Mixed Media

Insomnia

I converted a section of the poem into a Photoshop brush and created a mandala. I then layered the mandala with a pattern and clipped out a section.I converted a section of the poem into a Photoshop brush and created a
mandala. I then layered the mandala with a pattern and clipped out a section.

A conversation with my psychiatrist inspired me to write the poem. He asked me why my feelings of hopelessness led to thoughts of suicide. I answered that I thought there was no point in living. He asked me, “What is the point of dying?”

Insomnia
by Tara

What is the point of living
With the struggle for sleep?
But what is the point of dying?

What is the point of living with a storm twisting inside me, turning itself inside out and leaving
The streets bleeding gold rivers of dirt that seep
Through the sheets with the sweat? A fallen rose, dying

Scatters its petals in the gutter. What is the point of living
With the waters that keep
Rising and flooding the banks of my eyelids, threatening

The lowland cottage that I built inside myself, seeping
Up through the floors, ruining the ribbons that I keep
Tucked away in drawers, ruining the snapshots of summer dying

Into fall and winter? What’s the point of living
In the deserted streets of my mind, where I weep
And wander searching

For torn packets of sugar, scattering
Themselves in the wind, searching for fragments that leap
From my fingertips, searching with the sound of lightning dying

In the distance? What is the point of living
With the cockroaches that creep
Down the walls of this tiny room inside my heart, crawling

Across my skin? It’s 3 a.m., time for housecleaning.
The pile of dishes inside the sink is deep.
I toss out the tulips dying

On the windowsill, and I struggle to keep
the conversation in mind about the urge to leap.
Perhaps the point of living
Is to struggle to the point of dying.

Poetry

Unfinished Objects

Title: Flower Center — This is an example of an unfinished object that I have in my collection. I experimented with fluorite beads and copper wire to make a flower center. I still need to create the petals. The numerous unfinished objects in my room inspired me to write a poem.
Flower Center

This is an example of an unfinished object that I have in my collection. I experimented with fluorite beads and copper wire to make a flower center. I still need to create the petals. The numerous unfinished objects in my room inspired me to write a poem.

The following poem captures a moment in my life when I felt a great deal of confusion. This confusion spilled over into my artwork. I created collages and doodles that lacked focus. I had trouble finishing my projects.

Unfinished Objects
by Tara

Royal blue scraps of felt, periwinkle blue Strips of ribbon,
Meandering trails of tiny triangular mirrors…
Alyssa loses the composition, trapped In tangled emotion.

She mourns the connection, tossed like a needle Into the ocean.
Her thought’s thread, thin like hair, snaps and disappears.
She loses her motivation, caught in tangled emotion.

Royal blue scraps of felt, periwinkle blue Strips of ribbon
Tumble to the ground as she tries to explain what Went wrong in tears,
While playing with the thread of an unfinished object,
From a collection vast as the ocean.

The boxes spill and flood over in slow motion.
The beads vibrate on the floor, their sound waves Are caught in the shattering of mirrors.
Alyssa loses some unformed objects, trapped in swirling emotion.

Royal blue scraps of felt, periwinkle blue Strips of ribbon
Swirl back together in piles, their ripples disappear.
She kneels and gathers them together In a wave of devotion

And picks them up one by one.
Then slowly, the clutter clears
And loses it’s currents of emotion.

She rethreads her needle, pulling through her fears
Then drops the needle again. The eye disappears
In royal blue scraps of felt, periwinkle blue Strips of ribbon.
She loses her composure again, trapped in tangles Of emotion.

Community

In honor of Chris Cornell

May is Mental Health Awareness MonthSadly, Chris Cornell died four years ago. There is a bronze statue of him next to MoPOP, the Museum of Pop Culture, which I walk by frequently, usually on the way to a grocery store. I honestly knew nothing about him until I heard about the statue and how his death affected Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, a great champion of Path with Art. They were friends and often performed together.

Remember that May is Mental Health Awareness Month. If you need someone to talk with, please do not hesitate to reach out. One resource is easy to remember: call 711 or 1-866-427-4747 on your phone and you will be connected with someone.

While Path with Art is not a social service agency, one of my goals is to create a peer-to-peer support network. Like many others, I suffer from depression, including thoughts about suicide. You can reach me and others on the blog editorial team via blog@pathwithart.org. We really are in this together. Never forget that.

