Between Two Poles: A Bipolar Themed Art Exhibition


Also titled Pferd and Caballo, a horse between the two poles of bipolar


“Between Two Poles: A Bipolar Themed Art Exhibition”
Help me make it happen

A few days ago I had composed a document outlining my ideas for this exhibition.


The version I first placed on line was a truncated version.

I added much to this today, February 9th at 4: 15 p.m.


My GoFund Me Link For Support for this exhibition.


This is my Bipolar Story.


When I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2013, it was as if someone had just died in the room, me. It was both a surprise and a relief when I realized I had a serious mental illness. The many problems I had experienced over the years made quickly made sense. However, knowledge did not stop the power of this crippling illness.
I tried to commit suicide.
Having support, going to support groups, therapy and medications, none of that was able to prevent me from committing suicide. For me, there was no real use in living. All thoughts were dead ends. The things that mattered so much simple ceased to do so.
Suicide attempts, in my case, lead to my first hospitalization for mental illness. Carried in an ambulance, tired and what empty, I spent an entire day in a waiting room hoping for a hospital bed. There was high demand, but low supply.
The first day was numbing. The second filled with groups. One followed the other. At the tie I did not have insurance. That ensured my stay would be brief. After three days I was released. Although the Psychiatrist was emphatic that I had a serious mental illness and that I needed intensive therapy.
That did not happen. I was released from the hospital, but there was no exit plan. I went from a behavioral health facility right back into “the real world.”
There were many difficult ups and downs having and not being able to afford treatment. I would heal, and then relapse. Drugs that were intended to help had my briefly lose my equilibrium.
Acquiring insurance provided care. But the drugs I were taking simply were not effective. The wonder drug “Lamictal,” was totally infective. Depressions and hypo mania were bound in a restless cycle that had me up and down. My emotions transformed into a violent roller coaster.
When the day started, I might feel optimistic, happy, even filled with bliss. Rapid thoughts accompanied fast thinking. Ideas were flowing so fast I stumbled on my words. At the high point, I was a jester spilling jokes all around me. Nothing could stop me. I was invincible.
The downside was that this euphoria did not last. Within a day or two, it would slide into depression. What goes up, must come down. The trajectory I was on always lead to a fall.
Pain turned into days and weeks of me laying on a sofa unable to do anything. I was falling into immobility. Every day I was suicidal. There were times I wanted to kill myself, but I was literally too exhausted to do it.

