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Young Blood

Look back and heal yourself

/ 01:01 AM April 16, 2017

Look back. Not for the purpose of reliving your past experiences, but to see if there’s something in your earlier life that you overlooked and that has a potential of healing you. Let me tell you my story.

I was admitted to a psychiatric ward for the first time in 2015. I brought with me my copy of the graphic novel “Watchmen” by Alan Moore. I reread it and realized that Rorschach really got me still. When I was released from that mental facility and I revisited my passion for photography, I noticed that I had so many photos of trees. An idea came to me so suddenly. What if I merged my two very different interests? That was how my photography project, “Mirrored Trees,” came to be.

After that I sought ways to heal from depression and anxiety and from my psychotic and borderline traits. I tried talking to psychiatrists. I tried natural supplements for the brain. I tried pharmaceutical drugs. I tried many brands of antidepressants. I also tried antianxiety tabs, as well as medicines that fight the side effects of these drugs. (I was experiencing such side effects as tremors, agitation, and ringing and buzzing in my ears, among others.)

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For all that, nothing worked. I got worse.

In 2016, I once again found myself in the same psychiatric ward after attempting to kill myself. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. So that meant an additional illness, and additional medication. I tried mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. I lasted only a week in the ward because I saw myself not really healing there. I was having nightmares and barely sleeping during my stay. The place was feeding my despair.

I pretended that I was okay. Then they let me go. After that, my psychiatrist noticed that my condition was getting worse. He decided to increase my dosages and rescheduled my appointments every two weeks instead of just once a month.

Still, that didn’t work for me. I got so frustrated that I stopped seeing my doctor, and also stopped taking my medicines. I junked all my meds in August of that year, and three months later I noticed that my mind had become clearer.

But suddenly I suffered from a full-blown mania. This mania was so severe that I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t eat. I couldn’t feel hunger and sleepiness, and I noticed that I never got tired. This condition went on for almost three months. And within those months, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. It confused me even more.

Because symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome include mood swings and depression, I thought to myself that maybe all this time it was not a mental illness that I had. Maybe it was just a hormonal imbalance, and not a chemical imbalance in the brain.

January 2017 came, and I was still manic and disoriented about the possibility that all this time I had been treating a wrong illness. I shrugged it off and I returned to my project “Mirrored Trees.”  I made new designs.

And then it hit me. I said to myself: This is somehow healing me. Not totally, but this is alleviating my symptoms. I clung to my project, and even after three months it is still taking effect. Art therapy is effective. Although I am still not healed and sometimes I believe that my illness is not curable, I still have hope that the disturbances and imbalances will be lessened through this art.

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“Mirrored Trees” was already there in the beginning. I just looked past it and made things complicated. Maybe the way to the simplest things is to complicate them. Maybe we have to take the rough and dangerous roads in order to arrive at a very smooth path. So, yes, there’s nothing wrong with looking back and going back to your roots, to discover what it is that you overlooked.

I am not encouraging other people to avoid professional and medical help, or to stop their medication. I am not saying this will work for you. I am saying that maybe this is for me. We have different ways to heal.

* * *

Ja Turla, 23, says she believes that “passion can heal only if you let it flow aimlessly through your bloodstream.”

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TAGS: Inquirer Opinion, Ja Turla, psychiatric treatment, Rorschach, Young Blood
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