Monday, August 11, 2014

Compassion and Suicide


Syrup-drenched inspirational meme invocation aside, I believe that having compassion for others (and ourselves) is one of the most important actions we can take in life. To be compassionate in regards to any and every facet of other people's lives is to acknowledge the validity of the whole person, not just the parts deemed acceptable for public consumption. Those of us with chronic illnesses understand this better than many. 

One thing the general public should understand is that suicidal ideation (thinking suicidal thoughts) isn't always driven by the desire to die or be dead. Sometimes, it's an impulse. Either way, your brain is literally trying to kill you. 

In this case, let's say your brain insists that you "run into that knife" or "fire that weapon" or "take a step off that bridge", but you have absolutely no true desire to do so. (In my experience, that voice is an incorporeal demon filling the interior of my mind like Bob from Twin Peaks, forcing unbearably clamorous orders and never letting up.) The messages invade your mind space ALL DAMN DAY and it is all you can do to keep them at bay so you can get your chores or reports done. You simply cannot get far enough away from it. I've experienced suicidal ideation due to both this impulse and bipolar disorder. How categorically alarming, frightening, and exhausting it is.

There are SO MANY of our selves/friends/family members/neighbors/strangers who struggle through every single moment while hauling the leaden weight of an uninvited demon or two everywhere they go. We are doing the entire population a grievous disservice by silently allowing people to combat those demons alone. As my wise friend Seth says, "We need to say that it is ok to say when we are in trouble and be able to have the tools available to us not just to help in crisis but to show us how to live with it."

Where do we begin? With compassion.

***EDITED TO ADD***

“You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering.” Ernest Hemingway.

Folks, please pay close attention. I keep seeing posts that say things like "If you're feeling depressed, seek help!" This is all fine and good except for the reality that most people who are suffering badly are truly crippled and in no frame of mind to seek help. Also? They likely already ARE getting some form of help for themselves. ***If you know someone is depressed or suffering from another type of mental illness or bad situation - PLEASE REACH OUT TO THEM. They may not be in a place to be able to accept your help, but do not take it personally. Compassionate action is worth the try.

More info on being an advocate and finding support for everyone: https://www.nami.org/Find-Support

Love, love, love.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Current State Of My Artistic Process - Trying, Succeeding, Backsliding, Failing, Being Disappointed, Getting Through It, And Starting Over

I don't know that I have a particular artistic "process" - I've never sussed it out - but I can tell you what it's been like for the past couple of months:

- A few layers of chronic fatigue brain fog are lifted with medication. Awareness and brain function aren't drastically improved, but HOORAY!

- I lay out a burlesque act that I've desperately wanted to perform for a few years and get booked! I think I can pull it off whether or not I'm feeling awesome. By bouncing my idea off of other performers and getting their feedback, it is solidified as a brilliant plan. It's encrusted with gilded pomp and circumstance and the grandest/most understated performance plan I've ever hatched.

- I spend a lot of time, energy, and resources on mapping out my music, plotting choreography, and scouring for and commissioning costume pieces. I spend a few other people's time, energy, and resources for related reasons. (Scarlett O'Hairdye, Mandy Flame, and Rick and Seraphina of Meneldor Photography are made of gorgeous magic!)

- I need new headshots and want archive-material photographic evidence of this glorious costume, so I set up a photo shoot. Whimsy and joy ensue!

- It takes some effort, but I have fun rehearsing my act. Oh, MAN is it going to be spectacular! I'm making it happen. All the pieces are falling into place.

- I have an asthma attack and end up in the ER a few days before showtime. My GP says I have a viral infection on top of my asthma and allergies and it will take its own time to pass. I alert the producer and give it a few days. Meanwhile, I can't rehearse.

- The day before the show arrives and, while I feel a bit improved, I know there is no way I'll be able to make it happen. FRUSTRATION. DISAPPOINTMENT.

- I realize I can't/shouldn't do this or any act if I'm not feeling my "best" because a certain amount of energy needs to exist in order to pull off anything an audience thinks is worth paying money for. I know falling ill before a show can happen to anyone, but this is my life. My best truly isn't good enough in this scenario. There is no way to know whether or not I will feel my best at any given moment.

- My efforts are not a complete loss and I am so grateful for the faith that people do have in my abilities. I am, however, disappointed that - once again - I wasn't able to follow a project to completion and let off my big kaboom. (I have so many kabooms inside of me.) There may be another opportunity, but I can't afford to hold my breath (physically or emotionally, har!) Meanwhile, I have wonderful photos like this one to dream my dream by:



I'm super good at dreaming.