Monday, November 11, 2013

New Weird Thoughts

This is all I can post of the painting I just finished.  You can't have the painting in its entirety.  I'm giving you chopped up pieces of the whole. Click on them to see them enlarged.   They're pretty detailed.   I don't think Google would like my images of animals having sex. Edited out are two dogs having sex (the groom holds the leash of the male dog - look at the groom smirk - he knows whats coming.  The bride seems serious, maybe a little incredulous.  She hasn't a clue or notion about what carnal lust is).   Two monkey's having sex, and of all the impossible things, a lion and a crocodile having sex.  Inter-species sex?  No, its gay sex!  You can see both the yellow lion and the green crocodile have pink penises!  Of course what exactly I painted is the most primitive rendering.  What am I capable of?  Not too much in the way of depicting reality. Its not like I copied a photograph of animal's copulating.  But the painting was about marriage, sex and relationships.  I titled it "The Virgin's Fate".  It amuses me that both my mother and my husband's mother were virgins when they married our fathers.  My mother's parents even picked out her wedding gown.  They were Lithuanian Lutherans, very European, very old school traditional.   They made my mother look like Cinderella, even had her wear a rhinestone encrusted tiara.  My father was in medical school and didn't want children at the time so they used birth control.  But my husband's folks were game for the whole wet, squirming, bundle-of-joy consequences of their honeymoon.  My husband was born almost exactly ten months after the marriage day. 

Well, when I started this whole long journey of lowering my medication my medication nurse made horrible predictions about what I would turn into.  Most things, almost all things, have not happened. She doesn't know me that well.   She absolutely has not been with me since the start of my journey of mental illness.   She was merely extrapolating from what she had seen happen to other people in my diagnosis group.  But I am unique, my schizophrenia is unique.  This diagnosis covers a whole variety of types of people, with varying severity of illness.  Schizophrenia has to have room in it for people who are atypical. 

Recently my medication nurse offered to lower my medication to one 20mg pill a day.  A miniscule amount.   That shows how well she thinks I am doing.  I currently take 60mg Geodone.  Theraputic dose of Geodone starts at 120mg.  One thing she said in her predictive rant when we started the lowering of my medication is that psychosis will come.  It may take a year, two years, even three years, but it will come.  She said its part of my genetics.  I think that the little medication I take is protective against psychosis, and more importantly to me, mania. If psychosis will come, so will mania, if I'm unprotected.   I met a bi-polar woman who was protected against mania only by antipsychotic medication.  She thought it was very weird that she was not being treated by any of the classical mood-disorder drugs.  But this was the approach of her doctor, and the antipsychotic meds did stop her mania.  I've been on the mood stabilizer Depakote and I hated it - and I wasn't even creating art at the time.  So I rather take an antipsychotic and just prevent the mania from ever developing.  When I did experience mania, usually it was very mild.  When I discribed it to a professor in college he said that I was having religious experiences.  But long ago, before my first defining breakdown, I noticed that it was rhythmic.  The hypomania started and stopped.   But eventually there was the breakdown where I had full-blown psychosis and complete inability to sleep.  I'm glad I've go no signs of hypomania.  I believe that is due to the Geodone antipsychotic.  I'm not lowering my antipsychotic med for this reason, and now, for another reason.  I have had totally new, weird thoughts.

It always happens when I'm under abnormal stress.   I will have an insistent, weird thought.  Three separate months, three separate weird thoughts.  They don't last longer than a day.  A textbook psychotic thought.  Maybe.  It seems pretty much like what one would find in a textbook.  At the time I know that what I'm thinking is ridiculous.  Outrageous.  However, there is real emotional distress accompanying these close brushes with psychosis.  Even when its recognized as nonsense, (and I know weirdness when I see it - I've always been a keen observer of my own madness), the weird thought is hard to bear.  Once, to stop the thought, I took extra medication.  That worked very well.  The two other times I normalized after a good night's sleep. 

The first weird thought happened during an August vacation.  We go to Maine, to a little fishing village where both my father and mother have separate homes.  We stay with my mother.  She has an apartment over her garage.  While visiting my mother I feel obliged to inform my father that I'm in the same town as him and arrange a visit.

Historically I've been in the worst shape after visits with my father.  For many, many years after each visit I became suicidal.  Its not just me.  In the nineteen nineties my sister did not talk to my father for three years because he made her feel suicidal. Now their relationship is ok.  She likes to call him for medical advice.  Mom says she affectionately calls him "Daddy-O".  I think she's one tough cookie.  Its cool to see a sibling heal and strengthen that much.

In the past, after a visit with my father, while traveling home in the car, I would dope myself with medication.  While traveling I would still would feel suicidal for a bit, but I was so zoned out from the meds that there was an air of "who cares about anything in life?".  Now on less antipsychotic medication my father does not make me feel suicidal.  I just feel terrible, torn up inside.  And I can't stop re-living the visit.  Obsession.  Last Thanksgiving I talked about the visit for about three days straight and my husband said "enough, I have no more sympathy for you.  I don't want you to ever see your father again."   How does my husband deal with my father?  He falls asleep.  Like, is there such a thing as pathological sleepiness?  My husband does not wish to be conscious around my father.  So he dozes, anypalce, anychair, everytime.

