raped.

IMG_1873

Diary Entry #2: September 17, 2014.

When reflecting on my diary, pages like the one above stand out as interesting. I am and have always been struggling with bipolar disorder and how my identity fits into this disorder. The very first question I write at the top of the page is: “Why am I letting this disorder define me?” I also state “I am ME. I am a person with dreams, with hopes, with desires.” And then I go on to reference a famous Mary Lambert song “Secrets” in which she begins the song “I’ve got bipolar disorder, my shit’s not in order.” However in my journal entry I play on that and write “I have Bipolar Disorder but that doesn’t mean my shit’s not in order.” It’s interesting to see I am still asking the same questions I was struggling with back then.

IMG_1875

Diary Entry #3: September 21, 2014.

Here I hold onto my delusional memory of a rape and state “I know I was raped and I know exactly who did it and I know which nightclub is responsible.” Again, I believed I was raped by a nightclub assistant manager who worked at Ottawa’s Mansion nightclub. I realize in hindsight, my delusional brain took my only one night stand at the time and corrupted it into a dark image of violation. I am a person who does not believe in casual sex and this encounter left me feeling dead inside. I also blacked out parts of the event due to copious amounts of consumed alcohol. It’s easy for a sick brain and a delusional one to take a fractured memory like this and create a new one, one that reflected the emotions felt towards the event.

I remember rolling around on the hospital’s emergency room floor bellowing “Stop! I do not want to see!” referring to the memory of a rape. I was having “flashes” of the rape that occurred in my mind two years ago but they were just a type of hallucination. I believe my brain was trying to find a new memory to reconcile the old one of being used for sex. In my warped mind, it was easier to cope with a rape and someone forcing themselves on me then to admit I had had sex with a shitty guy who just didn’t give a fuck about me. This rolling around and bellowing got me promptly admitted to the psychiatric unit where I would start treatment for my first ever manic episode. I started taking lithium and gradually the hallucinations, paranoia and ultimately delusions began to waiver.

It was not until months later that I was able to let go of the notion that I had been raped. I believed it with all my heart so intensely that I could not imagine just letting it go. In a much later diary entry I reflect on this (pictured below).

IMG_1884

Diary Entry # Unknown.

In this entry I write: ” Reading my journal, is like looking at a stranger, I don’t recognize myself. That’s fucked up – that my brain could create it’s own alternate space without the use of substances. My physical came back in the clear.” This entry reflects my ultimate acceptance that I had not indeed been raped and that this was a trick my bipolar brain had played on me. In the moment, I thought it was the realest thing imaginable and even seeked counseling for it. Imagine that! Someone seeking therapy for an event that never actually occurred but that their delusional brain had created. Now that’s messed up!

I have learned through this experience to not take my sanity for granted. I literally lost my mind to delusions of grandeur and just plain delusions. I understand now that bipolar disorder is an illness, but a treatable one and that with the right drug cocktail I can in fact keep that sanity in check. I am thankful I never tried to harm myself or kill myself due to this fabricated memory/delusion. Rape is in my opinion one of the hardest things to come back from and heal from. My mind was tormented by it and in my reality it was not even real. I could not imagine the pain one experiences from such an event. I am thankful my brain snapped back to its sane state and I could reflect on what was real and what was not. I will never take for granted a clear mind again. Delusions of grandeur are fun for only so long until you realize you are the only one having them.

A special thanks to all the doctors and nurses who helped me on my journey to recovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where’s My F**king Unicorn?

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 4.51.57 PM

I recently went to the local Chapters bookstore to seek guidance on my never ending quest for answers. I purchased four self-help books and for simplicity’s sake I am going to address only one in this blog post and that is Michelle Gordon’s “Where’s My F**king Unicorn? – A Guide to Life, Your Unicorn & Everything.” I am going to be honest here and admit I regretted purchasing this book at first until it dawned on me I had never taken the time to figure out “What?” let alone “Where?” is my unicorn.

Now you’re probably confused as to what the hell I am talking about unless you too have of course read the book. Why on earth are you talking about mythical creatures? And what do they have to do with improving my life? Gordon explains in this text how everyone’s unicorn is different and illustrates this point by describing what her unicorn is: “My unicorn is living life as an author. A writer. My unicorn is being able to afford to write books as well as eat and keep a roof over my head” (Gordon 9).

Your unicorn or unicorns are your aspirations in life. These will change over time, for instance, your unicorn at age 7 will most likely be drastically different from your unicorn at say 27. Gordon raises a valid point in her book: “One of the biggest reasons why people don’t change their lives is that they have no idea what their unicorn is. They haven’t defined it. How can you find something if you don’t know what it looks like, feels like, smells like or sounds like?” (Gordon 10).

I realized I had not defined my unicorn in years, not since my mental health deteriorated to the point I was trying to simply survive. I had no aspirations or goals or ideas of where I wanted my life to be heading, not since being in University. I, however, have now been stable for a few years and am slowly recovering the ground I lost. Through this process of recovery, I have come to realize that I need to once again set goals for myself and chase that damn Unicorn. But what is my Unicorn?

