Death, and sussing out evidence of Soul

Earlier, I began to read back through my “Blog — Roughs, Notes,” notebook. The sentiments I expressed in my last post are also recorded there, from almost exactly six months ago: January 13, 2018.

Some of the sentiments I also expressed in finding self-definition when immersed in a multicultural, pluralist society, is in the same set of notes. The series exploring this is named Cultural Location and Creative Context. The preceding link will send you to Part 3; Parts 1 and 2 are linked at the very end of that document.

I was getting excited; I forgot that 2018 is this year, so I thought I’d stumbled upon evidence from at least one year ago. No, it just feels like it was one year ago.

There’s something about time that’s unnerving. Yes, growth happens, but people (including myself) also age and pass on. When your social circle is largely family, that can be a scary thing (not to mention when you are without solid, “knowledge,” of; or, “faith,” in; what happens after death). I’ve been trying to spend as much time with people I especially love, as I can; because I know it’s limited.

At the same time, I’m supposed to be trying to become more independent. School is part of that, as is work. As is driving, for that matter, and cooking.

Just…sometimes, I lack energy, and it’s hard to actually…well, do things. I think the motivation is there, but fear and anxiety (and then, melancholy) also take hold sometimes and won’t let me move forward. Today was one of those days.

What I seem to have been doing, most recently, is inventorying myself — making notes as to where I am, mentally. Because some of this stuff doesn’t change, even if I want it to. The obvious thing for me to do about that at this point is to write it all down so that I can see who I am, as versus who I want to be, or who I think I should be.

The “psychic” aspect of my personal mythology* has come up again since I restarted creative writing. I’m thinking that the concept of, “time,” is kind of messing with me, though it’s also possible it’s one or another kind of intrusive thought: just the idea of the physical, being all there is.

(And no, I haven’t yet broken into my Sartre anthology, but I’m a bit struck by how he only lived 36 years. That’s as old as I am, now.)

I think that if I didn’t know better, I’d call it a type of demon. But there are things that look like, “demons,” which aren’t, and things that are demons that don’t at first appear to be (or which try to hide their status).

I’m not particularly talking about, “fallen angels.” I’m talking about things that screw up one’s psyche and life in a negative fashion. They do certain things like implant the idea that if you’re creative, people will attack you for it. Because creating is a holy act, and something dangerous to them.

If I’m being honest with myself and with you; the idea of death, out of balance, I do consider rather demonic, in a won’t let you go, haunting type of way. And I suppose…if I learned anything from Tarot (I didn’t learn all that much; the system’s mindset is — or was — kind of alien to me), it’s that each element can be either in balance or out of balance. It’s not death — or change — that is bad, it’s that my relation to it is not correct.

It could be that I’ve opened a gate by being honest with myself. Over the past week, I’ve told people about the, “psychic,” thing twice — although I wasn’t particularly looking for belief in or support of that, I’ve gotten it (to my surprise) both times. It’s just a given that in a certain part of my life, I did believe I was psychic, and in accepting that, had phenomena happen that would not have happened if I had cut the idea off at the knees and refused to entertain it.

So now I’m just dealing with sudden mental images of bodily decomposition. Are they random? I’m not sure. Where are they sourced from? Don’t know. But I do know that I probably shouldn’t worry about or focus on them, if I have a choice about it. One thing about spirits is that I haven’t known them to be entirely that tenacious.

What’s going on is called, “thought insertion,” in psychology — where some thought arises seemingly out of nowhere, and it feels like it comes from outside of you: that is, it is “ego-dystonic.” I’m not sure if being negatively emotionally disturbed by it is a criteria. But writing creatively does open a gate in my mind (a number of issues [discoveries?] arose after To a Spirit, meaning that it’s likely I started processing some unfinished business [or current business] by writing it), so it’s not unusual that something like this should arise.

That’s just what happens when I tune into my intuition.

