Tuesday, 29 March 2011
This started out as a shower curtain I made but in coincided with an exhibition at Core Arts in East London based on childhood memories and these are hits for the eighties and nineties (my childhood). I went for colour rather than the cool factor which I started to regret as I stood cringing in the corner of the exhibition launch as people studied in detail. Many of the tapes are "mixed tapes" which if made by teenage (he's the one) boyfriends, I used to try and crack love codes in the song titles which didn't exist. Others are when I used to tape the top forty, holding my finger down on pause JUST as Mike Reed started talking over the song - I never forgave him for that until recently, many of the above records are his, purchased on a record stall in broadway market, rumor had it that Mike Reed went bust and sold his records, but then a jacket on the opposite stall was worn by Kurt Cobain in 1996 even though he died in 1994 - where I'd dance like mad round my six by four bedroom and do "emergency stops" which meant throwing myself on the bed and acting casual when one of my parents came in, like musical chairs for teenagers.
Back in those days, when us girls were thinking of breaking up with our boyfriends, we'd start to tape their records. For some reason they never clocked on. I guess these days we'd start copying their itunes, but as for being a grown up, the emergency stops still apply, especially when I'm dancing round the living room to the theme tune from catchphrase.
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
Not long after I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (I use capitals as it’s had a huge impact on my life, from trips to ASDA to long term relationships) I felt a strong urge to write a back-dated sick note to all those I'd let down since my teenage years; friends, boyfriends, work colleagues, flat-mates, my German teacher, Nana, my gerbil...
My draft went a little something like this.
I am sorry that I (delete as appropriate) never turned up / turned up wasted - on my first day / spent all your money on tat I binned on the way back / tried to run you over on my push-bike / threw up in your bath - whilst you were in it / wore your wedding dress out - before your wedding / forgot to feed you for three days / trashed the TV because you wouldn't put Catchphrase on / invited twelve strangers back - to live / went to Woolworths for biro's and didn't come back for three days / tried it on with your Dad (This last one was not aimed at either Nana or the gerbil).
I was in-fact experiencing from a manic episode. It is a medical condition and I'm not the selfish, irresponsible drunk you portrayed me as. Times when I didn't attend for weeks on end to return as though nothing had happened I was in-fact experiencing a depressive episode.
I didn't send it. For a start I couldn't afford stamps, or paper (just reverse bingo slips) as I'd been fired. And dumped, and de-friended.
I was diagnosed in my late twenties because during a nine month stint of sobiety I was still “drunk”. My Dad, also diagnosed with bipolar, heard it’s often hereditary and said I passed it on too him.
Personally I believe all psychiatric drugs should be prescribed by a psychiatrist rather than a GP because a good shrink is more likely to know more about your personal (or personnel) needs - motivational, practical - rather than just whether you have high blood pressure or webbed feet.
Many depression sufferers are artistic. It's a chicken or egg situation - as artists we tend to be perfectionists and prone to feelings of failure which can stimulate depression... when depressed we are more open minded, however negative, and tend to be at our most artistic. There are novelists, musicians and painters dating back to (ahem, I wish I paid more attention at school) a long time ago who back up this theory.
But are anti-depressants a solution for artists?
I met with a musician yesterday. A talented man with proven success and all the frills of fame and fortune. Although he cannot see it. He suffers from acute depression and is currently on a high dose of anti-depressants. He was first put on these after a suicide attempt, however, as his dose has increased over the last two years he has made three more attempts which have landed him in intensive care. He told me that the tablets' side effects mute his love of music, music is his life and he simply cannot face life without music.
So, we are faced with a choice, mend ourselves with anti-depressants which curbs depression but can numb our artistic passion which in turn can make us depressed again, or mend ourselves with that very artistic passion but continue to be somewhat depressed.
Hmm.. as both artist(ic) and a manic depressive I can see both sides of this argument I seem to have created. My choice, and this is not the answer, was to meet in the middle. I reduced my dose to a safe point where I don't hit rock bottom and can create art sometimes.
Best of luck if you're ever faced with this decision.