Thursday, October 9, 2014

Noticing Signs and Helping


I'm going to attempt to rewrite something I worked on earlier but lost thanks to the horrid Blogger app. Here goes:

There are people in the world you love like crazy and it sucks when they let you down. Whether it's a selfish behavior, a condescending tone, or just not having your back, these behaviors can leave an already wounded person confused and at a loss for where to go.

I've been very busy, had a severe break from reality, and have been working on art pieces that deal with mental health. Today I had the opportunity to do a much needed pattern interrupt. This would have been at no cost to me and come with a host of benefits: vitamin D, a change in scenery, ability to complete my photography homework, etc. This was important to me and I did not get to go. Before I go into what happened, let me explain about pattern interrupts and about people who leave long term mental health care.

A pattern interrupt is just what it sounds like. It is something to break up the monotony of routine. This is a device especially useful for people suffering bouts of depression. When a pattern is mindless, it allows people to dwell and inadvertently exacerbate their depression. Changing one behavior forces the brain- and thereby all the chemicals- to adjust. Even if it is still the wrong chemical, the change on chemicals can help lift one out of a depressive and emotionally vulnerable state.

How did I learn all this awesomeness? I spent seven months in a long term treatment facility in 2011. When I left, I compiled a wellness recovery action plan or WRAP for short. The plan was given to three people who were even verified by my doctor and signed the document upon receipt.

In the plan are many useful tools for helping your friend or loved one during serious phases of mental and emotional distress. This includes doctors that have cared for them, medicines that work, medicines that don't, triggers, warning signs of behavioral changes, diets that help, calling techniques the person has successfully used, smells, pictures, so much information...

So, I live with one of the people who has a WRAP manual. I generally count on this person to have my back, support me, help me when I need it. I have been in a very dark place these past few months. I have been on the verge of suicide. At one point, I even asked to be driven to the hospital in my car because my hallucinations were bad and I was too afraid to drive. I was told to sleep it off.

I have been informed by another WRAP owner, that this person has never read the book. This person, whom I care for dearly, didn't even bother to learn about my illness and the warning signs. Okay, I know what many of you are thinking: you're a grown up, help yourself. Why don't you just feel better? Aren't you responsible for your own health?

Fair questions. Let me respond.

Yes, at the very root of it, I am responsible for my own health. Part of me being responsible was letting people around me know the warning signs. I liken it to a diabetic having her friends notice her shaking and telling her to check her insulin levels. Noticing one thing could potentially save someone you love. Letting my loved ones know was my attempt at securing the help I need even faster instead of waiting until it was too late. You would help someone who broke their leg, right? I had a break from reality.

And contrary to popular belief, mental illness is real. People with asthma can't think their airways clear, people with cancer aren't being dramatic, people with the flu aren't doing it for attention. Quit saying that about my brain. It is also an organ and capable of sickness.

So, back to today.

I had a friend of mine offer just what I was needed (see pattern interrupt above) and I said yes. Person one decided I couldn't because we always have the same plans Thursdays and I can't just cancel. There was even a mini guilt trip. Okay. This is important to you. Fine. I'm confused.

It's okay. I won't commit suicide today and I have my tattoo to thank for it. I have to believe every single day that I'm going to be okay.

I had a stranger walk up to me Tuesday evening and said she saw that I looked lost.. I wasn't crying or pouting, I was standing next to my car. She gave me a hug. She said, "it's okay."

I was shocked. This stranger reminded me that there is hope. We can help each other. We should help each other.

I believe I will move on.
I believe I will find a group of people that care about others instead of just taking from others.
I believe that mental illness can be treated.
I believe that we need to talk about it more and educate people about early symptoms.
I believe I will make it out alive.

My illness doesn't define me but how you react to my illness says a lot about you. Educate yourselves. It could save a life.



