Sylvia and the wind on the moors will help
I am not sure that I am writing this blog at the right time. Maybe after the school run would be better, it would make more sense as after a walk I feel awake and thoughts travel more clearly in my mind. I am drinking coffee, strong coffee with no sugar. I promised not to eat any refined sugar this week. I am trying to loose some weight, I ate and ate for comfort, that’s what happens when I get depressed or stressed. Something about sweet food cake, chocolate, biscuits that brings me such joy when I cannot make any sense of my self the world or others in it.
I’m good at including images of the children and Patrick here, but I struggle to turn the camera on myself. I guess I don’t feel that confident about me and what I look like on the outside. Loosing weight, getting fitter will make me feel better about me, it will make me want to turn the camera on myself. I don’t like what I see in the mirror, a bloated face, boring hair, werewolf eyebrows tracing along a furrow. I wanted to be honest so whilst on the tops I turn the camera on myself. The mobile phone becomes a mirror. Half here, half not, hair blowing wild with the wind.
I pause in the Quaker grave yard, sit on the bench and listen to the wind in the trees, blowing, blowing strong and in every which direction. Four neat gravestones in a row. I talk to Patrick about stuff, he is a good sounding board, I like to hear of his opinions. I talked to Patrick as we drove in the car to Ikea on Sunday last week. I wondered about what the focus of this blog should be, I wondered if it should be known that I have a history of suffering from bipolar disorder. Should my identity, my arts practice be framed by this condition in any way ? I don’t like the label. I do except it as a part of me. It does have a bearing on what I say, what I believe, what I think, maybe even distorts what I think of me and others. I walk for two reasons to keep me happy and to loose weight. The walking through clears everything. What is it about keeping moving that makes everything seem ok ? Is it some primitive thing ? Is it about the body remembering being in the womb, traveling around inside our mothers bodies. Now the earth, all of it outside, a body to walk between.
The Quaker graveyard is really desolate, I make a little film and even when leaning against a tree it is hard to stay still. There is a circle of stones beside the bench, remnants of a fire. You could have a good fire up here as the square wall parimeter provides some shelter from the wind. The coffee is thick as tar. I pour more, its probably not a great idea to drink so much of it, my head will thump with the caffeine. I think about how much nicer it would taste with a spoon of sugar. This sugarless week is going to be long. Once there is less fat on me, will I be happier, will I have transformed into a better person, will I be different when there is less of me ? I want to be lesser. I want to be able to wear all my nicest skirts and trousers again, to catch a glimpse of myself and not be disgusted by what I see.
I wanted to try to be honest here. I wanted to be honest and brave. Its easy if you are Steven Fry or Ruby Wax or some other celebrity but if you are ordinary there is more to risk. Who reads this thought? Who really reads what I say ? Probably won’t make any difference. I am not ashamed, but I have always been fearful of those that judge, those that may think oh she is mad, she can’t do this job or those that may feel sorry for me. The last thing that I want is pity. I don’t need pity. I do need a job, I do need to pay my bills.
I read an article the other day- Is depression a kind of allergic reaction ? , they suggested some supplements to take, I am going to buy them. I look them up, I write them down; omega 3, curcumin. I do anything that I think would help because I refuse to take medication. Lithium hurt. Lithium turned the whole world black and white. I stopped taking it, as I didn’t want to be an ever ready battery, and I wanted to have children. It was a long time ago that I took it. I stopped in the year 2000, the year I was completing my MA at The University of Salford. It seemed sensible to me to take the risk of going mad whilst studying than whilst in employment. I needn’t have worried all was ok. Perhaps the thoughts race now, perhaps they do, but the world is full of colour, and if I can catch the racing thoughts then maybe its just all ok ? Are you ok with this reader, are you ok ? I am mainly writing this to me. By saying this, I want to convince myself that it won’t have a detrimental affect, that it will be ok. Its a sort of outing of the ghosts.
Maybe I do want to make work about states of mind, feelings that I have. Maybe I do. So now it is written, not in blood but with the light streaming in from the computer screen.
Next to me sits The journals of Sylvia Plath, 1950-1962, it is a bible of a book, my hope is that she will give me strength, that her words will guide mine. I look to any reference of an artist that has lived or depicted some personal struggle with mental health. I look to them. I was struck by the beauty of Christina Riley’s work in the Feature Shoot magazine, a series of photographs titled “To hell and back” where she captures her struggle with mental illness. If its ok for them, its ok for me to explore this subject. This subject of mental fragility.
If its not general prejudices about mental health then its the paranoid hat of maternal surveillance which stops my flow, stops my utterances. This is not a confessional. If it helps though, I will write it down, for me, for me so that I might see. So I can see myself more clearly.
See how my thoughts wonder from the subject. I catch them again, catch the string, hold it. I read Sylvia’s journal for Wednesday 7th January, 1959, I was struck by how the domestic battled with her creative endeavours, I was struck with how she felt so down about herself, about her face and her appearance, I was pleased that she too was questioning about when it is the right time, the optimum time to write ? I feel great empathy with her. Sylvia and the wind on the moors will help. I will go and visit her grave one day soon, she is such an inspiration. I guess that this is some sort of self-help.
January 7, 1959
The abstract kills, the concrete saves (try inverting this thesis tomorrow). How an Idea of what Should Be or What one should be Doing can drive an eating, excreting two-legged beast to misery-). How dusting, washing daily dishes, talking to people who are not mad and dust and wash and feel life is as it should be helps.
Boston is filthy: a drift of weekly soot on the windows, the windows smeared with greasy cooking exhalations, dust under the bed and all over, appearing miraculously every day, thrown and shaken out of the window, and seeping in again.
Don’t wake up in the morning because I want to go back to the womb. From now on: see if this is possible: set alarm for 7:30 and get up then, tired or not. Rip through breakfast and housecleaning (bed and dishes, mopping or whatever) by 8:30. Ted got coffee and oatmeal today: he docent like to do it, but he does it. I am a fool to let him. Alarm-setting gets over the bother of waking at ragged odd hours around nine.
Be writing before 9 (nine), that takes the curse off it. It is now almost 11. I have washed two sweaters, made the bed, folded the laundry and stared in horror at my face: it is a face cold before its time.
Now podgy as a leaking sausage: big pores of pus and dirt, red blotches the peculiar brown mole on my under-chin which I would like to have excised. Memory of that girl’s face in the Med School movie, with a black beauty wart: this wart is malignant: she will be dead in a week. Hair untamed, merely brown and childishly put up: don’t know what else to do with it. No bone structure. Body needs a wash, skin the worst: it is this climate: chapping cold, desiccating hot: I need to be tan, all-over brown, and then my skin clears and I am all right, I need to have written a novel, a good of poems a LHJ or NY story, and I will be poreless and radiant. My wart will be non-malignant.
The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962, edited by Karen V. Kukil, Pages 456-457
The buzzer sounds 30 minutes gone.