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Madness and Art

Madness and Art

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Published by Meghan Caughey

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Published by: Meghan Caughey on Nov 05, 2010
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Art and Madness "Our brilliance, our juiciness, our spiciness, is all mixed up with our craziness and

our confusion, and therefore it doesn't do any good to try to get rid of our so called negative aspects because in the process we also get rid of our basic wonderfulness" Pema Chodron It seems that I have tried for most of my adult years to overcome the sense of falling through the air of the edge of this earth, accelerating to fast with my lungs burning hot and my eyes seeing red maniacal faces of demons who rush by, taunting me as I know deep in my gut that I am condemned to this hell because of my intrinsic badness. This sense of doom and damnation goes with me everywhere; it is with me regardless of whom I am with, or what I am doing. The only thing that gives me any reprieve is to make art. It is by making art that I feel that I have an opportunity to chisel out a little hole in my stone prison, and let in a little air, and let persons form the outside view into my world. Through this little hole, I can come and go, just a little bit. I detest my stone prison. I try to deny it. I feel like I will never be like the people who move through the world outside. Making art brings me into contact with people sometimes. Sometimes that contact surprises me. It can be moving and raw. People can see into my pain though my art. Some people are repelled I think. It is too intense for them and they must back away. When this happens I take note. Sometimes a painting will carry me out of a dark, depressed place into a place of high excitement and frenzied energy. It gets higher and higher and higher until my edges are dissolved and the painting is everywhere and I have lost my sense of space, time and person-ess. I turn into the painting. I become a shaman who is in a visionary world and the drum is beating very hard and fast. The only way this has an outcome is if I finally medicate myself with a large dose of some drug and fall into bed, covered with paint on my face, hands and arms. I will then sleep for several days. Medication is a hard, ambiguous realm. There are certain drugs that are called “mood stabilizers” that squelch the creative impulse, although they make me a much more stable, functional person. Medications are always trade-offs with their side-effects. The range of 1

side-effects are vast. I will usually go back and forth on drugs because of the trade off being so costly. It has an effect on my productivity as an artist. My anger over this is enormous. After thirty years, I thought that I had found a medication that worked for me without the terrible side-effects. I thought that I was finished with being mad. I declared to the world that I was now recovered and that I had solved the problem of schizophrenia. The trips to the hospitals stopped. I began to paint lotuses. They were a symbol of the life force, which after my history of suicide attempts, was very significant. Even I was surprised to find myself painting flowers! I held my self up as a symbol of success to show people that it was possible to “beat mental illness”. It lasted for quite a long while, I must say. But my madness was not finished. It would not be quiet. My voices returned, the visions made their selves apparent, I could not deny this for very long, even thought I tried at first. I found myself back in the psychiatric hospital after eleven years of being free. It took five days to get back to the other world. As soon as I returned home I painted a canvas on an incident that had occurred when I was being admitted to the hospital. I had been strip-searched by two nurses when I arrived at the psychiatric ward. Now I painted it in order to excise it from my pyche. I was heart broken that I had been hospitalized again after thinking that I would never have it happen to me again. I had destroyed my own personal self-myth about who I was and what I could do. Now I am starting to come into a new understanding and acceptance of my own madness. I have to own it, for it is essential to who I am. I am seeing that it is part, as Pema Chodron says, “ my juiciness and wonderfulness” something to celebrate--not to get rid of.



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