Wednesday, June 18, 2008

D is for Depakote

I've been visiting some of the websites that I have listed on the sidebar under "Resources", and I've been thinking about trying art and words. I've collected a lot of art supplies and scrapbooking supplies over the years, so it's not like I would have to make a substantial investment to get started. I just need to get myself past the critic in my brain that says, in glaring neon letters, Yes, but you're not the least bit artistic. It'll be a Disaster. With bells on. You'll do it completely arse-backwards and They will all laugh and tell stories about it to Their grandchildren.

Well, last night, I said to the critic, "Yes, well, you're just a disembodied brain with bright red duck feet and horn-rimmed glasses. What do you know about Disaster? Especially Disaster with bells on?" And with that I took up my coloured pencils and began to colour my world. Or at least my thoughts.

So I thought then that I would try to draw my impressions of my whole bipolar nightmare. And I had all these clever, arty ideas about the whole manic/depressive dichotomy, black vs. light, light and dark, day and night, all very cliche, you understand.

So she puts pencils to paper and begins...

And what comes out is this brightly coloured amorphous creature of light and colour and movement trapped behind criss-crossing barbed wire, and everywhere that two pieces of wire meet there is that grey pill with the stylized "D" on it.

D for Depakote. D for Doped up. D for the Dreams and the Days lost. D for the Darkness in my soul. D for the Doctors and Drug companies that do this to thousands of people like me every day.

Wow. Um. Yeah. That was unexpected. So obviously I am still angry and still bitter and still not at peace with that whole chemical restraint and over-medication and doctors who think they know best thing.

And here I thought art journaling was just pretty pictures.

Writing Prompt: Creativity is one of the most powerful tools we have. It can aid us in healing and recovery, and it can brighten our lives and even become our life's focus. To what unexpected places has your creativity led you?


Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jazz,
I love this post. "D" is for all the things you mentioned, particularly Depakote, which was a terrible medication for me. And I also love that you are as artistically challenged as I am. What's worse (or better) for me, is that my husband is an artist, but then he's not a writer (smiling face)!


Anonymous said...

Hi Jazz,
I am not ready to join you in the artwork. I have done it when I was hospitalized and I don't want to revisit that pain again. I found your creative reaction to your own assignment most interesting.

I relate to your "D is for Depakote." My Depakotes were orange or peach colored, not gray. And yes the did dope me up with a capital D. I was always sleepy. I remember going to a concert with my ex and asking if I could go back to the car to sleep. (He was sooo disappointed)

ALSO, Depakote curled my hair...I didn't have to get a perm for years. I wonder what it did to my liver and kidneys.

Jazz said...

Depakote was awful for me, too...a real "soul cage" if you will.

My husband is also an artist--and a darned good one--which always makes me shy about sharing anything I've attempted to draw with him. Not that he's ever laughed at my's just that I have this thing about wanting to be at least competent at the things I do...and I'm afraid my drawing has never lived up to admittedly harsh criticisms and unreasonably high expectations!

Jazz said...

How sad that your experience in hospital has closed that avenue of creativity for you!

I'm not planning to post art-journal challenges here or's just something I've been playing around with. The written word fascinates me too much to change my focus at this point. But it was kind of an interesting exercise, and the strength of the feelings that came out of it kind of surprised me.

Gianna said...

hi Jazz,
sounds like some good work!

I do really bad pastels and have a lot of fun doing them.

Luckily I have absolutely no critic in me...they are simply so bad that if I did have a critic I wouldn't get anything out at all.

I was on Depakote too. 60 lbs worth of Depakote...

Jazz said...

I wish I could shut my critic up sometimes. I'm getting better at ignoring it when I write, but for drawing and painting, well, it's still there ragging on me.

Depakote gifted me with an extra 60 lbs as well. Horrid stuff.

Gianna said...

you know I actually draw like a kid...maybe a 7 year old kid, and oddly enough I take pleasure in my stuff just like a 7 year old!!

I'm not so easy on myself about my writing...always critical, but I'm getting much better the more I put stuff out there.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jazz, Gianna, and Naturalgal,
I love it that we're all awake (particularly me since it's only 6:50 now) and chatting.

Jazz, since my husband has no expectations of my artistic abilities, I've never felt bad about my inability to progress beyond childhood drawing. But, my newest (and only) artistic venue these days is digital photography and I had my first class on Monday. It was great. Soon, I plan on posting my photos on my blog.

I lost about a third of my hair on Depakote. And when it came back, it was so curly I looked like I had an Afro. It took three years to grow a new head of hair that was straight again. People thought I had cancer.