Community

A Refuge in Little Saigon

Seattle Clubhouse members

by Tim ‘Birch’ Schooler

The setting was a snowy day in Seattle, and things were fine since we interviewed by streaming video. The Seattle Clubhouse proper is near the corner of 14th and Main Streets in the Little Saigon neighborhood. Clubhouse staff opened on that day, though there was to be an earlier-than-usual closure because of bad roads from the weather.

The Seattle Clubhouse is a safe space where members living with mental illness can step out of the shadows of social isolation and into the light of a healing community. Through meaningful relationships, our Clubhouse members have real opportunities to reintegrate into society by becoming gainfully employed, pursuing education, and attaining stable housing.”

In the digital sphere of Clubhouse and prior to our interview was the occasion for several members to chat by video conference from their homes. Nik, a Clubhouse associate, provided details from working on the Recovery Times newsletter.

He organizes a monthly schedule for production. He has taken it from a rudimentary packet that went out on a quarterly basis prior to his arrival to a monthly newsletter. We sat by our computer screens, and I started by asking Nik about the evolving Recovery Times newsletter.

“I thought that we could expand it,” he said.

Since it is now published monthly, among the benefits of improved formatting, there is further engagement with the members in the work of the Clubhouse. Recovery Times has become a creative outlet for writing and for poetry of the Clubhouse members. Nik went on to explain, “We have a lot of people who want to write. It so happened that it developed that way.”

Prior to his moving to Seattle, Nik contributed to a book created by the Clubhouse in Hawaii. Nik recorded responses of Clubhouse members in meetings in Hawaii. After he transcribed their comments, they were added to the coffee table book. He “wanted to give something back” to the Hawaii Clubhouse. A copy of that coffee table book was presented to lawmakers to emphasize the importance of the Clubhouse to its members.

Seattle Clubhouse photo collage

Then as now, Nik wants to give a voice to people who might not otherwise have a means of expression. Fast forward to his time in Seattle and Nik had no prior experience with the software that the Clubhouse uses for the Recovery Times. He uses that application because it is affordable.

Nik also talked about the editions of the Recovery Times which is a printed publication firstly, but also has a digital distribution. He said that making something only as one thing does not involve more people. Print and digital editions of the same Recovery Times publications benefit members and include people who don’t have computers or smartphones.

Nik said that a Clubhouse member doesn’t need to think about buying a computer, and that is a benefit because computers are not cheap. Nik includes care for the environment as inspiration which is an important value with the operation of Seattle Clubhouse.

“There are no filters,” he said. Writers may submit almost anything for Recovery Times. “For the most part, it is what members want to write.” That is important since the philosophy of Clubhouse International means that staff and members work together and move toward mental health wellness.

Nik learned about bringing up the enthusiasm and abilities of the members. When a member mentions wanting to write about a Clubhouse event, he starts out by asking, “What did you do?” Writing follows from his prompts like that one. Nik then emphasized, with a smile, a Seattle Clubhouse member who always has a topic ready.

“A vibrant Clubhouse program in Seattle provides family members, friends, businesses, downtown stakeholders, and persons living with mental illness a low-cost option for gaining respect, hope, and unlimited opportunity to access the same world of friendship, housing, education, and employment as the rest of the community.”

Poetry

Artist

Title: Striped Pattern — I drew the artwork with pens and markers, then photographed it with an app on my phone. I then manipulated and layered the image in Photoshop to create the end result. I like playing with patterns in Photoshop because it offers me an opportunity to practice mindfulness skills.
I drew the artwork, titled Striped Pattern, with pens and markers, then photographed it with an app on my phone. I then manipulated and layered the image in Photoshop to create the end result. I like playing with patterns in Photoshop because it offers me an opportunity to practice mindfulness skills.

I tried to write this piece as a longer blog post, but I had a hard time emotionally processing the act of writing. I decided that a poem would be the right medium for the material because it conveys its message more efficiently.

Artist
by Tara

I am a bipolar-type, too-rapid cycler.
I am a schizotypal schizoaffective.
I am a bipolar.
I’m a borderline — give me Paxil.
I’m a goddess — lay me down.
Tie me up.
I must be a murderer.
I have bipolar disorder.
I experience depression.
I am an artist.