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.