Medication for Permanent Disability: med side effects are my current disease.

Alright, I’ve been scanning my archives for a while, tonight: I’ve had too much of school. And I’ve found it hard to do anything except schoolwork, eating, or sleeping. Well — besides reading, here. Records help.

I’ve been asleep for most of the day — it’s a pattern I’m familiar with from when I was not on Prozac. (I began the Prozac to try and fight the lethargy that is a side effect of an antianxiety/antidepressant medication, but the benefit in mood and wakefulness has been accompanied by slow, constant weight gain that I haven’t been able to reverse, so far.) If you haven’t been following the blog, this is my sixth week on a half-dose of Prozac — because I’ve finally said that this is enough.

At the same time I know that the tiredness is at least partially because I’ve been taking sedating medication at midnight instead of three hours earlier. I know this conks me out the entire next day; but it’s hard to take medication that you know will sedate you and may make you nonfunctional, four hours after you finally feel OK enough to get out of bed. From my calculations, it appears that sedation from my anti-anxiety drug starts 1.5 hours after it’s taken, and lasts for 15.5 more hours.

And actually, that looks pretty much…like my pattern.

I’ve been taking medication at midnight or around there, and not feeling wakeful until 4 or 5 PM the next day. That’s a total of 17 hours that are impacted.

I’ll try and take it at 9, though, and just see where it goes from there. If I go to bed at 10:30 PM…that is 1.5 hours before midnight, so I should be fully awake by 2 PM the next day…giving me about 9 hours of quality working time. (For the first 7, I’ll just be tired or asleep.)

Although I know I don’t actually need that much sleep; this is just the amount that my body wants to sleep on 150mg of the sedating medication.

That medication acts against anxiety…which is useful in my line of work, combined with my personal history and the patrons I have to deal with. It also keeps in check, a couple of phobias. There is the possibility of cutting the dose by 1/3, but I’m not sure that’s a particularly great option, at the moment. At least, I need to wait until the holidays are over: I don’t want to add to the yearly load of additional holiday Crisis appointments, if I don’t have to.

On the other hand, when I was on 200mg of this medication a night instead of 150…I missed so many doses that in practicality, I was on 150. And my sleep schedule was almost nonexistent. What I can say is that I was pretty heavily drugged, and not particularly on the right medication (which dates back to a prescribing psychiatrist from high school whom I basically hated — I feel she worked in the Pediatric division because kids didn’t push back).

So yes…taking medication in half an hour (and keeping to the 9 PM schedule) should tell me whether I need to reduce that medication as well, in order to be functional during the day. There is a big difference between 100mg and 150mg; at the same time, I do still have issues with anxiety (which could ramp up into feeling threatened, which could ramp up into hostility, left unchecked. And I do have rage issues…which aren’t entirely the fault of the people who tap into them except they keep tapping).

I wonder if there are other antianxiety medications out there that do not have a side effect of sedation? Do I even still have a diagnosis (as versus a history) of “depression,” at all?

Or maybe I should just consult with my doctor and lower the sedating dose by 25mg, and see how I feel…after confirming or disproving that this stuff takes 17 hours to stop making me tired.

Gah. So I started writing to try and get my mind off school, and got diverted into self-care and mental health…though at least it was productive, a bit.

Right now, in one class all I have left is a presentation and Final Project (which I haven’t started, yet). In another class, I have a relatively simple assignment and a Final Project to work on (which is well underway). In my third class, I have a lecture and two readings which I should have done by now (that is, I’m behind again), and group work to do by tomorrow (which was scheduled for today, but I slept most of the day). Some of that work is already done, and I just need to review some readings to prepare for the morning.

The problem is not having done anything unnecessary, for what feels like the past week, and having to bribe myself to get out of bed with lures like chocolate. I need a break! But then, I feel guilty because I know that if I take a break, there’s probably something on which I’m falling behind.

I haven’t even been able to do reading which isn’t directly related to school, without being too tired to stay up to do it.

I’m also taking an extra unit in Spring semester, and am not sure how I’m going to hold all that together, if I’m having this much trouble with nine units. Then again…the vast majority of my work this semester is coming from ONE CLASS. I guess I’ve just got to hope that I don’t get more classes like that, in Spring; or something is going to have to give…whether it’s classes, work, or medication.

