Love and Madness Part V


PART V: ONWARD

Self-Portrait 2006 48x36 oil stick on canvas




REBIRTH. RECOVERY. GOLD.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

I survived losing my parents eighty-one days apart because nearby family and close friends of my parents called frequently, inviting me for a meal, a movie, whatever. Michael, Maggie, Susan and Jess frequently called.

Four major mind-altering prescriptions also had a lot to do with keeping the need to die in the fogged outer banks of my mind. I pretty much lived in my bed, dazed and dozing; reacting not acting. Flyer’s insistence on eating and walking kept me in a kind of order, at least in terms of food and exercise. As did family and friends.

Survival also hinged on the discovery that Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev was opening the Iron Curtain and switching government from communism to democracy. He invited global media into Russian airwaves, awakening citizens to the ways of the world, in particular, the western world. He returned the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, USSR, to its maiden name, “Russia,” and joined his country to the free world. Sudden flooding hope for the world surprised me, lifting me out of anguish for hours at a time.

The return of hope generated energy. Waking up was easier. The day’s New York Times waited, as well as cable news progress reports on the collaboration between “superpower” heads of state. What a time to be alive. But oh how it hurt that my parents were missing these peace talks leading to the end of the Cold War. The Moscow-Washington, DC, dialogues late at night on TV that summer were riveting.

While in Buffalo in September for my parents’ memorial service at Maggie’s home, she suggested that I rent an apartment in Buffalo to wait out my tenants’ lease. Relief flooded me at the thought of leaving Florida, inescapable reminder that my parents were dead, their house standing empty just minutes away. Palm trees visible in every window seared memory, untenable death breaking my heart all over again, shoving me back into the icy dark holes of loss, falling endlessly down --- until Xanax kicked in. I didn’t care that I needed more than the maximum dose. I was sure that I wouldn’t survive another panic attack.

In Buffalo, the past was more real to me than the present. People, places, and then a beau from the summer I was eighteen, now divorced and romancing me twenty-seven years later. He quoted my mother’s four AM mantra from her perch on the front stairs, projecting her voice to reach us in the music room, “Have you any idea what time it is, dear?” Remembering returned the innocence of 1961, dancing beneath moonlit stars at summer balls and making out back home between talking about life and death; his father died when he was twelve.

Everything about my return to the city of my birth made me feel safe and protected. Reliving the years of my earliest to last memories of my first life in this city made my parents live again for me, as did hearing new stories about them; not as they were in their deterioration, but as young and vibrant, as in the family movies. I continued to fast-forward through them until spontaneous impulse lifted my finger to tap play and then off, just before sleep ended awareness, for however long.

The last time Flyer and I walked around Le Brun Circle, lingering at my home until leaving for college, I became conscious of the fact that my life had been far more positive than negative. This was knowledge lost in the chaos of imbalance. I suspected that, had I not returned to this city they call the Queen of the Great Lakes, I never would have remembered life before madness. Nor would I have been reborn, rewired and returned to the right path, which writing advice to Seventeen magazine readers had opened between 1969 and 1971, before the “almighty dollar” lured me into advertising unnecessary fashion and beauty products, diverting my creative energy into meaningless superficiality.

. . .

