…”let them know they are loved…and it’s OK to breath once in a while…”
not again, She sighed, heaving herself out from under the bed…
My description of mania, which I have heard used in similar ways, is that I have squirrels in my head. There is a difference with my particular squirrels though… I hear them. Not always, mind you, and yes, I have told this to my mental health pro’s. Whether they diagnosed this as schizophrenia I am not party to, but I am not concerned. I only hear mine when I don’t take a specific medicine, the rest of the time they quietly shred the insulation of my mind…
I have been extremely vigilant, in the past 22 years since my Bipolar Disorder diagnosis, in sticking to my medication regimen. This is a big contributor to my continued success at thriving in spite of my illness, but my disease will still, and always try to convince me this is a lie.
Very similar to a certain someone at the Tree of Life…”you will certailnly not die.”
Yes, oh yes, I will.
I have been on the back of a motorcycle going 120 mph, feeling my fingertips loosening their tentative grip on the madman at the helm. Laughing wildly at the heavens and imagining letting go and floating gleefully to my mangled end. Loving this feeling… Seeking this feeling… Living for this feeling…
(Somehow I lived thru this feeling.)
The lack of sleep, lack of food and lack of coherence was all contributing to this awesome feeling of mastery over my world. Until it wasn’t. When I was unable to scramble eggs because I couldn’t see who was behind me, ready to strike, I was not enjoying the rush. When I spent so many consecutive days in the house that I let my bananas rot in the hot car, I was not enjoying the rush. And when spent all day Tuesday believing it was Monday, and having no clue what I did on Monday- I was really not enjoying any rush.
I was feeling very close to the edge in the past weeks. Glorying in the dizzying of being out of control, rationalizing that-because of my med compliance- I could enjoy this feeling and allow it to overtake me. After all, I’d been putting out my best work-just look at all my followers and the little hearts they post beside my images!
Now the wonderful rush was never-ending white noise, lack of ability to concentrate, a blazing headache and dread. Surrounded by an environment closely resembling a battlefield, and right smack in the middle of the war zone this:
Is she wonderful? Yes, to me she is, and she will do great in the recycled art show she will soon be in. So will this painting:
At what cost, though?
I hope that you embrace all the Bipolar Creatives in your world today, let them know they are loved, and that it’s OK to breath once in a while. If they are anxious or behaving like the world is on fire and they want to watch it burn, help them put the flames out and seek professional help. They are sick, not criminal… Give them a place and a way to rest their weary heads.
I am so glad that I have a support network who love me, and solid pro’s to adjust my meds. I’m grateful God saw fit to let me live today, to feel the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair. And I’m so grateful that I did not let go…
Let fall Your rain while You shout with mighty Thunder!
Your heaven’s flash in wrath: white hot and blue!
May my steed rise to face the dreaded battle-
my shining sword run Your enemy thru!
Your Oceans roar and toss the ships like kindling,
the mighty whale and walrus fight below
The raging wind destroyeth all before it,
there is no end to the power Your arm knows!
Ahh, a stellar day for a rousing poem about fighting for God and righteousness like a knight in glistening armour! I can hear the metallic crash of shield to lance, and the boom of shipboard cannons!
Maybe I need to watch a rerun of Poldark!! I have been working on a nautical themed commission, that could have my brain on the high seas today. As far as righteous battles go, maybe a news story about an awesome film soon to be released triggered me…it is an attempt to tell unvarnished history, and I can’t wait to see it…”Kill all the Brutes!” I think is the name…
It will pull the wool away from many an eye!! So exciting!
Let those waves of change crash on yon shore!! Ride the storm out!
Have you ever felt totally overwhelmed? That has landed on me today, a crushing weight, and I feel powerless. I like to forget my illness sometimes, and it is SO deceitful to me; top of the world for weeks, but It is always waiting. Just around the corner.
My cat Zagnut loves to play hide and seek, and he’ll leap out from around a corner, swat me on the leg and dash away, one hundred miles an hour. If I am cogent, I’ll dash after him, then retreat-to leap out at him in turn. The only problem is that “It” doesn’t let me play back. It just leaps out, when I seem to be doing well, latching onto me like a 150 pound panther, dragging me into It’s lair.