(I generally do not oversleep, off of medication; I’m normally an insomniac and get by with 4-6 hours of sleep a night.)

Yeah, I think…the medication stuff just needs testing and adjustment. And I can’t rely on Psychiatry to empathize on that point for me, because they aren’t the ones experiencing the effects (the best I got from them on the issue of constant sedation was, “fight it.” And I was like DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO EXPERIENCE THIS [though I didn’t say this]. And the answer, obviously, is “no,” because they aren’t on my medications, and they don’t know how hard it is to stay out of bed when every fiber of your being wants to be asleep. And if people tell you you can’t sleep, you just want to sit in the floor and cry to be allowed to sleep.)

Anyway, I should take the ******* medications, now.

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Art: portability? Catching small bits of time

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here; this is largely because I keep sitting down and reminding myself that maybe there are more pressing things to do, than write about things I haven’t yet thought out — and then actually going to look for those things, instead of just assuming they don’t exist, or that I’ll get to them, later.

Or I look at the WordPress text-editing screen and know that I could be making art, or exercising, or cooking, or studying my own extracurricular stuff (Japanese language), instead of writing incessantly about things I haven’t had the time to experience, to relate to readers via my writing. (It’s not this way anymore, but I have a history of being a compulsive writer [partially because of poor self-awareness in my younger years].)

However, I just finished sitting through two hours of backed-up lectures. I have three weeks left of school, and final projects in all of my classes. And I had to miss work in order to turn two other projects in, this week. Yes, even though Saturday was Veteran’s Day, and I didn’t go to work then, either.

And I have two other writing assignments due before the weekend is over (both for the same class). I also need to review material for the final project in that same class (again) before Monday afternoon. Then, I’m pretty sure that by Tuesday, I have to get my Web Design assignment in. In addition, I should at least outline a site redesign for my Final in Web Usability.

On top of that, right now it’s almost midnight where I’m at, and I actually do have to get up, tomorrow. And it’s probably going to be pretty backed up at work, because I wasn’t able to go in earlier this week. But at this point, considering some of the dreams I’ve been having around my job (including being terrorized by people who won’t stay out of the library when it’s closed, in the last case), it would actually be a relief just to shelve all day.

(Of course, though, the dream I put in parentheses probably refers more to boundary-crossing or outright aggression [boundary-ignoring] than it has to do with the location of where the dream took place.)

Anyhow, that wasn’t what I wanted to talk about, but you can see I’m preoccupied. What I was actually thinking about…was the portability of markers and the possibility of using them during my lunch break at work, tomorrow. This is in addition to the use of color as a valid place from which to launch into drawing, and the fact that because I work at a place where both the utility and break sink need to be food-safe, I can’t take in my normal paints. And I’m not rinsing out my watercolor brushes next to the toilet.

I then have three options if I want to deal with intense coloring: one, a waterbrush plus aquarelles (Supracolors or Neocolor IIs). Two, markers (including waterproof fineliners and water-soluble and permanent brush markers) and possibly a waterbrush. Three, the non-toxic cheap watercolor pans (Prangs), and a waterbrush (though these won’t get a chance to dry, decently — and I’m worried about attracting insects, or growing microbial cultures, because of this).

I’m seeing a theme. I really pretty much hate the tip on my large waterbrush, though. But the alternative is to take in a cup to rinse a good brush in…and an actual decent brush…and then let the brush air out so it doesn’t expand from water exposure and fall apart. Putting a damp quality brush in a locker for hours, even in a case, just doesn’t sound like a good idea in any way.

Which leads me back to markers. I think I can work with dry media. It’s a lot less expensive, anyway; even though the sheer volume of what I’ll have to carry is much larger. (Oh, wait. Lest I mislead someone who doesn’t know how much markers can go for…watercolors are likely cheaper in the long run. But the paper used for painting with watercolor, isn’t.)

In those two hours of lectures I sat through, I started doodling in my notes (I’m not going to get into how I got that distracted; my professors know who I am). I just realized that 1) I was experimenting with layering transparent inks to make new colors (yellow with blue, red with violet), 2) what I made could very well be translated into a duochrome block print, and 3) the art thing doesn’t have to be hard.

I’m learning that most things don’t have to be hard, though…

What I was messing around with tonight, were clover and maple leaves (a bright red gel pen helps with the latter!). It seems like everyone has a “thing” that they really love to do, in the art world; I’m fairly certain that my “thing” is plants and flowers.

