Confessions From Quarantine 07

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We as humans are naturally self serving, and for real change to happen, both in ourselves and the world, we have to look at history. Patterns. A good place to start is looking at your OWN story, because the truth is… we’ve all been programmed with a ton of lies and too many of us are still unconscious and asleep. Once you start unraveling those lies… change is inevitable.

Joseph Campbell says “When looking back at your life, you will see that the moments which seemed to be great failures followed by wreckage were the incidents that shaped the life you have now. You’ll see that this is really true. Nothing can happen to you that is not positive. Even though it looks and feels at the moment like a negative crisis, it is not. The crisis throws you back, and when you are required to exhibit strength, it comes.” Now more than ever this is important to be aware of, with so much negativity in the world. But in order to be able to bounce back into the positive… we have to do our part.

To gather my thoughts about what I wanted to talk about in this project, I chronologically wrote out the events that stood out to me in the last 10 years of my life. The black bubbles were “irreversible moments” for me, and when I told that to a friend she called them “plot points of my hero’s journey” which I really loved. So many emotions came up while doing this, the biggest being GRATITUDE — gratitude for how far I’ve come, the great connections I’ve made along the way, gratitude for this path I’m walking and insight on where I’m headed in the future.

There’s a lot going on in our country right now, and if you don’t know what to do, remember that change starts within. I’d highly recommend doing this exercise (ideally with your entire life) if your past feels like a tangled mess and you’re unsure of what your values are. REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE. It’s a good start.

Confessions From Quarantine 04

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We all put up a facade to the external world to hide the parts of us we don’t want anyone to see. If someone asks us how we’re doing, even if we’re having the shittiest day we’re not expected to actually talk about it. For people who feel so intensely and deeply like myself, it’s tough to show up for work everyday and even in a great environment, still be so affected by those around me. Having to work from home for an extended period of time has taught me just how much energy I naturally expend around other people to project this “bubbly” persona. Some days yes it would be genuine if I was feeling it, but most days I’d be depressed and anxious, worrying what other people will think of me if I CAN’T be in a good mood. And this feeling would take over my entire day, making work absolutely MISERABLE. Those FEELINGS were all I could focus on. For me, there’s a certain shame in not being “on” for people, even though my logical mind tells me that it really doesn’t matter, no one cares, and everyone has their own shit to deal with. It’s a huge part of why I quit social media. It’s unhealthy to feel like you need to “portray yourself” a certain way to the world. I knew that pattern I had developed needed to be changed, to be healed, but there was never any time to really do it.

Having to stay at home has finally made me sink into who I really am, accepting that there are different sides of me that need to be honored and expressed. It’s taken a lot out of me to hide these parts of myself for so many years, expecting that someday I WOULD just be able to just be happy and bubbly for people ALL THE TIME and come back into the world. Absolutely ridiculous. It just got worse! Having the opportunity to slow down has allowed me to shift that perception of feeling that I need to “be something” for other people. After living so much of my life moving WAY TOO FAST to really take in and enjoy ANYTHING, I see now that slowing down IS actually an option, and it’s so necessary for someone like me. In order for me to stop feeling so much shame, I’ve decided I HAVE to talk about who I really am in order to move past this wall that’s gotten so high over the years. Hiding our true selves takes a HUGE toll on us that just piles up over time until we’re crushed under the pressure. It’s so important to just…learn how to be you.

Phew! Been meaning to say this for quite some time! It’s funny how liberating even drawing that image of me was….

I set out to do this comic for “art therapy” reasons, but I guess I really didn’t expect to feel what I’m feeling working on it. For me this whole thing is a legit life reflection session…it’s like sifting through broken glass to find pieces of gold.

When I did this page I was the vibrating, pulsing kind of manic and I feel like as much as I tried to control it, to me it shows through even in how I wrote it. I love that I’m learning how to channel my emotions into this… it’ll be so valuable to look back on when I’m in those dark times 🙂

And such a great release to finally let go of all this!!!