Maggie was awesome. She always sounded happy to take my multiple daily phone calls when anxiety rose too quickly, before the next Xanax could end it. I became busy with friends and romance and volunteering at the regional art museum. It wasn’t long before I was running the store part-time for minimum wage.
About nine months after moving into the apartment Maggie found for me, where I had to navigate three double-hung, steep and long flights of stairs at least three times a day, I grew physically fit. I gained enough weight on healthy food to satisfy my doctor.
My sixth psychiatrist was tolerable, to a point. My interest in him had more to do with the fact he’d known my parents. He gave new life to memory dazed by the grief that followed their deaths. Of great interest to him seemed to be his belief that my low weight stemmed from an eating disorder, his specialization. He rejected my view that anxiety kept me thin. He also called me “Blanche” too many times towards the end of our second year, once I had crawled far enough out of the death canal to see that life was in literal bright colors again. He avoided discussion of anxiety provoking instances unrelated to family or illness. But he taught me how to jockey medication to control the extremes of intensity.
I heard about a good psychologist and left the doc who thought more about my mother than me. My internist MD then managed my psychiatric meds. My new talk therapist insisted that I check in with a psychiatrist three or four times a year, or as needed. The doctor a friend recommended reminded me more of Dr. Moline than of Dr. Richard.
My tenants didn’t renew the lease on my West Burton Place condo for June 1989-91. I heard myself call the real estate agent who had found this handsome Victorian second floor home a decade ago. Four days later, I sold Chicago and bought a graceful 1921 home in north Buffalo.
Between 1989 and 2004, I lived around the corner from a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and a brief walk away from Frederick Law Olmstead’s Delaware Park. I expected to discover what death was in Buffalo. I should have known about expectations by then.
Out one evening for dinner, I reconnected with the daughter of friends of my parents. We exchanged numbers. At lunch a few days later, when I mentioned my manuscript, she wanted to read it. Her son had a mental illness. She found my story helpful. She said it should be published and offered to edit it. At the time, she was the director of a local opera, but it was her PhD in English that gave heft to her endorsement in my heart. Hope for myself returned and the future beckoned for the first time since madness nearly consumed me in 1981. Nine years ago.
We met frequently to discuss her edits and my changes. She offered to work at the dining room table while I wrote the death chapters in my office. My previous attempts always ended with the approach of panic. We took breaks when the overwhelming would come again to me; sometimes we went for a walk with Flyer.
I quit the part-time job to write full-time and was invited to join the Burchfield-Penney Art Center marketing committee. My circle of friends widened again.
In the fall of 1990, I sent my manuscript to a publisher. It came back with a personal rejection letter. Need to die suddenly possessed me. I called Jess, who reiterated that my book wasn’t me. We ended the call and I grabbed my stash of killing pills and set them on my night table before falling asleep for a few hours that afternoon. Upon waking, I started reading my book for content not style for the first time, ever.
I put the last page down and just sat there, stunned. Novelizing my story by adding description, action, motivation, dialogue and, above all, giving myself a different name, had created an objectivity possible only in the privacy of my consciousness streaming onto paper.
“Love and Madness” in fact was an undeniable black and white map that detailed my paths into and out of mania and depression. I could not ignore the progression of illness that unfailingly led me from whirl-winding ecstasy into anxiety and on into panic, hopelessness, extraordinary depletion, intolerable pain, the need to die. I couldn’t deny that every time I went back on medication, panic drained to anxiety and then to nothing, and that overwhelming hopelessness sank into a sigh, taking with it indefensible debilitation. I couldn’t deny that weak relationships foundered when I reached obsessing intensities.
In realizing that sleepless nights, weight loss et al were symptoms disguised as lifelong reactions to life-changing events, I accepted my need for lithium. I welcomed its availability, and was grateful that it worked for me. Control of my mental illness began with this latest revelation.
Contacting my talk therapist asap after familiar reactions to unexpected crises or joy forged my key to moderation, at last. It would be another three years before a different kind of nervous breakdown could anchor me in the heart of moderation where, as my father always said, good health and happiness lay.
These revelations in late fall 1990 inspired my "Wordshop," a workshop that encourages people to novelize their own experiences and discover what helped and what hindered their own mental health.
Ten years after full-blown manic-depression changed my life, eventually for the better, my first “Wordshop” met early in 1991 at a State of New York psychiatric day treatment center for seniors. The program manager introduced me, called my “Wordshop” a self-help group, handed out steno pads and pens to twelve people around a conference table, then left the room. I explained the origin of “Wordshop” and emphasized that no one was required to share what he or she wrote. I said that self-expression connects our mind, heart and spirit.
