Monthly Archives: March 2004

Another day, another blog. Every site about mental illness should have the obligatory famous people roll call. So here it goes:

Abraham Lincoln, Virginia Woolf, Eugene O’Neill, Robert Schumann, Leo Tolstoy, Vaslov Nijinsky, John Keats, Tennessee Williams, Kurt Cobain, Vincent Van Gogh, Isaac Newton, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Michelangelo, Winston Churchill, Vivien Leigh, Patty Duke, Margot Kidder, Charles Dickens, Lyndon B. Johnson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keefe, Paul Gauguin, Mark Rothko, Britney Spears, Tori Amos, Connie Francis, Peter Gabriel, Kristy McNichols, Kate Millett, Charley Pride, Axl Rose, Ted Turner, Edvard Munch, Jackson Pollock, Theodore Gericault, Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Courtney Love, Rachel Griffiths, Eric Clapton, Johnny Depp, Francis Ford Coppola, Princess Diana, Harrison Ford, Cher, Sally Field, Winona Ryder, Victor Hugo, Audrey Hepburn, Francisco de Goya, Graham Green, Buzz Aldrin, Alexander the Great, William Blake, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Jim Carrey, Albert Camus, Frederic Chopin, Dick Clark, John Cleese, Leonard Cohen, Samuel Coleridge, Sheryl Crow, Emily Dickenson, Thomas Edison, T.S. Eliot, Queen Elizabeth I, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sigmund Freud, King George III, Ernest Hemingway, King Herod, Heinrich Ibsen, Kay Redfield Jamieson, Charles Lamb, Joan of Arc, Job, Jerimiah, Karen Kain, Larry King, Jack London, Greg Louganis, Emelda Marcos, Herman Melville, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ralph Nader, Florence Nightengale, Ozzie Osborn, Dolly Parton, Ezra Pound, Bonnie Raitt, Joan Rivers, Anne Sexton, Mary Shelley, Lord Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Mark Twain, Louis Riel, Queen Victoria, Mike Wallace, George Washington, Walt Whitman, Brian Wilson, Mary Wollstonecraft, Agatha Christie, Tim Burton, Marilyn Monroe, Han Christian Anderson, Patricia Cornwell, Liz Taylor, Carrie Fisher, Larry Flynt.

Eating breakfast and I feel like I’m gonna throw up. Nice beginning sentence for a blog Thirza, I’m sure people want to know that. (I talk to myself sometimes, good conversation is hard to find and I like the arguements.) It’s these new drugs I’m on, hello Zyprexa. You have a Z in your name too so we should be getting along better. This side effect of nausea is supposed to go away in a week or so.

Side effects of psych meds, I hate them. Lithium, the drug of choice for bipolars, is horrible for me. I get shakes and tremors, my cousin got them too. The doctors didn’t listen to him when he told them what was going on, he ended up in muscle spasms on the sidewalk in PoCo. Turns out he could have died, it could have stopped his heart. So yeah, lithium’s not the best choice for our family. Epival, otherwise known as Valproic Acid, is far better. I haven’t had any terrible side effects beyond weight gain. Sometimes you lose hair, but zinc is supposed to stop that.

The problem with Zyprexa is that it can cause diabetes, or at least, heighten your risk of becoming diabetic. Diabetes also runs in my family, as it does in many native people today. So that’s not very nice.

And the good old anti-depressants. Ah, now there is something sure to kill any desire for sex. Even if you’re temporarily celibate like I am, losing your libido totally sucks.

The problem is that psych drugs start off a domino effect, today’s drugs can’t target just the one thing without throwing everything else out of balance. It’s such a hassle. But you know, life is like that. Nothing can be perfect.

I just want this side effect to pass soon so I can eat without wanting to hurl.

The good news is that I have my CareCard finally so I can go to the hospital if I need too. However the mini crisis has passed, so it’s a bit of a moot point. I think it’s going to be a long while before I ever have to go to the hospital again. Maybe I will never have to return. I have another close relative who was hospitalized at around my age, and I don’t think she’s ever been back. Something good to remember.

I have a confession to make. I love watching Star Trek Voyager. It’s this little weird passion of mine that started when I was living with my mom in Saskatchewan and had nothing to do but surf the net and watch television. I got hooked because of the Captain, all sexy husky voice and hands on hips, she could be a dominatrix. Space dominatrix! Then I watched her and Seven fall in love subtextually, and I had this voyeristic need to watch them do it! That lead to a period of voraciously reading J/7 fan slash.

Recently I was watching an episode called The Voyager Conspiracy. The plot goes like this: Seven of Nine has decided to upload information while she regenerates into her cortical processor, in an attempt to perfect herself and make herself more efficent. She uploads too much information into her processor and begins to weave paranoid conspiracies about why they are in the Delta Quadrant, in the end believing that the mission was to capture a borg drone and take her back to the federation to dissect her. So she runs away to destroy a catapult (a space catapult) and Janeway talks her down in what is considered by many in the J/7 shipper community as a romantic moment. (It is.)