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Friday, May 23, 2014

A Surprise Rendition of Marat/Sade at Pistarckle





This post is a bit more of a review than my other posts, but it is because I just cannot say enough good things about the job Pistarckle Theater did with this production. Marat/Sade is not an easy production to tackle as it is a play within a play. At first glance it may appear as though you are watching a bunch of horrid actors attempting to act out the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat. Then you may take notice to how dreadful they are being treated while enacting the production.


For many that may have missed the cleverly rhymed introduction, it is a play performed by the inmates of the Asylum of Charenton. In fact, the actual title of said play is The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade.


For those that may be a little weak on their history, Jean-Paul Marat was one of the more radical voices during the French Revolution despite being a physician that often mingled with the courts. He was considered a martyr of the revolution following his death. The Marquis de Sade was an aristocrat known for his libertine sexuality and for his disturbing (to me, anyway) novel, " the 120 Days of Sodom." Believe me when I say I am not by any means conservative about human sexuality, but this book was hard to finish.


Okay, now you have some back story on the characters. Without absolutely ruining the production, I will say, there is a movie that came out in 1967 based on the play and is just as convoluted and as intense as the actors at Pistarckle conveyed. The story line and subject matter are not easy ones to tackle. On an island as conservative as ours to even broach the subject of severe mental illness, freedom of sexuality, or the oppression of a people is an ENORMOUS undertaking and takes great bravery. For that alone I applaud them. It may not seem at first glance that there are all these messages in this humble production, but I assure you that you would be gravely mistaken if you missed them. Every single time an inmate gets to lines about oppression in the play (during the French Revolution) you see how excited they get because (as patients in an asylum) they can relate. They are not treated as equals and start to act up during their production. The entire story is peppered with overt references to what many would call "sexual deviancy." The dark lighting and the abrupt ending of the play leave you uneasy... and yet satisfied.


Some of the scenes are hard to watch. I won't lie.


There were many scenes I laughed, many scenes I teared up. I have never been shy about my battle with mental illness, I even wrote a detailed post on Potspoon! about it, so in many instances I related to the patients in the production. Yes, the actors at our awesome little island theater got me to cry. It isn't the first time either. I am continually impressed by the level of performance I get to witness on St. Thomas.


If you walked out of an early performance of Marat/Sade, do yourself a favor and go see it again from a different viewpoint. Watch the "patients" interact with each other despite what they are saying. Pay attention to the silent players on stage. There is so much to witness and take in and they did a hell of a job pulling it off. You only have two nights left to revisit this amazing production. You do yourself a great disservice by missing out.


Don't.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Friends and Family and Fun

I must say, I know some pretty incredible people. Just this weekend, Thomas got to be a guitar tech for someone pretty awesome on a private island in the BVIs, I met Buck from the Toasters, my friend Jon opened for them, and good memories were made. Throw into that the fact that one of the most talented people I know is celebrating her birthday tonight karaoke style and it was a musical weekend that was out of sight!

Adrienne really is talented. Her art is very thoughtful and detail oriented. She forces me to be a better artist. Most of my friends do that. It's why I love them. They are all, each of them uniquely talented even at the sake over overcoming things that most would consider a hindrance to their craft. I am fortunate that they allow me into their lives. They inadvertently push me to be a better version of me.

Whether music, photography, illustration, sculpture, culinary arts, prose, doodling even... they have all taught me so much and forced me to see things in a different way.

I couldn't begin to imagine my life without all the color and knowledge and care and love I recieve from these people. They are my best friends, my island family.

Tonight, we sing and have fun and remember why we love one another.

Cheers!

Adri, me, Tommy
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Time to Just Be Me

Fig. 1 happy Mimi
The past year has been and interesting one, to say the least. Many good thing have happened: my band got steady gig, met some... interesting... people, found out I am to be an aunt, and I had an amazing first fund-raiser for Pin-ups in Paradise.

All this aside, I also got into an accident, got arrested (long story there), had a mini break down, had three deaths in two months time, and quit my job. Well, the last thing is actually very positive, but we'll get to that later.