I added that writing in streams of consciousness is a solitary spiritual creation, as well as a center for revelations that can bring you to a kind of moderation that requires self-vigilance even as it brings peace. That’s why I suggested recapping days in a journal before turning out the light. If it’s hard to start, try writing a description of the day, the weather, or an object at hand, and add, “and so I . . .” and then, just let yourself go on paper. Just as fun is finishing variations of sentences such as, “The strangest thing that happened today was when . . . “ When writing for only yourself, pay no attention to grammar, spelling, whatever, while you “talk” on paper about pressing matters, pitfalls and unexpected happiness. The beauty of letting out this kind of energy is that you can frame your words, keep them in the journal, or burn them --- but only after giving them a few days distance from your first reading, and then combing them for new insights on how to improve the quality of your life.
Writers began to learn about themselves, and feel better about themselves. A few months later, “Wordshop” members asked to meet twice a week. The waiting list was so long for this program that I happily established a second group. Most Tuesdays and Thursdays, from one PM to three PM, I was at Del Nor, encouraging people to create word portraits of their experiences with their families, friends and mental illness. Our uncommon common bond was the terror of realizing that we had been hurting ourselves even as we had been thinking that we never had been safer and the horrible possibility of recurring psychosis.
Some “Wordshop” members had been publishing a quarterly calendar of events. They agreed to surround a small calendar with “Wordshop” assignments; we worked on editing the chosen articles after group. Our first edition surprised and pleased everyone at Del Nor, making the writers celebrities at the center and among their families and friends. Many “Wordshop” writers received apologies from family and friends who said they had no idea what the writer had been going through until reading his or her story.
The Del Nor program manager handed me a scholarship for an early November three-day self-help and advocacy conference hosted by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) in Batavia at a hotel. Recipients/consumers of mental health services from around the western New York region spoke about the mistreatment they received in psychiatric institutions, and the beauty of peer-to-peer self-help programs. I was shocked, horrified and then galvanized into acting for justice. That first night, I met activists in the Buffalo area and, once home, joined an advocacy agency as well as a self-help/advocacy group. With the latter group, I made posters and paraded them in protest marches at hospitals known for mistreatment, such as overmedication, excessive and sometimes unnecessary electro-shock convulsive treatments, and unwarranted restraints and stays in isolation rooms. Some terribly unfortunate men and women also were forced to endure emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse in the name of care. The year was 1991. I had thought that the film, “The Snake Pit” had ended that kind of inhumanity back in ‘48.
Gratitude for my parents overwhelmed me again. They had, despite their battles with cancer, taken me in the two times that I was psychotic. There was no way of knowing what my experience would have been like had they put me in a psychiatric ward. But the idea of having to fear hospital staff in addition to my own unbalanced brain chemicals sickened and terrified me, and filled me with outrage.
In early 1992, I attended the first board meeting of the first incorporated consumer-run agency with paid staff. Erie County was the guinea pig and state lead on psychiatric rehabilitation as designed by William A. Anthony, PhD, founding executive director of Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation.
The year 1992 also opened other undreamed of doors. The information officer from the New York State Buffalo Psychiatric Center asked if I would write about my “self-help” program for the BPC newsletter. Not long after the story came out, I won the 1992 “Courage to Come Back Award in Mental Health” held by a United Way agency. Right before that awards dinner in May, I was hired by the OMH research department to interview self-help group members around Western New York on whether or not self-help was working for them. Accepting this well-above minimum wage paycheck meant confronting expressway panic. With books on tape and hiding behind trailer trucks, I succeeded. In August, I was recruited by an OMH agent to establish a new western NY region quarterly newsletter by and for people who have a mental illness. I found out after the fact that, after reading “Love and Madness,” a leading activist recommended me for this job, the best paid work in my life.
Five of us from as many counties in the western region made up the editorial board of which I was chief, each one of us already an activist. Everyone agreed to solicit articles from or interviews with people who had first-person experiences with what helps and what hinders mental health. We were kindred spirits on a quest to build hope through education. Writers for Mental Health World included consumers as well as providers of mental health services, administrators, members of the Justice System, family members of people who have a serious and persistent mental illness, as well as appointed and elected officials, and professors.
