Today’s post comes from Maree, author of Bold and Indie. Maree is an ’emerging bipolar artist’, having been diagnosed in June 2011 with bipolar type 1. In her blog bio, Maree says “Bold & Indie started half way between Central Victoria and Florence. The artist behind Bold & Indie, Maree lives with her beautiful family, rescued horses and happy pups. She draws from her Bi Polar Disorder, Cancer survival journey and life lessons learned as a source of inspiration that comes with living with the unremitting disability. Art meditation with colour, composition and layout is used. Maree is continually inspired to paint the world, in various points of view, tones, colours, and shades from the inside out.”
I have some work from her gallery to share with you, and also an interesting blog post on living her life with bipolar type 1.
“It has been established over the many months that I have a mental illness / disability. I have learned over the years particularly during my cancer diagnosis that we cannot control the cards we are dealt, but we can certainly choose how we play the hand. I am happy to say that for now, I have read my last Bi Polar Disorder library book. I have stopped “Google-ing” and saving “pdf” scholarly medical articles on mental illness. My visits to online chat forums on mental illness have trickled to cessation. I have visited all the relevant and not so relevant websites and am armed with all the facts that I need, now its time to live life with the disorder/illness/disability and find out through experience what it all means.
When my dear partner was also diagnosed with a similar disorder a few years ago, we decided then not to be defined by a label. My husband continues to live in this essence and continues to be my role model, my guide, my confidant and my personal hero. He is my Bi Polar champion!
I have sat for seven months.
I have rocked. I have listened. I have cried. I have talked. I have yelled. I have grieved. I have photographed. I have discussed. I have read. I have browsed. I have raged. I have forgiven. I have honoured. I have respected. I have accepted. I am ready.
I have Bi Polar Type I disorder. With that disorder comes limitations owing to medications, brain psychoses, chemical imbalances with bad days and good days. I have the disorder, I am not the disorder. It has been acknowledged and embraced that I will have at times debilitating side effects but I also have a ferocious independence, confidence and ability within me to jump on an aeroplane and embark on an international adventure of a lifetime with my little girl. I know that I will be much slower in my mental capacity to think, to compute, to complete and to reason, however, with assistance and support, it does not mean I cannot complete a visual arts university degree, on the contrary, the world awaits. Sometimes it takes a breakdown of the familiar to re-evaluate what we already have and who we already are. It may take a time of feeling ‘lost or alone’ to push us to reconnect with our inner world and spirit. Experiencing that this is possible, especially in times of confusion or grief is amazing. It brings a sense of being and belonging. If offers a steadying truth that lets us live from our strengths.
Circumstances must change to accommodate new needs, but that does not mean stopping life and living permanently. Shifts happen. Life is fluid and when you allow shifts to happen in your life, when you finally let go and let see, that’s when you commence a journey of a lifetime that is equally as rewarding as it is challenging. We can be responsible for changes in attitude and behaviour. Sometimes those changes will be extraordinarily inconvenient and others may be truly enhancing and liberating. Every time you make a choice, I have learned, you are turning that part of you that chooses into something a little different from what it was before and hopefully it is always for the better, knowing that my life has depth and meaning and that we are all a part of something infinite, for a love for ourselves and others can heal our insufficiencies; for a joy in living that authentically honours it.
Finally, it would be remiss of me if I did not convey my sincerest and heartfelt thanks to you, the reader and friend for accompanying me on this journey of self-discovery and diagnosis. Thank you for being there for me when things were wild and equally depressing. Thank you for your comments on the blog, your text messages, your private mail and comments on social media sites and subscribing to my ramblings. It means that you care and I am forever thankful for that.
Thank you for accepting who I am, and have honoured the shift from who I was and used to be. I hope I have at the very least through the blog and posts, given you a deep and meaningful insight into mental illness and what it means, especially my beautiful close friends, my dearest colleagues and family, you know who you are, where this subject was foreign, confronting, scary and unchartered. I hope I have removed some of the stigma that is associated with mental illness and made to more ‘okay’ to be approached, understood and appreciated. Learning who and what we are we learn to ‘author’ our own lives. We stumble forward. We make presumptions. We change our minds and finally we learn to heal.
Perhaps someday, down the track when I have officially become a student artist in waiting, I may merge all my blogs into one on the very essence of me and who I am today, the completely sassy, bold Bi Polar, student artist in waiting, cancer survivor, mother, wife, fabulous woman! Call me Van Gogh-ette!
This is not the end, it is but a closing chapter on my diagnosis of mental illness moreover, it is an opening chapter on the rest of my life and all that waits.”