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.
2 children’s books that also have messages for adults. The characters are all aspects of the human psyche (negative self-talk – toad, determination and perseverance – worm, dreams glider, recognition of talent sunflower). Also the experiencing of living with bipolar (crash etc, support of family and therapist - worm). Also different characters ie bullying etc
Hot Air: Rise Above It
(basically about reaching potential & friendship & dealing with challenges & personal growth).
When Sunny was a young sunflower starting to unfold her petals, Cane the toad squirted her in the eye with poison. So Sunny closed her petals off to protect herself.
‘You’ll never be in full bloom!’ said Cane. Cane said mean lots of mean things to Sunny. One day, Sunny dared to peek out and she noticed something happening. She tuned out the words and just heard ‘burp, blah, blah, blah.’ She saw compost drop out from the words and hot air rising. She looked down and noticed she had grown taller and Cane was much further away.
‘You have yet to reach your potential,’ said Eddy. ‘Cane told me I was just a lowly worm, but I feel purpose in turning the compost into soil to help plants grow.’
Her friend Eddy the worm had turned the compost into rich soil that helped make her roots grow deeper and her stem grow taller above the stench of Cane’s words. The hot air mixed with the cool and made warm air which Sunny basked in. She opened her petals and smiled. The more compost Cane made, the more rich soil Eddy made and the more it helped Sunny grow.
Another friend, Sugar the glider was hurt. When he was learning to fly, a storm blew up and Sugar crashed into the ground hard and broke his wing.
‘Cane said I’ll never fly again,’ Sugar told Sunny sadly.
‘Do what I do and tune Cane out,’ said Sunny. ‘When Cane said mean things I think ‘La la la I can’t hear you. Music helps me drown out the mean things Cane says.’
Sugar learned to tune Cane out and his wing mended with friendship from Sunny and Eddy. Sugar was determined to fly again.
‘What Cane says is all hot air and compost,’ said Sunny to Sugar. The compost drops out and hot air rises. Rise above the hot air.’
Cane still spat out mean words but they no longer had any effect on Sunny, Eddy and Sugar. The more mean words Cane spewed, the more compost that was made and the more hot air. The hot air swirled into thermals that lifted Sugar up and he began to fly. Not only fly, but to soar.
Sugar became stronger and was sweet, not bitter.
Compost: Dig Deeper
(making peace with Cane, why Cane said mean things, challenging Cane, nearly crashing again etc). Standing up to bullies, negative self-talk stopping achieving dreams etc
(brain is bit disorganised)
Cane the toad was still saying mean things but Sunny the sunflower, Eddy the worm and Sugar the glider had learned to turn it out. Eddy the worm was steadily turning the compost from Cane’s words into rich soil that helped Sunny grow to full bloom. Sugar was getting more confident flying solo rising above the hot air generated by Cane’s words after the compost had dropped out.
‘You won’t be able to keep flying’ yelled Cane. Eddy was working hard to deal with all the compost (ie shit) but the hot air mixed with cooler air as Sugar started having self-doubts. Another storm blew up and Sugar hit the ground hard. He felt despondent.
‘See, I told you so,’ said Cane. ‘Don’t even bother flying.’
Sugar felt very discouraged and didn’t try to fly again. There might be another storm and he might get hurt again. It was a very rough landing and the first time he’d tried to fly, he’d broken his wing.
Sunny noticed Sugar was down. Sugar was taking to heart the things Cane said.
‘Cane, stop!’ said Sunny firmly. ‘If you’re going to say something, try saying something encouraging rather than criticising. Your words hurt my friend.’ It was the first time Sunny challenged someone. She was tall enough now that Cane couldn’t squirt her in the eye anymore like when she was a young flower.
Sunny shone down and saw Cane in a different light. What had looked like warts were really scars. Under the tough looking exterior was (vulnerability). Hurt people hurt.
Cane looked at his reflection in a puddle after the storm passed. ‘I don’t mean to be mean,’ he sad sadly. ‘I am just an ugly toad and no-one wants to be my friend.’
‘You can change those patterns,’ said Sunny. ‘To have a friend, you need to learn to be a friend.
‘Learn to be your own best friend first,’ added Eddy. That’s what I did when I didn’t have any friends. ‘Then I helped others like Sunny and Sugar.’
‘I’m sorry,’ said Cane. ‘Sorry for all the hurtful things I said to you.’
‘We forgive you,’ said Sunny, Eddy and Sugar.
‘I will try my best to change my ways,’ said Cane. ‘Would you call me Zane instead?’
‘Yes, Zane and you are our friend,’ said Eddy. ‘We believe in you.’
Cane learned to say encouraging things like ‘You can fly again.’
Without all the compost Eddy didn’t have to work so hard to keep the soil in good condition for Sunny. Sunny’s leaves made oxygen which her sunshine warmed to make gentle currents for Sugar to fly on.
And Zane made three new friends and felt loved for the first time ever.
Reading out the stories
Xanthe finds writing and painting to be therapeutic. She has lived with mental illness for over 25 years. She has been diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety disorder after originally being diagnosed with 'treatment resistant' depression with general anxiety.