Saturday, September 20, 2008

Act of Contrition

Bless me, friends, for I have sinned.
It's been six months since my last blog posting...
I marvel, from time to time, at the irony of contemporary living. A year ago, I made a few friends via a small online community founded by my wife, Gwen, for creative purposes. A sort of digital retreat for like minded right-brainers. Since then, these new friendships have grown into something precious even though we still, in actuality, have yet to meet.

It is due to the encouragement of these new friends then, that I am making the bold move of posting something really real. I write often since always. Mostly, it's in my private journal that I keep hidden from everything and everybody, leaving this blog for more edited content and my other (at Myspace) for more "art oriented newslettery things" or the occasional punk-guy rant. Until last year and excluding "filler and fluff," I never put anything I had written "out there."

The "real stuff" I write for me, so I won't forget anything worth remembering.

Thing is, I mostly write when I'm troubled. My happy times are spent painting and lounging about in my pajamas with my wife; celebrating each other.

A few weeks ago, I caught myself being hypocritical. I can often be heard preaching the need for artists to be honest with their work. That is, don't hold back. Do it because it's in you and needs to be done, etc, etc. It then hit me that, while I am excessively honest with my visual art, I have not been forthcoming with my writing. At least, not publicly. That makes me, for the lack of a better term, "radio friendly."

We can't have that now can we?

SO. The following is taken from my personal journal corrected, but unedited.



I have been floating in and out of a nasty depression for nearly a year and not knowing exactly why or how to get past it is really frustrating the hell out of me. It’s the longest low I can recall, even since the dark times of my 20’s. It’s bad. I keep getting tripped up by intrusive thinking. I think about what it’d be like to let myself drown in the tub or to overdose on pain medication or what throwing myself under a speeding truck might feel like; a mouthful of coppery blood, dislocation, Cadaver Expasim. The big question realized. It’s more existential musing than an actual plan for suicide.

This is when, in the past, I’d cut myself; small gashes on my thighs, my arms – my chest.

The need to cut is difficult to explain, like the need to drink or the need to fix or the need to cum; the sudden flood of adrenaline, the hot rush of survival, the purity of release. For a few moments you live in a sense of aching oneness, of absolute calm. In those few moments, there’s only right now.

Right now, I’m cut.
Right now, there’s blood.
Right now, I’m alive.

If you accept that psychology is actually a science and not just a dull reflection of carnival fortune telling, then I am what convention refers to as a “High Functioning, Rapid Cycling Bipolar.” Whatever.

Fuck convention.

As an artist, I am at peace with my mental hiccups and consider myself in good company:


An unrestful mind, a conflicted temperament; it’s the price of clarity.

So now, over the years and through considerable effort, I have become – for better or worse – self aware. This roughly translates to me being able to recognize when I’m spiraling up or crashing down, whether it’s due to some outside circumstance or if it’s merely chemical and then, how to deal with it. Yet despite my best attempts at optimism, positive influences and outlets – even self-analytical reasoning – I still get down. I can’t help it. I’m upset and can’t quite put my finger on why. This doesn’t, however, mean I need to be drugged.

Been there.
Done that.
Moved on.

And, this isn’t to say that I haven’t gotten caught up in the occasional quick fix. Call it a lapse in judgment, but really, truly, medication just isn’t an option for me; I learned that the hard way. Pills are an easy convenience that society uses to sweep us under the carpet. Detachment is the new American way, after all. I mean, why learn how to cope and take hold of your own life when you can just shut down and let someone else do it for you? Whether we’re talking about Lamictal or Heroin, Lithium or Bourbon, Zoloft or Marijuana, all it really is, is a numbing agent, an escape. It doesn’t actually help you; it just pacifies you so that those around you can stop feeling bad about themselves.

Frankly, I’m better than that so, I box. I push myself to the breaking point, fighting through the hurt until I’m high with exhaustion. Perhaps, it’s the manifestation of internalized conflict looking for closure or maybe it’s a baser, alpha need to hit something. The means don’t concern me, only the ends. The ends of course, being a coping mechanism that allows me to reset; to keep from going numb and at the least, I’m not cutting anymore.

I realize that this line of thinking can make people very uncomfortable. I’m OK with that. Maybe they worry and want to help in some way. Maybe they’ve been there. I couldn’t say. Maybe they really do want to help or maybe -- they’re just afraid of this level of honesty.