And…the cost, for me, of tuning into my intuition is that if I talk about it everywhere, I’m just going to look a bit crazy. But I’ve been a bit crazy for a long time. 🙂 For the sake of employment, I’ve been trying to push it down and stop the thought experiments…but if it’s a core part of my identity, maybe I shouldn’t do that. Then I have a couple of choices:

  1. Speak about it with discretion, or
  2. Don’t worry about the opinions of others

Of course, if I go back to an identity as a creative writer, we’re kind of known for being a bit eccentric, anyway.

And what could I do, if I opened those gates?

*What I mean when I speak about “personal mythology” is stories we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to make sense of our lives. They may or may not be true, but often it is difficult or impossible to change or eradicate these core beliefs, even if we know they are not accurate to reality.

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Bodhisattva questioning. It’s probably immaterial, in the long run.

It’s been about eight hours of work, but there is now space in my office. Not to mention, a lot less dust. I still have some stuff to clean up, but it’s minor. I also still have books (and folders) to go through.

I didn’t realize how many materials I had, here. I rediscovered my little, “treasure box,” from the time I was collecting things like this…I had forgotten that one table in particular had been designated for spirit-nurturing stuff. Right now it also has a file holder on it. Not sure how I feel about that…

…but it’s…just odd, being on the verge of becoming a Librarian, and having worked with community organizing before. Plus being so involved in creation. There are other things that are important to me, but my own sense of integrity will not allow me to take some paths. Possibly, many paths.

I also did find a Kuan Yin figurine which had been gifted to me, a while ago. Around the last few days, I’ve been thinking about the Bodhisattva thing…particularly if the conditions of my life this time around are because of past-life directives.

Just now, my attention was drawn to an acorn I picked up some time ago. What is a seed if it’s never planted? (If I hadn’t picked it up, chances are good it would have been crushed, or food for a squirrel. If I plant it…I’d better be sure it’s away from gas lines!)

And I guess it’s worth mentioning that seeds are planted in the Earth…which can be as nourishing as it is polluted. Or, more to the point, the Earth provides disease-causing organisms as well as beneficial ones. We just hope the beneficial ones keep the others in check, most of the time. (And we all depend on it.)

A long time ago, when I was still notably ill, I did seriously question whether I had taken bodhisattva vows in a past life. The thing is, even if one is ill, it’s hard to move forward without acknowledging that one experiences what one experiences. My life didn’t really start to move forward until I acknowledged my reality, even if that reality didn’t match what anyone else experienced. Even if my explanation of reality was untrue: the experience of it was not.

I also had to own that no one else could have a clear window to objective reality, either: assuming that one’s thoughts are always true and right just because one thinks them (but others can be wrong), is part of what makes people ill.

The major thing about the entire bodhisattva concept, here, is that “American” Buddhism is still in its infancy. I also find that it is relatively vulnerable to romanticized and wrong ideas of other cultures, and people from other cultures, including the ones from which our knowledge of Buddhism has come.

Thus there is this thing about “how to be a Bodhisattva”…which, I’m not sure is actually true to how people in non-English-speaking countries, who are exposed to non-English texts and cultures including a more mature interpretation of Buddhism, experience being a bodhisattva.

A bodhisattva is someone who has sworn not to enter nirvana (liberation beyond rebirth and duhkha [“suffering,” or, “unease”]) until all other sentient beings have done so. That is, they have sworn to be reborn until the last sentient being ceases to suffer and is liberated from the cycle of birth and death. It gives them implicit motivation to help other beings toward their own enlightenment.

Bodhisattvas are also, notably…shown bedecked in jewels, with long hair (as versus shaved heads), and as beautiful. This is symbolic. From what I know, basically all the Mahayana (Great Vehicle) paths advocate this as an ideal, as versus just trying to get oneself to liberation.

