You don’t look crazy

If you look in my eyes, they are taken over by moods. You cannot see me. I’m not there.

You Don’t Look Crazy uses my experiences with bipolar disorder to discuss greater issues surrounding mental illness. I am a different person when I am depressed, manic, or anxious.

Mental illness “explains” everything from mass murder to celebrity deaths to everyday cruelty, but little else. Bipolar disorder isn’t the news of the day. It is how people like me live.

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 30 years ago. The first 20 years were the most difficult, the hardest being “ultrarapid cycling.” Hysterical crying could be broken only by an antipsychotic, which would induce turbulent rest. This would happen once an hour for the entire day. I could sleep at night only with heavier medication. The mania seemed like putting salt in my coffee, agitated by the caffeine and then wincing from the salt. I could hope to feel something only when I was depressed.

How can I portray insanity?

I select yarn colors echoing a mood. Weaving by free associating, I introduce contrasting colors, patterns, and textures. As I sit at the loom, it is as if I face a blank canvas with no model before me. I am not drawing a figure, I’m capturing a feeling.

Considering the emotion projected by the fabric, I pair it with hand-drawn images. Drawing empties out my brain.

The combination of the illustrations and the fabric are my language for unlocking the chemical imbalance box. Initially light-hearted and comical, my satiric memoirs lead to serious discussion.

You will see me when you see my work.