It’s dark in here, and smells of sweat and fear. I just know It is coming back, but I’m wounded. All kinds of nasty doubts swirl in my head…was I a fool to think I could be a sculptor? Why do I want to, anyway. Nobody buys my art, I’m a failure and the house seems to be echoing my mood by failing too. Leaks, creaks, holes, breakers tripping, no AC…I can feel that panther’s breath now…
This is not new, this trip down into It’s den. No, I recognize it oh, so well. I believe the worst is the immobility, standing frozen in It’s gaze and being unable to dash away. I know what I need to do, but the strength escapes me. The therapist I liked so well has left the building (literally), I know I can call for an appointment with the new one…but. I know that I get paid in a few days and the house won’t collapse any time soon…but. I know that I can call any one of many friends and talk, if I just pick up the phone…but. But but but butt head.
So I have done the one thing I can do without moving. I went inside my head, got on my mind’s knees, and cried out to God. You see, I know he is the ONLY ONE who can close It’s gaping jaws. He did it for Daniel and he will do it for me. I just have to exercise patience and make a tiny effort to climb out of this death trap of discouragement. It is It’s favorite tactic, because It knows that despair and feelings of worthlessness lead me to the edge of the abyss. And when I stand at the edge of a great hight it feels like I’m being pulled right over the edge. But my God hears me, he helps the broken hearted, and those crushed in spirit he saves.
I am able to write this, and that is my answer for today. I will not lose this fight, for my God is stronger that anything my illness can do, or anyone else, for that matter. Sure, my brain is wired different, science has proved that bipolar brains behave differently. What science forgets is the One who created that same brain.
I must have forgotten that for a minute, also. I will ride this one out today. And if the phone isn’t too heavy, I’ll call for that appointment. Thanks for listening.
…the room seems to awaken with her…golden rays fall…like the petals of an opening rose…
this isolation is kind of nice, (she thought), it gives me time to explore my thoughts. But too much pondering of self is no good, (she thought to herself), it can get messy. Really, it is messy, all this thinking in isolation, (she remembered), because it makes me so sleepy, (she yawned), not doing the dishes, nor combing my hair, (she sighs), flummoxed, just flummoxed. I should try to eat something, (she groans), but there’s nothing here I want, (she moans) it all takes too much energy… e-n-e-r-g-y…(she sleeps…)footsteps recede, door closes.
Ahhhh, fresh air… Curtains of pale yellow blow in the morning breeze. We know it’s morning, hear the cardinals breakfasting at the feeder. A nuzzle of cold snout under the hand leads to the opening of an eye: Here is Izzy, the proud mom, ready to show us her new brood.
” Good Girl Za-Za!”, we exclaim, thrilled now to sit up, taking a long draw on the crystal glass of water at our bedside.
. “Hey, Kiki old-man! You gonna show us the grand babies?”
. Swing the legs over the side and stretch, then again before standing…
. With that, off they dash as we stumble along behind, into the hall then into the den. We can already hear the tiny grunts and squeals as the teeny pups angrily demand breakfast.
“Get in there, Izzy!” She’s already in the basket, dutifully cleaning little backsides as they squirm and nuzzle in for a teat. “Good Za!”
. She gives us a look of pure bliss, eyes narrow and smiling with a mother’s pride. Not to be outdone, Uncle Kiko, gives a little nose-nudge to the basket as if to say, “I helped too!!”
. ” Good Boy Kiko, you’re a trooper, indeed!”
In the quiet of the morning the scent of brewing coffee tantalizes our senses, and as we look up into the kitchen, there is Dad, in his Dad chair, reading the newspaper as he’s done ten thousand mornings before. He glances up from his cup, mid-sip, to wink and smile, mouthing a silent ‘good-morning’.
