How Art Saved Me • by Suzi Blu
I Am Dysfunctional
Hello. My name is Suzi. And I am dysfunctional.
Have you ever dreamed you were falling and just as you were about to smack into the pavement you woke up, short of breath, unable to move, sure that the devil or a fatal illness is inches away from annihilating you? Panic attacks are like that but worse because you are awake — you know you are not falling, and you think you are crazy. They say that if you are worried that you are insane that proves you are not insane, but that doesn’t help when you are positive that every five minutes you are having a heart attack, yet never do. It’s become almost cool to have a mental illnesses like Bipolar disorder or Depression, but no one wants to be the girl who can’t leave the house. But that was me for a long time. At my worst I weighed 79 lbs. and didn’t eat anything but liquids for three years (afraid of choking when I swallowed). To ride in a car I had to lay down in the backseat and breathe into a paper bag. I suffered from panic and an eating disorder for 12 years.
Sometimes I got a job. I worked at The Children’s Place for two hours — I walked out in the middle of emptying a box of hangers onto racks. I was a cashier at Foodtown for a morning — after hours of cold sweats whenever I took too long to look up produce codes, I handed in my drawer at lunch. I was an activities assistant on an Alzheimer’s ward (you don’t know desperation until a roomful of aged blue haired ladies gripping walkers yell at you for calling Bingo numbers wrong). My longest job was as a Go-Go Dancer. In New Jersey where I lived bars are not allowed to sell alcohol if girls dance naked so they pay you to wear a bra and G-string and prance around a pole. That was the best job because I could have an eating disorder and panic attacks and no one cared because no one noticed that much in the dark. If you are an un-ambitious nervous anorexic you can support yourself dancing one night a week since you don’t have much to buy. But I had to do something with my time. Sick of feeling sick and tired I bought a lot of self-help books.
Started Writing Truth
Before I knew the term “mixed-media,” before my bedroom floor was filthy with glitter, before my hands were permanently stained with dyes and inks, there was my journal. Being anxious, I didn’t have friends, but I had spiral notebooks. Steven King said, “If you have friends you join a band. If you are alone, you write.” At first all I wrote was negative and poor pitiful me, but writing daily yields a surprise: I started writing truth. When I slowed down to create words I turned off the outside world and for the first time heard what was within. Scared little me had so much to say. It was just me and the page. Sometimes I sounded terrible: “Who wants to hear you? You are not good at anything.” Sometimes I was wise: “I am no worse than anyone else. I have unlimited potential.” Whenever I felt I would drown in anxiety, depression, shyness, or anger, I wrote my way out. Journals are a surfboard that glides you over emotional water. What happens to you is not you. I started to get it.
Art saved me and it can save you too. Write your truth, paint a flower, sing your favorite song, hoola hoop, badly, and keep going. Magic happens every time you express yourself and MIRACLES happen when you stick with it. Art keeps you in the present moment where there is no past, no future, no worry. Close your eyes and create a space for your presence to come forward. That is why artists are so brave. Every time you create you open a vein and paint with its crimson. Start with journaling. Uncover what is underneath your fear, your sadness. It may seem big and wide but on the page it is contained. There is a limit. A beginning and an end. It is your story. Write your story. Grow strong in your journal. Hear your voice. It says to you: Today is a new day. I live in the moment. I am spirit and my potential is limitless. I am daring, brave, and creative. I am open to joy and ready for bliss. God loves my art.
To learn more about Suzi Blu, visit her blog at suziblu.typepad.com.