The early Christmas gift...
It happened to me this year.
A new brain.
[Yes, you read that correctly - a new BRAIN!!!!]
I've tried to explain my relationship to my illness for a few years now.
Stability means taking really heavy meds. And it's NOT a perfect science.
It also comes with the societal shaming and stigma perception that people with disabilities are less-than.
With a mental illness, you feel like an imposter.
Nothing is physically wrong with you, on the outside. But inside, you might (or might not even) realise that something is definitely not well. You don't associate your condition with a disability but you're not quite normal either.
The crazy inner worlds of mental illness mean access to the collective unconscious, a sort of mathematical equation that creates life. It's very common on psych wards to hear the phrase "I've cracked the code."
But with such insight should come an ability to leverage this in the so-called real world. And most cannot. It's the meds! For years I struggled to create.
I turned to blaming myself for not being able to process thoughts easily, as well as not being able to process trauma, either. I was profoundly affected. I suffered for decades.
Whilst ill, I turned to an inner magic. I studied symbols and their meanings, first, then applied this knowledge within... Intuition. Gut feelings. Scrying. Imagination. Feeling! Empathy. They were the faculties that remained, so I developed those. The meds make like a clamp on your head, and thinking, memory and cognitive functions are severely limited.
Mind you, my mind had always been overactive, and probably dyslexic and possibly adhd. I've always had trouble reading. I can do it. It just takes me longer than normal. And any time I learned something, my mind had already imagined the lesson from a hundred different angles.
But recently, things took a turn! It allowed me to reason, think, remember... better.
I had been coping, but not extremely well. I started to rely entirely on gut feelings, intuition and emotions. I had profound insight into any situation, but not the capacity to understand the obvious things on the surface. Sometimes, I had trouble following simple conversations!
Considering the severity of the symptoms of the illness and side effects of the medicine, it's amazing that I created at all. At one point, I had to relearn to draw from scratch. Later, I started drawing my own comics, things seemed to be on the mend. I managed to work on hundreds of comics pages. It was pretty good for someone who had lost it all. Career, wife, friends, skill, potential. Gone. But like coal into diamond, something changed!
I could feel! I remembered how to draw. Some friends stuck around, and I made new friends! Career got it in the teeth, though. Haha! I could draw in any style, still, and a writer's voice was emerging, but the productivity just wasn't there. So! What the hell was going on!?
After an abysmal summer with no answer in sight, I turned to my close friends.
I started meditating more seriously and walking more diligently.
I even discovered a mini Tardis-shaped library down the street! (Take a book / Leave a book)... So cool! I did everything right, and I felt better, but all of my projects would grow in short spurts and never look like magic overall.
I mean they were magical creations, but I see something bigger and better in my mind... . I made a new 24hour book and I did InkTober, sure. But beyond that my other projects were not keeping apace.
I was twenty years out of step with myself.
I was baffled. I had exerted tons of superhuman efforts, I grew spiritually, I tried so hard, I was strong, but sometimes, I could hardly get out of bed!! At long last, I turned to my doctor, pressing to feel good and put my life back on track, and, though it took a while, in November...
Long story short, I was trying new meds, and they effing worked!!!
Within minutes, I felt my memory, thinking, concentration, return. Within weeks, my drive and focus. "I" had returned!!!
I did not celebrate, not even! I got right back to work...
I discovered years of plans, a lifetime of dreams, a mountain of work! Ah!
I fixed a couple of things as I could, wrote out my projects and posted my plans to the wall, and got to it!
Drawing, inking, coloring, design, writing, planning, fixing, prepping, finishing.
But that's not all...
I reached out to people. I could talk, think and communicate better.
Everything was easier.
Even something as simple as cleaning the dishes... simple stuff, was hard before now. I guess I was depressed and didn't even realise it!!! I thought I was broken. I was so hard on myself for not living up to my harsh standards. I couldn't explain it.
But with the new meds came perspective and hope in quantities I haven't seen/experienced since I was a kid! So X-Mas this year is pretty damn impressive.
But I know I'm not alone! Millions of people struggle with illness, and the dangerous side effects of medicine, from weight gain to memory loss!! Or having a clear vision but not the right prescription to see it clearly. These are big heavy things!!
But it's life, right!?! Struggle in silence or share it with others, you're still struggling!! And it's terrible.
Illness rips people and families apart. And many don't make it. But that doesn't mean there is no hope.
Because hope exists, even if you can't see it. Maybe it's just your prescription!!
We have all lost something.
My stories usually start there. It felt like common ground.
This is why my heroes seek to reclaim their past and their future. In the most unusual ways.
Even if I'm illustrating a poem or writing a comic or non-fiction, drawing, whatever... It's about showing you that hope exists. It's about showing you that your superhuman efforts are what make you human - we are more than what we appear to be.
We can do so even, and sometimes because, we are disabled.
Each story is unique.
Even if you're a successful career person with a car, house and 2.5 kids, your story is still unique. And as long as you're grateful, I don't have a principled issue with this - good for you!
And yet, my story is tragic, but not a tragedy! Because tragedy is not being grateful. Tragedy is not trying to live up to your current best. A lot of able people seem to be coasting on their routines and pensions, not realising that they could be so much more... helpful, so much more... engaged, so much more... alive.
Don't take life for granted!! Don't fake it! We, the disabled, are not mindless and soulless zombies... If you're coasting, then YOU are the mindless-soulless zombies. And you are not alone. There are millions of you.
Either we are all human and doing our best possible, no matter what hinders us, or we are all living dead. You just have to take a stand about the whole thing. Try. Even if you don't succeed... Try.
Just TRY!!! This is enough.
I for one never stopped trying. I always wanted to make art, even when I just couldn't anymore. Because I have stories inside, and so do you... the way you see the world is uniquely yours.
So go back to your forge, well rested, ideally, and make something new.
One thing's for sure, we have NOT seen it all.
Happy holidays everyone!
Thanks for reading.
P.S. : New Digital Book Drop on Patreon, tomorrow. Watch for it!! Sign up now!
Please NOTE that... This blog post is part of a group of holiday blog posts by the friends of Renaissance Press, publisher of Diverse Canadian Voices.
IMPORTANT : The full list of posts until Christmas are posted here...
[or here] : https://pressesrenaissancepress.ca/2019/11/25/2019-holiday-blog-advent-calendar/
#hope #mentalillness #stigma #holidays #zombies #art #comics #Canada
This is the blog of writer-artist-designer-author Dominic Bercier, MCS principal and founder.