Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Blues (But Gently)

I've lost the desire to draw. I just can't face the blank page and try to come up with something original.

And after I wrote that I put my computer away and took up my drawing notebook. I finished a plan for an 8 x 10 inch painting. I erased and drew and erased and drew with probably a few sighs and at last finished the composition. Nothing came easy. And I have this ennui toward my art that is part mild depression and part loss of confidence. I wish I could make art that thrilled me, and sometimes in the middle of things I am thrilled and confident, but I usually wind up wishing I were someone with more talent. It is like the girl who wishes she were taller with bigger boobs. I want to be someone else. This longing to be more I hope will diminish with age. Maybe I'll accept myself when I'm 50. Maybe I'll stumble upon a new style of painting that will sweep me off my feet and make me feel alive.

Tonight we are going to Staples and have my 16 x 20 inch drawing copied on a large machine and then this little one too. I have a gessoed board for the larger one already, the small one I'll have to walk down to the art supply store here in town. The prices are steep, but its location is convenient. How many artists can walk to their local supply store?

I saw my therapist yesterday and he explained himself a little more clearly to me. The "I love you" he uttered was at the end of a group therapy where everyone was hugging one another and saying "I love you" to each other. So it did not happen in private, one on one as it did with me. And it was more for this touchy feely style of therapy that he got fired over, the administration was uncomfortable with it.

My therapist said point blank that he has never had sex with a patient, has never socialized with a patient outside of therapy, and has no patients as friends.

This was a nice line drawn in the sand.

He also said that perhaps it was a mistake telling me about his firing from his job. I didn't agree nor disagree. He and I sit at two different ends of the table and it is my nature to want to know more and more about him - the curiosity is driven from feelings of transference - and I guess when I get what I want it bites me in my ass. My husband accurately pointed out that I should not be agonizing over what is happening in my therapist's life. My therapist noticed that my trust of him took a hit, this too is true. I rather imagined him as deranged. Now I think he's got a better grip on reality than before. I told him that through this period of difficulty I clung to one thing I know about him. Its something that keeps him in my esteem always.

In the certification process to become a licensed therapist you have to take a test. And on that test is a question that has only one right answer. The question is this; what would you do if you had a patient who stopped taking their medication? And the correct answer in the eyes of the powers that be is this; you stop treatment of the patient. This cold-hearted approach to doing therapy infuriated my therapist. He is absolutely against dropping a patient merely because they stopped taking their medication. And I agree with him. No matter how crazy a person becomes they deserve having a lifeline of sanity, and a therapist who sticks with them.

I personally had a therapist who used a similar threat to drop me if I didn't enter a partial hospitalization program she thought I needed. In her case the threat worked. Since I didn't want to loose my therapist I entered the hospitalization program. Its funny, I never held her manipulation of me against her. But this happened many, many years ago and I've never forgotten it. I may have my strengths, but when it comes to authority I have my weaknesses, I do bow before authority. I like playing it safe.

So the establishment, the people who makes the rules about therapy, prefer that a therapist abandons a person who has for whatever reason stopped taking their medication. This shows how those with authority will manipulate and withhold kindness - and that the patient will be bullied by most into taking medication. But I know personally the need to choose whether or not you take medication - medication that is forced upon you is like a type of rape. I mean this in the strongest sense. To forcibly have your conscious altered, without your will, without your consent, is unloving. I know that criminals will have medication forced upon them when they have proven themselves to be violent or insane without medication. Forced medication is like forced jail time. Its a woe that you bring upon yourself. And some people can't help but be criminal, just like some people can't help but be mentally ill. Society tries to defend itself against the criminal and the mentally ill with jail time and forced medication. I was lucky - I stayed off of medication and then took it when I realized that my life would be better with it than without it - but I made the choice. It is very much like the difference between consensual sex and rape, one is wholesome to the mind - when you choose to be on medication, while the other damages the mind - when medication is forced upon you.

I know very well that there are homeless people who are homeless because they are schizophrenic and because they have chosen not to take medication. Their lives are short and brutal. But they make their choices and their life is their own. It is not what I would want, indeed, I fear the life of a homeless person very much, just as I fear the life I would lead if I were unmedicated. And I pity the life the homeless lead, I pity their choice. But I do not violate their will. It is some people's will to have unadulterated full blown symptoms of mental illness. The comfort they have is slender - that they are as God made them, pure, powerful, powerless, but master of their own fate.

