Artwork Friday #1: “Still Alice” in pencil

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So this is my drawing of Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”. Let me give you a bit of a background.

I decided to go see this movie myself. Julianne Moore, in my opinion, is the greatest living actress. Idol, Queen, Icon, she is my star. So I simply had to see the movie. Well it was a terrible idea to go alone.

The movie is about Julianne’s character getting early onset Alzheimer’s disease, and after about 30 minutes in, I started sobbing, and could not stop. Even after it was over, I hung my head and cried while the credits rolled. I crossed the street to my favorite coffee shop, and cried. And then I decided to sketch it out.

See, my grandmother raised me. She was my mother. And she has dementia. She won’t remember my name. She will get lost from the bathroom to her bed (literally just one left turn). All of our photo albums are labeled. And Julianne’s performance echoed my grandmother’s behavior so perfectly. I couldn’t help but sob.

I think Alzheimer’s is the worst thing that can happen to a person. Early onset, in your 50s, like in this film, that’s unimaginable. But I imagine grandparents– they lived life. They grew up, fell in love, made a family, had careers, watched their children grow up and make families, watched their grandchildren be born….. And then one day nobody needs them anymore. One day they just end up laying around the house, useless. And all they have left, ALL they have left to comfort them, is their memories. And Alzheimer’s, or dementia, takes that away. That, to me, is the saddest thing in the world, and it breaks my heart.

Anyway, I know this sketch doesn’t look much like Julianne. Give me some credit, I did it in 15 minutes in a coffee shop. I mainly wanted to capture the look of confusion. Plus, I’m new to colored pencils. I’ve only been using them a few times. So you will see more artwork soon. Thank you, as always, for listening.

Love, Gabe

Mania and Migraines

So yes, my moodswings have totally changed. The rapid cycling I was worrying about has finally burst through the barrier– I am completely manic. Manic. Manic. Manic.

And my fucking god the headaches, I don’t know where the headaches are coming from. They are more than headaches. They remind me of Virginia Woolf, how she had headaches so debilitating she couldn’t do more than hold her head in her hands.

It feels like an old fashioned headphone band wrapped around my head. Squeezing. It’s there constantly, maybe just lightly, threatening to return.

But last night, in a manic rage, I ripped a bunch of books to shreds. Seeing the pages fall like confetti around my room was actually very therapeutic. But the migraine set in afterward. Squeezing my head. 10mg Valium, 200mg Seroquel, 5mg Ambien, and because of this headache I could not sleep. It penetrated my dreams. My roommate woke me up at 5am to check on me, and all I could do the next three hours was lay, hold my head, and cry. I took some ibuprofen and it gave me enough relief to sleep.

But when I woke up today, my God what a fucking state I was in. You couldn’t get a full sentence out of me, my behavior was insane. Dancing and singing, but always the headache in the back of my head.

THIS IS NOT A HEADACHE. THIS IS INCAPACITATING. I plan on going to urgent care ASAP tomorrow morning. Because if this keeps up, I don’t know what I’ll do. I’ve never felt such pain in my life. What do you take for migraines? please help.

The mania doesn’t help. I’m at a loss. I don’t even know what to type…

Gabe

Anxiety Meds: Pros and Cons

So as I’ve stated in a previous post, my treatment team and I recently decided to change my course of anxiety medications. I’d like to discuss the pros and cons of the side effects, and see if any of you experience the same.

Ativan: I’ve taken Ativan since I was 16 years old. It was always what worked the best. Lately though, experiencing so much mania, it wasn’t enough to calm me down. And by the time I took enough to calm me down it was like– ZONK, it put me in the backseat of my own mind. I was calm, but I felt like I wasn’t really there. Also, Ativan seems to cause a lot of memory loss for me. So we are trying Valium.

Valium: This definitely seems to calm me down much better. And what I love about this medicine is that while it’s calming me down, it keeps me in the driver’s seat of my own mind. My troubles aren’t as worrisome, my racing thoughts are gone, I’m completely relaxed, and I’m still able to see the world through my own eyes. But lately I’ve been noticing these tension headaches after I take it. It feels like a pair of old fashioned head phones, a band around the back of my head that just squeezes. It leaves me holding my head in my hands until some tylenol and caffeine kick in. I really feel like Valium helps my anxiety better than anything, but could it be causing these headaches?