. We move down the hall towards Mom’s bedroom, still closed as she slumbers on. We can’t resist a peek, gently opening the door and gliding over to stand and caress her sleeping face with our eyes. She is so beautiful in her repose, a wisp of brown hair touseled over her brow. We must have made a sound, she stirs and the room seems to awaken with her, the birds chirp louder, the golden rays fall around her like the petals of an opening rose. She stretches, smiling, her hand reaches out to touch ours…
Burning Sky, c.STMartin2016
Prayer for Magdallia, by Susan T. Martin 9 x 11 Marker on Board $50.00
Shall I call it “UNBAGGING”? I told you that you would never guess my source photo, in the last post’s images. Well here it is:
. Here’s the deal: I was ready to take Kleo for her daily walk, mask on, prepared to face the outside world. I had just finished watching (another) horrible newscast about the indescribable suffering going on all around the world. They had pinpointed the lack of PPE(initials we now know by heart that stand for Personal Protective Equipment), and the total disregard for life being shown by leaders who shall remain nameless,. The glaring situation that faces those on the frontlines who work to save the sick and dying was very much on my mind, so when Kleo and I stepped onto the street I was shocked by what I saw.
. Up and down my street, in front of every house, were little pink plastic bags, big enough to slip a hand into. And they held a single folded newsprint page with a small sheaf of advertisements tucked inside. I had been upset by these exo-system destroying little plastic bags before, being tossed all over the ground by secret eco terrorists each night under the cover of darkness. I mean- No ONE HAD ASKED FOR THESE! NO ONE HAD ORDERED THESE, OR REQUESTED THEY BE SCATTERED ALL OVER CREATION!!!!
Well , excuse me, there was SOMEONE…
Like I said, this had already bothered me, but now? NOW?!?
. I had just viewed nurses in New York City going to work using “gloves” fashioned using sterilized newspaper bags, shopping bags ( using clean garbage bags for goodness sakes) to shield themselves, and their CHILDREN, AND PARENTS, AND STAFF, AND NEIGHBORS, AND YOU AND ME from the virus!!! So here I was, rushing up and down the street, very angry, very sad, and self-righteous over this waste. I wanted to SCREAM AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS AT THE INJUSTICE OF IT ALL!!
I may actually have screamed something, or at least shouted into my frayed cloth mask, which successfully muffled my words…I marched home with Kleo falling behind, tilting her head curiously, as if to say, “Mommy, I didn’t poop yet!?!”.
I paid her no mind, but kept up my March all the way to my couch where I threw the offending bags on my couch, and made an angry video about the whole mess of emotions I was feeling!
. Then I watched said video, and the old, grouchy Lady with the pink bandana (who was wielding pink plastic bags like a weapon) -well, she just looked pathetic. Very Ineffective.
Therefore I did what artists do best:I made meaningful art, and in doing so I made a statement, a loud statement… A SHOUT FROM THE ROOFTOPS, A SCREAM AT THE TOP OF MY PHOTO EDITING VOICE!!!
“HERE YOU MONSTERS! Here you UNTHINKING BOOBS!!!!” “SEE WHAT I THINK OF YOU!!”
“THERE WILL BE A RECKONING” Because my friends, it’s not up to me with my little pictures… No, the GREATEST ARTIST, the One True God, says in the BIBLE
” …AND HE WILL BRING TO RUIN THOSE RUINING THE EARTH!”, Revelation 11:18B
. Now with the situation reframed, and with me letting go of a job that my Higher Power is doing, way, WAY better than I ever could, I can be happy again. I can use the little pink bags for doo-doo bags for my Ragamuffin Dogs, and be eco-illiterate myself…or, I can make a collage with them and use the adverts also! Ooooo, this will keep me going till nightfall, anyway!!! Then I will have to search for a new, fresh bee to toss into my bonnet! Another vital quest for justice for little furry creatures!!!
. ONWARD, AND UPWARD MY FRIENDS! Let us keep pushing on to better tomorrows!!!
Sleep has been a constant goal for me since I put down drugs and copious amounts of alcohol. Yet it has been the most evasive and endangered of species, teasing me with scattered glimpses of it’s eternal beauty. Oh, how I have longed for it’s soothing embrace, and so have everyone I have contact with; they also wish sleep would embrace me!
. The constant effect of losing this cherished companion is my surliness, my impatience, my wind-like changeability and undependability. Punctuality is no longer a quality I can claim, and it frustrates me greatly. Falling asleep in my oatmeal is also quite frustrating, as is stabbing myself in the eye with my mascara brush. Nodding off at redlights and nearly colliding with oncoming traffic are less than desirable effects of losing my Lovely Sleep’s company, also.
