Archive for » February, 2014 «

Book of Psychosis

So I’ve decided to share some of the drawings from my art journal.

I use this art journal mainly when I am psychotic and/or hospitalized.  In the first two years of my illness, 2009-2010, it went to every hospitalization and was often used as a way of communicating.  I use it less often now as I can communicate better now, but it is still something I add to.  I can also read it pretty much like a book.  I know how I felt in each drawing and what I was trying to communicate.

Let’s look at a few drawings.

This was drawn right before my first psychiatrist appointment that would start the process of my diagnosis.  I was trying to describe the four moods I felt like I was experiencing instead of normal feelings.

Top left: Cactus: characterized by irritability; Top Right: Cotton: I felt like I was wrapped in cotton gauze whenever I tried to interact with the world.  It was hard to communicate and stay in reality;  Bottom Left: Water: similar to Cotton but I instead felt like I was underwater looking at the world which was on land; Bottom Right: Butterfly: The mood that felt the most normal.  I experienced it most often when training dogs or working.

I drew this while in the hospital.  At the time they were trying me on a lot of different medications which were all interacting and causing lots of side effects.  The one I tried to communicate here was feeling jittery.  I would later learn that this is called “akathisia” and is a common side effect of anti-psychotics.

I drew this piano when I was out of the hospital.  However, sometimes when I was in the hospital I would sit down and play it as if it was actually creating music.  I would state that playing the piano was one of the only things that made me feel happy and normal.

I drew this in mid 2009 in the hospital.  I had begun spending a lot of my time pacing and this frustrated me.  I also began “sun-downing” which is a term that usually describes when a person with Alzheimer’s regresses in the afternoon.  The nurses meant that in the afternoons I was more anxious and disorganized.

I drew this in early 2010 when I was not in the hospital.  It is pretty different from the other drawings because it is less abstract and includes a lot more words.  Most of the phrases are song lyrics or quotes from poetry.  I was trying to communicate that I felt very fragile in my recovery and that I felt like being out of the hospital was a more confined recovery than being outpatient where I felt more likely to “break” since I was in a bigger “box.”

There are many more drawings in my art journal but these do the best job of showing my mindset and communication style.  Some other pages in the journal have lots of song lyrics, as well as poetry that I either read or wrote myself.  There is a definite progression from very abstract drawings to drawings with more clarity.  However, sometimes there is a very abstract drawing as I regress into psychosis again.