During the August vacation my father invited me over for lunch.   I medicated myself an hour before hand with an extra antipsychotic pill and a tranquilizer.  At the lunch table I felt a vale of dopiness disconnecting myself from my father, and I thought to myself, it is a good thing I'm zonked, otherwise I would have so much anxiety.  I look at my father and I wish to scream, how could I eat my lunch?  But I did eat lunch.   After lunch we moved to the sun porch.  My husband fell asleep.  My Dad and I talked about art.  I relaxed.   I remember saying that all my heroes in art were mad and lived in insane asylums.  Then I said say what you will about my art, (I'm not certain how to rate it at all in terms of good or bad or beautiful) - but at least it is honest.  Where did the boast about honesty come from?  I do not know.  But it felt right at the moment.  My Dad said that this word honesty, in connection with art, he had read several times in books.  He does not know what it means.  Could I explain what it means?  To have honest art?   I couldn't explain.  Probably to discuss this term, and its application to art, I would have to reveal too much about my creative process.  And I know what my father thinks of my art.  I know the truth.  He thinks I'm a sad case.  Maybe even as much as a painful embarrassment.  I had a therapist tell me once that my father will never be proud of me, no matter where my art goes or what good things happen to it.  The only emotion that possibly can be summoned, with artistic success, is jealousy.  The therapist seems kinda mean.  I rather view my father as a complicated person.  Capable of many feelings on many levels.  But knowing that probably my art upsets my Dad, do I really want to try to put myself in a virtuous light?  It would seem like a battle that I've already lost.   I know I'm rejected because my art looks different from mainstream art, and because my father is art school trained and I am not, and because my father seems to lack the ability to recognize creativity in art.

His inability to recognize things that are creative is a new discovery and it explains a lot.  I have a term for people who are bushwacked by fame.  I call them fame fuckers.  My father is a fame fucker because he only can tolerate and judge as successful art that has critical acclaim.  The lightbulb went off in my head when two vacation's ago he handed me a post card with an artwork on it advertizing an art show.  Dad said, "He's good, isn't he?"  And he told me that the artist was a former dean of an art school who now is independent and very successful.  I believe I heard envy and esteem in my father's voice.  He likes good credentials.  But the picture on the postcard was horrible.  Totally boring.  A small boat in a large body of water.  No real content, no color surprises.  A field of emptiness with a poorly rendered object in it.   I assumed at the time that the original artwork must have been very delicately tinted and much was lost in the printing process.  It puzzled me why an artist would pick a work that reproduced so poorly.  And then I realized that my Dad liked the image because the artist was successful.  A fame fucker. Unable to judge quality for himself, and giving quality where it is not deserved via the uplift and aura of fame.  This is intellectual distortion and bushwacking of judgement.  Creativity is delicate.  It's presence more like a fragrance.  I think I rather stay safe, and was silent after my father asked me to explain artistic honesty to him.  And so he took the break in the conversation as the perfect moment to say "Well, I'm going to go paint".  He stood.  He smiled, and he walked away.  And that ended the visit.   He had not seen or talked to me for nine months.  I did feel, at that moment, the sly sensation that my father was running away from me!  I felt like I was too much of a goofball to be taken seriously and perhaps, I did not have the ability to talk about art like my father's other artist friends.  I know he has a lot of artist friends who visit his Maine cottage, stay overnight, and go on painting trips with him.  I must not be able to talk about art like a normal person. And I think socializing with me makes my father nervous.  He can never predict what is going to come out of my mouth.  I once heard from a nurse who worked with him that during a meeting he went totally ballistic when another doctor called him eccentric.  He yelled and left the room. On a gut level, he hates eccentric.

The next morning I woke early.  And this idea was in my brain.  "My parents attack, kill and eat me".  They do this and somehow I am reassembled, I survive, only again, at a future date, to be the living victim for them to "attack, kill and eat me".  It seemed to be a pattern that has been going on my whole life.  Torture, death, dismemberment, and regeneration.  Perhaps the criminal punishment of Prometheus chained to his rock, having his liver eaten daily by an eagle? What Chronos did to his children? To put the little Godlings away and keep them down.   (How I love Goya's savage painting of Saturn eating his child).   A very primitive notion, this, the parents killing and eating their child.  A myth of death and rebirth in the collective unconsciousness?  I started to cry, woke my husband, and held him tight, repeating over and over that my parent both want to "attack, kill, and eat me".

That day we went to an antique store.  In degrees, my agitation died down.  The next day we spent driving, traveling home.  I then said to my husband that I remembered what I thought the day before, however in the light of a new day, its degree of insistence and reality was so diminished that I could not comprehend why I said what I said, or believed it was so impregnated with reality.