Bipolar Disorder, my particular breed of it, thrives on insomnia. The Manic high’s leave me strung out like guitar strings tightened to the breaking point, you can virtually hear my mind humming at high frequency when I walk into a room. The flying mouse-wheel of thoughts is now turbocharged , ready to escape it’s moorings and fly an oblivion my mind may never recover from. The longer she evades me with her unfaithfulness, the more my living quarters look like a battlefield, reflecting her absence in my life.
. It truly is a war. The other end of the spectrum in this battle is THE DARK. Each day of the mania leads me closer to the brink of devastation. At times THE DARK and the mouse-wheel cohabit my being, bouncing my sanity as if a Rubber ball has been thrown full tilt into a narrow alley.
. Then the fateful day arrives when my loss of Lover Sleep leads me to the pit, the abyss of THE DARK. It throws me in and pulls up the rope ladder in one fell swoop. Leaving me to stand waist deep in the most desolate places of memory. Abuse, Pain, Rejection, Rape, Loneliness, Fear, thoughts of Harm, Deep All encompassing Grief… They are all here, all come out from the darkness edges of this well of depression to shove and kick me about as I stand in the tiny spot of light that trickles down from the far above opening of this shaft of hell.
The level of Muck rises as each long day passes, and unless I can find the toolbox my years of mental health therapy has given me, or if I can find that lifeline of contact with my support network, or best yet, if I can find a way to kneel and call out over and over to my Creator, begging for the strength to claw my way out, all may be lost. Anyone who has fallen down this DARK, knows how close it gets to oblivion at times…
. Days can pass, this last round a month passed, as you can see by my lack of sharing here. The pen weighs a thousand pounds, the telephone a ton. At times my paintbrush is lost in the sediment, more often than not it is divine release. I let the Dark flow out of me and away, down from my battered heart and mind , then finally draining from my fingertips on to canvas, paper, cement block or found object. The level of sadness ebbs, I have the strength to climb and paint my way up the walls wet with my tears.
. As the light gets brighter, the colors on my canvas turn from Greys and browns to lilac and magenta, then colors of light and freedom. A few minutes of rest in Dear Sleep’s embrace , a gift from above then the final push into the light. The glorious light of freedom of peace, bathing my psyche in cooling water, releasing the bondage of all those fears, flashbacks mental anguish.
. My Creator saw fit to give me another glorious day, and finally the strength to reach for help from my doctors, my therapist, and my lifeline of freeflowing art, color, shape and movement.
Prayer for Magdallia, by Susan T. Martin 9 x 11 Marker on Board $50.00
Last Years Insights II WINNING Entry!
. Finally, my quest is completed, my medicine adjusted, which I take gratefully. Now with this elixer (and a new bipap machine) , some calming music and grateful meditation on all my blessings I fall gently into Sleep’s waiting arms. I lay my head on her motherly bosom, which happens to be my favorite squish pillow, and off I drift down the gentle stream of happy dreams…looking forward to a joyful, rested Awakening.
UNCHAINED, UNCUFFED, Mixed Media on Board, $400.00 (Available)
Another Garden Visitor, “Oleander-head Lady”…
My first watercolor for Art Mundo’s Calendar Art Juried Show and Sale, accepted(sold)Susan T. Martin2016
Pop goes the Color! My Bouganvilla in full bloom(it is over 10 feet tall and 20 feet around !
Depicting my own image has been a starting point my work from the beginning. As a child my drawings were always of female faces, although I never consciously realized these were reflections of me. Even then, in my earliest work, the duality of my nature is blatantly apparent.
. The faces I drew were always divided, half usually in darkness, or different in other ways. I did not know I was Bipolar then, I just had a burning need to express myself artistically. I was not properly diagnosed until I got clean and sober at the age of 35 after a drugging career that lasted over twenty three years.
. I had always known I was different, I described the feeling of being “painted green”in a room full of “normal” folk. It was like having something tattooed on my forehead, a conspicuousness. When I dug into my diagnosis, learning all I could in the hopes of finally coming to grips with my self destructive life’s course, I could see all the familiar signs in the literature. It made SO much sense! Now, armed with my new sobriety and determined to stay the course on my psychiatric medication regimen, I set out to turn my life around-to leave the wasteland of my past far behind.
