A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Mother And Child

This painting is based on a black and white photograph by the photographer Mary Ellen Mark in her book A Cry For Help: Stories of Homelessness and Hope. And I'm back to my old problem of trying to find subject matter to paint. Of course, I'm drawn to the compositions of really good photographers be they professionals, semi-professionals or amateurs. I probably should go back to sites like Flickr and look for photographs of people. I guess it's all right to practice painting using professional photographs like those of Mark and Sturges. Working from really good photographs teaches me about good subject matter and compositions, like painting from the masters. I have to remember that I'm still putting myself into the process, especially when I turn a black and white photograph into a color painting. Even just which photograph I choose is putting myself into it. Ideally, I would like to use my own photographs, but I have never been much of a people photographer. I did get a new camera, but I haven't learned how to use it properly yet, which I must. I used to be a good photographer, but it's been quite a while since I tried. I wish I could be a traditional painter and hire models to paint. Or make studies and then create an original composition. I should, at least, do a few self portraits. I think I'm making excuses. The main thing is to keep drawing and painting.

I've been spending a certain amount of time online trying to connect/help other people who suffer from mental illness. I've done a little bit at Health Central's Schizophrenia Connection where Chris Bruni works as a schizophrenia expert. There are some really nice people at that site and it's set up so that you can have a profile and a journal called a Share Post. I've only written two entries so far, but I'm also trying to contribute by answering some questions either posed by Christina in her Question of the Week or posed by other people on the site. I'll post the link to it in my Favorite Links section, so check it out.
I've also answered a few questions on Yahoo Answers. Yahoo Answers is where anyone can post a question and anyone can answer it. So I've been focusing on Mental Health questions. But the place where I've been spending more of my time has been on LiveJournal. It's a great place to meet other people suffering from mental illness, especially young people, some of whom really need help. I find there's more of a community feeling on LiveJournal than on Blogger. Here, we're each in our own pretty self contained world, but on LiveJournal everyone visits other communities and participates and gets to know other people. You can choose to "friend" other people and you have a "Friend's Page" that helps you to follow other people's journals more immediately. It's just a different feel to it. I like Blogger because it is more formal, but I like LiveJournal because it's more informal and in some ways more creative. There's a community called Crazy Poems where anyone with a mental illness can post poems about their illness. I've tentatively created a community called Crazy Artists hoping that all kinds of artists will post some of their work and connect with each other. I haven't gotten too far with that yet because I'm not sure what I'm doing, but, hopefully, I'll figure it out.

I haven't yet approached anyone in my town about starting a support group. I still feel insecure. I have to make myself go to the NAMI meeting on Wednesday even though I'm nervous about the driving because there's a couple who suffer from BiPolar Disorder who want to start a support group one town over from where I live, which would be much more accessible to me. They've set a date for a meeting on September 2nd, which I also must go to. I hope they have success and I want to support their efforts. I'm proud of anyone who suffers from mental illness who can start a support group. It takes courage and determination and it's so important.
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