What interested me is the approach that Star Trek Voyager takes on issues of mental health. The Voyager Conspiracy is basically about Seven having a manic episode (albeit minus the cute trying to spread love and happiness around). And there are other episodes about characters on Voyager in mental crisis. The Doctor has a guilt loop in his subroutines after he makes a medical decision which saves one patient and loses another, Tuvok, B’Elanna, Vorik’s pon farr incidents, and a lot of Seven’s left over borg processors going hay wire.

The characters are never considered flawed, only that they are currently “malfunctioning” and that it can be fixed, either in sickbay or in a holodeck. They return to their jobs and are welcomed back into the community without reservations. I mean, wow, if only we were as forward thinking. I’m generalizing, I know, people close to me have been steadfast, but in the larger scope, many people who “malfunction” for a period of time do get shunned. Out of fear, out of people not knowing what to say or being under the mistaken belief that their loved one is no longer really there. But when I watch Voyager I can forget all that, oh dear, Seven has Dissociative Identity Disorder today, bring on the Vulkan mind meld!

Well, that wraps up another blog. If you want to read some J/7, here are some recommendations from my months of one handed research. You’ll never hear the Captain say “Do it!” the same way again!

Delta Quadrant of Venus

For funny ha ha sexiness read The Borg With Five Fingers and Bride of Arachnia!

Novel Expectations

Home to Gina Dartt’s infamous Just Between series, an epic series about an ongoing relationship between Seven and the Captain.

Pink Rabbit Consortium

Home to lesbian fan fic on everything from Buffy, Alien Ressurection, Xena, and some hot J/7 slash.

If you’d like to read something more academic about Trek slash, I highly recommend Constance Penley’s NASA/Trek. The focus is more on Kirk/Spock Slash, but it paints an interesting picture of the slash community.

P.S. My current favorite slash pairing is Sara/Catherine from CSI. So if you stumble upon a hot story in this vein along your internet travels, email me a link!

Am I back to myself again? Hmm, can’t tell. Feels like it.

The funny thing about Manic Depression is that you really can live a normal life most of the time, if you take your meds, keep it all in check, learn the tricks of remaining stable, respect your health. So I say “Today, I believe that I am healthy.”

The magnolias are blooming, I feel an affinity with them. For a week or two they are florid and gorgeous, pink splendor dotting the city and gracing us with their presence, and then they fall apart and it is over.

The sun sets and the mountains turn purple, my rat has crawled into his bag of food. Finally today I have written something that feels right. Hey, I learned a new word the other day. Hypergraphia. It means the need to write. I definitely go through periods of hypergraphia, sometimes for the purpose of making art, sometimes to heal, sometimes both.

I have heard it said in contemporary art circles that art shouldn’t be about therapy. I’m not sure who invented this rule, as I believe that many major artists were creating work to get out of some kind of personal hell and torment. It seems to me that the art I see where someone has gone through hell to bring out something beautiful and/or meaningful has more resonance within it. I feel blessed for being trusted with such a personal story, and through the artists healing, I heal as well.

In other thoughts, I have been thinking a great deal about aboriginal women I know. So strong, so fierce, we are powerful women, and yet instead of solidarity I see our community tearing at each other’s necks. It saddens me. There is still so much work to be done, and yet we have so many divisions. I would love to see a day when all of my communities band together for civil rights, and yet I feel that day is still so far away.

I find myself singing songs as I walk down the street.

A new short video is on it’s way everybody!!!

I was watching the news tonight with my friend S. about the massacre in Madrid. What a sad thing. The world is in such turbulance, but it was always like that. We are such a brutal species, we can think of the most appalling things to do to each other.

I try to be good, sometimes I think I fail miserably at it. Today I saved a snail from being smooshed by a careless footstep, I moved it back to the side of the path. But I ate a hot dog, and wore a leather jacket and shoes. I accidentally signed up to be a member of Greenpeace, and now I’m dodging their phone calls for their monthly membership fees. I am a bad person.

I am on a new drug now, Zyprexa. It made me feel like a zombie and gain 45 pounds the last time I was on it, but this is a low dose, so hopefully I won’t have to buy a new wardrobe again. I wanted to buy leather pants, but my fluctuating weight won’t permit it. So far the Zyprexa is working well, I’m feeling a little more even, it makes me sleep like a ton of bricks though. But yeah, I do feel more like my normal self.

We are all crazy on this planet.

I am tired of being considered a youth artist. I don’t know what ever happened to the term Emerging artist, althought after nearly ten years of creating video work I don’t believe I am really an emerging artist anymore. Who knows? Who decides? Art is an institution these days.

I am at a critical point in these new projects I am working on, this one hurdle I always seem to have where I start to wonder about my audience and if they really care to hear what I have to say. Then I remember the words of bell hooks, who says audiences are made from the art, not the other way around. Once you fall into the trap of pleasing people, your art suffers.