. There was a slight glitch in my plan, however. The new meds that I was taking had a very unwelcome effect. They dulled my creative impulses, they slowed my manic phases down to a crawl. Rather than my giddy highs and freewheeling episodes of excess that I had lived for, and that had been killing me, I was now just a level hum. No taught guitar string playing harmonics, I was now m e l l o w…Too mellow. Where were the bright colors, the whirling merry go rounds and my peals of crazy laughter? All of the sudden I was boring and frumpy, and immune to excitement. I actually slept…alot.
. This is the part of a healthy mental health regimen that causes so many Bipolar individuals to “go off” their meds…but I had lost that option when I decided to stay alive. I had to make this work, I had to stick this out, because the alternative was suicide. Whether thru a drug overdose or tragedy from high risk behavior, I knew that sticking this out meant my very survival. Would I have to be a zombie? Was my wildly creative side lost to me forever? What to do?
. Fortunately, I had a therapist (counselor ) who listened, and I had the determination to tell her my discomfort. It took the better part of two years, and many different drug combinations , much discomfort and many tears to find a plan that worked, but we did not give up. Finally, I felt comfortable in my own skin, most of the time.
I still have highs and lows, and I am still a rapid cycling Bipolar person with PTSD. I still suffer from chronic insomnia and flashbacks, severe depressive episodes and ideation at times. But I never, ever want to destroy this beautiful gift of life, or to disrespect my Creator. It’s a long road, but the view is great!
Now that all that is said and done, the point I was getting at was that at a point a few years ago, talking to my therapist about my art, and showing him my work I had an epiphany ! BI-polar, TWO-sided! All the faces I drew and painted had told the tale from childhood! As we continued to go through my portfolio, it came rushing home to me. I paint myself as I am, and thru my art I am able to understand and put together all my different facets! I am constantly learning, healing and growing as an artist, and I am
so grateful that I did not give up on myself!
. If anyone out there is fearful of a mental illness diagnosis, please give yourself a chance to get well. Don’t be afraid to seek help, because I’m here today as an example of the kind of life that is possible if one keeps pushing on! You can feel better!
Above are just a few recent examples of the many sides of my bipolar self I paint…
It has been an enormously trying year and one half, year and 8 months , actually. I have grown SO much since I have lived here in St. Petersburg, I have learned to believe in myself, and in my ability to survive.
As An ARTIST. In my own right, I have put in the footwork, stretched my boundaries, made the connections, painted the dreams, and PUT MYSELF OUT THERE!
Wow!!! I mean , WOW!
After All the Fear, Loneliness, Grief, Doubt, All chaining me down and holding me back… I did the impossible. I used my art and with God’s unfailing love, have set myself free! Yes, He saved me from the pit, and put my feet upon a crag, and then I, Susie, Sue, Susan Todd!
picked up the tools I gathered over the past 40 + years, and put them to Use! Hacking off the dead pieces, digging down to fresh clean soil to build this life on. This BEAUTIFUL LIFE, This Sensitive Life, This life of Love.
A life of true purpose and meaning… I am SO grateful, and full…I may just burst into a ball of colorful confetti!
I know it was not all me, but you know what?
I COULDN’T HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT ME!
So here is my tooting of my own horn, soaking up the satisfaction of a job well done and a future of hope and joy!
I am very proud to share that The Morean Arts Center in Downtown Saint Petersburg, Florida, has granted me the honor of a little pop up show in their beautiful facility! A show that features my art, my way, my innermost feelings, fears and flashbacks all on canvas, and OUT of me. So that I can help someone else see that you CAN have a life after violent sexual assault. After molestation, after rape, after domestic violence, after ALL the trauma … you can still find your own voice under all the rubble, and you can stand up, on your own again!
I want you to know that you can recover, but you must work at it and be steadfast in your desire to rise from the ashes of whatever you have experienced. I was surrounded by a family who never wanted to discuss what happened to me, and who treated me like I was touched by some uncleanliness. As if the person I was inside was somehow changed. Soiled. Ruined.
