5 foot 2, eyes of molded plastic

I’ve been a little busy.  I’m in clinicals 3 days a week and working my butt off studying for two tests a week.  I mean I’ve literally been working my butt off.  I’ve lost 48 pounds.  I average over 10,000 steps per shift at the hospital.  My pedometer doesn’t measure moving patients, making beds, and generally shaking in my boots as I try new skills on actual human beings.  Then I come home and run (okay I jog) a few miles. 

I’ve managed to finish these two pieces.  I’ve always wanted to do portraits of Pez Dispensers.  They have a personality all their own.  I was playing with the concept of hero worship when I decided to use repuposed USAF uniforms as backgrounds.  They turned out okay!  I really can’t believe that I found the time to finish them.  They are headed for a show in Chicago this November.  I’ll post more details when I get them. 

In other news, I found out that I have Addison’s Disease.  I’ve probably had it for over 15 years as my body slowly attacked my adrenal glands.  It’s rare and incurable, but very managable.  My body quit making cortisol, the “stress hormone.”  You can’t live without it.    The symptoms are:  fatigue, weakness, dizziness, hyperpigmentation (my armpits turned coppery brown), low blood pressure, hypoglycemia and…depression.  I was weak and sick and exhausted.  Now that I’m taking steroids to replace what my body wasn’t making, I feel so much better.  The medication makes me hungry, but I am exercising so hard that it doesn’t matter.  I’ve also started taking some thyroid hormone.  I’m finally on a level playing field and it’s amazing what I can get done in a day with a functioning endocrine system. 

Life is good.  I wasn’t lazy and dwelling on my depression.  I was really fucking tired.

That said, I had issues.  I still have issues.  I can’t just give up on exploring my emotions because I found a physical reason for my overwhelming fatigue.  I know that a lot of you still have depression that won’t have a “quick fix.”  (It only took 15 years!)  For years and years doctors treated me like my exhaustion was my fault for not going to counseling enough, exercising enough, for eating too much sugar, because I didn’t drink enough water, because I didn’t forgive people fully, because I lived in the past, for feeling sorry for myself, for being too negative, for not wanting to get better, because I’m such a hypochondriac, etc.

I don’t think that anybody should suffer for years because medical staff act like the illness is the patient’s fault.  I was tired of hearing how my fatigue was due to my noncompliance and piss-poor attitude.  I follow doctors’ orders.  I blamed myself.  I struggled.  I sincerely hope that you don’t put up with it, whether your problem is physical or emotional.  Nobody deserves to suffer.  Keep trying.

Zoloft

I think I'm done with pills
I think I'm done with pills

My pill demons have been exorcised.  Either that or I’m tired f embroidering pills.  I feel great about what I’ve created.  With this series, I am finally able to call myself an artist without sarcasm and self depreciation.  I am because I do.

For those of you following along at home, here is my artist’s statement. 

The Promise of Pills explores the identity of illness, the promises of drug marketing, and frustration with the current healthcare system in the US.

I use embroidery to mimic the swirling colors and visible brushstrokes of oil painting. I use dozens of colors of cotton, silk, and rayon floss on each image. I spend 30-60 hours stitching every one. The time and labor it takes to create these pieces reiterates the uphill struggle of recovery and the depth of compassion needed to conquer mental illness.

I use my background textiles to comment on my subject matter. The cheerfulness of printed fabrics echo the drugs’ promises of sunny, uncomplicated happiness while standing in sharp contrast to the reality of depression and anxiety. I occasionally use textiles pulled from my daily life–scrub smocks, kitchen linens, bedding, and my daughter’s clothing–to show how much of a person’s life is affected by illness.

I want to bring beauty and individuality to the stern geometry of pills. I want to blur their rigid, clinical lines. With the warmth and softness of fiber, I am giving humanity to medical diagnoses and their chemical solutions.

Wellbutrin–A Smiling Piece of Candy.

wellbutrin 004

Wellbutrin is a strange little pill.  It looks like a happy piece of candy.  It gives me bizarre nightmares like it’s coated in sugar and hallucinogenic drugs.  Still, happy is happy.  Wellbutrin is still part of the cocktail I take every day.  I have no ill feelings, only appreciation. 

wellbutrin 003

wellbutrin 002

Wellbutrin makes Montana winters possible for me.  Maybe it contains trace amounts of powdered sunshine. 

Because I have peace and friendship with this drug, I used silks, alpaca, and shimmering cottons to make this picture.  I used a hoarded piece of fabric for this special occasion.  It’s still unblocked because I’m not sure where to crop the dolls on the material.   I’ll take better pictures once it gets framed.  (I might be over a year behind on that.  Oops.)

Sometimes I get tired of slaying demons.  With acceptance comes peace.  Thank you, Wellbutrin.

 

Extreme closeup
Extreme closeup