Confessions From Quarantine 03

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It’s been SO WONDERFUL to finally feel like I have an outlet to express these emotions… I was never able to before and it was so painful ;__; Phew!!! These are some insights from my depressive episode last week. I think it’ll be interesting to see the comic flip flop in styles depending on my mood haha!

Confessions From Quarantine 02

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I just have to say… I’m really grateful for being on the path that I’m on during this crazy time. I feel like I’ve made such immense progress as a person over these past 10 years and it blows me away how I am where I am right now. I would NOT be able to handle it as well otherwise…

Seriously… going to meet Mother Ayahuasca broke me open in ways I’m just beginning to feel and understand. Moving forward as a species, we have to all be able to connect with nature in a similar way as taking ayahuasca… She has a way of making you feel it.. feel it ALL…that warmth of connected oneness with the universe. And we’ve done so much to damage her so now we’re paying the price…

I watched this pandemic series on netflix and in one of the episodes a student asks this virologist “Why do you think humans haven’t evolved to take care of this virus yet?” and he replies something like “That’s the question isn’t it…” But to me it really does seem something like… this is just part of the cycle. As humans we have to collectively learn how to handle the pain of the consequences of history if we’re meant to move forward once this quarantine is complete.

And what kinda person will you be then?

The Pain of Duality

“Grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” – Dan Harmon’s Therapist

Yesterday was my first day as a character designer on Rick and Morty. I felt really lucky because it ended up being one of their monthly screening parties where they show a finished episode and have pizza and beer and do a raffle. In the beginning the creators Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland got up to say something before showing the episode, and Dan’s speech really got to me. It’s been a rough season and a lot has happened, and he wasn’t afraid to reflect that in his speech which was so admirable to me. He mentioned a “sociopathic god” and how we don’t know if he loves us or hates us so what we end up getting is “randomness”, and how his therapist said that “grief is the space between what you expect and what you get.” At the end when he was thanking the crew for their great work, he said that as creatives our minds are different, and basically how we should embrace that. He said something like “so have your anxiety, depression, autism—whatever! Your brains are brilliant how they are, and because of those brains coming together we’ve made the best cartoon in the universe!”

This REALLY got to me, more than I even realized. I was still contemplating it in sadhana this morning, and it turned into a meditation on the nature of duality and mental illness. I feel like this year I’m really only starting to feel the real effects of my bipolar diagnosis from last year, which I can only say because of a drastic perspective shift. Working in animation has always been a love/hate relationship for me, because even though it IS a dream come true and what I’ve always wanted to do, working the jobs themselves simultaneously makes me hate myself for my current skill level, and also makes me wanna quit and do my own thing because I feel like I’m wasting away helping someone else complete THEIR vision, even though I haven’t felt like I have adequate skills to make my own thing ANYWAY. But starting at Rick and Morty and hearing Dan’s speech…I couldn’t help but feel welcomed in the best way possible. I felt like because of what these creators experience, they’ve created something really special…something that has managed to become the most popular cartoon on TV and find a place in cartoon history for a reason. They are able to inject existential angst and the struggles of life in these high concept sci-fi adventures which lightens it up enough to be digestible by the general public, and make everyone who watches the show feel like they’re not alone cuz “Hey! Someone else is feeling this way too!” Hearing them talk, especially Dan, made me feel like it was DEFINITELY the place for me. A place that understands and welcomes the pain of existence…a place where you can just be. A place where I can truly work on a show with a message that I’m proud of because it’s the message that I too want to spread. 

Anyway. All of that stuff made me realize that as humans, we ARE duality manifest. ALL of us. And within the duality we experience, we begin to cling onto SPECIFIC aspects of duality and obsess about them. For me…something that hit me real hard today was noticing that I go back and forth between thinking mental illness is real and thinking it’s fake. Back and forth between believing I’m “bipolar” and wanting to just attribute what I feel to “being emotional” and I’m just how I am because of my past and environmental factors. Nature vs nurture right? But what Dan said about artists brains made me think…

Diagnosis or not, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS A DIFFERENT, SPECIAL BRAIN. That brain makes our minds function in complex ways that we spend our entire LIVES trying to cope with and figure out. But I think…as a human…this is always how it was meant to be.

