Straitjackets are, and always were, a popular trend throughout the history of the artist community.
It has gone as far for people to say that my mental illness would be perfect for the biographies that will one day tell the story of my own artistic career. I’ve been told that my fight against my own will to die will make my biography a best seller.
I’ve been told that to really be able to make it in the world of artistry, I have to wear tragedy like the crown of a proud tsarina sitting before an audience of buzzing flies.
Such accusations remind me that minds are like gardens – Luscious, colorful, varied, and dimensional. Flowers represent our knowledge, and they say knowledge is the most fearsome weapon of all – but what if a war is waged here? What if the garden is cannibalistic?
I already know the answer.
I jump backwards off a cliff and find myself falling like a magnificent meteor. I end up a burnt up heap in Southern France, 1880’s. A lonely Dutch man traipses the country side at dusk, his exotic chalky paints and pig tail brushes thrown in a beaten canvas bag. I can smell his perspiration mixed with the metallic taste of blood that hangs in the air. It oozes out of the shriveled mass on the side of his head, his ear: a gruesome mess.
I want him to realize that the world he sees in yellow splotches and starry nights is aching for him to stick around a little longer. I want him to not succumb to the whims of his bipolar mania, or to the wretched bullet that will soon rip through his hollow stomach.
But he continues on his way, ambling into the sunrise towards a little yellow house, humming snatches of an old tune.
I find myself floating once again, as I bubble up into the atmosphere and am blown to London, England, to a neat little apartment tucked away between townhouses lined like dominoes. It is midday, 1950s, when I spy a woman lurking behind paisley curtains. Her orange blush is harsh on her pale face, her gaping teeth peek between her lips like pearls in an oyster. Beside her are a million million notebooks. Her words swirl about the small room, chattering with the same particles of depression that plague the vulnerable garden of her mind as well.
I want her to realize that like Lazarus, she cannot rise again from the ashes. I want her to stop toxic air from committing genocide to her blood cells. I want to tell her how her children will mourn.
But she continues to watch them play peekaboo with hazy eyes, as she fidgets with small memorabilia painted yellow and black like glittering bees.
Once again, I am consumed kicking and screaming into a black hole, which delivers me to the edges of the universe. I swim through liquid helium, my skin rupturing, my nerves coiling around my organs until I choke. My spine cracks, but I swim on. I reach out the corpses drifting about around me, their faces expressionless, their fingers unmoving, their minds: lost.
I am reminded of when I myself had walked into my pantry and taken a handful of sleeping pills, hoping to escape as well to that very green void on the other side of the universe. I look to my fellow artists, to the sunken faces of my predecessors, the very men and women who bled yellow like I did.
I want to remember that I am an artist, not the chemical imbalance in my brain or the skewed events of my timeline – I am defined not by the ailments of my mind, but the potential of my mind; not the pills that I pop like candy but the ability to actually accomplish something when I do.
I don’t fight for a best-selling biography. I fight for them.
For the artists, the soldiers of creativity, and the ability to say that I survived.