Hello, my name is Kathy, and I’m a control freak–

It’s time I face it, folks.

I’m a control freak.

There, I said it.

My name is Kathy, and I’m a control freak–

Especially when it comes to creativity.

Now that I’m home in Kentucky and writing about my mental health history, I want to control the creative process, above all else.  I want to make it what I think it should be, what I “know” it ought to be.  I don’t like letting go, and the more I look back at my not-so-sane past, the more afraid I am of letting go, diving into the wreck, as Adrienne Rich would say.

an underworld in mixed media

 At the beginning of the week I struggled, felt like I was slipping, losing my grip on the here and now, the sanity of this time, this place, break though symptoms my doctor calls them.

Two things happen that are warning signs for me.  First, my legs shake uncontrollably.  And second, I hear a sing-song chorus of children’s voices—rhyming words senselessly—no meaning—only sound. 

Since both were happening this week, I’ve been afraid.

Afraid, especially, to go to the creative space that’s deep inside and difficult, even dangerous, to get to—since it’s the same place the voices live.

—a place that’s real and rich, saturated with sound and syntax—a place swimming with creative gifts—where words live, copulate and reproduce.

But when I don’t go there, then “there” begins spilling into here, into now—and I don’t know how to stem the tide—untangle the words, the jumble that happens in translation.

So, going  “there” becomes essential, becomes both an artistic and mental health imperative.

There’s no avoiding it.

And there’s no way out but in.

34 thoughts on “Hello, my name is Kathy, and I’m a control freak–

  1. Hello, my name is Lisa and you are not alone. We will be here to help you through this, and you will find the words and peace.


  2. The break through symptoms you describe–especially the sound–are haunting. Is it possibly to try to capture the sing-song chorus in your writing–maybe a poem?


    • Great idea, Sarah! Actually, I have one that comes close to doing this–not exactly but almost. I will try to post it Monday or Tuesday. And, yes, it is kind of haunting. Hope you all stay dry this weekend————-


  3. Time to put on the full armor…and delve in. Know you are safe and surrounded by your love, Sara, who will be there to hold your hand and help you through…

    blessings, and best–
    (from one control freak to another)


  4. Hello control freak Kathy! I am self-professed Idiot Mark! I love your work! Very creative…..for a control freak! 🙂


  5. From one control freak to another: I say GO FOR IT! Hopefully your journeys within yourself can feel safer for you now, especially with the network of online support you’ve cultivated on your blog by sharing your beautiful writing and pieces of artwork. We are all here to cheer you on, Kathy, so full steam ahead! 🙂 Have a wonderful Easter!


  6. Beautiful writing!

    So your artwork also changes when you’re experiencing symptoms? Does your handwriting change too?

    Reading what you experience is very interesting and at the same time scary for me. When I’m experiencing 24/7 pain I sometimes have these “blackouts”. I don’t lose consciousness, but I can’t move and my brain feels like it’s buzzing (like a short circuit). I then have this reoccurring waking dream like remnants of normal dreams put together in a sequence which makes no sense. I’ve tried to write down my thoughts, but when I come out of it either I can’t read my handwriting, or the words and word sequence make absolutely no sense.

    Again thanks for sharing such a personal, and what must be painful to recall, experience.


    • Wow, Lisa, your expereince sounds horribly disorienting, as well. I wonder what would happen if you tried speaking into a voice recorder instead of writing, to see if that helps. The thing you might find is that there’s an unexpected kind of logic to what you share–a twist on things as you usually see them. Wow.

      Actually, I don’t think my art changes. The piece I shared here was not done while I was symptomatic. I used it because of it’s focus on the word “spring”–how I start this post. And actually, that’s just a small piece a larger mixed media painting. I don’t know if my handwriting changes.

      These are fascinating questions, Lisa, as usual! I love what you think to ask!

      By the way, I think I know what you mean my the short circuiting feeling. My brain doesn’t feel like it’s buzzing but like it running on a parallel track to its normal functioning and there’s no way to switch back over.

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing yourself!


  7. What a marvelous post.
    To me, it sounds like two different processes were in progress, but I want to check that out with you. Do you always experience break-through symptoms as you prepare to write or make art? Does stress/fear trigger the symptoms sometimes? What is it about the creative process you want to control? What is it you felt you needed to let go of?
    I hope you don’t mind me asking. I feel I’m on the verge of standing with you in this place.


    • Great questions! Often I experience break through symptoms when I create–not always, but very often. I think that creativity puts me in touch with a part of my brain that remains unchanged by the medication–if that makes sense. Also, stress almost always triggers symptoms. I would say one of the greatest coping skills I gained from many years of therapy, was how to recognize when things were beginning to overwhelm me, but I don’t always manage to avoid stress. Also, I would say the thing I want to control but often can’t when I create are breakthrough symptoms, especially certain voices I still hear.

      No, I don’t mind you asking at all! Thanks so much for reading, commenting, and taking the time to ask!


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