CRAZY AND CREATIVE?

Monday, April 7, 2014

(I promise this post actually wraps up relating to my life and possibly yours, but I can't promise that 80% of you won't be bored. To the other 20%- enjoy.) 

When I was eighteen, I did as many high school graduates do, and set off to start college life. My Dad and I drove the 2,000 mile trek from small town Indiana to Logan, Utah and thus it began. I started this new academic pursuit with ideas of becoming an art teacher (Why any of us are expected to know what career we want to pursue at the not-so-ripe age of 18 is beyond me). As I started art classes I realized that, though I was fairly good, I didn't have a passion for it. I saw these other students completely immersed in it. Driven by an obsession for the creative process. Long story short, I majored in Public Relations and minored in Art History. Turns out I enjoyed talking (big surprise there) and writing more than the physical arts. And, bonus, I wasn't all that bad at it. But, I didn't want to let go of art all together thus the art history minor.

I was very drawn to the conceptual and psychological aspects of art and the artist.What was their mentality while creating? What was their life like from childhood and beyond? How did challenges contribute or detract from the creative process?

I found that many artistic geniuses struggled with great challenge and even mental illness (This would be a very exhaustive blog post if I were to list all the writers and artists that have suffered from mental illness and breakdowns. Click HERE for a list). Michelangelo was thought to have suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Georgia O'Keeffe reportedly had clinical depression and Pablo Picasso was suspected of suffering the same. Jackson Pollock had a nervous breakdown in 1938. Vincent Van Gogh experienced periods of deep depression and also very manic periods of high productivity. Could he have been bi-polar?

Recently, I started reading the letters Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his family members, namely to his brother Theo (You can read them HERE). Towards the end of his short life, Van Gogh committed himself to the hospital at Saint Paul-de-Mausole where he created many paintings, one of which was the masterpiece The Starry Night.

All of this led me to thinking, "What if these great artists had been medicated? Would we then have been deprived of so many of the masterpieces we now enjoy or would they have been able to produce more?" There have been studies examining these questions and many more.

(I read quite a few articles on the link between mental illness and creativity and really loved this one found HERE. Read it...I DARE YOU!)

Then, it dawned on me (So here comes the part where all of this actually relates to my life...) Since I've been on a treatment plan that actually helps quite a bit, I haven't been writing on my blog nearly as much. (This is a big problem considering I am a creative genius comparable to the above mentioned artists...). Seriously though, you'd think I'd be motivated to produce more in a more stable mindset, but it hasn't been that way. It seems that the more pain and challenge I experience, the more I write.

Challenge increases the need for a creative outlet. I think that consistently experiencing difficulty creates depth in a person in a way that nothing else can. And this gives a creative person material for expression. And more importantly, that expression, whether it be the work of Van Gogh or an average blogger such as myself, may just help someone else.

So, does this mean I won't be writing any more? Heck no! I said I was more stable not perfect. I've got enough crazy in me to provide material for years to come. And it turns out happiness is a great thing to write about as well and my happy times far exceed my challenges.




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What are you looking at?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Growing up, my five sisters and I each had a day of the week assigned to us. On this day, we got certain privileges such as getting to sit in the front seat of the car. In hind sight I realize this was genius on my mother's part and that it had more to do with maintaining her sanity than granting me a privilege. Six girls fighting over the front seat is not pretty. So, when we'd argue she'd say, "Who's day is it?!" Everyone would shuffle to a seat, someone would smugly slide into the front, and a semi state of peace was found. Brilliant I tell you.

Thursday was my day (I still feel a sense of ownership over this day. Thursday is mine...ALL MINE!) and on Thursdays I started noticing something...The parental side glance. You know what I mean. It's when your parent is driving and out of the corner of your eye, you notice them side glance at you, smile, and then look back at the road. Sometimes I'd even get a double glance (Probably when I started fixing my own hair and doing my own make up...scary). The older I got, the more I noticed my parents doing this. And the older I got, the more I'd ask, "What?" when they'd glance at me. They'd just smile and say, "Nothing." 

I think I understood on some level that they were observing me, but I couldn't possibly understand the thoughts and feelings that accompanied those observations until I became a parent myself. What I understand now is that the glances were happening long before I was old enough to sit in the front seat. They were happening in the rear view mirror. In fact they were happening starting the day I was born. They were glances of wonder at how quickly I was growing; of worry over difficult times I was going through; of pride and love. The older your children get, the less face to face time you have with them and those side glances become critical. Your time with them is growing shorter by the day. 