The pain of hopeless, depression, anxiety and lethargy are hard to describe. They are powerful but elude any kind of crisp description. When I was at the lowest, everything shut down. I felt pain, but not a physical kind. Nothing hurt, but there was a powerful pain. It was both intense and cold. The very idea of the world had no appeal. Nothing mattered except the depression. I could not pull myself out of it because my entire mind had become this void.
There were tools given to me by therapy. It my worst state they were of no use. The drugs that were supposed to at least alleviate the pain enough to get some kind of grasp of things were not powerful enough. I had contemplated, seriously, ending drugs, therapy and any other support. When I need support the most, there was nothing to grab. There was no substance to anything.
The only thing I had in depression was depression. The grasp of this illness was reaching a point where I started to feel nothing at all. There was only me wanting to end all of this insane jumping from high to low.
As all of this was happening, my identity was drifting away. All of the things that made up me, the artist, the writer, the educator, the politically aware person, everything that made up me was taken away. It was not slow. Depression moves quickly. It leaves nothing untouched.
My life was becoming surreal. There were moments where it felt like a film. I was either starring in it, or removed from the action. Simple events were monumental moments.
Then there were times when I just felt myself pulling so far inward. I was rejecting the world, other people and to some degree myself. It was like drowning and no one was hearing your screams.
Now that I look back, I had often felt like I was screaming, but no one was listening. I was in my own personal hell but no one knew I was in it. I either kept it hidden, or it resulted in some odd behavior on my part.
My life reached a new kind of low when I started cutting myself. I wanted to see if I could endure the pain of slitting my wrists. I am not a person who likes pain, but I was just feeling so much of it lately that I wanted to see how much physical pain I could endure.
I can’t say that I thought of cutting as a deliberate act. The idea to get up and cut myself was not a formed idea. The impulse to do was that. Without a lot of emotion at the time, I was jumped up from my sofa, walked into the kitchen and started.
The first marks were tentative. I really wanted to slit my wrists, but I was not sure if I had the willpower to do that. This was like a test run for the real thing is how I saw my cuts.
I started, slowly and I kept going up my arm cutting a little bit deeper every time. I was totally transfixed by what I was doing. I was drawn to this. There was an addictive side to this. I hated the pain, but I could not stop.
The scars created by the knife fascinated me. I kept cutting. Briefly, they gave me a release. The scars were expressing the intense pain I had no other way to express. The escape those marks offered was short lived.
I would stop, realizing this was not a good idea. Rational thinking intervened. Consciously, I knew I should stop. Emotionally, I felt like I shouldn’t. I broke away to call a support person from my support group. That borrowed time.
I called the warm line, a phone line that offers support for 15 minutes to people in crises who need to talk. I think I actually reached a former cutter. That only borrowed more time.
Self-preservation stepped in. I called a friend of mine and we talked about things other than cutting or bipolar. I had stopped.
That was only for a while. I resumed again. No one knew it until well after the fact.
Much was taking place, but I had reached a point where I wanted to change health care. I was seeing a Nurse Practioner whose healthcare plan was clearly not working. I felt weak, really weak, but I was up when I made my last visit.
My feelings made no sense. I was cutting, then left to see this “buffoon.” I was happy, really really up knowing feel well this was my last visit. My feelings were totally out of sync with everything. I was cutting, and then very happy.
Eventually I did find a “Psychiatrist.” I am really not an advocate of Nurse Practioners at all. I really do not believe they have the medical knowledge to deal with mental illness, at all unless under the strict eye of a Psychiatrist. Even then, I have grave reservations.
Under new care, a new therapist, things started to move forward.
Bipolar can offer you a few days of mania that can jump start your motivation. I was slow moving and tired, but I was making progress in November of last year.
Now it is February of 2015, and I am starting to put the pieces back together. The current combination of medications and therapy seem to be working. I still have bad moments. But, the addictive cutting has ceased.
I can paint. I finished a work in January, and about to complete one this month and I know I am create more innovative pieces.
The only problem is that I do need funds. Between not being able to work or even find work in my state, I have fallen behind with bills.
This is why I am asking for support for my solo exhibition of new art “Between Two Poles, A Bipolar Themed Exhibition.”
Before I became seriously ill in late 2014, I had created a proposal for an exhibition that talks about bipolar disorder from the perspective of an artist with the illness.
The works would be centered around the idea of expressing the euphoric ups and the damaging downs of Bipolar.
The idea for the exhibition came about when I realized how many of my pieces dealt with canvases being divided in half. Works literally had a dark side and a light side. This has been a salient feature of my work for some time.
After looking over my recent creations I began reading Dr. Key Redfield Jamison’s book “Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament.” I started to see strong connections between Bipolar and creativity. There is a good case made for it in this book. The unusually high number of artists with this affliction makes a compelling case that bipolar is connected to high levels of artistic achievement.
The list of artists who have suffered from mental illness, depression and bipolar, is extensive. The artistic temperament is a live wire that ignites everything it its path.
There was a study in Sweden, and I cannot recall the details. In this study they examined high achieving student’s psychiatric records. They discovered that a number of them were bipolar.
