Psychological changes due to medication

I did get some homework done at work, today, which is why I feel I can take some time and post here. It’s now the night of the 24th, meaning that I have three days left to complete all the work for Political Advocacy. That’s the nearest deadline I have, thankfully.

I am feeling some relief. I’m also feeling that maybe I am where I’m supposed to be. I do like art, but I didn’t like it enough to take the first giant leap in undergrad and do a BFA. And given no restrictions on my time or money (which, counter-intuitively, may not actually be the best thing for an artist), I tend to struggle with continuing to make art: especially now that I’m out of art classes and haven’t spoken to my artsy friends in a while.

M wanted me to get a degree in Library Science so that I would have the free time and extra money to be able to work on my own creative projects, on my own. It would be for support, until (and if) I became successful enough as an artist that I wouldn’t have to work in a Library setting. But we’ve always kept my being creative as part of the plan. This is, I think, partially because creativity is an emotional regulator for me.

The tough part about all of this is, I think, mental. Specifically, psychiatric. I feel like a different person when I’m on medication, as versus when I’m not. And so, for example, while I was viscerally driven to write or make art on a daily basis when I wasn’t being treated for psychosis (which involuntarily lights up the same areas of the brain as are used in creative activity), this isn’t as much the case, now. (By the way, “psychosis” just describes a state of disattachment from “reality.” It doesn’t mean wanting to harm or kill people or being a psychopath [which is an entirely different thing], but the general public doesn’t know the distinction.)

While I couldn’t control my creativity when I was not on proper medication, at this point — even though I’m trying to find a way to keep my life revolving around creativity, which was what kept me alive as a youth — I’m just finding there’s a lot more to life than just creation. And it’s hard to output creativity without taking in other peoples’ creativity.

I’m probably an easier person to deal with, now; but my strengths on medication aren’t the same as my strengths off of it. It changes the way my brain functions.

I’m probably 15 years into being treated with an antipsychotic drug. My early experience with it showed me that I was more likely to be spiritual and mystical without it, and at higher doses (though I’m still on a relatively low dose), I had more of a tendency to slide to an agnostic or materialist position. I don’t go all the way Scientific Materialist (or haven’t had to, yet), but I can see that what I think isn’t right just because I’m the one thinking it.

In turn, I’ve also pretty much stopped looking to religious authorities to give me comfort about the nature of the world and of myself. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve absorbed enough, if it’s because I know I could study my entire life and still not grasp everything, or if it’s because I feel like I’m wasting my precious time dealing with people who don’t espouse truth.

Of course, there’s the question of whether truth is the point, and I would say it isn’t. But that then gives one an insight to the purpose of religion…and to whether one can value it even if it is not truthful. The latter is something that my American upbringing is probably interjecting: one of my parents was raised Catholic, and so I was raised with an intense valuation on truth (though I don’t particularly see any organized religion as necessarily true, and I’m not Catholic myself).

But back to the medication topic: I’ve reached the point where I can see that I probably am not the only person alive in this world, just because I only experience it from this position. You can see from the default in that example how far gone I was, though. I still don’t like the “fantasy/reality” duality, because things aren’t that clear-cut for me, and never have been. Things can be indistinguishable from reality for someone, and still not correspond with what’s happening objectively. Then we get into a question over whose subjective truth is closer to objectivity.

The thing is that it’s incredibly easier to be creative when you believe what you think, as versus when you’ve got a meta-cognitive layer acting on top of that which regulates what of your brain function actually gets translated into action. (This is called executive function and it’s associated with the forebrain…)

Being able to be an actually trustworthy person is the high point. It’s just difficult for me to deal with creative imaginings about the nature of spirit and life now, though, because I wonder if I’m wasting my time. Because nobody has the answers I’m looking for; and if they do, I’ve got to check my own bias to see if it matches theirs.

Anyhow…I have one more day of work before I’ll have to not go in, for a bit. I can do this.

I’m just not entirely certain why the creativity has fallen back so much, except that I am (now) mentally healthier and more stable than I used to be (at least when I’m on all my medications). Or, it’s possible that the creativity was part of my symptomatic profile.

I don’t know where that leaves me now, though, except in a Library Science program…and on my way to becoming some sort of Librarian…

I mean, do I make a mental shift where I focus all my energy on my Master’s program and my employment, or do I continue to (attempt to) split my time between creative production and becoming a Librarian? Noting, of course, that I went into Library Science in part because I wanted to work in Publishing and possibly as a writer?

Hmm.

Then there’s that whole psychological-thriller category that I still enjoy writing within… 🙂

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A use, a frame, a narrative

A family member once told me that when they were in art classes, they could copy what they saw, but when they tried to draw from imagination, it was very hard for them.

I was thinking about this last night, as the image of an Artist Trading Card featuring the Golden Gate Bridge came to my mind. Some of the details of the insight that came along with this have been lost to…well, melatonin, let’s say…but I realized that having a use for my art would be one thing to motivate me to do it.

As well, the image was at least setting up a narrative, if it were not a narrative itself. That narrative framed the scope of the project. I did see the use of the bounds of the image as in some way a metaphor for the frame of the message it was intending to get across (even though I envisioned the interior of the design extending beyond the literal frame).

On top of that, the narrative takes precedence over realism, meaning that I don’t have to copy reality in order to get my narrative across.

I’m not sure if I’m making sense, here, but the idea for the image came from questioning if I had hot-press or plate watercolor paper on which to draw comic illustrations. (If not, I know I have Bristol board.) I think I need to lighten up on myself about whether I’m doing things “right,” and just start to do them. Then I can see where it goes, instead of stopping before I start because I don’t think I’m doing it correctly.

But I think having a use, a frame, and a narrative will help me narrow down the scope of what I do. I remember now that I had been considering using my steel-nib dip pens and black ink, and I thought that maybe having a constraint in my technique (such as: no pushing the nib forward to make lines, unless using a cartooning or calligraphy nib) would cut down on my creative options enough so that my content would be easier to express.

I’ve also wanted to get back into calligraphy. Not Japanese calligraphy, but English-language. There is one beautiful red-orange calligraphy ink I saw the other day, which piqued my interest (it looks as though it will contrast well with black).

I had one calligraphy book I was working through, which actually did improve my regular handwriting, as well as my decorative handwriting. And I can practice on top of translucent Layout paper, which will likely be a good solution (I used to send out letters to friends, written on translucent papers — it was just my style).

I also have an Ames Lettering Guide, from the time I wanted to work on comics.

I think I am just wanting to combine text and image, and text and narrative, again. The major thing that has stopped me in my studies of comics, and graphic novels, have been the dispositions of the comic authors I’d likely have to study to learn the craft. There’s a lot of politics, there.

Though I generally consider myself open-minded, sometimes things are just offensive to me — particularly historical work made for a nationalistic, non-minority audience (if you get my drift). I’m not entirely sure what to do about that, except limit my exposure to just reading more recent works and international works, to which I’m not so emotionally tied.

Anyhow, I have a thought of where to start.