Creating Myself Out of the Rubble of Mental Havoc

by Stefanie Almendárez

· Mental Health,Testimony,Creative Writing

This winding road of my life has been paved as if by a puzzle, and piece by piece it's been set in place by God. I've been driving down this thick fog only as far as my headlights can guide. I am a sojourner on a route leading to the point where my dreams exist.

What saved me, besides Jesus Christ was poetry. It left its indelible mark on my soul and has become my breath, water, and food. Writing fiction and nonfiction has let my heart soar and my imagination seep out from the deep recesses of my mind. Drawing and painting, knitting, playing the piano and guitar by ear, plus songwriting - all these arts have contributed to my healing from mental instability. Through my creative endeavors, I have surrendered my solitude and plight and replaced it with motivation and determination to live life as brightly and calmly as possible. I can eat strawberry with cereal yogurt as I ruminate on a song I am writing, I can dance to The Weekend's "I Feel It Coming" and envision my next painting. I may be at the library or bookstore and know exactly how I want to spend the rest of my life - writing these precious books. You see, creativity is more than poems and pretty bows on gifts, artsy paintings, creativity is dreams of paradise, hopes of finding true love, and settling for peaceful nights pining away for the arts, writing with a zealousness that reminds me of my NaNoWriMo nights typing a novel, when I attempted to write 1,667 words per day. Hey, you should try that, if you haven't already! I recommend it because that's how I started writing my first novella back in 2010. Anyhow, this is going off track. But maybe I like that......veer off into the country, check if the chiles are growing ripe, check for the bird's mating calls, check for the rose buds about to bloom, check the dog's water bowl, check for hummingbirds, check for my Honey's humming and subtle ways of not saying "I-love-you's" instead through offering his own lemonade: for me to drink or serving dinner for the three of us - Angelique our three-year-old daughter, he and I. Before I used to check to see if Angelique was still breathing as a newborn, now last night I had to check if her fever had gone down every now and then and if it hadn't I'd replace the damp cloth on her little forehead. Check for emails that are interesting, check for ants going up trees, swat at them going up my arm as I try to sleep. Creativity has become my lover and is sometimes thriving on the right side of my brain. To be creative means I'm flexible, malleable, bendable, able, create-able, live-able, love-able, huggable, trust-able, and of course being creative means accepting eternity as it is - in the guise and form of our Time. To be creative means I am healthy in my manner of eating - I'm on the Ketogenic diet to be exact and have since been more energetic, eat less and feel full after each meal, plus the bonus - I have lost weight. To be creative also means playing, reading and saying I love you in French, Spanish, English, or making or breaking Play-Doh with Angie, getting wild when I see my beloved come home back from work - and on the inside, do the dance. Not making love on a certain night means I get to sleep deeply and just fall into Giovanni's embrace. This is creativity in action, love in its purest form when I follow the flow just like I followed the typing of these words, feeling the flow of life's energy and floating on the clouds and whims of my hot-air-balloon-brain.

Mother helped me immensely as well through my mental ordeals, I say mental ordeals instead of illness because my God put it on my heart that "mental illness" denotes an incurable disease, whereas mental ordeal makes one think that it is a difficult trial or test which the person who suffers is going through, that there's hope of a better day, and this too shall pass.

It's been a journey, a destiny worth finding. I had fallen into apostasy, I didn't believe in Jesus Christ yet. I doubted, I questioned, I challenged. I didn't have true faith in Jesus, nor in God. I was seventeen when I became obsessed with finding God and searched articles online, became depressed and anxious as I had isolated myself trying to find what the truth was. Was He Jesus whom they called the Christ really God's Son who had walked the earth 2,000 years before? What path would lead me to heaven? Maybe Buddhism? Maybe Catholicism? Maybe I should become a Sister or Nun, I had thought and started Googling convents in the U.S.

But then I started hallucinating. I had self-taught and self-induced myself into reading my own aura - my hand against a white sheet of paper. I thought I could see my energy field. Slowly but surely I began seeing things like the ceiling filled with symbolic images gliding across space and time. A girl with her hand in the sky pointing at the cosmos becomes a princess, then a queen, then a skeleton. I saw lions with wings. I saw an all seeing eye. I saw what seemed like a fairy or tiny angel flying the night I wept fearing the world was going to end. And then I saw what I thought was the universe of souls floating like Egyptian royal couples, and Queens and knights, and peasants, and everyone under the sun perhaps a true vision of soul's in purgatory or perhaps in reality - a hallucination, a figment of my irrational, restless and convoluted mind.

Mother has seen me through my mental ordeals. She has been a light and fire, a dove and puma, a flower and a moon, a knitter and the thread. I love her, I love her, I do. I'm not going to wait for her to make it to the Great Beyond to tell her how much I love her. She'd sleep next to me, so would Dad. She would bathe me, she would prepare Rosemary in the tub with warm water for me to relax and soak in, lettuce teas or warm milk to induce sleep when my mind wouldn't resign. She'd pray for me, she'd massage my tense muscles, she'd read a Psalm to me, she'd bring my pill Abilify with water for me, she'd cry for me and with me. She is my Mother, but also a reflection of my Healer Jesus Christ. She's been creative in her walk with me and my journey through madness. So now I must be created by creativity for her, for my daughter, for my fiancée, for myself.

Creativity to me is more than a survival guide, it is an inner calling for me to follow my instincts. Creativity is the activity of creating myself out of the rubble of mental havoc, of bipolarity, but in reality, I am not mentally ill - instead, I am mentally blooming, mentally metamorphosing, mentally healing, mentally beaming, mentally feeling, mentally sensitive, mentally here with all I've got to give.

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