So, has anyone else experienced tension headaches as a side effects of Valium? What are your thoughts?

Gabe.

Why This Title?

So why did I choose the title “Too Many Minds“?

Lately my bipolar disorder has changed it’s course. Instead of having long periods of depression, hypomania, and “normalcy”, my moods have been cycling constantly throughout the day. Never heard the term “Hypomania”? I’ll explain it to you. Being totally manic means irrational behavior, impulsiveness, erratic energy, and all accompanied by thoughts like “I’m on a roll!” Hypomania is a bit different. I’m doing the impulsive things (ie, my boyfriend found me on the bathroom floor writing poetry at 3am) but my thoughts have been consistently saying, “What are you doing? Calm the fuck down.” I’m in bed till 3pm, and then I’m bouncing off the walls. I’m happy; I’m sad; Suddenly anxious; And totally irritable. Too many moods in one head, impossible to control.

And let’s not ignore the creative energy. Can anybody possibly do all of these things at once?! Playing the piano, fine, but now I’ve decided to learn clarinet. Devouring books like potato chips, suddenly deciding “I am a writer”. Painting and sketching, and painting. Rearranging my entire apartment. Poetry, short stories. So many personas in one head.

So yes, readers, as of late, I find I have too many minds to be able to control them. My mindset changes faster than I can even type this. I spend my nights wildly doing anything artistic, then zonk out on my meds, spend my mornings unable to get out of bed until I drink an entire french press of coffee. I’m not even sure who I am anymore. It’s scary, but there’s hope– I know I’ll gain control again.

But even then– I’ll always be the multiple artist. One body simply can’t contain so many various minds. It’s not like I’m Sybil, with multiple personalities. I am definitely singular, yet scattered. One personality, one spirit, one heart, but yes, just Too Many Minds.

Hello World, My Name Is Gabe

My name is Gabriel Corona, but please call me Gabe. In this introductory post, I would like to tell you a bit about myself, and what I hope to achieve as a blogger.

I am 21 years old and I now live happily in Cincinnati, OH. My roommate is my best friend in the world, and I have found my Prince Charming. It wasn’t always this way, though.

1)  Homosexuality, 2) Heroin Addiction, 3) Mental Illness

I grew up in eastern Ohio, on the border of West Virginia. People there were close-minded, and it was hard to grow up gay in a redneck area. The pain I felt, always turned inward, made me gravitate towards art. Unfortunately, I also gravitated towards drugs. First pills, then heroin, and at the age of 16 I was addicted to the needle. I used poetry to express my feelings of hopelessness, and I poured my heart out onto piano keys. My parents were not in the picture, and I grew up without guidance. I learned to become intimate with myself, and become self-sufficient with affection. My best friends were characters in my favorite books and movies, and all of my love affairs were sad and unrequited. My teenage years were full of grief, and despair, and underneath it all was a growing, undiagnosed illness.

Anyway, I’m proud to say now that I am 15 months free of addiction, but the trouble doesn’t end there. I have a slew of mental illnesses: severe bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, insomnia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Treatments vary, and I take comfort in family and friends, but still, my best companion is myself, and my art.

I fancy myself a jack of all trades, and yet a master of none. I have played the piano for 13 years, I write poetry, attempt to write short stories, and I love to paint and sketch.

What I intend to post here is a collection of everything. Ideally, I will post on a schedule of sorts. You will find poetry of mine, piano performance videos, my stabs at writing complete stories, and photographs of my paintings, including works in progress, and my artistic process. I will probably write more about my history, the traumatic things I endured. More importantly than that, I intend to use this blog as a public journal of sorts: reflections on my mental illness day by day, and the myriad treatments I go through. What I hope to accomplish is to reach out to people who suffer in the same ways as I– to pass the message that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

The ideal outcome of my blogging would be to direct attention to my art gallery, and maybe procure some potential clientele. Also, a place where my poems and stories may be read by interested publishers. And a place where people who battle internal demons may find some remedy.

If you love art of all sorts, and if you need to find comfort in your depression, anxiety, mood swings, or worse, please follow me. I would love to be there for you, and I would love your feedback.

Looking forward to meeting you all,

Gabe