Beginning with the first edition, “Mental Health World (MHW)” was a success. Subscription requests bumped up circulation over the next two years until we maxed out at 10,000 per publication; our pages increased in sets of four until we reached twenty-eight; our funding doubled, and the five of us received respectful raises. MHW became a textbook in human services/medical departments at a number of universities and colleges. The power of honest accounts of what insanity and various treatments can do to men, women and children was rarely plumbed before MHW arrived in winter 1992, so letters to the editor told us.
In February 1993, evidently a little too thrilled by the new life I was living, my brain chemicals shifted into hypomania, a state of mind that I now recognized as a symptom of mania rather than as a lifelong “natural” response to times of intensity. I called my therapist for extra sessions. One night late, after a mean go-round with my lover, I found myself in the junk room, launching what turned out to be a six-week painting spree that tallied thirty-nine oil paintings of varying sizes. The artist in me was back in full color after a fifteen-year absence. And I was grateful.
I also realized that I had painted my way out of mania: the second to last painting took seventy-two straight hours on my feet wielding paint-slathered palette knives on the fifty inch by forty inch canvas. Understanding lit light bulbs: inability to paint in 1978 opened the door to psychosis after cancer first took aim at my parents. There was no safe place in which to release overwhelming emotions. Ergo, exploding brain chemistry.
Friday, September Third, Nineteen-Ninety-Three, I literally went around the bend when the car whose backseat I was in crashed through Thruway off-ramp guardrails and flew onto an eight-lane highway. My head smashed through a backdoor window; my shoulders slammed into the window frame, trapping the rest of me inside the car. I, unaware of reality yet again, thought I was racing across the sky with storm-black, rain-swollen clouds, cool winds caressing my face and combing my hair. Other than the cooling winds, I had no corporeal sensations until paramedics slipped a hardwood stretcher beneath me. July Fourth fireworks had nothing on what went off in me, lights exploding and literally shocking me over and over and over again until knocking me out; consciousness and unconsciousness took turns for unknowable periods of time --- I never thought to ask.
Turns out, I couldn’t be diagnosed at the small-town hospital to which the first ambulance took me. Impenetrable rainstorms prevented flying back to Buffalo, so a LifeStar helicopter carried me to a trauma center in Erie, Pennsylvania, where I at last received painkillers after uncountable hours of testing had passed. At some point two days later, I was flown to Buffalo General Hospital. The next day, Labor Day Monday 1993, I emerged from a lengthy surgical intervention wearing a “halo,” which held my head off my freshly fused neck by means of metal rods screwed into my skull at one end, and into a sheepskin-lined fiberglass vest at the other, a new twenty-four/seven wardrobe staple for the next three months. At least the fiberglass was the color of cabernet and didn’t clash with the true-red walls of my Buffalo boudoir.
Unfortunately, I had to resign from the National Institute of Mental Health self-help research grant awarded to NYS Office of Mental Health; driving was impossible for at least six months; worse, my hands couldn’t grip the steering wheel for more than twenty minutes before cramping. The greater loss was having to give up my “Wordshop” groups at Del Nor. In my absence, group members had taken turns running the meetings, often writing letters to me, wishing me to get better and return to them. While I was hospitalized, they wrote a song and recorded it and sent it to me. I went to sleep listening to them, lifted above pain by their loving music and words.
As awful as was the pain of raw damaged nerves, torn muscles and mending bones, none compared to the pain of the years in which my mental illness was active. Physical pain was comprehensible every step along the long rough road to recovering more and more use of my upper body. I couldn’t paint with colors anymore, and I never would again, I believed for five years. But I could write on the computer, however slowly, so I continued to paint with words and edit the articles arriving for MHW, as well as comment on the politics of mental health at local, state and national levels. Helping people help themselves is pure gold, that golden warmth mine again twenty-one years after leaving Seventeen magazine.
Because I was on so many meds for pain, narcotics, muscle relaxers and more, my seventh and last psychiatrist dropped my lithium dosage to every other day --- to keep it in my system should mania rise again. After weighing the positive-negative balance of bipolar one versus broken neck, since I had no choice with either condition, I concluded that at least the physical injury ensured that my body would never again be able to keep up with my mind, dispersing that still dark humming fear of crashing back into reality again.
Every summer until 1996, I had to increase my lithium to withstand the rage-filled accusations of the people with whom I shared a driveway. She would race out of her house whenever she saw me leave mine, screaming that I belonged in a mental institution; I was interviewed by the media upon occasion, often to tell my story of recovery from full-blown manic-depression, or to address budget cuts, policy changes and breaking mental health related news. In ’96, the couple lost their court case against me and moved out. Thankfully, my new neighbors were nice.
