Dear Depression

wait
wait
don't leave
i'll dance for you again tonight
wait
love
i'll hold your hand a little longer tonight
please
love
i'll leave my bed for you tonight
it's only been two days
the memory foam has memorized
my curves, even the new ones
reaching deeper than ever before
i haven't eaten
my hair is sticking to my forehead
and there are water bottles
piled behind my pillow
but I'll get up to perform for you tonight
you can take my heart
and leave the rest of me here
in the dark, it's where my head
works best anyway
it's where I get to feel new sensations
like the tugging
from when you pushed my hand too hard
i mean i slipped
i'm sorry
wait
wait
i didn't mean it
come back
i'll sing for you tonight
we can spend tomorrow in bed
let me back in
it's dark out here
it's quiet
it's safe
it's unfamiliar
take me back
 

 

the previous was about an unhealthy codependent relationship with depression! i am in no way encouraging or glamorizing this relationship! there are exclamation points for clarity! continue on with your day! i can't believe people can't just write stuff anymore!

It's okay.

Continuing on my quest from yesterday, I have lots of things to say, but I'm always terrified of saying them. I'm going to say them, and I might decided after posting this I don't want it out in the world, we will see. 

Fear runs our lives more than I think we will ever truly acknowledge, and for me, for the most part, I tend to jump into things head first. I have an I idea and I run with it, I get tunnel vision, there is only that thing. 

I'm not afraid to take a risk or of heights or of falling. I'm not afraid to walk down an unlit street at night, in fact most things that a person should have a healthy fear of I don't. What scares me is in my head, the thoughts and emotions that may not be appropriate for the time or place, the fleeting thoughts of ending my own life (don't worry, I am not considering suicide) however it has been a very real problem in my life before. I'm lucky enough to have survived the attempt and therefore I am here to pontificate to my friends and family on the internet, like any good millennial would.

I'm alive today in part because of those fears, knowing something wasn't right the second time so I could proactively check myself in. However there's still an incredible amount of shame and guilt that comes with it, every day I think about the people that I hurt with that attempt, it was three years ago, and I've moved on with my life and my health, but the shame and guilt are still there, recently stronger than ever. 

I'd like to broaden this away from myself because that is the best way that I can deal with these feelings, and talk about the fact that as a person who is sick and at that point in my life I did not have the coping mechanisms or the knowledge that asking for help was okay. My family is and always has been supportive, but that was not something that was spoken about. No matter how many times a celebrity gets on TV or does a long form PSA saying "you are not alone" "call the hotline", that may help some people. However it will continue to be a problem if it is not spoken about at home, if mental health issues are spoken about at home, or in schools. I think the best thing that was ever said to me was it's okay to ask for help. That might be the simplest thing, but it will make all the difference to someone like me, or someone who didn't have the incredible friends and family surrounding them like I did. 

Some things, as simple as they are still need to be said.

it's okay to ask for help. 
it's okay to talk to me about this.
it's okay to be on medication
it's okay to have to go to the hospital
it's okay to not be happy even though everything is going right for you.

Most importantly, and I think this applies to every aspect of our society, especially in these trying times 

I love you.

Peace,

Brianne

Silence is Rarely The Answer

I'm going to drop the pretense that this is an art blog, and we'll call it whatever's on Brianne's mind blog, however I can usually bring it back to making art (shout out to Mrs. Smith AP English!). 

Today might not be one of those days, and I'm trying to figure out a way to put the words on the page that need to be said for myself and no one else. I'm struggling, there are a lot of really amazing things happening to me right now, you could say my luck has finally turned around if you believe in that kind of stuff. However for me, any kind of change is usually earth shattering. I know that might sound extremely dramatic, and maybe it is, but when things change I feel unbalanced and out of place. 

As level headed as I feel right now, the feeling never lasts very long usually during the day I'm fine, but at night or when I'm able to slow down a little I hurt and I'm tired. Physically, emotionally, even intellectually. I have no spoons left. I miss my friends, I miss the structure college gave me, and I miss not being tied down to anything. I guess my overall emotional state is a weird mixture of shame, confusion, anger, and fear. All of these things I've dealt with before, I've faced bigger demons than this and came out still swinging, but I have the no lying policy on this blog and I'm fighting a fight I might need a little help with right now. Even if it's just some kind words. 

