In another galaxy away from my blog for many months, I have been reclaiming my true self mentally. I had to withdraw from the world in order to get off a very powerful and destructive antidepressant I had been on for 16 years.
DISCLAIMER: This is my story and I am not endorsing that antidepressants are bad and everyone has to stop talking them. Please follow your doctor’s advice. Never stop cold turkey. It’s extremely dangerous.
Okay so I have been on psychiatric medication since the 1960s off and on. The reason was I had childhood trauma. They have been helpful for many of those years. However, I’m 65 now and many things physically are different. The last 16 years on the last medication was actually too long and I was becoming less productive in the last year. I started to experience more fear and anxiety. Less creativity. Withdrawal from people. More drugs were added and I got worse. I was under the drug spell. Believing that the drug was better than no drug. Until I went to pick up the latest drug and the pharmacist said the co-pay was $283!!!! For one month!!!! Faced with maintaining the suppression of depression or paying rent and eating I pushed the drugs back to the pharmacist and said “I don’t need these thank you “. Called my psychiatrist and said I’m over all these chemicals that are making me feel numb. I m over being dependent on meds that have me spellbound. So she didn’t try to change my mind and she agreed to wean me off.
It took 5 months of being dizzy, having brain zapping, leg pain, insomnia, anxiety, days when I couldn’t leave my house because I was not able to feel grounded. But today it’s 46 days clean!!!
46 days and I am seeing that I am not a depressed person. I stopped being depressed after I went back to doing my art. I do experience down times which is life but I embrace them. I am using exercise, diet, mindful practice, and walking in nature as my antidepressant. Another thing I became aware of was the depression I experienced had a lot to do with the anxiety of my untreated ADHD. So now I’m just treating my ADHD with less medication since I have stopped the antidepressant. I’m a different person today.
I did accomplish some wonderful things last month. A successful art show and sale. Preparing a iPad art workshop for the National Association of Women Artists for June. And this summer I am mentoring a 10 year old girl in art. And I negotiated a workshop for young men leaving prison to learn to create art on their iPads. The organization is called Getting Out and Staying Out.
I am the Jedi Artist who has returned!
THE ART SHOW
THE WITHDRAWAL PAINTINGS
In the past few weeks my painting has morphed into an abstract landscape that is a new style from my impressionist one.
The truth is that in the last 4 months I’ve been withdrawing from a very powerful antidepressant after being on it for 16 years. Last year I realized how it was making me worse and I am not depressed anymore. So powerful is this drug that my brain has zapping which feels like electrical shocks are piercing the cells. I’m dizzy, have brain fog and my legs cramped so badly I couldn’t walk for 3 weeks. But now the real me is emerging. I can finally feel myself coming out.
So I actually did this painting in withdrawal. And I also did the previous painting in withdrawal. And the experience was a struggle to focus my vision (blurred vision was a part of withdrawal). But here it is. I believe the real me is finally emerging.
THIS IS THE FINISHED PAINTING!!!
I was jolted out of sleep with this compelling phrase:
“STOP THE WORLD I WANT TO GET OFF”. The title of a 1962 Broadway show starring Anthony Newly.
Why did this phrase wake me up? I’ve never seen this show but that title is running through my brain cells lately. Of course now that I’m awake I Googled the synopsis of the play. It’s about a average guy called Littlechap who gets the daughter of a wealthy family pregnant. Doing the right thing, he marries her but doesn’t love her. They have a family and he becomes a upperclass man due to his wife’s family. And he never is involved with his wife or family. He realizes how he’s lived a empty deceitful life and comes to his senses. That is basically my synopsis.
Interesting, it’s always a story of reaching VIP status. The desire to enjoy the view from the top. In the end missing life’s true treasures of relationships.
As an artist I have been challenged supporting myself in my art. I was teaching painting but I only had a few dedicated students. There was no interest and the class was cancelled. But I realized that I teach a very special type of painting class. I’m a very professional artist and I have the ability to get people to explore their inner artist. They replaced my class with a coloring book class! The world is so broken
But today people want to wallow in their problems and they are watching news and getting sick from the politics of the presidential campaign. I have no TV and I don’t read newspapers. There’s nothing I need to know and my friends usually let me know. So the point of this is to keep trying to reach the suffering souls.
I a working on a group of paintings around the theme of escaping into landscapes. It is a new vision where I have now put people into my landscapes. We all need peace and quiet. Stop the chatter. Nature heals.
Experimenting with iPad to insert figures into orignal art
Experimenting with iPad to insert figures into orignal art
So that’s where I’m at for today.
Enjoy Anthony Newly singing “Once In a Lifetime” from Stop the World
Sometimes I think I’m alone in my artist block. The ability to see that others have been in this position and they have gone through the pain of not creating for a long time helps me identify and not feel alone. Even hearing that a person has survived being hospitalized for a mental breakdown is inspiring and hopeful for me . I’m always in fear of having a mental breakdown. I’m afraid people will leave me for being crazy. I’m afraid of never being creative again.
I started to research artists who have had breakdowns and blocks. Here’s one that surprised me. Georgia O’Keefe.
In 1932, after falling far behind on a Radio City Music Hall mural, O’Keefe suffered an intense nervous breakdown. It was only after a period of hospitalization and NOT PAINTING FOR TWO YEARS that she was able to rekindle her life’s love of creating art.
I was blown away by this story. I’m in great company with my mental breakdowns and blocks. It happens. So what.
