My Lifeline, Continued

                                 My Lifeline During Manic Episodes (con’t).              

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Cube #1, handpainted chest ©STMartin2018

.                   Where does a seventeen-year-old go, when she jumps out of her boyfriends moving car while on microdot because he is berating her and will not take her home? She goes to a locked psychiatric ward, adolescent wing. Does she get an accurate diagnosis there, in 1983? Not likely…even though the psychologists interview the Child and tape her, for teaching purposes…

.   Now that I think back to those 30 days, I can see where I did gain some insight into my mental state as far as depression goes, and addiction. I don’t think Bipolar Disorder was clearly understood then, or maybe my mania wasn’t recognized, but it seems hard to believe due to my behavior. They said I was attention seeking and wanted my Dad’s love so bad that I would do crazy things to get noticed. They said my suicide attempts were based on this idea.

All this was true, I guess, but leaving there with a diagnosis of depression seems somehow like a cop-out on their part. I was excellent at telling them what they wanted to hear, and have been able to be a chameleon all my life, changing my “colors” at will.  However, a profound lesson was learned there: Painting my emotions, as art therapy.

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Sin’s Trap, marker on board ©STMartin2019
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Prayer for Magdallia, Marker on Board ©STMartin2019

.       I had many works that I made in my Advanced Art Class before my interment; a sculpture of a woman in a fighting pose, another of a man being choked to death by huge green hands(!) to name a few. So I thought I was already “painting out” my emotions. The Art Therapy session was a distraction from the bleak reality of the ward, so I went to see what it was about. The teacher was a beautiful artist, whose mannerisms alone were calming, and she helped guide me thru exercises using color as emotion in very freeing ways. The effect was profound, I experienced such a sense of slowing my disturbing thoughts, a feeling of peace that lasted a while afterwards. I never forgot her, or the sessions, eventually using this technique as a basis for much of my art.

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“Visionaria”, Acrylic on Canvas©STMartin2017

.   Today I find my art to be necessary for my well being, as my Bipolar Mania increases I turn to a canvas for relief, for release of the crazed energy. This process also offers me insight into the deeper issues that set my mind off on these wild rides, I can let the pain flow out and take shape in line, in color, in form. Indispensable for my being able to function at a higher level, where in the past acting out these terrible episodes would have devestating consequences…

(to be continued)

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