My minister sometimes ends up working with the homeless and mentally ill who have refused medication. She is the person who gives comfort and aid to those poor creatures who unwittingly have chosen the hardest path. Sometimes they are full of hope and gratefulness, sometimes they cry buckets of tears at a world that seems so very cruel. Taking medication when there are no side effects is easy. Of course it may bother your conscience a bit, being dependent on artificial chemicals, the unorganic human being, but when you have no side effects you don't have to be that strong. However, if you take medication and there are side effects, then you have to be very brave and noble. Many times medication means doing without - doing without a svelte figure, having medical complications such as diabetes or heart disease, feeling groggy, feeling doped up, loosing creativity, loosing energy, loosing umph and verve to your personality, doing without sex because your libido has been killed, - I know people who all suffer from the side effects just mentioned. Real people who sometimes complain, sometimes don't complain, but who have all done the figuring out that their lives are preferable with the medication rather than without. A person can stand a great amount of chaos in their lives just so that they don't have to suffer but one of the side effects I have mentioned. I know I did. I lived without medication and remain to tell the tale. I probably would be dead without medication. Still, even knowing this, I miss the umph and verve and sparkle that life unmedicated had.

Like I said earlier, I play it safe and I don't resist authority that much. This I think makes for the pliable person who will take medication faithfully.

Most people in the end, beaten down by the pain of mental illness, will turn out like me.

I'm lovingly enfolded into the arms of family and society and the church because I'm medicated. I know this as a fact. Blessings come to me because I'm medicated. I am mostly pain free because I'm medicated.

And the devil whispers in my ear "You would lose weight and sleep less if you stopped the Seroquil. Just try it. You can always go back on it. Maybe you would feel just a little less ennui and depression if you stopped the Seroquil."

Of course this makes no sense because I started taking the Seroquil because I was having suicidal fantasies. I started taking the Seroquil because my Geodone didn't diminish my illness enough.

I think I've got depression because I'm dissatisfied with my style of painting. I need to make a breakthrough. I'm going to work on 8 x 10 size paintings for a while and try some experimentation.

I'm too smart to be bored. And sometimes, how I paint, bores me.

The choice comes down to this; do I go off a medication and entertain craziness, or do I find a new way to paint that thrills me. Its like Dali taking dope to derange his senses. Except I'm the reverse, all I need to do is stop taking the dope and my senses will be deranged. And I know I'm hooked on painting because I'm looking to it to make me feel alive. Its done it before, it can do it again.

Yes, I'm looking to painting to give meaning to my life.

My hope lies in color.

I'm certain my husband would rather my hope lay in him.

For today, I'm taking my Seroquil. I shall take things one day at a time.


  1. It comes down to the question of at what point are we not responsible for our actions? This is the dividing line of whether it can be said to be right to force medication on someone. If someone is not able to discern the difference between right and wrong, how can it be wrong to set that mind to a position that can tell such a differerence? A decision that does not come from at least a minimal understanding is not a real decision.

  2. Hello Karen,

    Oh stick with the artwork. You've got oodles of talent. It's only normal that you should go through periods of depression or lack of inspiration. Just hang in there.

    I didn't take the medications seriously for three years and as I've said before I had three breakdowns in that time, but I also had the support and guidance of my therapist. Certainly she urged that I take the medicine, especially when I was suffering so obviously, but she never gave me an ultimatum. She treated me with respect and forbearance. When I did take the medicine, it did scare me. It seemed so strong and I did put on weight, lose my sexual sensitivity and a couple of other side effects, but at that point, just after my last breakdown, I felt I had no choice but to commit myself to taking the drugs. By that time I had resigned myself. The initial suicidal depression lasted for 6 months, but the delusions and paranoia faded and then, very slowly, I began to feel better, but it was no easy thing. I hate the fact that sometimes you just have to hang in there through the very low points and keep adjusting your medications until you find the right combination, if you're lucky enough to actually do that, which some people are not.

    I don't like the idea of forcing people to take the medications, but it is a very tough call and situations and people differ. I would think that if you forced someone to take the meds that you would most likely build up a future resistance to taking them, which kind of defeats the purpose. It is a big deal to decide to take the medications and you have to be prepared for the side effects. Unfortunately, the drugs are not a miraculous cure, you have to go through a personal process and you have to be willing to go through that process. This comes down to having a free will. I feel badly for those who are forced to comply, but I also feel badly for those who wander lost and who possibly kill themselves as a result of not complying. It's really tough.

    But you, you are doing quite well on the medications despite the sleeping and weight gain and the depressions here and there. You really have a life now, despite the drawbacks. So don't go off the medications, that just plays havoc with your body chemistry, which is no good.

    Love, Kate : )


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