And with that, it’s almost 1 AM now. This looks like a good stopping point.

(Yes, I do know that I could just work on my school readings at work…but stopping work in order to do a different kind of work, somehow strikes me as getting rid of the reason to have a break in the first place…)

Painting allows tighter color control than beadwork…

End of an era?

Tomorrow is the final session of one of the two annual bead shows I’ve attended. Although I did get today off of work (surprise!), and I did get one homework assignment done (surprise?), I still feel behind enough so that I don’t want to spend my time tomorrow buying beads…which I won’t, then, have the time to use.

I was initially drawn to beadwork because of being able to play with color combinations; unfortunately, though, the “consumerism” aspect of beadwork seems to have heightened recently, which is a bit of a turnoff. Even though there are a lot of really interesting new beads being put out right now (particularly two- and three-hole beads), there are some shapes I’m drawn to (much) more than others; and most of the places to buy beads, in general, have migrated to online format.

Growing up.

I also am feeling time pressures which weren’t there when I was stably working an 18-hour week and going to the Art program at a local Community College…grad school is much more intense than that. I’m kind of wondering if it’s going to be like this for the rest of my foreseeable life, you know: with a 40-hour work week?

For tomorrow, I have at least two readings to do (one of which is in-progress), a response post, something to listen to, a slew of forum responses (which I’m supposed to be moderating) and some group work; not to mention my weekly Web Design homework. It’s just…not looking pretty.

Not to mention that I still haven’t set a firm dividing line as to whether my Web Design Final project will be based on color dynamics; or Buddhism’s focus on impermanence, as applied to archives (and living/surviving in general).

The former is dependent on good daytime light quality for photos; the latter should be heavily based on introspection and study (ideally, also, meditation; but I get impatient, meditating. The problem is that it’s hard to grapple with existential topics and Buddhist concepts without being destabilized to the point of needing meditation).

But if I look at it, I’m not sure either of those topics are really well thought-out: I was kind of broadsided with the request for topics, because I hadn’t read ahead. I know the Buddhist topic will calm me, and I’ve had to pare down the content of the color dynamics outline so much that it no longer appears “fun.”

Most of the rest of this is a tangent where I’m exploring what content I might use with my Web Design project, re: Color Dynamics.

Add to the latter that I’m translating painter’s color (subtractive color) into digital photography (additive color) and then showing it in additive color.  It would be much simpler if I were working with an RGB (Red, Green, Blue: the colors that are projected from most computer monitors) color gamut, but I don’t entirely understand that model yet.

I’m not even working with CMYK (Printer’s colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, black [Key]) either; I’m working from a split-primary model…which will probably go over most of my reader’s heads, so I guess I should define it.

intense violet, orange, and green tones, bordered by the tones used to make them, and set in a hexagonal arrangement.

Basically, if you’re looking to make brilliant tones from which to mix all other colors (including muted colors and chromatic greys [greys with a hint of color]), there are two factors to take into consideration: masstone and overtone. Masstone is something which I don’t think was ever explained to me, but essentially I believe this is the basic color which is reflected. It’s not always easy to parse, especially with non-prismatic colors.

Prismatic colors…are bright, pure, vibrant colors, such as one would see from the rainbow projected by a prism. (The above color wheel was painted entirely in gouache, a.k.a. opaque watercolor, on cold-press watercolor paper.)

So, say, on the far left of the image above, those two colors both have a blue masstone. But they have different overtones. The upper blue is “Ultramarine Deep,” and has a violet overtone. The lower blue is “Intense Blue” (Phthalocyanine Blue), with a green overtone. It’s very subtle, especially in this photo: the Phthalo Blue was kind of shading itself, and I had applied it very intensely.

Ultramarine Deep mixed with Hansa Yellow Deep makes a dull olive green.

However, try mixing that shade of green with Hansa Yellow Deep (the dark, orange-leaning yellow just below the intense orange on the right) plus Ultramarine Deep. It turns into a dirty-olive mix, because you’re mixing a violet overtone with yellow, and an orange overtone with blue: violet and yellow are complementary colors, just as are orange and blue (they are across from each other on the color wheel, roughly reproduced in the first photo) and cancel each other out when mixed, meaning the entire mixture is dulled out.