I stand up today, that same child, that same teenager, that same woman and I shout from the treetops that I am clean, and loved, and strong, and Beautiful! I am NOT what happened to me. I am a whole, healed woman. And I am an ARTIST.
This was a big endeavor for me, and I believe I have painted at least three different paintings in the course of 2 years on this one canvas…That can be one of the downfalls of being ocd and bipolar, when I can’t let a thing be good enough or ever done.
So, here is the latest thought, the most beautiful and sad faced bird, and one that has had bestowed upon it men’s dreams and mankind’s heartbreaks, the Albatross…, I feel like this animal knows me, that she mirrors the exquisite alone-ness and yet oneness with all that I feel so often.
i REMEMBER SO VIVIDLY THE EXHILARATION OF BEING OUT ON THE OPEN WATER, THE SALT SPRAY KISSING MY FACE, AND NOTHING BUT THE GREAT EXPANSE OF SEA AND SKY SURROUNDING ME.
I am Creating! In a wonderful whirlwind! Paint flying off brushes onto cement, metal, canvas and walls! Hot glue, super glue, elmers glue, whew!
My work feels urgent, and it has for a while…secretly I have been feeling that my time here is limited, so I must hurry-make my mark while I can! Is it health concerns? Physical ones? Is my breath being sucked out of my lungs from the past abuse I put them thru? Each day feels less like breathing and more like drowning. Each step feels less like walking on the ground, more like sinking in the mire and sediment…
I am urgent in my service to God, they need to know, they need to know! How good life can be, without the stone, the stick, the stem!! Do not drown that brain in pickling juice my young artist friend: FEEL IT, BREATH IT IN, PAINT IT, NAIL IT DOWN!!! NOWNOWNOW!!!!!!
The life I took from myself has to be accounted for! I will account for it in dreams, in images, in COLOR! I have to let someone KNOW WHO I AM before it evaporates, this little giant life of mine.
Did I tell you about being snake bitten twice? Did I tell you about riding the rails with the train tramps? Did I tell you about living in the Sonoran Desert? Did you read my poems, my blog? My instagram feed?
I was so thrilled to have 2 of my sculpture/assemblage pieces on display! As a new member of the Vero Beach Art Club, I was able to have my work in this exclusive show, and am so happy it was well received! I was not permitted to photograph any art except my own, which was disappointing but understandable to me, so I can’t share the other Phenomenal Artwork displayed. I saw AMAZING THINGS!, and am more motivated than ever to continue striving for my own best work…Onward and Upward!! Only the foreground artwork, entitled “Lunar Rover” and assembled from a discarded floor lamp, broken concrete block, an antique German hunting horn, and many, many thing-a-ma-jigs, and whos-it-ma-bobs. The piece was well recieved and is still available for purchase! c.SusanToddMartin2017
I also showed “Munson, a Treasured Friend”, which you have seen posted here multiple times. (I’ll post it one more time as it is still available for purchase. (A little background on “Munson”: I sculpted this Cat Head originally from a block of molded fine concrete, using traditional chisels. This was then coated with sealant and then painted with acrylics to match the markings of my mom’s beloved cat of 20 years. He was then decked out with treasured heirlooom vintage and costume jewelry, including semi-precious gems, gold and sterling. Each piece meant something to me, hand me downs from dear, departed loved ones and friends. I made this sculpture for a local art show, which required entries to be “treasure themed” , celebrating the “Treasure Coast” here in Florida. This area is so named for all the shipwrecks discovered off the coast of Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Port Saint Lucie and Stuart, these vessels laden with gold and treasures gleaned from North America and destined for Spain and Europe.
My creative process for this piece included images from old pirate and Sinbad movies, where chests full and overflowing with glistening jewels were depicted. These movies filled my childhood dreams, as did an unshakable love of my mother, who was my greatest treasure, and who I had recently lost to Cancer.
In turn, Munson was her treasure, ever a comfort in her troubled life, who lay by her side, faithfully, as she fought , and finally succumbed to cancer.
I hope you enjoy Munson, knowing, as you now do, how much love he carries beneath all his gleaming sparkles!
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Sorry about the sound, I’m not sure why it buzzes. It does not do that when I view the video in my pc’s media app… But enjoy this anyway! (please, and Thank You!)