What I read in English texts, however, seems like a cotton-candy idealized perfect version of something which was already idealized to begin with, so it’s like “How to Be A Buddhist,” and “You’re Not Being Buddhist Enough,” when I am not certain it is actually to anyone’s benefit to identify as a Buddhist. If the goal is to let go of fixed ideas of Self…the idea of identifying as, “a Buddhist,” is a stepping-stone at best, and grasping for permanence and identity in a world with a defining trait of impermanence, at worst. (“Grasping,” is noted to cause duhkha.)

Let me say this: I don’t think Bodhisattvas are perfect; because if they were perfect, I don’t know that they would be here.

That does bring up the question of whether taking Bodhisattva vows is born of imperfection, and I would say that, given the level one is at when one first takes them, it has to be. Does it start to make one, “clean?” I don’t know. But I would say it likely does give one a community to fall back on, at least in spirit.

There are people I’ve known and presences I’ve sensed which actually are beneficent…the process is called Taking Refuge (in the Buddha [the one who taught the way to live; note there are many Buddhas], the Dharma [the path out of pain], and the Sangha [the religious community, in whatever form that takes]). I have done this in the past, privately. It did help me. A lot. Particularly when I sought Kuan Yin (who is known to give compassion, and is one of the Bodhisattvas who appear both in male [Avalokiteshvara] and Goddess forms).

Do I understand Taking Refuge? Intellectually, no. But, emotionally, it helps.

I have not tried reaching out in person to any Buddhist temples — most of the ones around here are of the Pure Land variant, which isn’t where I’d ideally go first — but the aura I get from two actual Buddhists whose presence I have been in…is very different. (I am assuming my past sensei was at least lay Buddhist, if not monk…just, many things point to that.)

This is long enough. I started to get into stuff here linked with possible past-life influence…but it’s unnecessary and off-topic.

And this may have been partially caused by an artwork I did of a temple, which someone said did remind him of his visit to the Himalayas. (I did not paint this from a reference.)

The point is, for me, that the path I’ve taken in this life is actually kind of…congruent with what I would expect, if I did take Bodhisattva vows. The grad work shapes a person, but on top of that is the public service thing, and how we are not supposed to assume what a person is like, by their appearance. This hits me on the levels of gender, orientation, disability, race, ethnicity, occupation.

I have the ability to communicate. I can be a force for good.

And I am very glad I have certain people in my life…

Housekeeping

Tonight I started to tackle the mess in the office. And reorganize the bedroom. My folks found some bookends for me (though I hear store staff didn’t immediately know what “bookends” were), so now I’m able to have a bunch of “recreational” reading material in my bedroom.

I just figured that there wasn’t any actual reason for me not to read fiction. It’s still a valid mode of communication, after all. (Just, not always a straightforward one.)

Right now, things look pretty terrible in here (the office). But. Most of the CDs that I had (and didn’t know I had) are now actually organized and in one container. The fiction is in my bedroom; the metaphysics/psychic/energy work/channeling stuff is waiting for review, but unobtrusive.

I’ve gotten tired of the, “yes this is possible, but don’t try it because HORRIBLE THINGS may happen. WOOoOo.” Right now I’m taking the prolific warnings as discouragement from trying anything in the book because then the reader will know if the author is a fraud…although I have had interesting psychosomatic effects with energy work, for whatever reason (and if hearsay is accurate, I’m not the only one). Particularly, extremities (hands, feet) heating up despite the fact that I haven’t moved.

The irritating thing about dabbling in this stuff is that then you have to deal with attracting the “astral wildlife.” The phenomena of which, for whatever reason, seem to co-occur when people start playing with psychic or life energy. It could be self-generated (fear manifestations), or it could be actual. The thing is, it would probably FEEL actual, regardless of whether it is or not. And that’s something I’m kind of happy without, for now.

After all, I’ve only recently been able to consistently distinguish my own hallucinations (sensed experiences without a physical component) and/or illusions (sensed experiences with a physical component, which cognition warps) from reality.

I won’t get into what those are. Suffice to say that I don’t always trust my brain, and I’m learning not to always trust the people who write these books.

