Emily Hochman – Documents from the Bipolar Spectrum
My work deals almost exclusively with the mind. I am diagnosed as Bipolar 1, and although I have been in recovery for years, it’s something that affects me every day. What does Bipolar 1 entail? One end of the spectrum is severe depression and suicidal ideation, relentless pain. The mood swing into the state that people recognize as being elated and hyperactive is electrifying, metaphysical.
I have no doubt the nervous system is intertwined with Kundalini and the chakras and that the third eye opens and leads to psychic and spiritual phenomena during hypomania and mania. People say there is a thin line between religious experience and insanity and for me that is the case. The exaltation decompensates into psychosis: a complicated web of delusions and paranoia, and the classic beliefs that I am being watched by the FBI and the mafia, or that I am a messiah, on the cusp of worldwide fame. I land in the hospital and begin the the disillusioning and traumatic, ultimately restorative return to collective sanity and a life I can manage and enjoy.
Because I am and always have been an artist and create somewhat consistently, my work follows me in and out of all my conditions, and either expresses or reflects upon the experience of these dimensions. I see an honest and uncensored study as not only essential for my own personal growth and therapy, but as activism on behalf of possibly the most derided and disenfranchised segment of our society.
If it weren’t for personal privilege I would be homeless, in jail, or dead, no doubt about it. Maybe it’s clear that my relationship to psychiatry is ambivalent. One the one hand, I think the institution is inherently flawed in that it’s founded on perpetuating conventions of social order. On the other hand, I do also believe mental illness exists and that some people need medical intervention to lead safe and happy lives. This subject touches on the most profound, personal, and complex aspects of identity and culture. It’s important that we stop shying away from it and discuss it in detail. That’s what I’m trying to do from my little corner of the world.
Find Emily here: Flickr