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BRUISING THE SUN

18 brain vomit.

reefmagazine:

An Enchanted World: As seen by a Tortured Soul
By: Emily

When I was eight years old my best friends and I thought we were witches. During our half an hour recess we would tear all around the playground causing mischief and telling each other about our solo endeavors in witchcraft. We casted spells and renounced anyone who couldn’t. I received a faux leather bound sketchbook for my birthday, which we deemed magical enough to record our spells and rituals in. I constantly read novels about magical powers and dragons (Harry Potter was ultimately my favorite), and every October I became entranced by the airing of the Halloweentown movies on Disney Channel. The paranormal and spiritual realm of witches and magic captivated my imagination constantly. I would spend summers in my grandma’s lake house feverishly reading in my bedroom, and then calling to nature and trying to move the trees with nothing but my magic powers. On more than one occasion I could’ve been found trying to fashion a magic wand out of a branch, or mixing together some sort of potion with sparkles and fairy dust. Everything around me possessed some remarkable and exciting quality, and exploration was the only way to discover it. As it always has been, my imagination was my best friend, and the place where I lived through me adolescent years.
            Now I find myself captivated by life in a different way. My focus has shifted from the unseen paranormal forces of the world, to the unseen of human lives and relationships. As a writer and avid literature junkie this is a common trait that many with the same passions posses. Although this may seem lovely, and like seeing the clouds as a “different beautiful paradise where I would love to live one day” is positive, there is always a negative to almost everything in life. This is something I hate to acknowledge; because when I do my world falls apart. My dad said something to me that depicts my personality almost perfectly. He told me “With your personality Emily, you’re either all in or all out.” Once I realized this fact I was simply blown away because it was a conclusion I had been unable to come up with in 16 whole years. I was just too absorbed with life (or a mental depiction of it). I either created a world within my head only I could understand, or I lived too vividly in the pain and struggle of reality. Just a few days ago after a dinner at my grandma’s house I found myself sobbing uncontrollably in my kitchen late at night. “All the pain in the world I could do nothing to fix” overwhelmed me. I told my mom this when she asked about my small mental breakdown, and she hugged me as I cried for approximately 15 minutes. This is not abnormal for me. I have cried in airports over old couples because they’re going to die someday and won’t have each other anymore, I have cried over dead chipmunks on the road because they have done nothing to deserve a fate as horrible as been repeatedly crushed to bits on the freeway, I have cried over a neighbor living in an incredibly small run down house who was taken away by the police one day. No matter what I feel I will always feel it too much.
            As an artist this constant cycle enchantment as well as crushing misery can be seen as “desirable” in order to produce genuine and thought provoking art. From personal experience I can both relate to it as a “gift” as some may call it, but I ultimately have been led to believe that it is a curse. My coping mechanism for my crumbling family situation that led to a divorce was the fantasies I had about witchcraft. My depression was distracted by an online presence I created on Tumblr where I was in a constant state of imagining and wishing I was Taylor Swift (really though who doesn’t?). My current state of loneliness and isolation is being softened by the art I’m creating and the poems I’m composing. Although the creative distraction varies, it all leads back to the idea that merely in order to survive I have been forced to create a beautiful world to live is so I can hide from the pain.
            As I’ve been taking medication for my depression I’ve been struck with something I have never before felt in my life. Absolute boredom and disregard for the world, which I’d always found beautiful and worth noticing. I didn’t look at the trees as having personalities anymore, the clouds no longer felt like beautiful ever changing pieces of art, and simply sitting in the sun no longer made me feel alive. I didn’t notice this change all at once because I was entirely focused on the fact that I didn’t hate myself as much as I was used to. When I tried making art, that’s when I was faced with my dilemma. I couldn’t imagine and create the same way I used to without my sense of enchantment with the world. I didn’t feel things as fully, and I wasn’t as emotionally vulnerable to tragedy. In many ways this was positive when it came to being social and making friends, but I just couldn’t write like I used to. I couldn’t sing with as much feeling, and I didn’t relate to music with all of my being. It didn’t feel like the world had become duller per se, it just felt as though I had become numb.  
            I experimented with reverse self-medication, where I would stop taking my meds for a few days just to become reacquainted with my “old self”. Once I achieved the effect I desired I would become frightened and hateful of the mentally ill person I was. I would appreciate beauty and life fleetingly before I would then once again take to hating myself and wanting to end my life. I was in the most extreme sense a complete paradox. I struggled with how I should live. Whether I should take my medicine and be content with life and who I was, but lack artistic perspective and extreme sensitivity, or if I should hate myself and be wrought with depression, but able to look at everything with amazement and an inspiring perspective. To be quite honest I still have not come to a conclusion about what I feel is “right”. From an objective perspective it’s obvious to suggest that the easy answer is to choose to be happy, even if it is “artificial”, and to stay on my medication. Artistically, I don’t know if anyone can make a clear judgment.
There have been countless examples of artists who have produced brilliant art, but suffered emotionally and mentally their entire lives. One of my favorite artists Vincent Van Gogh was horribly affected by his bouts of mental illness, and eventually was believed to have committed suicide by shooting himself with a revolver. Although his life was very lonely and tragic, the influence and appreciation of his work grew exponentially, and he is now renowned as a genius. Did I want to create brilliant work, but be doomed to eternal misery until I could no longer handle it? Did I want my life’s dedication of art to be appreciated even if I wasn’t around to see it? I’m almost ashamed to admit that a short but productive life is something I’ve romanticized and even considered to be more meaningful than an “average” stable life with less tortured lamentations. Feeling happy chemically just has not seemed to make up for feeling real emotion. There is something in the way media and teenage culture has portrayed the broken soul that has unfortunately affected the way I view my own suffering when I am removed from it. I am resentful of my own weakness to fall in the trap when realistically of all people I know how truly crippling mental illness is. Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, Kurt Cobain are all artists who are now glorified and romanticized for their short but artistically devoted lives. Do I wish to be like them? I can’t deny that I haven’t thought of it. If I was going to devote my life to creating and writing wouldn’t it be best to produce my most thoughtful and passionate work for a short period of time even if it kills me? “Go big or go home” has been a way of life I’ve considered all too often when considering this dilemma. I will not say I have found a conclusion. I will not try to sway anybody to see things from my point of view if my pondering this decision seems ridiculous, because truthfully it probably is. It requires a certain type of experience to sympathize with this situation, and one that I would not wish on anybody.
In my own imagination I have pretended to be the cool girl that peers look up to as a style and culture icon simply because it has helped me to love myself. I create personas and fake scenarios until I can’t separate reality from the inside of my head. I imagine everything as a metaphor of the human condition, and nature seems to become alive in front of my very eyes whenever the leaves blow in the wind. I am the utmost contradiction of hating myself but loving the world that created me. I love others hopelessly until they contain no flaws, but flaws are all I comprehend in myself. Often I feel that the way I live is unhealthy, the constant desire to be miserable just to feel, but to be happy to see beauty. I find that I have been looked upon as being childish and strange because of my hard to pin down personality. I find it’s hard for me to make friends and that admiring and observing people from afar is much easier. For everything in my life observation is my most natural reflex, except when I feel the burdens of every tragedy among humanity. I believe I will always be caught in this balance, either looking down on a magical and perfect world, or living in the utmost cruel and tragic one, and that is the condition of my existence. This is who I am and always will be, I’m forever doomed, or blessed, to be all in or all out.