…I won’t get any further into that, for now.

All the textbooks are now on shelves, except for one book on HTML4 which has sections that are still useful (we’re on HTML5 now).

I don’t have to do any more work for Programming until Tuesday, and even then, I’ve got a head start. I might want to look into it after having done some work at recovering order, tomorrow.

And I could try chatting up some people in my class. Why not.

I have a large inclination to go through my old class readers, spiral-bound notebooks, folders, and old textbooks, to see what is where — and what I don’t need anymore (if I ever did need it). A lot of these things are remnants of prior classes, going back to the time I first attended University.

That means that tomorrow, in addition to starting the laundry, I’m likely going to end up taking another shower (meaning why not exercise; I’ll have had the 48 hours of rest recommended in strength training…don’t know if that applies to cardio), and getting my hair trimmed.

I might also need to change the sheets and wash my blankets; I went to bed last night unwashed, after sitting on a dusty carpet.

The most difficult thing I’ll likely be dealing with, is deciding what to keep and what to toss of printouts and paperwork which have accumulated in this room over the last two semesters.

It would also be nice to have some way to tell what is in each frickin’ folder without opening it first…but I won’t know how to do that without opening them all, anyway.

Today I restarted reading a book that was over my head, when I first got it. It’s called The Midnight Disease, and it’s on hypergraphia (the constant drive to write), Writer’s Block, and creativity. Now that I’ve been through the Art program, I understand a lot more of it than I did when I first got it.

Looking back on it, it’s possible apparent that I did exhibit hypergraphia when younger. I know that I majored in Writing because it was something I constantly did; though no one really told me that obsessive writing could be a symptom of something else (which then might go away with treatment…or how to deal with it, if that did happen).

Alright, I’m turning this computer off, because I’m smelling something weird. We’ll see if I continue to smell it…

Possible (subtle) identity shift

I’m considering modifying my primary identity from, “creator,” to, “Librarian.” Of course, creativity is a valuable component of librarianship. I think my health, mentally, is just reaching the point where I don’t need to fall back on stereotypical creative outlets so hard, in order to maintain normal functioning. (In the past, my creativity has been useful as a coping mechanism. It also could have been connected to my brain not working at its best.)

If you’re looking specifically for the section of this post which I mentioned in the opening line, skip down to the heading, “The necessity of Creativity,” below.


Monpe (mompei) project

That said, I was puzzling over the monpe (Japanese field pant) pattern last night (Folkwear #112, old version)…having finally gotten the guts to go and mark and cut out pieces for my toile (trial garment) and attempt to assemble them.

The major issue I was having from around this time last night, is that I couldn’t tell the right side from the wrong side of the muslin fabric, and the pattern cutouts were too much alike for me to easily make out what was what. Having extra fabric on all sides of each pattern piece also turned out to be more of a pain than a help: I ended up cutting most of it off (and am hoping I didn’t cut off a seam allowance by accident). A quilting ruler helped to add the extra 1/2″ which would theoretically size the pattern up to a 16. (The new version of the pattern goes up to size 20, but I don’t have that one.)

Looking ahead in the instructions, I was able to reverse-engineer what needed to go where, and now it’s looking correct. I have the pieces pinned out, though this is actually several steps ahead — I just needed to assemble the thing to be able to see what was going on (the instructions don’t help all that much if you’re going step-by-step with no vision of what you’re working towards).

I’ve found that pinning along (instead of across) the sewing line helps with precision, and that I shouldn’t baste until I’m sure things are correct. I’ve had to rip out diagonal basting (silk thread) at least two or three times (without using them) because of errors, and a line of sewing, I had to rip out once…and I’m doing this all by hand. Pinning is much more amenable to adjustment.

Also, it would have helped to copy the stupid shape-coded markings from the pattern to the cloth. I was using colored thread as markers for these spots, but I found when reading the instructions that the shapes mean something. I just didn’t want to go drawing big squares or circles on my fabric, though maybe I should. Color-coding is also another option.