What I have experienced is that Bipolar can literally send you a million and one ideas at once. It can create wild associations between ideas and visuals. It provides the “fire” that sparks the imagination. When in a hypo manic moment, you get added inspiration and drive. Your sense of purpose is extremely drawn. The only down side is when the depressions hit so hard you cannot move, let alone create a piece of art.
For me, my artistic temperament was fueled by yet another diagnoses, Borderline Personality Disorder. That brought another element into the “mix.” From what I have read thus far, a number of bipolar people also have this personality disorder as well. There is the belief among some in the psychiatric community that Borderline Personality Disorder maybe related, or even on the same spectrum, as Bipolar. This is speculative on my part, but I do feel that there is a connection between the two of some type. I am not a psychiatrist so I can only offer what I have seen, but mood and personality tend to be connected.
Amid all of the anguish and chaos, my proposal for a Bipolar Exhibition was approved by the prestigious Shemer Art Center in Phoenix, Arizona. If all goes well, I will have a show there opening June 25th to August 6th of this year.
The show is really the one thing that has kept me going. Knowing that my identity as an artist is intact and that my work and ideas are taken seriously by a well-respected art institution in Phoenix Arizona is confirmation at a very good time.
I believe my recovery, which is permitting me time to create this document, is in large part the result of this upcoming exhibition. Advance response to the new pieces has been overwhelmingly positive. The content and imagery in the new work is different from anything I have done
A positive sign of my own “renaissance” is that I will have work at a new art center opening this March. The Director invited me to participate. I am very thrilled about this. It will be my first showing of 2015.
This month I also completed a small commission. It was small. But at least it was something. I am grateful for small things. Bad times make you appreciative.
Sadly, I had tried to apply for a grant. Due to my inability to fully function at the time, I had made a mistake and the grant was rejected. This is what Bipolar and Borderline personality can do to you.
I know that if I can get through the next few months, I know I can get back to where I was creatively. I do want to teach again and make art and write
What I need, desperately need, are funds to purchase paints, frames, canvas and the like to continue. Funds are literally spent. I mean zero. So anything you can throw my way will help make this possible.
Whatever you can do, a few dollars, or just spreading the word helps. I would love to see my web site go viral. Links to my web page, looking me up on twitter and facebook, my web site has the links, all of this counts. I would like to go viral.
Aside from me for a moment, Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. It can literally kill you. Awareness is increasing. This is good. Alleviating stigma is still a problem. It prevents people from seeking treatment or even knowing what to look for with regards to mental health.
We tend to ignore mental health. If things in life are not working out as planned, or your are depressed, the assumption has always been that you have a character flaw. If discipline is engaged, your difficulties will vanish. “Pick yourself up by your bootstraps,” and “ Just plow ahead, “ are the standard assumed answers.
Life has never been that simple. There are instances where simply plowing ahead will get you ahead. Not everyone suffers from a mental illness.
But, when you think of suicide, when your behavior becomes erratic, when you moods change for no reason, when your so depressed that suicide seems like an excellent option, it is time to seek professional help.
No one, myself included, wanted to believe I had a problem. I was somewhat functional in the world. I had overcome obstacles as most people do. I had set backs. I buckled down and moved forward. I just assumed everyone becomes suicidal. I assumed everyone becomes depressed for weeks on end. I assumed everyone becomes restless, reckless and takes risks. I assumed a lot.
As long as the bills were paid and nothing terrible happened, I was alright.
I was terribly wrong. If I have ever made a huge mistake in my life it was not seeing the signs. They were painfully obvious for a long time. The moodiness of High School. The suicidal thoughts at a teenager. The frequent bouts of suicidal thoughts off and on over the years. Manic behavior that would keep me up all night and active during the day for weeks on end.
When I went to my first Behavioral Health Facility my first thought was, “these poor people, and thank God that is not me.”
The joke was totally on me. I was just like those people and had been.
No one chooses to be Bipolar. But, if you seek treatment, persist and become your own advocate, you can hope for a positive outcome. Bipolar can do a lot of damage, a lot. But there is hope.
I can tell you that there maybe ups and downs. Everyone is different. For some, recovery comes with medications. In time the pills go from several a day to just one. For some people, that is realistic.
For others, Bipolar means taking care of oneself. For me that means a healthy life style. It means no smoking, no drinking, eliminating certain foods and certainly no drugs other than those prescribed.
I have not been in recovery long enough to know what it means for many people. What I have seen informs me that it does require vigilance.
I do know for certain that not taking psychiatric meds, not altering your lifestyle, or ignoring Bipolar is life threatening. No one gets better without psychiatric meds, therapy and support groups. People may say they do, but I have only seen cases becoming worse, a lot worst.
If you think, even suspect, that you are Bipolar and/or Borderline Personality Disorder, please seek professional help from trained professionals. Talking to friends is great, but that is not enough.
Thank you for reading this document. If any of this helps just one person, I feel very successful in my goals.
I am actively seeking support for what I know will be a unique exhibition. Help me make it happen. I have much to say and this is a subject that demands a public dialogue.
There is are
many myths and misconceptions about mental illness. There are just as many about what constitutes “good mental health.” There needs to be a conversation about Bipolar.