My unicorn (and I am terrified to say it/type it out loud) is to write an autobiography on my life and struggles with bipolar disorder. I am terrified to say it out loud because then it becomes real. It is no longer an idea floating in my head but rather an intent, a call to action. I am fucking terrified of my unicorn because of a medley of fears such as “Am I qualified to write an autobiography? How will I market it? What happens if I invest all my time and effort into this project only for it to fail? What if nobody reads it?” and so on, and so on, and so on. You get the point.

This is the beauty of stating my unicorn, I can now work towards finding it. One good tip Gordon suggests is to “Get Off The Merry – Go – Round” so to speak and step outside our comfort zones (an excerpt from this section is pictured below as it appears in the book).

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 4.47.17 PM

I have definitely been in a rut and avoiding tackling finding my unicorn because I believe I will never find my unicorn but I know that’s just my fear talking. I have been avoiding writing my memoir due to several fears and one being that I will never finish it if I start it. I realize this is some serious fucked up logic. I resonated when Gordon said that breaking this cycle for her “was realizing that I didn’t want to get to the end of ANOTHER year and find myself in the exact same place” (Gordon 31). I want to as Gordon says “evolve, grow, change” (Gordon 31).

So How will I find my unicorn? Thanks to Gordon, I have a starting point with this book which was helpful enough to reference NaNoWriMo, the movement that encourages you to write a book in a month. All you have to do is write 1, 667 words a day for 30 days. I have decided to take on this endeavor and attempt to bang out my memoir in apparently 30 days. I am not delusional, I may sit there some day’s with writer’s block or come to hate half of what I have written but I can at least try to put myself out of my comfort zone and focus my energy on creating something. The result could end up being  truly beautiful.

Would I recommend this book?

Abso-fuckinglutely.

A Serious Fork In My Road

I want to change. It’s that simple. But how?

Screen Shot 2019-02-09 at 9.16.35 AM

I’ve reached a fork in the road and have a decision to make as to what path I should follow. I can continue to go down the path I’ve been following of abusing substances and numbing my feelings of worthlessness OR I can travel down a new path of sobriety and seek the help of others through support groups to address the underlying fears and beliefs that have led to my addictions. The one path is familiar and regardless of how destructive it may seem, is comforting in its familiarity. The other path is the road less followed and seems daunting but also potentially liberating.

I am almost ready to commit to taking the road less traveled, a.k.a., sobriety. This raises the question again of “how?” I may do that. I took to the local bookstore to find some answers and consulted my doctor on ways through which I can enact this change. She suggested counseling which I am due to start this week. At the bookstore I was confronted with a variety of titles and authors who promise a better life and a better way. I desperately perused the stacks searching for a book that would speak to my soul. I found several but one in particular stands out: Russell Brand’s “Recovery – Freedom From Our Addictions.”

Russell Brand breaks down the 12 step program according to him and explains how one may engage with it and truly change as a result of it. I will admit I have much skepticism towards the 12 Steps, particularly its religious undertones. However, Brand suggests that the program can be taken even by an atheist and that it is up to you to define what a Higher Power means to you.

Brand even mentions his first thoughts on the 12 Step program as being a bit pious: “The first time I saw the Steps, I thought, ‘Hmm, a bit religious, a bit pious, a bit ambitious.’ There was the ‘Christianity’ feel. Look at the third step, ‘turn our will and our lives over to the care of God’ – steady on old boy, that just sounds like a cosy version of ISIS. But now I know that you could be a devout Muslim with a sugar problem, an atheist Jew who watches too much porn, a Hindu who can’t stay faithful, or a humanist who shops more than they can afford to and this program will effortlessly form around your flaws and attributes, placing you on the path you were always intended to walk, making you, quite simply, the best version of yourself it is possible to be” (Brand 13).

I want to give the 12 Step program a try because quite simply nothing else has worked for me yet. I want to eliminate all illicit substances, alcohol, and cigarettes from my life. As someone who has smoked and drank heavily for over eight years, this will be no easy feat. I believe sobriety will yield an enlightenment of sorts in that I will be able to think and reflect more clearly on my life. Why does this matter you may ask? Because we are dying every minute and every second of each day. I want to be able to fully engage and participate in my life and I believe, no I know, that my drug use is a distraction from this.

So I have decided to give the 12 Step Program the good old college try. The first step of the program is “We admitted that we are powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable” or as Brand simplifies the step “Are you a bit fucked?” I am truly ready to engage with this program and feel as though by writing this blog post I am indeed admitting my powerlessness over my addiction. My life has become a bit of a mess due to drugs – hospitalizations, lost friendships, feelings of guilt and shame, but I believe that I have the power to change this with the support of the program.

Today I am completing step 1 of the program and admitting to myself that my substance use is a serious problem and that it has made my life unmanageable. I am tired of my life being about my next fix. Something has got to give so I will be attending my first ever support group for addiction at a local church on Monday. I am nervous for a variety of reasons, one being that this group may stress the religious aspect of the program more so and that I will be turned off. Another being slightly more ridiculous in that I am nervous I may be too fucked up to relate to these people or to really change. Regardless of these fears, I will be moving forward with this program and seeing if it works for me.

Stay Tuned for Updates on my discovery of self and the activities I engage in to try and achieve this.