Maybe people do want to see boring bland art. I can’t argue with that. I don’t want to make it though.

The youth label does trouble me though. Jim Morrison died when he was 27, yet we don’t consider him a youth poet/musician. Someone told me I was considered youth because I’m native. This is also a troubling assertion because it implies a paternalistic colonialist viewpoint of native people being far more immature than a white person.

Personally, I think the whole “youth” label in art is just another way for the baby boomers to put us down and shut us out of their institutions. We’ll have to kill them. 😛

Don’t tell me I’m too sensitive because my emotions can be fragile, it’s part of my illness and my hide is as thick as it’s ever going to get.

Don’t tell me not to take my pills, I did all the holistic treatments for years and got little out of it but scars and dark nights.

Don’t make jokes about the crazies and then try to justify yourself by explaining that I am not crazy, I am, it could just as easily be me on the street.

Don’t discount my concerns or my ideas because of my illness, just because I have a brain that functions oddly from time to time doesn’t mean I’m stupid.

Don’t tell me to suck it up and get over it, if I could have I would have, years ago.

Don’t assume I am weak because I get suicidal or manic, I have survived some of the most horrific moments that would convince a “normal” person to take their own life.

Don’t count me out of life or love.

Madness, provided it comes as the gift of Heaven, is the channel by which we recieve the greatest blessings . . . the men of old who gave things their names saw no disgrace or reproach in madness; otherwise they would not have connected it with the name of the noblest of all arts, the art of discerning the future, and called it the manic art . . . So, according to the evidence provided by our ancestors, madness is a nobler thing than sober sense . . . madness comes from God, whereas sober sense is merely human. Socrates

When I took a trip to Paris and Berlin, I came back to all these friends asking me “how was it?” I never wanted to really talk about it much, being that my vaction was a largely solitary one of visiting historical sites and looking at historical art. When I took a trip to Crazyland, nobody really wanted to ask me how it was. I was a little disappointed by it actually, because for once I had seen things that I wanted to talk about. But very few people feel comfortable listening to stories of visionary moments, especially when the moments are connected to psychosis.

Can it be that our contemporary visionaries are being silenced? One must remember that even Louis Riel was a mental patient. People nowadays want proof, something solid and tangible which can be measured, catalogued, grouped and ordered. A photograph, a big hand waving from the sky Hello! A new Jesus among us to put needles in and see that he bleeds.

I don’t consider the apocalyptic visions I had to necessarily be a real prophecy, rather they were more some kind of spiritual educational film that I suppose I had to watch to be able to feel like I could go on to the next level of my life. And as destructive as the episode was, there were some very real emotional events happening that never got addressed by my p-doc, by my friends or family, they were just waved off as unreality.

How do we define the real? For instance, a broken heart is considered a real thing, even though our hearts do not actually break, they don’t bust out of our chests and lay bleeding on the floor (although it can feel like that).

I was reading an article about Margot Kidder and her very public manic episode, aftwerward she went to an acupuncturist on Vancouver Island and was telling her about her delusions. She didn’t know what to do with the feelings around her brain’s journey, people said it wasn’t real, but she was still feeling very traumatized by the whole events. The acupuncturist said “Well, if it felt real to you, let’s treat it as a real event and help you come to terms with it.”

Can you imagine how much more humane it would be if our psychiatric system had spiritual councellors who would come in and help patients assimilate their visionary experiences in with their regular lives? Would it help keep the relapse rate down? Would it make seeing and hearing other realities a less shameful thing?

One bad night, no sleep, racing thoughts, so intrusive and loud you can’t ignore them. Winding up for something worse, oh god, I don’t feel like visiting the hospital again. The next day I call up a relative with the same disorder I have, looking for advice. She sent me to the store with a list of things to get, milk (for the calcium), vitamin b stresstabs, omega 3-6-9, sleepytime tea. I did all the calming down things, and jeez, within two days I seem to already been sleeping soundly yet again.

Being hypervigilant about my health drives my friends spare, I’m sure. I’m always talking about meds, about new models of psychiatric care, about moods and triggers and blah de blah things. I guess I am pretty obsessed with it these days. But then I think about my life, and how I have always been fighting for an awareness of social issues. I guess I feel like I’m willing to spend some time these days destroying the stigma of mental illness. And I understand that not every c/s/x wants to discuss it openly, for various reasons. It can be really difficult when you’re already feeling fragile. Talking about mental health is taken as an invitation for ridicule and derision in our society. It also really freaks people out to think that they could cross the line of sanity at anytime, and that’s an unsettling thought.

The weirdest part is that this latest hypomanic period has brought a lot of fascinating artistic ideas that I want to work on this next while. What a looney disease! 😀 I’m a nerd, it’s true, I use smileys and I shouldn’t, it’s not professional of me.