Some frustrations

Whenever I tell people I have schizoaffective disorder, I always get the same look. Well, two looks. One look is a “what is that?”  quizzical expression. That’s why I’ve taken to saying that I have schizophrenia – people know what it is, and they are under the same diagnosis. But the main look I get is a sort of confused smile, as if to say, “…but you seem fine?”

There are millions of articles about living with invisible disabilities, about that “but you don’t look sick?” reaction, and I won’t bother rehashing them here. I would, however, like to emphasize that with my particular condition, when people “don’t seem fine,” they don’t seem fine. They’re likely to display highly erratic behavior, liable to make them lose their job, get arrested or be carted to a facility somewhere. The fact that I am appearing fine to you is because it is literally my biggest priority.

My days revolve around how to seem higher-functioning. I put up with auditory hallucinations – the almost-a-cliché “voices in my head,” – because they’re hideable, unlike the side effects of an antipsychotic:

Weight gain

Spasms or twitching

Unfocused thinking

Because those symptoms look like someone who’s “not fine.” As long as the symptoms are firmly inside; as long as no one else would ever have to approach me and ask what was wrong with me instead of me volunteering the information, as long as I am passing, that is fine.

I’m about to have to write my graduate school applications, and the agony of not knowing how much to disclose is driving me, well… you get the picture.

Do I present myself as an eager beaver, up at 6 every morn ready for the day’s tasks like a good little lab monkey, despite the fact that my medications prevent me from waking up early and despite the fact that my reliability is shaky at best? Or do I disclose, and give them some real talk, and scare them off of the potential waste of time and money that I will always represent?

This is living with severe mental illness in the 21st century – functioning enough to not be in a home somewhere but not functioning well enough to ever actually excel at anything.

Process Log: TED response

As of this writing I could not actually figure out which Sagmeister talk we were supposed to watch, so I am just responding to the Marian Bantjes one in this post.

I honestly found Marian Bantjes a little bit insufferable. “Here’s what you can do with tinfoil – well, here’s what can do with tinfoil *chuckles*.” I grew up with parents who were both born and raised in a factory town in Ohio. Humility was drilled into me from the beginning, and combined with my naturally low self-esteem, I’ve developed an aversion to people who seem too confident. The fact that this is a woman who likely had to claw her way up in a male-dominated industry is not lost on me. I don’t find her success or her confidence undeserved; I just find it irritating.

In terms of the actual content of her talk, I was pretty enthused about it. I’ve always been focused away from graphic design precisely because of what she speaks about; it’s all about what the client wants, you can never be creative, etc. It’s really great that she’s been able to bend the job to her will more or less and get to do what she really wants. I found most of her work incomprehensible, literally – I couldn’t read most of her calligraphy and her flower words might as well have been in Greek, but some pretty important people must like them for her to be as successful as she is.

I also really like what she said about working in the public sphere and how it’s better than the private sphere because people actually see your art – I said a similar thing about album covers recently. If I end up going into art, I definitely want to be a commercial artist as well so I can end up successful and insufferable too.

Boldly Going…finished?

My favorite painting professor (#bringbackKojo) used to tell me “I am going to take this away from you before you mess it up.” He noticed that I have a definite habit of working on projects indefinitely, trying to “fix” them, until they scarcely resembled what they were supposed to be when I started out. He didn’t think that was necessarily a bad thing, but he noticed that it frustrated me and that I would get into a cycle of self-perpetuating misery over fixing one mistake, but creating another, and then ending up with a piece that I didn’t even like. I’m trying to be the Kojo I want to see in the world by confiscating my own drawings and sticking them in my portfolio so I don’t keep looking at them – I can come back to them in a month if I still don’t like them. That wonky eyelid is still going to be there. So this piece is finished… for now.