I also need to use the cutting mat under my fabric, next time I try to mark it. I ended up denting the kitchen table with my marking wheel.

In any case, it’s better that I’m practicing on muslin than with my good fabric. It’s also surprising when working with the muslin, how much easier it is to pass a needle through than with quilting fabric (Fat Quarters, in particular). I was using Sharps in both cases, but it’s seriously much easier to sew through the muslin, than it is to quilt (which may be the reason why “Quilting Betweens” needles exist, I know now). I have a needle that’s actually bent from trying to pull it through quilting fabric, which caused me to just get a couple of new Sharps for the monpe project.

If the reason to sew is that I like working with precision, needles, and sharp things, too: well, it doesn’t disappoint. And actually having an end goal of a functional garment that I’m working toward, helps.

Since I haven’t been sewing for a very long time, it also helps to have the cheap muslin toile to screw up with and pin and unpin and mark and rip stitches out of.

But yeah, it can be frustrating.

The thing is that I don’t know where I can actually get a pair of authentic monpe for a good price, and if I could get them, they would almost certainly be vintage (i.e. used). It’s seriously difficult to find this stuff here. Either you look in Japantown and get vintage stuff, or you look outside of that and get inauthentic Americanized lingerie (the implications of which are things I don’t really want to get into, now).

I do…really, though, want to make a wrap top, utilizing a Japanese pattern which is modified for a curvy body and American aesthetic sensibility (i.e. not to a cylindrical ideal, as traditional garments generally aim toward). That is, I am thinking I want to tailor it.

Unfortunately, I think this means I’m either going to have to make the pattern myself (I have the instructions), or alter an existing pattern. I have a beautiful green-blue batik that I got a number of years ago for this purpose, but I want to make the monpe first, in order to hone myself at least a little.


Update on the Wool-Eater blanket project:

I’ve also been working on that Wool-Eater crochet blanket, though I got a bit discouraged when I realized that one of the skeins of yarn which I have and need to use, is from a different dye lot than the one it’s meant to match (even though I thought I matched them). This means that there are two slightly different colors going on in two rows that are supposed to be one color. I could rip out and stop at the pink row (I’m on light green, now), but I think I’ll go on with it imperfect, and try and make something more functional than just decorative.


Sleep update:

Today, as well: I was asleep most of the day. I’m not sure if it is connected to staying up late last night trying to figure out this monpe problem…or needing to get back to schoolwork today and not wanting to face it; or not wanting to go in to work for extra hours. It could also have been because it was really hot, earlier.


The necessity of Creativity

Anyhow…I’ve just noticed that I have accumulated experience in a lot of creative outlets, but that my life doesn’t have to revolve around those outlets. As, I’m thinking, it’s likely that a lot of people don’t really…you know, do this. I mean, I don’t think that most people wish to be creative. Or, maybe their creativity doesn’t express itself through arts or crafts or design.

It doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing, but my “creator” identity is something I came up with when I was in ill health, in order to keep myself going. And I mean, I was likely seriously ill. I am not sure I knew the extent of this, I just knew my experiences would sound, “weird,” to other people. But now, I’m effectively 16 years into recovery.

At this point, a lot of the unwanted mental activity that I was dealing with as a youth and young adult has been effectively brought under control. I can also communicate better now than I could then, which lessens the need to go out of my way to find creative expression (though I do believe making your own clothes is a form of creative expression).

The identity shift isn’t a solid thing yet, I don’t want to scare you; but I’m wondering if I thought of myself as a Librarian first, and on top of that as just a creative person (as versus an agent of the creative Divine), if it would help me pursue my goals (and free up my energy). It just seems that this kind of really fulfilling way of being kind of crept up on me while I was trying to figure out a way to stay creative and survive in the world. The creativity was my reason to survive.