Though my kids aren't old enough to sit in the front seat yet, I already understand the importance of a precious glance at their faces as they grow and change. Every day I look at them and try to take a mental picture (and a whole heck of a lot of real pictures) of their sweet expressions, funny quirks, and over all innocence. I can flip through some of the mental pictures I've taken over time. I remember the way Maribelle's face looked when she screamed with colic (for eight long months). I can see her as a shy toddler, with bouncing blond ringlets, trying to work up the courage to go down the slide at the play ground. Now, she's a funny, out going, kind, beautiful nine year old. I could describe countless moments like this with each of my children (but I may cry if I do). Time is flying by and I can't stop dwelling on the limited time I have with my kids.

Maribelle age 2

I was changing my three-year-old's diaper last night (it was a doozy) and I said, "Jonas, you need to start going in the potty. Mommy doesn't want to change these stinky diapers anymore." His reply was, "Well, I'll change your diaper when you're a baby mommy." I laughed and said, "I'll never be a baby again and neither will you." Then I was still. It hit me. They'll never be babies again. I can't keep Jonas the age of three with his cute chunky thighs, round apple cheeks, and adorable lisp. Before I knew it, I was teary eyed. 

I then walked into the kitchen to find Maribelle and Campbell (my seven year old) sitting together, drawing at the table. "Mommy, we are writing a story about super heroes and drawing their outfits." I just stared at them as they worked. They didn't know I was watching them...adoring them...already missing them before they are even gone. 

The reality is that I can't stop time. So, what can I do? I can spend as much time with them as possible and teach them the most important things. I can take time each day to look in their faces as they talk to me about the books they've read, the dreams they've had, and the cheesy jokes they heard at school. I can take a breath when I'm angry, give them a hug, and tell them how important they are. 

Instead of dwelling on the fact that they will some day leave me (It will only be next door anyway. They've all signed contracts that they will live within a block of me even when they are married. And yes, I am delusional enough to believe their spouses will adore me. Oh, and also, they will never do anything wrong when they are teenagers.) I'm trying to enjoy the wonderful people they are becoming. I will do my best to teach them all the things they need to maneuver through this increasingly complex world until they some day find themselves side glancing at their own children. Then, they will begin to understand how much I love them.




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I'M BA-AAAAACK!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I'm back by popular demand to blog my little heart out. Popular as in, a trickle of people have asked me over time to start blogging again. But hey, those few people are amazing and count as at least 1000 people each, which by default makes my comeback HUGE. Oh who am I kidding, I just missed writing and the time is right to begin again.

On a more serious note, a lot of people (maybe even some of you reading this right now), have been in contact with me during my blogging absence. On a weekly basis I hear from people who want advice on how to deal with their very real and painful struggles. These people include family, friends, friends of friends, and strangers. It's very humbling to be entrusted with the information shared and these communications have solidified some things for me.

1) Now, more than ever, people are struggling with mental illness (and the hard knocks of life) and the complex challenges it presents.

2) Despite the increase in people suffering, the stigma attached to mental illness remains front and center. A giant shadow of ignorance clouding the lives of those who need more light not darkness.

3) I hate the term mental illness. Seriously, can we come up with a better term?! Until I come up with a far superior term, I will often say "struggles" or "issues". And when I feel the need to be politically correct, I will begrudgingly use the words mental illness (blech!).

I'm discouraged more than ever regarding the undeserved shame our society attaches to mental illness. We all know that everyone and their mother (and father, and cousin, and spouse...) is suffering in some way or another with emotional or mental struggles, and yet it is still something people feel the need to hide.

Trust me, I understand the desire to keep struggles private. It's difficult to share something so personal when so many remain ignorant of the ins and outs of mental illness. And on that note, I use the term "ignorance" literally. I know there are people who legitimately understand very little about mental illness. There are also many who are emotionally unsympathetic by nature. I see this even within marriages. A spouse will not know how to deal with the struggles mental illness presents in their marriage (Obviously this contrast can be applied to any number of relationships).

Mental illness causes suffering for everyone involved. BUT, the good news is that the psychiatric community never stops working to improve treatment for the ever increasing number of people like you and me looking for answers...and peace...and happiness.