I gained 30 pounds on it. Yikes.


Jazz said...

That's awesome that you can do that...I wish I could, because I recall clearly how much pleasure drawing and colouring gave me as a child. We lose so much in terms of our ability to just do it because we love it...seems like everything has to be a performance, doesn't it?

Gianna said...

I'm doing the digital camera thing too..I have yet to buy got any suggestions...I did photography years ago...I'm excited about digital because you can just throw stuff you don't like away!

I hope to add them to my blog too!

I'm excited!

Jazz, I'm sorry if this is too far off topic...

Gianna said...

I actually get embarrassed about how much I like my really bad drawings...I feel like showing them to people and almost expect compliments, but then I know that they look like a kid did them...that part is hard because I still want the praise the 7 year old got!!

Not terribly hard though, all and all I just get a kick out of thinking such childish drawing is so great!!

I think it is because they are psychological though...they have meaning to me...

Clueless said...

Yes, and that is what I thought about fingerpainting. And if you've seen my know it isn't true. Continue with it, art therapy taps into another area of our brain that isn't filtered out by thoughts so much. I just have to remember to feel instead of think when I paint. Great for you. In terms of what I know about you, D is also for Determination.

Jazz said...

Nothing is too far off topic! Let the discussion flow where it will.

I think it's really cool to be able to look at your art that way. I will be working on ousting the critic.

I've tried a little digital photography, and then tried enhancing/playing with the photos in's a lot of fun, and you can do some really neat things, but boy, talk about a learning curve! And hubby is so talented with photoshop and other digital media. You should see his stuff! He just got his digital portfolio can see it here.

Jazz said...

Fingerpainting, that's so tactile! That actually sounds like fun...I'm really liking this whole art therapy concept a lot.

Gianna said...

wow...interesting stuff your husband does! anything inspired by you??

I dare you to tell us??

Jazz said...

Well, I like to think they're all inspired by me!

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear Jazz,
Wow! Your husband's work is great. That's really exciting.

Still, yours might be totally different. My husband used to be the art director of Bon Appetit magazine and he hired food photographers for 20 years. And that hasn't stopped me from being a rank amateur. And he even compliments me on my shots!

Something to think about!


Clueless said...

If you decide to do fingerpainting, the brands vary alot. I prefer the Crayola ones as the colors are more vibrant. I purchase larger tubes at a local teacher supply shop. I have a whole kit put together, so during free time and craft time in the hospital, I had my own art therapy. I tend to think too much and during my first hosptialization this was a huge breakthrough and a good substitute for self-injury.

You could also try crayons both using you dominant and non-dominant hands.

Take Care,

P.S. ~ tomorrow's post is four of my fingerpaintings.

Jazz said...

Thanks for the info...I will have to pick some up. I happily threw away fingerpaints when they lost appeal for my kids because they were so messy!

I will be sure to check out your blog tomorrow!

Aqua said...

Thanks for the prompt.

I have always been creative, but never knew I was artistic until I took a drawing course at the Art College a few years ago. I became enthralled with the medium. Since I became too sick to work my pdoc referred me to an Art Clubhouse in my city for people with mental illnesses. It is member run and OT's and rehab specialists are there. You can take drawing, painting, mixed media, pottery, guitar, knitting....etc. tons of different classes and studio spaces is available for you to work on projects on your own.

Since I became a member almost 5 years ago I have become more and more involved, and in the past 2 years have done lots of volunteering. I have volunteered to teach Printmaking and am now the Beginner's drawing instructor and about to teach a teen group.

Ths Art clubhouse and its supportive environment, where I can be exactly who I am, whoever that is at any given time, and where I am constantly encouraged about my ability to create art has become a safe haven for me. I love it. If you look on my blog and click "paintings" in the labels sidebar you will see my first paintings (I just began painting a few months ago and am loving it)
p.s. I think anyone can be creative and in my drawing class I tell everyone anyone can learn to draw...and it is true. No one in the class believes me until they start creating incredible and beautiful drawings. I love the look on participants faces when they see they can draw and are good at it. Priceless.

Jazz said...

That's wonderful, Aqua. I wish we had something like your Art Clubhouse here. That sounds like such a wonderful, empowering thing, to help people unlock hidden talents, and to see that look on their faces when they realize that they can do something they never thought they could.

Jazz said...

Aqua, I just stopped by your blog to have a look at your paintings, and they are awesome! I can't believe these are some of your first attempts, and I must say I am more than a bit envious! I have always wanted to paint and draw...I know, I should just take a class, shouldn't I?

Great work, Aqua!