I did not luck out on genes in the brain department. Technically I’m diagnosed as Bipolar II, rapid cycling, mixed state, with psychotic features. I also have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder, but it’s all one brain. In layman’s terms, I’m crazy. One night when I was eighteen I was driving home in the rain after breaking up with my first high school girlfriend, and I imagined a goldfish traveling down a highway in the rain at night, and it was a happy goldfish, because it knew it had done the right thing and was now moving confidently in the right direction. As soon as I got home I got out some ancient crayons and watercolors, and I sat down to paint what I had seen in my head. The first of the goldfish series was born.
I didn’t “turn crazy” until I was nineteen, and when I did, painting became much more important. Painting helps me fight my depression and eases my anxiety. My favorites were the ones that flowed out of me all at once. Symbols and colors, with no inhibition, because I didn’t think anyone else would understand the underlying code. It was a secret public display. I would hang the paintings around my room and stare at them often. From really looking, I started noticing little insights into myself that I had not intended to paint. It was unnerving how much I learned about myself from looking at my own paintings.
For a long time, I believed that no one else would see any value in my art. I’ve come to hope, though, that I might reach someone else out in the world who sees messages of themselves through metaphor the same way I did. My dearest wish is for someone to find comfort, joy, or insight in my art.
By Emily Harrington