The year 1996 also was astonishing for other reasons. Pivotal reasons. “Mental Health World” won the Crisis Services Media Service award in June. A few months later, the State of New York University at Buffalo Library entered this quarterly journal into the bound journal stacks and national cataloging database.
On July Sixteen of Ninety-Six, while editing an article, gratitude overwhelmed me --- what if my mental illness were obsessive compulsive disorder, like the writer’s, whose piece I was editing; he had to keep returning to the basement to make sure he’d turned out the light. After the accident, I never would have been able to physically comply with that compulsion. I looked out the window at the beautiful blue sky beyond bright leaves waving against tree limbs when the thought, “I believe in God,” entered my mind and stayed.
That October, I quit cigarettes for good, with the help of the nicotine patch, Zyban (Wellbutrin, an antidepressant) and a Nicotine Anonymous group, and my Higher Power was God. For the first time in my life, I turned to God and asked for help, and this time, after decades of attempts to quit, I made it, making learning how to love wisely my next goal, which I achieved in 2013 at the grand age of seventy.
The end of 1996 marked the death of Flyer, engulfing me in unbearable grief as the pain of losing my parents returned full force. As it happened, the Zyban/Wellbutrin coupled with helping others help themselves, family and friends enabled me to keep my balance in the aftermath of acute loss.
Inspired by the exotic greyhound I rescued in 1998, a five-year old racer recently retired from the track, and the exact opposite of Flyer, I started painting sight-unseen (I still couldn’t look down) small oil pastels of her while she got used to me in my fenced wild backyard. Imagine the thrill of learning that it didn’t matter when colors dropped from my fingers and marked the work. As time continued, physical therapy increased my range of motion; the size of my paintings grew and I returned two years later to oil paint on canvas in the form of fat sticks.
The lawsuit from the car accident settled at the end of 1998 and, at the urging of my orthopedic surgeon Uncle Ben, I retired from Mental Health World after sending the spring 1999 edition to the printer. Without numerous meetings and spending so much time at the computer, my torn muscles began to heal.
In 2000, I installed a small swimming pool in my basement. Equipped with a heater (eighty-six degree water), and an engine that created a current to swim against, and executing exercises learned in PT now bearable in water, it wasn’t long before growing muscles protected my damaged nerves, quieting them. Within nine months of getting the pool, pain stopped waking me up for another hydrocodone every three plus hours. At some point over the next year, I needed the narcotic only when I overdid, which actually wasn’t that often. Another benefit of exercising proved Jess right: my mood swings stabilized and I stopped taking lithium altogether. All I needed was a Xanax to turn my mind off long enough to get a healthy night’s sleep. And of course, recognizing hypomania at onset was the trick to managing this symptom.
. . .
My sister Maggie was diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer September Fourth the following year. I still had a few Zyban/Wellbutrin pills left that my lung doctor had prescribed in 1996 and took them daily, calling for a new prescription. My sister died November Twenty-Eighth, Two Thousand and One. I painted my way out of this soul-shocking, heartbreaking vigil, watching Maggie disappear, as we all had observed our parents doing at a far slower rate of speed. And I clung to my current beau, whose father had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and died three weeks later. I could not take in 9/11 for years.
Two artist friends of my mother’s hounded me into submitting some of my paintings to galleries in 2000, which meant that I had to let my art go to strangers. Since I was painting daily, it wasn’t hard to comply. When a work was accepted by a fine art gallery for the annual national women’s exhibition, the director and I engaged in conversation --- it’s amazing how people open up once you tell them you’re an activist for mental health. When she said she wanted the gallery to host an art and mental health exhibition, I heard myself offer to get a grant for the month’s rent, ads and signage, and to organize a panel representing different sectors of mental health, mirroring the format of MHW, an extension of “Wordshop,” originally inspired by the self-awareness I earned upon reading my story for content, not style. I won the grant from the Erie County Department of Mental Health to establish “Heart and Spirit Matter: Art, Healing and Mental Health Exhibition” at Impact Fine Art Gallery for the month of February, Two Thousand and Two. The panel I structured for the opening reception included the BPC medical director, chair of Community Services Board Mental Hygiene Committee, Arts Council director and more. The panel members changed year to year, continuing even after I moved to Milwaukee in 2004 to be close to my brother. “Heart and Spirit Matter” and “Mental Health World” were zeroed out the budget after the second Bush administration finished Reagan’s job and tanked the economy.