If you want to mix an intense violet (which you can’t really tell I did in the above photo, because the violet is too dark and dense to be able to read as more than a purplish-near-black; violet has the darkest innate value [it is closest to black in its pure mixed form] of all colors), you need to mix a violet-leaning blue with a violet-leaning red. In this case, I mixed Permanent Rose Red with Ultramarine Deep.

Similarly, if you want a vibrant green, you want to mix a green-leaning blue with a green-leaning yellow; and for a vibrant orange, mix an orange-leaning red with an orange-leaning yellow. This is the easiest way to think about it, I’ve found.

This is because overtones matter, and they will either enhance or detract from your mixes — if you’re after those pure-looking tones. A lot of people aren’t, as without further mixing, they look very simple. In addition, there are tons more ways to mix your primary colors than I’ve shown above. They just all come out slightly muted, to very muted, to nearly-neutralized.

I figured this out by painting six color wheels with all possible “warm” and “cold” split-primary combinations with my set of primaries (which I should list on the site; I also haven’t defined “warm” and “cold”). This was just (surprise!) the most intense result, after having cut all of them apart and reassembled them.

But once you have the prismatic colors, you can then play around by mixing other colors, using them: mixing a little across the color wheel (which I didn’t define, and would need to) will mute them. Mixing hardcore across the color wheel will give you a chromatic grey. (Mixing to the side, e.g. green with orange…not sure.)

I just didn’t have the time to do that, this time.

Maybe I should do my final project on color…it just seems so…not-academic…

I get freedom, and I just…throw it away…WHY?

I just hate to have to deal with a neutral Web layout, when I otherwise have few limitations on color, except for usability purposes. For this project, I would have to make a relatively boring/very neutral layout in terms of color, because the background a color is seen against, alters the human perception of it (this is something put forward by Josef Albers, and in my perception, holds true). I should have some examples of this from my Color Dynamics portfolio; and even if not, it’s easy enough to reproduce on Photoshop.

I will also be getting very, very familiar with the <float> tag…

What I have been doing so far is utilizing one of the nearest topics to me, in order to populate my learning documents; and that is self-care. Buddhism isn’t far off from that, but neither is painting.

Maybe I just feel guilty that I’m working some fun into my assignments?

Gah…

Alstroemeria: drawing from observation

I wanted to post this last night after midnight, but waited until today so that I could photograph my latest sketch in sunlight. Little did I know that that isn’t even optimal, with just light from a window…Accordingly, I have had to apply a Levels adjustment to the drawing you see below:

marker drawing of an alstroemeria flower
It kind of took a lot of work to get to this point! (By the way, the type of flower is called “Alstroemeria.”)

I made some notes for myself on my working process, last night. I think the enthusiasm for sharing them has died down (or otherwise sobered) overnight; I’m not as pleased with the outcome today as I was at around 12:15 AM. However, it’s good to look at things with fresh eyes.

So, the basic technique:

  1. I did a contour line drawing of a flower in (sharp) HB pencil, erasing unnecessary lines.
  2. I added color using Pitt (brush) pens.
  3. I erased the line drawing as completely as possible without erasing the pen.
  4. I added in the background using Pitt pens and minimal pencil guidelines.
  5. I erased the pencil in the background.

I’m not totally pleased with this, looking at it the next day. In particular, along the way I learned how to define relatively-light lines on dark backgrounds using negative space, but that wasn’t something I was even thinking about at the start of the sketch.

If I did this over again, I would either omit the almond-shaped green veins on the flowers’ two side petals, or I would draw them in with a much lighter green marker (relying on the marker’s transparency to blend with the petal and create a new color), or color around them and define the lines with negative space.

I also ran into the issue of not having a delicate enough pink to define the lighter areas of the petals, so I (felt I) had to go darker in order to avoid too much hatching/contour drawing (see the section on negative space, below). This doesn’t seem to be as big an issue for the background, though: where I was working with impressions and not trying to mimic reality so much.

I like the background much better than the foreground — it’s looser and more free and airy, capturing more of the feeling of the blossoms. I was, however, working with the structure I had established with the initial pencil drawing; I wonder how I would do with an all-over looseness (marker-first, or just light and minimal pencil guidelines which are later erased)?

I was also able to define a lot in the background by using negative and implied space, while I wasn’t thinking in terms of defining the light-colored foreground by darkening the background (what it was seen against) until later.