The fact that I’ve been stuck in the duality of “bipolar or not” shows me that, even though I wanted to kinda “transcend the label,” I’ve still been focusing too much on the “label” without fully accepting how I actually am. I suppose this is the first step to acceptance…and it’s not that I’m necessarily trying to accept the diagnosis itself, I’m more just trying to accept MYSELF — myself and how my brain makes me think and function in this reality. It’s incredibly liberating to see that this is one of the prisons ive been trapping myself in. Now hopefully I can remind myself I’ve come to these conclusions next time this arises! That’s the challenge, right? Haha!

Something else that came through during sadhana this morning was this thought of “are we all just constantly somewhere on this duality spectrum until we cross a line from light to dark, negative to positive?”

Maybe “bipolar” can just be thought of as a term for people who cycle between those opposites quicker than others, who make their home at the actual POLES rather than the in between. And maybe this definition is an easier way for me to accept how my mind operates.

In a similar way, people who are depressed are more inclined to the negative pole. We’re all just vibrations and frequencies anyway right? And one of our goals in life is to raise our frequency go move more toward the light? Easier said than done but…that’s why I’m doing this Kundalini Yoga Training! 

In sadhana, the song choices that my teacher picked were a completely different vibe than yesterday. To me, they all sounded melancholy, somewhat urgent, yet angelic…seeming to express “it’s tough to live in a world with duality, but that’s what makes it beautiful.” 

This past weekend we were learning yoga nidra, and one offshoot of it is called iRest, a program developed by Robert Miller I think in the 70s to help with the PTSD of war veterans. In this set, we did an exercise to experience opposites — hot/cold, anger/joy, light/heavy — first separately, and then we were asked to try and experience them together. I could very easily feel the opposite sensations in my body separately, but when trying to feel them together I got frustrated and confused because my body just wasn’t able to grasp it. And after feeling that confusion for a while, I ended up just relaxing and achieving a sort of “calm.” When asked how we felt after the exercise, I raised my hand and described my experience and one of my teachers said that “calm” I felt is essentially the experience of infinity and the goal of yoga — to embody that stillness BETWEEN opposites. She went on to explain that in our human experience we can ONLY feel opposites SEPARATELY, which is why the darkness is necessary in order to know the light…the pain is necessary in order to know what it feels like to be happy. It’s that age old concept of yin and yang, and although I always “knew” about it since it’s so widely spread in our culture — that idea of the light and dark being NECESSARY to balance the world…to FEEL IT in my body was a COMPLETELY different experience. One approaching a more “true understanding.” 

I think BECAUSE I feel so much being bipolar, it’s so easy to be at and experience the POLES, because they’re EASIER to feel. Even though the negative pole of depression is difficult to be IN, it’s more apparent to feel THAT than some vague in between, and it’s also easier to feel the “positivity” of mania. But thinking about what Dan Harmon’s therapist said with GRIEF basically being the in between…it makes so much sense to me. I would RATHER experience the POLES than the IN BETWEEN because the grief of knowing that sooner or later I have to go back to one or the other is maddening. And that’s the melancholy I heard in the songs this morning — it’s almost like a constant state of underlying sadness, knowing that each day inches us closer to our deaths, and if we hold ourselves back and continue to have unrealistic expectations, then being in the in between will always somehow feel like failure. And that’s constant grief…grief about our potential not living up to how we see ourselves in our heads…grief that sooner or later we’re gonna die not having done what we want…grief that sooner or later, no matter WHAT we do, everyone and everything we love will turn to dust. 

I definitely feel like I’m beginning to grasp something deeper…and although it’s instilling more of a sense of “peace” I can’t help but be a little sad about it. Yet…I think I’m going in the right direction? I just keep trying to remember something else I learned in yoga…that we chose to incarnate in this exact lifetime at this time in history for a reason, and everything we go through is the exact thing our soul is yearning to learn. Regardless of how sad I feel, I still get the sense of being on the “right path,” and maybe that’s all that can bring us solace in this difficult human existence.