I guess I want to keep talking about this because I know there are other people out there that have the same thoughts running through their head. I want to tell them that self destruction is not the answer, that silence is more dangerous than taking a risk and telling someone the truth. I want to be able to follow my own advice, but I'm having a hard time doing it right now. 

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well, I'm going to try to post more often and more relevant topics to the purpose of this website and blog.

Peace,

Brianne

inheritance

between slurred words
and broken sentences
the child in me
always wanted more
more
more
more
more time, more guidance
less permission just to be
that good kid
that reliable kid
that adventurous kid
that broken kid
i was brought into this world
slowed down by the monster
that would eventually overtake
my body
my mind
my soul
our first encounter
you showed me that scars
tell stories
like the one on your hands
and the roadmaps I've drawn on my skin
you said true love could only beat
what the curse on us
but I never found love appealing
i'm selfish like that I suppose
it was brought to us
something we could go through together
something we could go through when we parted
a generation separated by self hatred
and miscommunication
now I drown that curse
with slurred words and manic dreams
dreams of finding love like what you showed me
you drown your monsters with more innocent things
distractions and sleeping
maybe someday we'll find each other floating
on a lifeboat bringing us to peace

This is an Angry Blog (Please feel free to ignore it)

I have a lot on my mind today, I had a few things that totally threw me for a loop today that were truly frustrating so I'm going to talk about art but not art I guess. 

Art is physical, it's emotional, it's spiritual, and it's mental. It involves every part of your soul, so when someone comes in and gets in your head it can really make things difficult. I had a person today tell me that mental illness doesn't exist (and a whole slew of other terrible things), but specifically that all people who call an ambulance during a crisis are just looking to be drugged up for a little while and "drool on themselves". They even went as far as to ask if I was beaten or sexually abused as a child to have an excuse as to how I acted pre-diagnosis. (she also said if diabetics stopped taking their meds and just weren't fat they would be cured). Let me tell you, I have been angry in my life, I don't think I've ever been this angry.

So it's taken me this long to write this blog. I was going to write about the body and how important it is and has always been to art making. I was even going to do a little art history lesson with it. I was going to write about how physically making myself better by walking every day to make photographs is making me more in tune with my body and my mind. It's making me feel better about myself and not be as concerned with the way that I look because I feel good. It's time away from screens and time away from conversation other than the occasional good morning (people are SUPER friendly at 6 am). I was going to write about how my relationship with my body has been a long and complicated one of self destruction and self harm, but art (and therapy) helped make me better. All of these things I was going to put into what I felt was an important thing to talk about for myself. 

However my night was ruined by this person, and I let it be ruined. I let myself get this upset about someone who is obviously not educated in the way I am about this topic.  I let it control me. Normally I have a pretty thick skin, five straight years of critiques will do that to you, but being bipolar is so ingrained in my story and my art that the ignorance got to me. I am tired of defending the fact that medication is important to my survival. I would be dead without it. That is not an exaggeration. I am tired of explaining to people that exercise and meditation will not cure my chemical imbalance in my brain. They help a lot, but it is not a cure. I am tired of people telling me maybe you should take your meds just on days that you feel bad. THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS. 

I want to make art. I love art. I love writing. I wouldn't be writing this blog if I had not made the decision to go to therapy and take medication and talk openly with my friends and family about my illness. 

I'm sorry for the non art related art blog, but today exhausted me. It made me feel illegitimate and frustrated that there aren't enough resources for education about mental illness, or resources for treating it. 

I refuse to be silent though. If I can help one person that's all that matters. I am stronger because of my fight, I am a better person because of my fight. My feelings are legitimate and so are yours. 

We will be back to our regularly scheduled programming tomorrow evening.

Peace,

Brianne

You Probably Have the Ability to Do It

Continuing on my "excuses" series of posts I'm going to write about a couple excuses that are always in my back pocket when someone asks me about what I'm working on. I use them to lie to myself just as often as I use them to make others think that I am thinking about what I'm supposed to be doing even if I'm not doing it at that particular moment. So for my sake, I'm going to write them down and then debunk them so I can refer back to this when I need some motivation. 

I find I give the best advice when I'm not following it myself. 