But now I’m moving from, “surviving,” to, “contributing,” and that is an entirely different proposition. By this I mean that there are ways I can apply my creativity and problem-solving skills to improve the lives of others, and help make the world a better place. This is as versus doing my best just to take care of myself and stay alive.

It was and is helpful to take some control of my life, and making things is a great way to avoid feeling at the mercy of others. I think maybe, though…there are more ways to create than I thought of when I was younger…and I’m about to move into a position where I can and most likely will be tasked with helping my communities (which helps others as well as myself). That actually is a much more powerful position than I’ve ever been in, before, and it takes away the feeling of a lack of control.

I’m also older and in more control of my own life than I have been before…hmm. This is to say that I’m not entirely certain why I’m less drawn to story-weaving or pictorial arts than I was as a youth, but it seems to be correlated with some relief on my part…

(Im-)perfection, planning, and process

I sat down today with the idea of writing on my own creative process. This is more for me than it is for anyone else, but I’ll try and make it so that others can follow along.

Part of the reason for doing a Final project on Zen and Art, this last semester, was that I had sensed my own inability to enjoy (or engage) the artistic process, and to plan a piece to death before actually working on it at all. The idea I had of Zen was something around engaging with the process for the sake of the process, and fully living the process. I still don’t know if that’s accurate to reality.

Planning things to death runs contrary to the way I made art as a youth, which was to sit down with my materials and see what would come out of me that day. I really wouldn’t try to explain what I was doing to myself or anyone else until after the fact, when I’d make up a reason why I made it (in order to satisfy others, and it was always to satisfy others. Why can’t it just be? Why do I have to assign it a meaning? Can’t you imagine that yourself?).

With art, as with writing…historically, I’ve been tripped up by a lack of planning. This changed when I went for my AA in Art. Basically, it’s the lowest degree I could get, aside from a Certificate. Being so near to the completion of my first Master’s and looking forward to becoming a Librarian, though…continued education at the Master’s level in Studio Art and/or Art History is actually becoming a possibility. In turn, that would open up Librarianship posts in Museums, but from what I hear, the competition is tough and the compensation not so great.

That’s an offshoot, though, of what I’ve been trying to get at, here. Let me get back to the main point:

I think that what training I did get in Art, has somewhat derailed my own artistic process. Instead of sitting down and making a mark, and then another mark, and then another, without knowing (or caring, really) what I’m going to end up with, I was trained to visualize an end product and then somehow get there. This is counterproductive for me. It works for academic exercises, but as for actually generating art on my own, it is crippling.

The problem is that a work of art, when I start out with an idea of what I want it to be, never fully reaches the point I want it to reach. There’s the world of ideal perfection, and then there’s reality. And the two don’t really meet. By engaging an idea of what I want a piece to be, or, to say, I end up envisioning something more perfect than I could ever really make, possibly something more perfect than could ever actually exist in the physical world.

I’ve run into this on other levels. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Mostly, though, I feel like I bumble along and run into things and reset my course accordingly, and the resulting path forms something truer to me than if I had set a destination of what I thought I wanted at some point, and made a beeline for it.

For example, if in 2002 I had decided that I was a transgender man and had transitioned to male, my life now would be entirely different. And it would not have been truer to who I actually am or what I actually want, than the place I’m at, now. The outside would change; the life would change. But it’s trading one set of setbacks for another. And even though it’s obviously superficial, who I would have become would still have the same core as I do now, though I’d probably be more conflicted.

The thing is, the way I envision myself now is something I’ve arrived at by a process of listening to myself, not something I tried to form myself into.

It’s like making a picture and having some teacher ask me what it is a picture of. It doesn’t matter. It came out of my living experience. Why are you asking me what it is a picture of? To gauge whether it is, “good,” or not (and why should I care if you think it’s, “good?” How does that positively impact my life)? What do you see? Because I bet it’s not what anyone else, sees. And I bet my giving a word to my experience that I’ve illustrated on paper doesn’t make it any clearer for you if you can’t see it now. Just own your experience and don’t reflect it back on me or my hypothetical intentions. Because I may not even consciously know my own intentions.