I’M NOT ALONE!!!!! HERE’S TO YOU GEORGIA!!
August 12th I had carpel tunnel surgery on my right hand. It’s my dominant hand. So I took the time to relax and heal. However, it eventually took me down the mental rabbit hole. I ended up depressed, lonely and blocked creatively. It was like my mind was empty. A dust bin.
I couldn’t think and forget posting on my blog.
Weeks were passing and now I have feelings of failure. I want to write a blog post but I feel stupid. It’s been forever. I’m a terrible blogger with an artist block!!!!
And then I realized that my blog is about coming back from an artist block. Isn’t life always about the comebacks.
The artist comeback can be a Phoenix rising. A new path, a different story. And actually I have a new theme I started in my paintings. I have added figures to my landscapes. The figures are faceless children ( they are me or you) and they are escaping into landscapes. This is the first of a group that I will be working on.
I was a very lonely only child growing up in the 1950s. Being raised with mentally ill family and neglected I turned to living in my imagination and building my own family.
“Barbie was officially born at the American International Toy Fair in NYC on March 9, 1959. She wore a black and white zebra striped swimsuit, a topknot ponytail and came as a blonde or brunette. Her promo read “New for ’59, The Barbie Doll: A Shapely Teenage Fashion Model”. Her clothes were created by Mattel designer Charlotte Johnson and handmade by homeworkers in Japan where the first dolls were manufactured. At $3 apiece, 350,000 Barbies were sold that first year. Wisely, Mattel acquired the rights to the Bild Lilli doll in 1964 and halted production.”
I ran out and got my first Barbie after I saw the commercial for her on tv. I had a lot of them and made sure I purchased every new outfit that came out. My Barbies became my role models and family. Barbie taught me I didn’t have to grow up and be a wife, mother, teacher or secretary. Barbie was savvy and had careers like being an entertainer on stage. As a singer she wore the a black sequin mermaid gown with long black gloves and high heel pumps. The name of the outfit is “Solo in the Spotlight “. I wanted to grow up and be an entertainer and wear a great tight sequin gown. Barbie said I could be successful for me and didn’t need to have a man to take care of me. That’s quite a message in 1959.
Barbie was strong. Barbie was sexy. She had big boobs. I wanted big boobs. She had all the latest fashions too. They made one wedding dress outfit but that seemed awkward because Ken had not come on the market. It was like they made it to placate the marriage myth to young girls. Oh yeah and after the career go get married. Little girls love weddings. That’s because little girls don’t know what marriage is and that they need a man in the picture. It’s all about the DRESS. That how I eventually tied the knot.
I wonder how Barbie’s marriage to Ken Carson ended??
It was Barbie who set the stage for my future as a creative artist not my real family. She was different in the world of dolls. I was different in the world of girls. I was encouraged to be creative. I pursued a career in fashion illustration. She also inspired me to be a compulsive clothes shopper .
By the way I did get married and I have a wonderful son Dan who attends Colgate University and made the Dean’s List this year!!
Who knew the power of a little plastic doll.
My fashion designs and illustrations from the 1960s – 1970s.
I purchased Dr. Seuss’s “Oh the Places You’ll Go ” 15 years ago. It’s my favorite inspirational book for what life is about. So this morning my daily writing practice turned to the voice of Dr. Seuss.
“OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO…”
Oh the people
It’s a journey worth taking
But it’s not a small feat
Though you may want to quit
Hide your head in the sand
If the fear takes over
You can hold someone’s hand
So be courageous and go towards the light
Never use avoidance
To deal with your plight
This world isn’t pretty
In fact it is sad
When you keep giving to others
It negates some of the bad
As an artist standing at the turning point
Not knowing how far
Keep being creative
Be the artist you are
I HAVE BEEN STALKED AND CAPTURED BY THE DARK CREVICES OF MY MIND. I CAN UNDERSTAND VAN GOGH’S FIGHT WITH SANITY. BUT I AM A VERY LEARNED WOMAN WHO HAS SPENT A LIFETIME EDUCATING MYSELF ON HOW THE BRAIN WORKS.
KNOWING IS THE FIRST STEP IN BEING ABLE TO STOP FIGHTING THE DARKNESS AND LET IT JUST FLOW THROUGH.
DURING THESE TIMES I HIDE IN MY HOME AND RETREAT. I’M TAKEN AWAY FROM INDULGING IN LUSCIOUS OILY PAINT COLORS AND BUILDING LAYER UPON LAYER OF RICH THICK PAINT. I’M IMMOBILE TO ACTION.
I accept those times even though I shut the world out and fear I will never escape my demons. But I have to always avoid giving in to false evidence appearing real.
A month ago I experienced a new mental twist…anxiety disorder! I didn’t know that I had it. But I have to say I chased my recovery from it and sought help. I don’t have to go through pain alone anymore. And all through this I let the luscious oil paints flow on canvas and shared my experience to a troubled student in my painting class.
I don’t give in but I also don’t fight my mind…my darkness is another part of being an artist. I even used darkness in a series of paintings.
I’M BACK TO BEING JEAN. I’M BACK . I trust God and give to others.
MY MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES ARE NOT A MORAL ISSUE. THEY ARE THE PIECES OF THE MYSTERIOUS PUZZLE CALLED JEAN MESSNER.
IN REMEMBRANCE OF VINCENT VAN GOGH.