This is the one page artist's statement I wrote to go on the wall for my art as therapy exhibition which opens in a few day's time. With some of the artworks.
Speak is a second solo art as therapy exhibition by Xanthe Wyse. Xanthe’s first art as therapy exhibition, Spinning Orbit was two years ago. Spinning Orbit was messy, raw and intense artwork to help calm Xanthe’s mind while on a challenging journey towards stabilising bipolar disorder with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Below is what I had written on the 'about' section of my website which I am updating. It has a tiny bit of my story and why I do what I do - making my own meaning and purpose keeps me going.
Bipolar Courage is a blog of insights and art by Xanthe Wyse from New Zealand. Xanthe has been diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder. Xanthe started Bipolar Courage when she was feeling down and feeling like she needed a new sense of purpose to keep her going. Having a meaningful project is one of the ways that Xanthe keeps going despite at times overwhelming challenges and struggle.
I started Bipolar Courage during a depressive episode with bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Below is what I had on my home page of this website. I have decided to update the home page, yet keep what I wrote, now as a blog post. It's in the third person.
It takes courage to live with bipolar disorder and the effects of trauma. Bipolar Courage is a blog and art by Xanthe Wyse who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (type 1), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder. Courage is facing overwhelming challenges and pain despite the presence of fear. Whereas bravery is is facing danger without fear. Courage is a determination to keep going despite limitations. Courage is a state of mind that the struggle and cause is worth it.
Below is a painting I did a few years ago, processing in an elevated/mixed mood episode with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hot Air: Rise Above It. I wrote a story to go with it, intended as children's stories but it is also for adults. I might develop it further if I want something to do (already have lots of creative projects). I have published exactly how I wrote it in a single session including notes and mistakes below (with no alterations). This is the first draft that hasn't been composted yet. The story came to me after doing the painting.
I found a copy of an award-winning essay when I was looking amongst my paper documents. I thought it had been deleted forever. I wrote it when I was struggling with chronic physical and psychological pain. My diagnoses at the time were treatment resistant major depressive disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, fibromyalgia. Later changed to bipolar disorder (type 1), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder, coeliac disease (after this essay). Plus various other health conditions.
I won third prize in an Australasian essay writing competition by The Black Dog Institute in 2008. My first and only trip to Sydney. I destroyed the trophy during a mania episode as I was disappointed getting third prize plus it had my former name on it. I had changed my name to Xanthe Wyse after more trauma.
Today, I was merchandising toys and stopped to stare for several seconds at a new shiny Thomas the Tank engine anniversary toy. My son was obsessed with Thomas when he was little. The metaphor in the essay was partly inspired by his love of trains. I have typed the essay below and also linked a video of me reading it out.
I wrote about burnout and a breakdown as a metaphor so no-one could be sure it was about me. Then I chose Xanthe Wyse as a blogging name (blogs deleted after making it my legal name). Xanthe was the start of me having a voice. Now, 12 years later, I've nearly finished my first novel, Pet Purpose.
My brain is currently struggling to be organised enough to speak or write, so I will probably keep this short. Because I am exhausted and I have been getting breakthrough mania and mixed episode symptoms. And also because I am waiting for sedation to kick in enough for me to go back to sleep as emergency self-care.
I just read a rather old 'article' called Bipolar is not a Mental Illness, by Phil Hickey, who describes himself a a retired psychologist. I would like to know how on earth he 'treated' patients.
In his post, he continually blamed bipolar symptoms on behaving badly and not being disciplined as a child. He asserted it that is is not a valid illness and that people do not need medical treatment. I thought it was complete bullshit. I will post some quotes in red italics about his 'analysis' of some bipolar mania symptoms with my comments below each.
I have seen people say 'I have bipolar' and others say 'I am bipolar.' Is it just semantics?
Or is 'I am' identity language? For example, I could say, 'I am a woman,' and 'I am a Kiwi (New Zealander)' and 'I am a mother' and 'I am an artist' (even though I'm a 'hobby' artist not a 'professional'). I could say 'I am a merchandiser' (working part-time helps my self-esteem).
Bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder (BPD) are two separate conditions that frequently get confused with each other. Some people suffer from both together and for some people there is difficulty in deciding on a diagnosis. One thing that they unfortunately both share is stigma, which hopefully with education will be reduced.
Example of stigma on a comment on an article about BPD (people used to say the same about clinical depression 25 years ago):
I loathe politics. It's typically people with polarised views fighting online. Gun violence is a problem in America, but Trump and many of his supporters blame it on mental health issues. The comments below are a small selection from Trump supporters. Mental health is the scapegoat when it comes to crimes motivated by hate. It's a stereotype that all people with mental health conditions are high risk criminals and it reinforces stigma that all people suffering from mental health issues and taking medications are violent.
Xanthe finds creative expression including writing and painting to be therapeutic and helps her to manage her mental health diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).