Regarding my Mental Health and Art- Guest post by Mike

I feel like that at some point I was a separate entity to my mental illness and I find it impossible to figure out where the two merged into just mental illness. Picasso said something about art being like a diary, and I look at my art work over the last ten years and I can see where my BPD and OCD have pushed out the creativity and the obsession has taken over, documentation of various breakdowns and hallucination and the huge gaps where I haven’t made any work because I’ve been too depressed.

The thing about art is that it is incredibly cathartic but it can become a problem. For my university degree I wrote a thesis on exposure and response prevention therapy and a tenuous link to art and in conjunction with this I produced over 400 bird paintings. Just to be clear, 400 bird paintings is a ridiculous amount of paintings to produce. They still clog boxes and boxes in my old room in my parent’s house. It really seemed like a good idea at the time and I guess it proved a point, the point that art is a true reflection of the person’s personality. But what if that person has a personality disorder I ask myself. Well that’s why I haven’t painted properly for months. Painting rejects me. I feel rejected by it. It triggers self-harm when it goes wrong and “wrong” means ‘not exactly as my brain imagines the final image’. When I can’t paint, I write too. Which I was about to say is rubbish. That’s because writing rejects me. I try to create a finished product every time, which isn’t possible and isn’t how writing works. I want it done quickly because I am addicted to the sense of achievement, but like all addictions the sense of achievement is such a fleeting high that it is gone again moments later. So I buy more art materials. Until I have no money. Like a drug I want more and more until I have a pile of fucking materials and no inspiration. Inspiration in this sense is motivation to get to the illusive sense of achievement. The emptiness is always difficult to fill. I guess that is my point.

The problem with creating is that it takes time and patience. And patience is something that is missing in me these days. I don’t know if it is medication related or BPD, but the lack of patience is so hard to bypass. My patience has lessened and lessened to the point that in my initial mark making on a painting I already feel determined that it is a failure. Is it possible to be determined to fail? Of course it is. Even when you are desperate to move forward and produce something, like breathing with a rotten lung, you can’t seem to get to the place you need. Even writing this post I am determined that it will be terrible, just like the paintings I can’t seem to be happy with, like the books of poetry and novels I don’t finish, just like the relationships with all aspects of my work that are full of rejection and that emotional void.

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