Keeping the white space goes along with this. I’m not used to seeing white as a “color,” but in this case the flowers were somewhat defined by their lightness. If I had planned on adding a background in the first place, I could have avoided over-hardening the central flower with mid-value pinks in an attempt to define its petals.

I’m also not hating that top right white petal with the pink contour lines as much as I was, last night.

There are also a couple of small details I feel like I should have caught, which I took note of in the process…inadvertently darkening a highlight area on the leftmost central petal (reversing the lowlight and highlight areas), and not paying attention to the pattern of veining on the rightmost leaf until it was too late. (In addition…I started off trying to define the veins as dark, when they are not dark; they’re light. Also, they do not branch off from a central, strong vein. They’re more like grass, with parallel veining.)

There are two things I know I can work on, from having done this sketch:

  1. utilization of white space and negative space
  2. layering inks to get unexpected hues beyond what is provided in the markers as used straight.

Also: loosening up.

It helps to have many of these pens with subtle color differentiations (especially, very light and very dark). They aren’t as troublesome in their uniformity of nib type as I thought they would be. It also helped to pick out the main colors in this piece before I even started ([pinks, violet/maroon], greens, yellows). This helped me avoid a lack of color harmony in the piece, though the subject itself had all these colors. Botanical subjects often do seem to harmonize with themselves well, in the first place…probably because they have a limited number of pigments to work with.

D suggested using watercolor with the marker, which would be a good idea with the caveat that I did this in an art journal filled with regular drawing paper. It might be fairly well destroyed by the addition of water.

And yes, I am thinking of a Yupo journal, now, thanks.  😛

There is a lot of work which built up to this, starting off with sketches in the sketchbook with the horrible paper, without any reference. Those helped me get an idea of the concept, but they aren’t really anything I’d like to show. Because of their lack of reference, many of the details are wrong even though the drawings can look pretty. Last Tuesday the 24th, though, I went and picked up some alstroemeria which I used as a reference for the picture, above.

Even though it was somewhat difficult for me to get myself to work on an observational drawing (I still get nervous), it was easier than making up details — as I was doing in my concept sketches.

I should likely go and work on my classwork, now… 🙂

Taking some time out for art.

Today, I took 40 minutes of my lunch hour, and just drew.  For the first time, in a long, long time.

I haven’t taken photos of it, because how well it turned out isn’t the point.  The point is that I took some time out for myself, and I drew.  This was helped along by being frustrated enough by work and school to take my pencil kit with me, this morning, instead of a class reading.  (Of course, I only ended up using one pencil, this being a trusty 5″ long [now] 2B.)  I also took a cheap sketch pad filled with paper which I don’t expect to last — this frees me up to do work that doesn’t have to be worthy of the price of the paper.

(It did come out relatively cool, by the way.)

(Do people still say “cool?”)

The other reason I’m not showing it is that I did all of my drawing from imagination, without photo reference.  This means that I have some imaginary flowers which are kind of reverse of what they actually look like in reality–!

I was going for daffodil and alstroemeria.  Both of these have six petals, in roughly a star shape.  I guess you could say that I was jumping off of the floral block print I did earlier this year.  Daffodils are kind of fun, but I forgot that they only have one flower to a stem.  And there is the entire perspective thing to think about, where the central tubular petal is usually viewed on an angle (making it into a rough ellipse)…not to mention the planes of the outer petals.

Then I remembered that alstroemeria have three flowers to a stem, and started playing around with that — but I forgot that the inner petals are not the wide ones (there are three narrow inner petals with stripes on them, sometimes, and then an outer group of what look like petals but may not be).  I also reversed the concave/convex forms of the outer edges of the curves of the petals.

It’s easier to show you than to tell you, but I want to work on updated versions of these now that I’ve seen what I was trying to remember.  It would probably be best if I could post before-and-after scans.  🙂  And maybe some in-between ones which are mashed up from the “after” concepts with the former ideas…after all, I doubt all varieties of alstroemeria look the same…

And yeah, even though I didn’t remember the flowers exactly perfectly, the images I made still calmed me, and it was fun to draw them.  Even better was the fact that I was doing something for myself…

…and I was relatively good at what I was doing.  It’s always a shock when I get to demonstrate my skill to myself (not to cheer myself on too much, but).

