Posted in Fiber, Quilts

Getting Back My Desire To Make Art

Although Cymbalta sucked all the joy out of life, I have managed to do a tiny bit of art. When I realized that I had no desire to go to class, no desire to read, no desire to do my homework and, most telling, no desire to make art, I knew it was time to come off Cymbalta. I’m now going through withdrawal. Withdrawal sucks. If I were coming off heroin, I’d puke and poop for three days and be done. With psych meds, it’s a minimum of 6 weeks of misery and I’ve had withdrawal last as long as 12 weeks. So for the duration, I’ll be having hot flashes, balance problems, daily surprises. Like the surprise I got yesterday when I woke up, sat up, and watched the room spin. Clockwise. I’m in the northern hemisphere so rooms only spin clockwise.

Anyway, I did manage to make some boxers. I took leftover fabric and cut out legs. If there was enough fabric for both legs to match, that’s what I did. If not enough fabric for both legs but enough fabric for one leg, then there’s a leg of this and a leg of that.

The first pair, I made some mistakes because I had forgotten how to put the boxers together. I got better with each pair, and now I can’t remember what I did so I get to go through the learning curve yet again when I start using up leftover fabric for boxers for Jim.

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You can see the mistake if you look closely.

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Of course I had to use my fancy stitches.

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I wasn’t trying to match the print. If I had tried, it wouldn’t have matched.

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For the first time in a long time, I want to make art. I’m working on finishing up the nerve regeneration quilt and I’ve got a mitochondria quilt designed. I need to pick out fabric for that quilt.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here. Stop by and see what some other artists have been doing.

Looking for art to buy? Please stop by my store, Deb Thuman Art here.

Posted in bipolar disorder, Clay, Fiber, Pottery, Quilts

Bring Back The Original Asylum

I’ve been thinking about the Buffalo Psychiatric Center which was originally known as the NYS Asylum.

The original purpose of the asylum was to give those with a mental illness a calm place in which to heal. New therapies were used. Patients were allowed to work on the farm and in gardens. They were allowed access to the library. They were encouraged to create useful things via weaving and woodworking. The halls were wide and the windows large. Patients were discouraged from staying in their rooms and encouraged to interact with other patients by sitting in the chairs lining the hallways and chatting. It was thought fresh air and sunshine would be a benefit and there were verandas where patients could sit outside. The purpose of the asylum was to cure patients so they could return to their families.

Eventually, the asylum turned into hell. A good portion of the land was taken over and became the campus of Buffalo State College. The farm was gone. Crafts were gone. Inmates were housed in the hallways because the facility that was designed for 600 patients suddenly had 3000 patients. Patients were tied to their beds, confined in ice baths, given insulin treatment, given electric shock treatment, given lobotomies. Inmates were dumped into what was called the Buffalo Psychiatric Center and forgotten about. No one was cured. Everyone was warehoused, mistreated, and likely over medicated. Nothing like Thorazine to keep the tortured inmates docile.

Now, we know that damage to the hippocampus – the part of the brain that is damaged when the brain’s owner suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – can be healed. The damaged neurons in the hippocampus can regenerate and heal. We know that regeneration is triggered by learning something new – such as how to manage a farm and by creativity such as weaving cloth or making items from wood. We know that fresh air and sunshine is beneficial. We know that being social is beneficial and an antidote to depression. We know that lobotomies did harm and never helped. We know that electric shock treatment was horribly overused and had little effect. We know that confining someone to an ice water bath is torture.

Can mental illness be cured? I think so. I think so even though I take a mood stabilizer and an anti-depressant every day and likely will always need to take psych meds. I believe the bipolar disorder can be tempered to the point where I need significantly lower doses.

I am going through withdrawal because I need to come off cymbalta. The drug was sucking the joy out of my life. I didn’t feel like going to class. I didn’t feel like doing any reading. I didn’t feel like doing my homework. Most telling, I didn’t feel like making art. I cannot and will not live in a joyless world.

I felt bad enough one morning that I considered going to the hospital and asking to be admitted to the psych ward. While considering my options, I remembered the two psychiatrists I was forced to see – both of whom insisted that I take more drugs and higher doses. I don’t need more drugs now; I need fewer drugs. And so I didn’t go to the hospital.

Choices for those of us living with a mental illness shouldn’t consist of misery of the illness or in the alternative, misery of treating the illness and being told there’s nothing anyone can do for us besides feed us more drugs.

For the first time in months, I want to make art. I’ve got designs for two quilts worked out. One is based on an exercise done in a drawing class. I model for the art department and I get to sit in on critiques. As I learned about the drawing assignment and listened to the comments made about each drawing, a quilt started to form in my head. Yesterday, my animal physiology teacher mentioned we could come to class on 10/30 dressed in an animal physiology theme costume. Got a dandy quilt in my head for that day. I’ve also got to figure out how to do the final quilting on the nerve regeneration quilt. This weekend, I’ll do a glaze firing and maybe even make for little ceramic trays.

I’m linking with Nina Marie here.

Looking for a one of a kind gift? Please check out my store, Deb Thuman Art here.