Here I am, though, and I am happy. Happier than I have been in a loooooong while.
Fig. 2 amazing series of faces I did in
conjunction with Gemini Photography 


How is this possible? Because I am still free to be me.

I still get to create, I still get to make music, I still get to choose how I live, I still have the chance to do exactly what I want. The main difference is now I have the time to do it. No excuses. Shit or get off the pot.

The biggest surprise is... it's working. I have never felt more confident, more secure, or more successful.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Plight of an Underpaid Worker


Yes, I am aware that many people feel underpaid. To some, they will never be happy with their pay. Others will complain but never actually attempt to change their situation and have a sense of complacency or fear of "at least some work is better than nothing." Others still are smart, educated, multilingual, and are making horrible entry level money for companies that supposedly offer room for advancement, but actually keep their employees at nearly poverty wages with goals that are ridiculous yet linked to your advancement opportunities.

I have not been paid this little since I was 18 years old. I'm bilingual and have lots of technical training for my job. Since I'm the only one in my store that speaks Spanish, I have actually lost sales that should have been mine because I swapped with someone to translate and give technical support.  Not making my numbers costs me money. I refuse to deny someone basic customer service, There is no room for advancement in my place of work. The manager has a difficulty managing his life outside of work making our chances at career success dismal at best.

Why do I stay? I don't have anywhere else to go right now. Nepotism runs rampant on the island and a good chunk of career opportunity is directly tied to whomever you may be related to, drink and party with, or brown-nosed the week before. Instead, I get stuck at a dead end job that was supposed to be a good career opportunity simply because it's better than nothing. I struggle daily with the decision to just call it quits and, like the unfortunate many of my generation, and move home. Multiple incomes are what it takes now. Gone are the days when a single income could carry a middle class family. Maybe more roommates and give up my illusion of privacy. It's sad. And worse, I am not alone. Statistically, more and more people in my generation have degrees and no jobs. The ratio of cost of living to payrate is far worse  than it has been for previous generations. The cost of college is higher. The jobs don't pay.

There is a bottleneck in the sciences for people scrambling for the same decent positions.

There's a lack of funding that makes it so teaching isn't a viable source of income.

Trade positions pay horrid wages but expect experience. No one will give the experience.

What's a woman to do? At this point, I'm scared of my option. Going back to school to incur more debt for something that isn't a guarantee is ridiculous. The odds aren't even worth that wager. It's sad when more education doesn't mean more opportunities. At my age, it means less opportunity. I will continue the search. I will not loose hope. I will not let everything go to waste. I refuse to believe that as the workforce gets older, they will keep the younger from moving up and attaining great positions.  There is a way and I will overcome. I may not end up the scientist I dreamed of working for National Geographic. I may not play around the world.  But I will try to find the balance. I will not be deterred.

Zen moment....

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

O, Bento, Where Art Thou?

It's been a while since I packed a bento but today I am glad be on the wagon again. Nothing too fancy. I'm really trying to maintain a more balanced, less eat out or convenience foods based diet.
I was amazing at this, but alas, I let my busy life get the best of me. Shame! I do know better. I know how diet and sleep affect my mental health. Plus, physically I just feel blah. I have a lot on my plate so I need good nutrition to keep me going and motivated.

Lucky for me, there are no shortages when it comes to quick recipes, bento make aheads, and slow cooker meals. These are great time savers that I started putting to use (again) last week. I hope I can keep it up!

Off to enjoy my lunch!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chili, Sand, and Music

The past month has been quite the whirlwind of activity in the Casa de Mimi. Pin-ups in Paradise is putting out a calendar. Non-profit status is on its way. Band is playing weekly at Iggie's Beach Bar. I'm cooking (and playing) for the chili coo-off this Sunday. Work. Stuff.



I have so much I want to tell everyone, but I spent until the wee hours in the morning working on a press kit for the band. So, hugs and love. And naps. They are a good thing. Would love to talk to you all sometime!

I should go run errands, but I am bone tired. Going to crawl in bed now. 

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