Bipolar and Foreclosure


Bipolar and Foreclosure, A video

This video shows me in my home with my dogs and significant other.  

For the last few months, we have struggled to keep our home.  It has been frustrating, unnerving and not helped by Bank so badly run that they cancelled our foreclosure date due to problems with documentation.

There are a lot of details too long to address here, but several phone calls later I was able to halt the sale.

I had only two hours left before my home was sold out from under me.

Many are experiencing this, and I held out hope and still in my home.

I do need to sell work, make more money and struggle with bipolar at the same time. This horrible mental illness was one I had for years and years.  No one knew I had become several mentally ill until an awful tragic event compelled me seek help.

Actually, I was taken to therapy, group and then urgent psychiatric care.

From there I was prescribed medications.

I became suicidal at several points.

I still struggle with wanting to kill myself.  What is worse is that good alternates with the awful.

There is more to tell, but I needed to start someplace. 


Part One: A Continuing Dialoge on Bipolar Disorder

This is a subject that is near and close to me.  For a number of reasons, I consider this, a work of “fiction.”  The reality is anything but that. There is still a stigma attached to bipolar disorder.  It is not well understood. Those that suffer with it know what it entails.  However, it is still a mystery.

Diagnosing bipolar is difficult. Even those afflicted may not know for years. That is a reality that I am fully aware.

This is one perspective on the illness from an insider.


==========================Part  One==============================

The Lens of Reflection:  sharper than the eye that witnesses the present.

When the diagnoses arrived that I was bipolar, disbelief transformed into relief.  Until I was informed of this, I had no sense that something was wrong. Something was very wrong. I assumed there was nothing out of the ordinary in my life.  Bipolar was concept.  It was not a term that applied to me.  The irony is that people who I cared about deeply were afflicted.  In time, I would learn what I assumed was normal was not.

                My bipolar condition had been a part of me for a very long time.

Lack of recognition makes this particular malady all the more difficult to discern from the ups and downs most people experience.  The inability to see it in one’s self is a trademark of this mental condition.

Following periods of profound depression, I would feel energized, agitated and filled with overriding confidence.  Self-esteem would morph into depression, fear, anxiety and guilt. Confidence blended with delusional states of grandeur never lasted.  That over blown idea of self-importance never lasted.  They were as intense as they were fleeting.

Until I hit rock bottom, until I had my first ever encounter with a therapist and a psychiatrist, it was then I came to the realization that my entire adult life was filled with issues, problems and thinking that made no sense.  Reality appeared.  What had been the norm for me was out of kilter with what everyone was doing.

  Equipped with a fresh nomenclature to give form to the formless, much about myself had been the result of mood changes, the chemistry of my brain and the inability to see what was so obvious once I started treatment.

The psychiatrist who prescribe my mediations told me that “It is difficult to make decisions when you mind is out of order.”  This may not be an exact quote.  I never put words in other people’s mouths.  But the essence of the idea was there.  That one sentence summed up much.

How something so disabling escaped me remains an enigmatic mystery.  I remain mystified as to how I went undetected for so long.  It seems so clear I had a mental behavioral problem.  What is not so clear is that my family never saw this.  They just said I was moody, introspective and disdainful of aggregates of people.  In retrospect, the lens of reflection is sharper than the eye that witnesses the present.  What I had to measure mental stability against was not of much assistance.