In 2004, Uncle Benny died. Michael drove to Buffalo from Milwaukee to attend the memorial service. Friday night, I heard myself ask him if my greyhound Emily and I could drive back with him. I said that I knew I would find a house, would he keep my dog until I could pack up Buffalo and move to Milwaukee. He said yes. We arrived early Sunday morning. I found my new home on Wednesday and signed the contract on Saturday. Michael agreed to be my proxy for the closing. I returned to Buffalo, packed, partied with friends and colleagues, and returned to Milwaukee six weeks later. August 31, 2004, I spent my first night in my new home. It didn’t take long to make new friends, and find acceptance in the oldest artists’ organization in Wisconsin.
Dining with my brother and his family every week was new and exciting, our forever way of teasing so much more fun to experience face to face. People in Buffalo had expressed shock upon hearing of my impending move.
My spontaneous decision to leave Buffalo for Milwaukee was obviously heaven sent. Dear, wonderful Michael, four years my junior, had spent a total of six weeks in Buffalo, living with Maggie as death weakened her resistance. I didn’t want Michael to have to get on a plane to help me die, as he had our parents and sister. And I could paint anywhere. Less than a year after my move, Michael shocked us all by dying of a massive heart attack. Michael left his body behind with a small smile gracing his face. My baby brother, four years younger than I, beat me to the other side of life at age fifty-eight. I spent most of the next six months organizing my art website by subject and color, and clinging to his wife and children. Six or seven months later, I found myself beginning a new work. Shock slowly receded once I could paint again.
I was the last one still standing in my immediate family, a fact that continues to feel strange, other worldly, and ironic --- the one who never practiced healthy habits lives on. (But, as Aunt Helen, my father’s youngest sibling, used to say, “It’s in the genes.”) Yet, my immediate family and I no longer need a telephone in order to communicate. And there is irony in knowing that I, the only one who didn’t treat my physical self right, am left to tell the tale of their heroic kindness when brain chemicals slid to one pole or the other of my mental disease/illness.
In 2006, spots showed up in my lungs. Not knowing if they were cancer (they were not), I created a mental health awareness bus campaign before surgery. The painting I used for the sign was the first one I had done after Michael died: “Out of Nowhere.” The sign copy reads: “Put Your Money Where Your Mind Is. Mental Illnesses Run In Every Family. Educate yourself: Call 800-273-8255.” In partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor in Milwaukee, and with Titan WorldWide in Chicago, the campaign ran intermittently as a public service announcement through 2009.
My “Impossible Teapots” series of oil pastels introduced me to an art dealer, with whom I became close. Her partner, an award-winning journalist/editorial board member at the only daily paper in Milwaukee, retired. At his farewell dinner, the director of the local access television station just “happened” to sit next to me. We agreed that I would organize and host a TV show to be taped for national mental health month in May 2008. “Creative Forces TV” enlisted the deputy superintendent of the county corrections department, a disability agency’s music therapist, who is blind, an advocacy agency’s director of outreach education for African Americans, and an international peace activist who focused on PTSD in the armed services; we emphasized the healing practice of one or more of the visual and performing arts. Each of us addressed the importance of raising awareness about mental illnesses and the spiritual freedom and self-awareness to be found in making art, and sharing avenues into recovery.
Five years after that campaign, I inspired and co-organized the first Milwaukee “Heart and Spirit Matter 2013” with National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Milwaukee at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.
As a member of the Milwaukee Area Technical College President’s Diversity Council, I co-organized the first “Beautiful Minds, Raising Mental Health Awareness” in May 2014. The program, which included two panels of experts and showings of the films, “A Beautiful Mind; The Soloist; Silver Linings Playbook,” kicked off the new and ongoing “open dialogue on Strengthening Mental Health Resources and Relationships” on campus. In fall 2014, the art poster contest of signs and symptoms, and faculty generated assignments will help normalize these illnesses and encourage students in need to recognize their symptoms and get the right kind of help.
We never know what will come our way if we just hold on, do the best we can with what we’ve got, and keep seeking solutions to what can seem like overwhelming odds. Recovery from a mental illness is possible and probable, with the right treatment and support. We humans must “Put our money where our minds are,” home to our heart and spirit, eternal determinates of the quality of our lives.

************************************************************
July 4, 1993

I WAS BORN
AND THE SEER, THE SAGE, THE FOOL
FROM THE POOL OF MY GENES
FORMED THE POLES FROM WHICH
MY LIFE WOULD SWING:

OPPOSITES ATTRACTING

FROM UP TO
DOWN


HOW HIGH, HOW LOW FEW REACH.

LUCKY THEM.

LUCKY ME.

THE SPLENDOR. THE HORROR. THE TERROR
OF HAVING THE ENEMY BE
YOUR OWN MIND.

SHEER TERROR EBBS SLOWLY

IT CHANGES

SELF-RESPECT TO SELF-DOUBT

SELF-LOATHING.

CONQUERING PSYCHOSIS

THE HEART, THE SPIRIT THAT COME FROM IMBALANCE

DOORS OPENING HEAVEN IN HELL

HELPING OTHERS HELP THEMSELVES.
Self-Portrait 2006
Self-Portrait 2006


Critically Acclaimed Art by Colorist Patricia Obletz