I’m sounding bitter. I’m also editing out a lot of curse words. I’ve been having mood issues since the semester ended and I started staying up way too late. I’ll be in bed before 3 AM, tonight. Promise.

Anyway, there seems to be the assumption of an intention to communicate which I’ve found over the years in academic circles. But maybe the best communication is at times, letting the work speak for itself, without trying to explain it. Sometimes ambiguity is best. Sometimes thinking in color rather than in greyscale or in black-and-white, is best.

Can I tell you why red-orange makes you feel different than green-blue? No. Do I know why I used red-orange instead of green-blue? You’re going to have to engage with that mystery yourself, just like the rest of us (including me). Don’t expect me to spoon-feed you dead words, and theory that probably doesn’t matter to anyone but me, in the hope that you’ll understand.

(No, I can’t remember anymore the source of the living word/dead word argument…I think it’s Taoist, though. Actually, I think it may be in the Tao Te Ching. I might have to look that one, up. “Dead words” are things that are spoken that can then be twisted around to say what they were not meant to say, losing their meaning; while “living words” are not necessarily spoken…they live through actions.)

To try and wind this down…I am pretty much set on trying to go back to the way I operated, artistically, before school (and grades) got in the way. This means being led more by intuition and just putting one foot in front of the other, rather than trying to visualize something in total and then attempting to make it, or “copy it,” from my mind.

After all, this is my artistic process. This is art for me, for my own health and refinement. Not for anyone else.

I’m not sure of the reality of being able to explain the way I work, though I’ve tried before. I also know watercolor isn’t necessarily the greatest medium to try this, within.

But what I do, doesn’t have to conform to realism. Nor does it have to be precise and tight.

It doesn’t have to be planned, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Right now, I just need to engage.

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… 🙂

A psychiatry post

I’m writing this now instead of trying to map out a diagram for homework, because I seriously doubt I have the cognitive function to do the latter, at the moment.

It’s become apparent to the people around me that I’m experiencing the beginning of symptom relapse (obsessive thoughts + paranoia), so I’m going to start taking the Prozac again, starting tomorrow. At this point I’m not sure what is worse, the anxiety and obsessive thoughts, or the cognitive distortions, or the mood distortions, or the withdrawal (or the oversleeping…but that’s minor, compared to everything else). The trouble is that I can’t tell what’s normal.

In any case, I see my prescribing doctor again, shortly. The idea is to go back on the Prozac until I complete my degree. Then I’ll have the opportunity to go off of it again, after the stress of school is over. I estimate that if I don’t exercise, I’ll likely only gain 10 lbs. by December (putting me at 175), but there are plans to start up a fitness regimen that I’ll be doing with family (as we all basically need to be exercising for health).

The biggest stressor I’m under is the grad-school workload, but there is also chaos going on in both sides of my family right now, and I’m apparently blowing things way out of proportion at my job (which I didn’t know, because I can’t tell what’s normal). D also saw that I was in a pattern of confiding in people and then not trusting them anymore.

And yeah, I didn’t notify Psych of the anger I was dealing with before because I was afraid they were going to tell me to restart the Prozac. What I know is that the abdominal fat will fall off next time I go off of this medication, but apparently the vast majority of drugs that I could take for my symptoms cause weight gain.

Anyhow, my mood’s down now that I know I’m back on the pills. I don’t like having a paunch, and I had just started to have a relatively flat belly and to go down in weight.

So I’m feeling depressed, right about now. I’m pretty sure the pain is just chemicals.

I’ve got to get through tomorrow, though, then through the 18th, though the teacher in my Instructional Design class (with the 2-18 due dates) says it’s better to turn in good late work than poor on-time work…and I think all of my professors know I’m technically disabled. I’ve only been able to find a private contact avenue with one of them.

I should get some rest. Staying up isn’t helping things. I can try doing the diagram in the morning.