I’ve got to keep in mind illustration (and writing, not to mention design), if I find that the Library & Information Science thing doesn’t work out.  Visual art is something I’m basically driven to do when the medications aren’t inhibiting me…the problem there is harnessing that drive.

Lack of functioning

I officially started trying to wean myself off of Prozac on October 10th, so I’ve been on a half-dose for about 9 days (though it takes about a month for dosing changes to take effect).  Right now I can tell that my brain isn’t working too well.  I want to be engaged in art, I have a group project that I need to work on, I have other schoolwork to attend to.  But it’s hard to commit to any of that.

Although it is very apparent that I need to go through my backlog of digital images and do some curation.

Today I got up shortly after 2 PM, after having gone to bed at 11 PM the night before.  Then I was so cold that I spent another hour and a half in bed, around sundown (the only thing that got me up was that I was being summoned to dinner, though I didn’t want to do that either).  Supposedly, it should have been 74º F in the house at that time, but I was still really cold.  And right now my eyes are burning, even though it’s only 9:15 PM here.

In short, I’m dealing with the same pattern I was dealing with before Prozac (becoming wiped out and going to bed in the middle of the day), only now I’ve likely got some initial withdrawal stuff and stress-related stuff on top of it.  Which is why I wanted to get off six months ago, so I could adjust when I wasn’t in classes.

The positive thing is that it’s raining outside.  This means that it wasn’t just me; it actually was dim and likely cold inside the house.  The thermometer, unfortunately, isn’t great at relating when it’s 74º F inside and 44º F outside (thus heat is escaping from the house), and when it’s 74º F inside and 88º F outside (thus heat is radiating into the house).  The two extremes of temperature feel different even though the thermometer says they’re the same.

I’ve also heard that I may have been cold because I was tired (though this usually doesn’t happen for me unless I stay up until 2 or 3 AM).  I guess I did wake at 7 AM yesterday, got up at 7:30 AM, and didn’t lie down until 11 PM.  I usually don’t run for 16 hours straight — even on a work night.  Or, I don’t think I do, at least.

And my weight is still going up, but I’ve been hungrier than usual, for some reason.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it was medication-related, but I’ve got to be honest with myself in that it also may be overwork- or depression- or stress-related.  (I gained 7 lbs. in my first semester of the MLIS program, which is part of why I initially said I wouldn’t go back.)  It could also be related to genetics, in which case I’m not all that upset.  I’m only upset if it is related to being on medication (as the medication can also trigger insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes related to weight gain).

Anyway…I am tired and I should likely get ready for bed, even though I just got up about two and a half hours ago.  I ran myself too long last night and so didn’t get to take care of hygiene before passing out — meaning it’s relatively vital that I at least do so, tonight (no, I didn’t brush my teeth when I woke up at 2 PM).

In other arenas, I am really tired of my Digital Archives class (which is making it clear that I don’t want to become an archivist [too many rules, reminiscent of Cataloging], kind of like my management class made it clear I wouldn’t want to be a manager [managing people] and my public service classes made it clear that I don’t want a public-facing job in a Public Library [managing people]).  The problem is that it’s a group-work class, so other people are depending on my doing my part on time; therefore, pressure.  And I don’t get any time extension on group assignments…I think if my classmates had been paying attention, though, I remember mentioning that I had a mood disorder.  Which is majorly what I’m dealing with, right now…although I haven’t consciously felt very bad.

Seriously…Web Development and Web Design look much shinier.  So much ******* shinier that it’s hard to believe.  I just don’t know if I’ll need even more specialized formal training in order to do it…and to be honest, even the math I might need, isn’t looking that scary, at this point.

(By that, I mean dealing with math is likely less frustrating than dealing with people…)

Just because it’s believed, doesn’t mean it’s real.

I know it’s time for me to start preparing for the night, but I’ve actually had some interesting thoughts to share.  One of them, is how much easier it is to talk and define oneself when one isn’t aware of exactly how crazy one sounds.  🙂

I have a tendency — a strong one, on reduced medication (I’ve started to get off of Prozac, which historically has helped clarify my thoughts) — to be creative and define myself in creative manners.  However, what has become clear to me is just how many versions of myself I can have…and that none of them may be entirely accurate.