Over the past year I've been able to learn a lot about myself, my issues, and the struggles of others. So, I'm back, by popular demand or not, I'm back.  I'm here to blog baby! And, trust me, it won't just be about "issues". I've got a lot going on people and I can't wait to share it with you.

Check back soon to find out what's been going on in my wacky world (or to make it easy, follow by email and/or join the site). Also feel free to peruse past posts.

It's good to be back friends.
All my love,

Jody

P.S. - I will occasionally be taking questions from you (issues you may need advice on) and answering them on the blog (Your identity will be kept confidential of course). If you would like to submit a question or need advice, please email me using the subject "Dear Jody" (contact info. under the contact tab).


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PROCRASTINATING PART II

Thursday, June 7, 2012

I know I said I would write "THE SHRINK PART II" yesterday, but I'm procrastinating.

Writing this blog is usually a good thing, but sometimes I have days when I don't want to talk about myself anymore. I want to anonymously go about my business without everyone knowing my business (I know, I know...I wasn't exactly held at gun point being made to start this blog). Not because I'm ashamed, but because writing about it makes me think long and hard about my "issues". It makes me confront difficult things and analyze myself. Honestly, it's exhausting.

The other day we were talking about prayer with our kids and how you can pray for other people. Sassafras said, "Sometimes I pray for mommy because of her sickness." My heart skipped a beat and I calmly asked, "What do you mean? What kind of sickness does mommy have?" "You know...your sleep problems and how you are sometimes sad," she stated matter-of-factly. Tears welled up in my eyes but she couldn't tell. I smiled and said, "Thank you. That is a very kind thing to do."

That was that as far as she was concerned. But, inside I was angry. Not with her but, angry that I haven't hidden everything better from her. Angry that at the age of 8 she had seen pain in my face. Angry that I have to deal with whatever it is that I have.

I told the hubby I wished she didn't know as much as she did. He asked me why. I told him I didn't want my kids to have childhood memories of "my sickness" or be affected negatively by it or tell their friends about it. The hubby laughed and said, "Our kids have countless happy memories, pain encourages compassion, and you tell everyone everything anyway. You write a blog about it!"

Okay, so he had a point. I do write a blog for goodness sakes. My struggles, and joys for that matter, are no secret. But, I admit, sometimes I wish they were.

When I start to feel this way I ask myself why it is I write this blog. A blog that can, at times, overshadow the many other positive traits that make me me. And every time I do, the same phrase comes to mind, "Do what's right even when it's hard."

I guess I feel angry and sometimes a bit ashamed of my struggles, but I know it's wrong to feel that way so I write a blog to fight the misconceptions, not just held by other people, but myself.

Very Soon I will write part II of THE SHRINK. But, for today friends, I'm going to keep a few things to myself.
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THE SHRINK (PART I)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

At any given time, I could sit and write a blog post (That is if that time wasn't already taken up with a million other things). An event will take place, inspiration will strike, or a melt down will occur and I will think, "I need to blog about that." Sometimes I have so many thoughts in my head at once that I avoid writing a post all together. Just this morning I started a post and now it's 6 p.m. and I've deleted that one and started this one. That's how quickly my mind races from thought to thought, idea to idea. Somewhere between this morning and now, the first post became all wrong....not good enough. I'm kind of an all or nothing person.

My house is either really clean or a complete disaster; I'm either full on make-up/hair done mode or a homeless person look-a-like; I eat uber healthy and exercise every day or I don't do either for long periods of time. And if I am doing one of the above well, it's a safe bet I'm falling short in the other mentioned areas.

I've always brushed off this all or nothing life style as a quirky personality trait, but in reality, it's not normal. Normal, a word I hate but I'm using for a lack of a better term, is staying on top of most household chores, exercising a few days a week, eating moderately well, not letting mail stack up longer than a few days, etc. etc. I'm not talking about perfection, but I am referring to a fairly consistent way of life.

Now, let's set aside the above while we go back in time a few years to the first time I ever took any medication for my depression, anxiety, and all that crap...

