Posts Tagged ‘bipolar’





The Race


Tracy is a self-taught artist and began painting around 1999. She is bipolar. She would like to say this doesn’t define her, but it does, the same way as being a mother and a wife and a female also define who she is. Tracy was diagnosed as bipolar in her late 30s but can trace it back to her early childhood. It is her persona, what makes her, well, her. Her art is an outlet for her highs and lows, although some of the paintings during her lows are not for display or sale. Please visit Tracy at: Abstract Art Online, and Ecstasy’s Lament.


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Door Panels

The door panels are created around batik art panels by the Indonesian artist Ciptoning.  I constructed imagery to express my journey inward and my concept of strength for the day.

Leaf Fabric

The leaf fabric was created using deconstructed screen printing and foil.  I include the leaf to tell the part of my story that includes getting play clothes and belonging to a group of fiber artists who encourage one another to grow.

Carolina Warner has struggled with mental health issues most of her life.  It wasn’t until early adulthood that she sought treatment.  It took many years to get a Bipolar II diagnosis and medication that included mood stabilizers along with antidepressants. She feels she has been fortunate to have therapists along the way who could help her grow emotionally.  When symptoms ended her professional work life, she was encouraged to use art to express her feelings and experience.  She was able to stabilize and grow as a quilt artist.  Although she may or may not return to a full-time work life, art will always be part of her journey.

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By Lynne Taetzsch

Although Lynne wasn’t diagnosed with bipolar disorder until her late 40s, she knew well before that things were not right.  Having severe insomnia and depression as a teenager, she told her mother she needed to see a psychiatrist.  Her mother made her a cup of tea instead.

For Lynne, a life of making art and writing has been a saving factor.  Being able to express her feelings and to transform them into something beautiful has made it all worthwhile.

Lynne has lived throughout the US,  and now resides in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York State. She’s had many jobs, and through most of them, she kept painting. Since the spring of 2000, she’s been painting full time in her studio in Ithaca, New York.

In 2000 Lynne moved her 93-year-old father and 92-year-old ex-mother-in-law to an assisted living facility near her and became their primary caregiver.  That adventure led to the writing of Lynne’s latest book, The Bipolar Dementia Art Chronicles.  Lynne has a website, ARTBYLT.COM and regularly updates an art blog with her art and thoughts.

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By Charlotte Cooper

At 7 months pregnant, my Mom gave birth to twins: one born lifeless, one alive. I was the surviving twin, born with blond curly hair, one blue eye and one green. Being the impossible child that I was, I only slept 2 to 4 hours a night.

From the time I started walking at 8 months, I would hide in closets and under the bed, leaving my mother exasperated. At 5, I began to run away. I would spend the night in Mom’s friends’ homes, sleeping in their homes and cars. Mother called the police more times than I care to remember. I would return home, filthy, dirty, and in tattered clothes, telling Mom ludicrous stories about the time I was a pirate, a whore, a priest.

My aunt suggested that my mother send me to my vodoun (voodoo witch) aunt in New Orleans in hopes that she could tame my wildness by teaching me about spells, potions, and other things, such as talking to people who needed help with their lives.

After four years, my mother came to New Orleans and tore me from my aunt’s arms, me screaming, scratching and threatening her with spells that would undo her life. My aunt tried to calm me but it didn’t work. I finally gave up after my aunt and I spent hours and hours begging and pleading my mother to let me stay.

When we arrived home, Mother told me that she was taking me to a shrink, which was a shameful thing back in those days. Actually, she said she was taking me to a “head doctor”. Of course, every time she made an appointment, I would disappear.

I finally agreed to go, and the shrink put me on some kind of medication that made me into a zombie. After that, he suggested to my Mom that maybe I should be put in the local mental institution. Also, he suggested that I be given shock treatments. I didn’t know what that was but it sounded like an unbearable thought to me. So I ran away again.

While staying with a friend, Judith, I met her brother. I was 14, he was 17. We made a baby and the families turned their focus from me to the baby boy I called Joey. Soon after, I was put on Valium, and this made the “crazies” come back. I overdosed twice and had to stay in the hospital’s mental ward.

After I was released, I found a job and a baby-sitter. My husband had joined the Army and was sent to Germany, but I couldn’t take my son and go with him. While he was in Germany, he fell in love with a teacher. She got pregnant and called me, begging that I divorce Joe, Sr. Although I was crushed, I did manage to give her what she wanted.

Life, after that, brought several marriages and 2 more sons born to me. It was necessary for me to work 2 jobs most of the time. That, along with vodka, soothed out my mania.

To add to the pain in my life, my son William died of pneumonia, and Tim was thrown from the back of a truck my then-husband was driving. He died of fatal head injuries. I rolled myself into a ball and stayed there for many days.

You never get over the loss of a child. I still think of my boys every day. The pain is near unbearable. It never goes away.

After that, I was a legal secretary for an array of attorneys. Learning about law was interesting at first, but turned boring after a few months. I quit and went to truck driving school. I fell in love with Ronnie, one of the other students. After graduating, we drove back and forth to Kemah, Texas to Bayou la Batre, Alabama. After Ron’s and my relationship was over, I moved on to other truck driving jobs. Most of my friends were other truckers. Seldom did I say no to sex. Pot was a staple for me.

Knowing esoteric things about people was fun. At 40-something, I started using my aunt’s spells and powers. People from all over the State of Texas would come to me for readings. I loved being able to help people see things that were hidden in the deepest parts of their minds.

At 50-something, my so-called friends began to disappear gradually from my life. I believe that it was because voodoo began to slip back into my life, and they were not believers. I believe they were leeches, grabbing my coattails, but when it got too weird, they were no longer available.