It’s actually really easy to define (or redefine) oneself (especially if one is delusional; meaning that no matter what evidence is presented to one that the belief is untrue, one will continue to hold the belief despite it).  And it’s easy to believe these definitions of oneself are true:  it’s the brain’s way, to believe itself.

The hard part is sticking to these definitions, because when you’re trying to be anything you can conceptualize, there will inevitably be holes (the true self may be beyond conceptualization).  And after a while you realize that all these outgrowths are symptomatic of a deeper reality, which is that your tendency is to create and that given no creative outlet, you rewrite and re-iterate yourself, as versus your art projects or your crafts or your writing or music…or apps… 😉

(Water has been a strong theme in my life.  It will seek out holes and burst dams.  The more I try to hold it back, the more catastrophic the floodwaters can be.)

As I’ve moved forward in life, as versus paused to ascertain whether and how to just hold steady and avoid despair, I’ve not had time to devote to things like energy work or spiritual topics which may only hold a side-benefit of (supposedly) better health.

When I was a youth, I was drawn to Buddhist philosophies, because having a philosophy which recognized the existence of duhkha (popularly translated as “suffering,” but this is an inexact translation), and was based around relieving it, gave me some comfort.  It meant I wasn’t alone in my pain.

By now, I have integrated parts of Buddhist philosophy which can help:  but I don’t really think it’s…true, anymore.  (Pretty much, nothing classified as, “metaphysics,” “spirituality,” or, “religion,” fall into the “undisputably true” category, with me.  Even the category of “philosophy” is questionable [if you start out with the wrong givens, in philosophy, you can’t hope to follow them to truth] — although I do realize that this post is in essence, philosophical.)

People are creative — is something I’m taking as a given — and many more things can be thought of, than are true.  Buddhism is a creation which has been co-created by many people over more than two millenia, which has likely helped sustain a large number of lives over the years it has been in existence…but its functionality (its usefulness) doesn’t relate to its truth value.

That is, something can be useful, and not be true.  I may have, on this point, come to the realization of what is meant by the Buddhist concept of upaya (usually translated as “skilled means”).  Although all explanations I’ve heard of this concept seem condescending — I’m kind of understanding, at this point, that this is both an admission that doctrine itself may not be founded on truth, and that it is still important to address duhkha in life.

Earlier tonight, I realized one thing:  that people in certain spiritual communities (myself having been included among these at multiple times) have felt relatively free to say things, precisely because they felt those things with such certainty.  However, my experience with mental illness has made at least one thing clear:  a subjective feeling of certainty is not a determinant of truth value.  What do I mean by that?

I mean that just because we think and feel and “know” something is true, that doesn’t mean it is.  It’s the brain’s nature to “believe in” what it tells itself.  Now it is possible to have subjective (or internal) dissonance, and that also needs to be attended to:  oftentimes, it has been feelings like these which have let me know that I didn’t have both feet in reality.  (There does seem to be a spectrum of, “More True”-to-“Less True,” when it comes to seeking out who one is.)

And once you’ve been around long enough, it becomes apparent when others are attempting to manipulate you for their own gain.  (It’s one thing for a person to choose what to believe; it’s another for someone else to try and choose what they believe for them, in a manner that benefits the one doing the choosing and not the disempowered subject.)  Just because I recognize that I cannot fully grasp reality in my mind, doesn’t mean that I think anyone else can, either.

This has been the largest reason I’ve stayed away from spiritual institutions.  Although I do admit that I am now curious about attending Buddhist services.

The priest at my family member’s funeral was from a Pure Land sect:  Jodo Shinshu, to be exact.  But he seemed to have his head on straight, and to know what efficiently and urgently needed to be addressed.

It’s apparent to me that we tell ourselves what we need to tell ourselves in order to simply function and stay alive.  In this sense, creativity in humans functions as a survival mechanism.  And is this why so many creative people deal with mental illness, as well (only the most creative, survived)?  I’m not sure.

It’s apparent to me as well, that religion is an outgrowth of creativity.

I’m not certain exactly what will happen if and when I succeed in entirely kicking Prozac.  What I do expect is that my creative faculties will become less muted.  In turn, I’ll probably become more eccentric than the way you’re used to seeing me behave.  I hate to say I can’t help it, but…it’s just the space I normally inhabit.

I just have to make sure I don’t box myself in too tightly with definitions and proclamations of “truth”…because words don’t matter where it comes to what’s real.