The second weird thought occurred in early October.  My husband and I had had three fights within the space of one week.  After a fight I always go and sleep on the couch in my art room.   After most fights we work things out in the morning.  My will husband take the time to reconcile before he goes to work.  After a good nights rest our emotions are so much calmer.  And it is far far easier to say I'm sorry.  For both of us.  But after the third fight he made no attempt at reconciliation.  That day, quite suddenly, in the middle of the day, I emailed my friend.  All I wrote is "Nobody loves me, I'm persecuted, everyone wants to kill me".  Naturally my friend did not take me at my word.  I had never written such a thing.

It was so strange to think that everyone, every living being on the planet wished to kill me.  When the thought first came I ignored it as best I could.  I believed it rightly preposterous.  Having absolutely no basis in reality.  Six hours later, still thinking this thought, my spirit began to flag.  Even imaginary ill will is still ill will.  And one small human being can not stand against the notion that nobody wishes them alive.  "Everybody wants to kill me" had over the six hours become an obsessive mantra.  I didn't hear a voice say it, but my internal imagination repeated its body of meaning again and again and again.  Eventually it frightened me (was I now starting to believe that there was some truth in it?  Not that I would be attacked by guns, but that everyone wished me dead) and I took an extra Geodone pill.   After about 40 minutes the thought completely disappeared.  Like magic.  The Geodone definitely put me in a medicated haze that felt mildly uncomfortable.  My husband came home from work and we ironed things out domestically.  I had a good nights sleep.  And a very productive day painting for many hours the next day.

The last weird thought happened last week, the first week of November.  A specific unusual situation had been left unresolved.  I did not know what another person was thinking about me.  Their opinion seemed to matter.  I could only anticipate a negative solution to the encounter.  My email buddy said that the universe had a plan for me and I had to just flow with the plans of the universe.  Good advice.  But at night I would obsess.  My husband listened to me go on and on on the same topic and eventually he asked rather angrily what kind of solutions I could come up with to counteract my obsessive thinking.  He wanted me to problem solve (he wished me to shut up) because I had become unpleasant company.   And then suddenly, the pressure of worry and not knowing disappeared.  I thought I knew what was happening.   I was being laughed at.  This is how another person sees me.  They laugh at me.  No mystery.  I had this bit of incredulous awe that I could see what was happening far far away.  A stranger was laughing at me.  Well, it was a relief not to obsess anymore and I fell asleep.

The next morning I woke and my perceptions had altered just a little bit.  Before my husband went to work I told him that now I thought that the whole world was laughing at me.  Everyone in the world was laughing at me behind my back.  I could see the pattern that I liked to generalize an idea to include the whole population of the world - be it killing or laughing.  And I could see that it was again, preposterous and a figment of my imagination. It absolutely made no sense that anyone should be laughing at me.  I said to my husband, you wanted me to stop obsessing over my trouble, and the trouble has disappeared, but it has been replaced by a psychotic idea.  You can't suppress the mind.   Last night you wanted me to change. Well I've changed.  Maybe a part of me listened to your angry admonishment.  But do you think the change is in a good direction?

It was easy to promise my husband before he left for work that if the thought that the whole world was laughing at me did not go away and if it built in any sort of intensity, then I would take extra Geodone.  For peace of mind.  It worked well with the other weird thought the month before.  But I wanted to draw before I took the Geodone.  Take advantage of a mind unfettered before chemical chains are applied.  I felt the winds of creativity sweep through me and while it was hard to draw, (I almost had too much energy and distress to focus)  I am very very happy with the new form I invented.  It is heavily ironic that so much distress produced something that will be so very valuable for the painting I am planning. Amazingly, drawing for three hours cured me of the thought that the whole world was laughing at me.  When I was finished my morning stint of drawing for the day the thought had completely disappeared. 

But I was still a little restless.  So I walked to a local cafe and had a bowl of homemade soup.

Most of the time my life is predictable.  But I seem not to react well to stress.  These new, weird thoughts are a sign of my mind breaking down. And then when they go away my mind is much healthier.  And happier.   My schizophrenic best friend who hears voices has a lot of weird thoughts.  Like constantly, she obsesses over weird thoughts.  Weird thoughts torment her.  Why must the weirdness be tormenting?

I understand that weird thoughts go with the territory of a schizophrenic type diagnosis.


  1. your work reminds me of david barnes' art. he's the brother of the leader of of Montreal's leader singer. your work especially reminds me of the Satanic Panic in the Attic art.

    do you have an email??? I really wish to send you something you might enjoi.

  2. hey,
    stumbled upon your art when i was looking for louis wain's cats. very insightful and i agree schizo is a spectrum disorder and needs to encompass all sorts, not just the traditionals. as a current grad student (kinesiology major taking abnormal psych), i really appreciate your blog. I feel you are helping many more in conjunction with yourself. keep at it and i hope you find the middle where peace is, even if it's in purgatory, a medicated trip, or elsewhere. take care.


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