I had a baby, a toddler, and a husband always gone working hard on building his business. I was constantly overwhelmed. We had a family friend who was a doctor. He was kind, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. He listened to my problems and I asked him to prescribe me an Rx for my "issues". He prescribed me something that helped for years. I still struggled with symptoms, but they were largely muted...for the most part, manageable. I will always be thankful for this Rx and my friend. In January I changed meds, went through a nightmare, and now I am off medication except to help me sleep (To be brought up to speed on said nightmare...click HERE).

My point is that I'd never been to a psychiatrist, had a psychiatric evaluation, or seen a therapist. I've only ever relied on doctor friends, and recently my primary care physician. I guess, in a way, I've been self diagnosing and my doctors have been inclined to agree with me. But when my waking nightmare occurred, all of this changed.

When I was in the midst of this enormous challenge a few weeks ago (it feels like a life time ago) I was desperate and called to set up an appointment with a psychiatrist and therapist (At this particular practice they require you meet with a therapist first then the therapist refers you to one of their psychiatrists). By the time they got back to me to set up a visit, I was feeling much better. My PCP had prescribed something that actually helped me sleep and I went off the medications that must not be named (unless you write to me and ask me about them:).

I'm ashamed to say I felt above going to a psychiatrist and/or therapist. I felt like I didn't need that. It some how felt too drastic. But, I immediately chastised myself. I said, "Self, there is nothing wrong with seeing a psychiatrist or therapist. In fact, it's smart and you're a big dumbie for not doing it sooner. Think about the nightmares you could have avoided if you would have spoken to psychiatric professionals sooner."


I'm a pretty good guilt tripper and made myself set up the appointments even though I felt awkward about it (Yeah, I know...I write a public blog about this stuff, but I felt awkward...whatever...).

Well people, I went for my visits and they have given me a lot to think about. I want to share my thoughts with you, but I think this post has gone on long enough. Stayed tuned until tomorrow to read all about my visit to...dun, dun, dun...The Shrink.
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PARTAY!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

SO, my sweet friend Diane asked me to host an online party for a company called Thirty One. I've never done anything like this before, but they have some really cute STORAGE options (I love feeling organized...though I really stink at it;).

So, if you want stylish, personalized organization for your home you can check out the party I'm hosting.
Go to www.mythirtyone.com/dianeboyce and you can browse through the new summer catalog. In the catalog you'll be able to click on any item to find out pricing information and different fabric patterns. If you see something you'd like to order you can go back to Diane's home page and click on "My Parties" and then next to my name {Jody Long} click "Shop Now". {That way as the hostess I get credit for anything you buy....and then I can earn discounts on stuff. Hello Mini Utility Bin... hee hee}

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AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A couple weeks ago, the Hubby took his last final, concluding his first year of medical school (Well, he technically has one more test on June 11th, but that's another story). Medical school is very (Is there a word for very times 1 million) intense so you can imagine how happy we felt when Hubs completed this nightmarish exam.

A year of parenting on my own, never seeing my husband, the Hubs shouldering the burden of medical school, and my horrid med/no sleep experience made us feel like we were walking trudging through each day with a ton of bricks upon our shoulders. But, when I was able to sleep again and the Hub's exam was complete, I felt that burden become light (I wouldn't be surprised if my posture has literally improved).

Baby boss mostly ate cookies the whole time. I guess
He was thankful for cookies:).
I felt so grateful that I wanted to express this gratitude in a tangible way. In the Mormon culture, we do what's called Family Home Evening. Once a week, usually Monday, a family gathers together for prayer, spiritual thoughts/lessons, treats, and an activity. The Hub's exam fell on a Monday, so we dedicated our F.H.E. to gratitude.

Each of us wrote on a balloon things we were grateful for and then let them float away. It was great to watch my kids think carefully about the things that mattered most to them.



Poor hubby hadn't even had time to shave for days. 
We talked about how important it is to be thankful for all we have and let our Heavenly Father know. Regardless of whether you're religious or not, it is nice to watch your expressions fly into the air...going somewhere...(Probably to a poor bird who will choke on the balloon...but I digress).

Anyway, I just wanted to post quickly about how thankful I am for so many things. There's nothing like coming out of a truly difficult time to make the world seem so great. If you are currently going through a rough time, hang on for dear life until a beautiful moment comes... I promise it will.

PS- Send me a picture of you and or you and your family doing gratitude balloons to jodylong82@gmail.com and I will post you on the blog! Can't wait to see your pics:).
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