The first one is money, any visual artist (or performing, but I don't know the numbers on that stuff) knows that art supplies if they are good art supplies are expensive.  For me, it's really hard to keep up the quality of printing that I had now that I've graduated art school. I'm lucky enough to still have access because I still work for the department, but I have to work at least two other jobs to get by. How do you get around not being able to afford your medium? Well, for one, maybe wait on darkroom printing for a bit, find ways around it. Or for a little bit change mediums so at least you're making something always. Always be creating something, even if it's not good. 

The second one is not unique to me, but it is not the norm. My mental health is something that frequently prevents me from making work, somewhat ironically though when I get myself to make something it tends to bring me back to reality at least a little bit. It's a strange balance because either extreme of the bipolar spectrum I'm useless, being a little bit manic (hypomania) makes me super productive artistically but incredibly miserable to be around. This is a tough one to debunk, because sometimes it's truly impossible to make the thing happen when you have a chronic illness (see: spoon theory). The only advice I can give is if you're in a bad place write first, it takes the least amount of energy and a freewrite can help you work out what needs to happen to get you to start creating again. Another thing you can do is remember the exercises you did in drawing 1, do those at least it's something. 

Also, going to throw this out there every time I mention mental illness, if it's stopping you from making work, it's doing more harm than good creatively and maybe it's time to ask for help. 

The last one I hear all the time is time. I'm not going to justify this with a long response. You have enough time. Take a break from facebook, netflix, instagram, twitter, youtube and just fucking do it. If you've managed to text your girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend/family member all day then you have an hour to spare to make something.

Treat art like a job, even if it's not your job yet, you might want it to be. There's a reason it's called a discipline and it's because it takes hours and hours and hours to get to a point where it's ready to show. 

Until tomorrow.

Peace,

Brianne

A Little Crazy Never Hurt Anyone

Okay, you might be thinking,
"Shit she's going to talk about mental illness, she promised some more light hearted posts, I don't want it" 

Or you might be totally apathetic. 

Odds are it's the latter because I just started this blog and I don't have people knocking down my door to read it every day. My plan today was to write some half assed version of this post about making art from what you know, don't be that guy who makes a film where someone asks "Did you take your meds today?" when a character is acting crazy. I guess that pretty much sums up what the other post was going to be about.

Instead yesterday I was inspired by two really brave women, one I know personally and one that I was lucky enough to see perform her heart out (with a three minute fart noise mash up to wrap up the show). To tell my story, or at least to not talk around it anymore.

For those of you who don't know I'm diagnosed with Bipolar I, which is a mental illness characterized by periods of depression, hypomania, and mania. It's not one of the illnesses that gets a lot of press, although celebrities like Maria Bamford and others are very open about it, there's even a magazine! That's right every couple of months you can read all about it if you so choose. 

How does this relate to art? After all this is an art blog. Everything about me affects my art practice, for example if I'm not taking my medication and I'm depressed I get nothing done. If I'm not taking my medication and I'm hypomanic I get A LOT done, but at the expense of my sleep, relationships, and usually money. If I'm manic I'm in the hospital, so there's not much you can do there art wise because they don't let you have sharp things or cameras, and I'm not much of a charcoal artist. 

I've heard it all from various people about art practice and mental illness, everything from "well you're probably more creative off your meds" to "I choose to not practice the self care my doctors told me to because I feel that it makes my art better." 

I have been there more than once, I have taken myself off medication because I thought it was a really good way to make my practice better. Here's a little secret, it didn't. Usually visual hallucinations get in the way of making good photographs, and the deep depression that made me feel like I was rotting from the inside out was not a productive way to practice drawing my own face for a figure drawing class, especially since I usually had a pretty twisted perception of what I looked like after not being able to move for days. 

So sure, if you have a mental illness and you can function without medication, more power to you. But even if the art is better, the world would rather have more of it than a few great pieces. (Also attempted suicide comes with A LOT of paperwork, so just don't try). 

Anyway, I'm not going to say that I would give up being bipolar, and I know that's a little fucked up, but it gives me a slightly different perspective on the world, and I think it makes me a more empathetic person (as long as I'm stable, if I'm not I'm quite mean). 

So yeah, that's all I've got. This was terrifying to write, and terrifying to post, but art is about taking risks, even if it's not visually. 

Peace,

Brianne