Archive for the ‘Mental Illness’ Category:

Can We Talk?

I have not shared any of my work-in-progress here because it has felt too close to the bone. It’s a YA. It’s about art. And it’s about time-travel. It’s about a girl who feels responsible for keeping someone else alive, and how she goes back in time and thinks she wants to stay there. It’s a verse-novel, so it’s made up entirely of poems.

But it’s time for some mutual sharing. I’m looking for a small group of young people (high school/college) and some art. We’d all need pens and notebooks and maybe sketchpads. I’m going to share part of the book with you and then we’ll talk about the girl in the book and maybe about ourselves, too. Then we’ll need the art, because art has this amazing capacity for healing. We’re going to each choose a piece of art–on a gallery wall, maybe, and sit with it for a while, and write. The fancy term for this is “ekphrastic poetry” (a term I like very much).

That’s about it.  The workshop would be free (I got a 4Culture grant for it), so all I need is the people and the art. I could take a max of maybe a dozen. If you know someone who doesn’t usually get to do this kind of thing because of money, let me know. We’ll figure out the dates when we’ve got the people, but I’d like to do it in the summer. The only constraint is it has to happen in King County. Who’s in? Who can find us some art?

Here’s an excerpt from the book. In this poem, Alice, the main character, is staring at a Jackson Pollack painting at the Seattle Art Museum.

Jackson Pollack--Sea ChangeSea Change

I could get lost here

In the tarry black of the Pollack.

It spiders me in,

Webbing faces, flames,

The sails of ships.

 

When I’m here,

I’m not there,

Not home,

Alert to every change

In his cadence.

 

If I climbed into this painting,

Tumbled

Into the starry depths

I would land somewhere

Quiet.

 

What would it be

To stop the ringing fear

Inside my head?

To lose my footing

And fall, no way

for anyone to reach me?

 

I would land in a hall of mirrors,

Each self beckoning me

To follow in and in

Until all I could hear

Was my own abandoned voice.

©2014 Katherine Grace Bond, from Looking-Glass Girl, manuscript in progress

 

The Sweetness in Fearless Writing

Dad 2004

“Some days I feel the ground shifting beneath me, the revelations bursting like fireworks over my head,” I wrote a few days into inviting the bogeyman of Dad’s mental illness onto my blog.

“I’ve thought that too much introspection was keeping me from my work. But I’m noticing that I’m suddenly finishing things and embarking on new ones: I graded all my papers yesterday, wrote to an editor about some work, took an assignment from another one, nailed down dates for my spring classes, got my open mic poets lined up. It’s as if sending this locked-up part of me into the illusory world of cyberspace has opened me. It’s still terrifying as hell.”

The rest of the post was about a night out with my dad. It’s a favorite of mine because it’s not about mental illness, it’s about us–our yelling, singing, hillbilly, opera-going father-daughter selves. And now that he’s had two strokes and is so much quieter, I miss the sweetness of that.

Read “Opera Night”…

 

Living with Bogeymen

The day after I put my secret blog post together about the Children of Suicide, I got emotional backlash. I had thought I could write about other people’s trauma, throw in some psychobabble, and remain unaffected. But facing the Bogeyman isn’t like that–even if you think you are only doing a research paper on the literary imagery of bogeymen, their varying cultural forms and their psychological implications. We’ve all got a bogeyman. If you are a writer, the question is, “What happens if I let him out? Will it scare up my most important writing or send me into therapy?” (Answer: Both.)

What it did was push me to write more detail on my bogeyman–something I’d been afraid and ashamed to do. And once you’ve written something, you can go the next layer. Just don’t expect to feel no pain. Seven years after writing this, it still makes my stomach hurt. Only you as the writer can decide whether it is worth it to write the thing anyway:

http://gardenofmirth.blogspot.com/2006/01/living-in-your-head.html

 

Children of Suicide Club

Taken at Seattle “Out of the Darkness” Suicide Prevention Walk for AFSP

 

The secret blog entry in the link below was a tentative step toward the chasm. Writing publicly about it felt reckless, wrong and necessary:

 

http://gardenofmirth.blogspot.com/2006/01/children-of-suicide-club.html

Writing Difficult Books

My WIP right now is a tough one, as it takes me back to a painful time in my life, and to relationships I’m still sorting out. Today in my story journal, I made two lists. One was “What I Believed Then;” the other was “What I Know Now.” I only want to share the second list, and I share it because I know I am not the only person to have grown up with mental illness in my household. If any of this resonates for you, let me know:

What I know now is
  1. Mental illness changes people’s personalities
  2. Mental illness is…an illness.
  3. Mental illness seems a lot like an evil spell
  4. You still have to set boundaries with a mentally ill person, even if it is because of their suffering that they are behaving irrationally.
  5. It is hard to treat a mentally ill person like an adult and like a child at the same time. And sometimes it feels as if you are doing just that.
  6. Honoring a parent does not mean entering into their illness
  7. You have to find your own ground, rather than grounding yourself in your parents.
  8. Setting boundaries can create distance in relationships.
  9. Things don’t always turn out the way they “should” turn out, and people don’t always behave the way they “should” behave. This is not because there are “good” people and “bad” people. It’s because we are ALL affected by sin and death.
  10. Our job is to find and cling to God, and from that place make decisions about what we will do in relationship with others—including a mentally ill parent. Our decisions should be grounded in God, not in whether a family member will be angry or pleased with us. It is possible to say no and still be loving.
  11. Our job goes beyond self-preservation. Self-preservation is not the end goal. It may be a means to the end goal, or it may not. The end goal is to be in Christ.
  12. The mentally ill family member is not the only one behaving badly. Sometimes the crucible of mental illness in the family brings out the best or worst in other family members.
  13. A mentally ill person may still have deep wisdom to share. Mental illness does not disqualify a person from membership in the human race.