By that time, I didn’t really care. I moved into mainstream life by getting a job as a legal secretary and later as a paralegal. I was strictly on the up and up with my life. When my oldest son, Joey, took his own life, everything seemed to fall apart. I decided I needed a shrink.

They diagnosed me as depressed and treated me with several different medications. All of them made me manic. I didn’t sleep at night and I begin to hallucinate.

I lost my job at the law firm. They gave me an excellent severance package. With it and my 401K, I was able to go to massage therapy school. At the school, I was able to read lives for those who would asked. Then about half-way through massage school, several students decided that I was too scary for their liking. Their talking about me behind my back affected the manic part of my personality, and I withdrew from them.

After graduating from massage school, I embarked on my new career – giving people massages while also doing a reading. It was short-lived because while some liked it, others freaked out.

Finally, I went to MHMR for counseling and diagnosis. At first it was just for depression. The meds made me manic and when I crashed, I became suicidal. We played the med shuffle for 3 years. I finally convinced the doctor that I needed something other than what they were giving me.

He finally suggested that I sign a Court Order which would let me be admitted to the state psychiatric hospital. I was there twice. MHMR assisted me in getting Social Security Disability at 58, and now, at 65, I am on straight Social Security. A group of mental health providers finally found me an agreeable treatment. But even today, they have to tweak my meds occasionally, to help me brain balance itself out.

Charlotte now lives in the country near Corpus Christi, Texas, with her roommate, Bonnie, who Charlotte feels is an angel in disguise. It’s still difficult sometimes when the depression and/or mania shows its ugly face, but Charlotte recognizes its coming and going now. Mostly, life is good and she is happy.

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Photo by Lauren Black


By Lauren Black

London, Barcelona, Berlin, Munich, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, The Hague… she had always been a city girl at heart. She loved the people, the melting pot atmosphere, walking around the streets at night. She simply enjoyed the anonymity of the lifestyle and the adventures that could be found around very corner.

She had plans for her future… bright dreams swirling around in huge, colorful clouds around her head, that filled her heart with glee and her stomach with a light tingling every time she even thought of it… New York, L.A., San Fancisco… she would no longer be forced to follow the beaten track. She would be the first one of her family to leave that stuffy, suburban life behind… she would stop existing and would start living.

It was a beautiful morning in Paris, although it had already been hot and stifling for days. The streets were buzzing and the people were chatting and laughing… simply enjoying life and everything that came along with it… even if it was a hangover after a long night of partying. Paris just like so many other cities around the globe, never seemed to sleep.

Everyone was apparently just happy, except for a young woman who sat right in the middle of a pavement in Montparnasse. She was so pale that she really could be considered as cadaverous-looking; her upper body was slightly swaying back and forth and her hands were tightly clutching an almost empty water bottle. That was when she got to know the reverse of the anonymity-medal. Everyone who passed her simply just preferred to stare at her, but no one helped, although already half an hour had passed since she had collapsed right there where she still sat in silence, except for a small whimper that escaped her lips now and then every time a wave of nausea broke over her.

At last, a man squatted down beside her: ‘Excusé moi? Do you need help?’

She looked up, desperately trying to focus on what was happening around her, but all she could see was a blurry mash of colors.

A hospital, a handsome doctor and these lights… lights were everywhere… and then, there was just darkness.

‘Miss Black? Miss Black? Don’t you wanna get up? It’s time for your sports therapy.’

I turned around to face the wall and tried to blank out the annoying voice of our dear nurse in charge.

‘Are you ignoring me?’ She stood right in front of my bed looking like some kind of bogey on the prowl. I squeezed my eyes shut tightly and tried to go back to sleep, but she wouldn’t let me.

‘You can’t just skip therapy,’ she said sternly, ‘You already missed the group therapy session for NO apparent reason. I’m not gonna let you slouch here while the other patients are out there, working on their well-being. Don’t you wanna get healthy again?’

Was she serious? Get healthy AGAIN? Couldn’t this stupid woman understand that there was no going back? Once a nutcase, always a nutcase. With no dreams to dream and no life to live. The healthy Lauren no longer existed; she had been left behind on the streets of Paris.

She was just a nurse, with dreams to dream and a life to live, with a family and a house and probably everything else a decent person in today’s society needs to rank among the ‘happy ones’. Me and most of the other patients at the Asylum would never have any of these things.

Mental illness is mostly tantamount to loneliness and isolation. Mentally sick people can even be lonely in a crowded room or in an embrace of a loved one, because their way of thinking or talking is different.

Two different worlds.

And because it hurts to be alone, even around people and because it shows you how pathetic you really are, it always seemed to me as if some of us freely chose to be all alone with themselves and their thoughts and their crazyness… when you’re alone, there’s no one around you can compare yourself with. When you’re alone, you’re almost normal.

My perception is not her reality. My reality is not her perception.


The nurse just looked down at me for a couple of seconds and then, with an affected smile on her face, she said: ‘That’s very disrespectful and I’m disappointed. I think I’d better consult the doctor on call. He’ll be taking care of you. And of course I’m gonna talk to your therapist about this… outburst.’

‘Do what you want’, I spat at her through clenched teeth. ‘Go and get the doctor, I already know him, at least he’s got packages full of pills and not only a mouth full of stupid jabbering.’

Lauren Black (not her real name) was born in 1991. Since her early childhood she has been having issues with anxiety and psychosomatic illnesses. After nearly a decade of incorrect treatment she was diagnosed with severe depression (suspected bipolar disorder) and several anxiety disorders as well as a mild perceptual disorder.

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