October 1 2011
La Petite Mort Gallery presents:
“HEY KARL, OVER HERE !!” / NEW WORKS
Vernissage / Saturday October 1, 2011 / 7 – 10pm
Tunes by Big Mac Daddy & Jennifer Frost
Proudly sponsored by CKCU 93.1 FM
“It started with suicidal thoughts at the age of 16. Then mood cycling that changed with the seasons. Way up in spring and summer. Way, way down, in fall and winter. I kept it all inside. Buried it deep down and tried to act as “normal” as possible. I was terrified by my thoughts, but even more terrified of what it would mean to tell others. I did once tell a church therapist the planet was secretly ruled by aliens who were involved in a world conspiracy with the leaders of earth to destroy the planet. I guess hearing this information didn’t raise any alarm bells because he didn’t seem concerned by it. Maybe he thought I was just joking. I wish I had been. My mental health continued to deteriorate. Finally in my early thirties a diagnosis of schizo-affective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar I, was finally made.
This powerful concept of hiding my disorder has stayed with me. The stigma that is attached to mental illness and those who suffer from it hangs on. It is exceptionally hard for most people to understand. I’ve been told along the way that there is nothing wrong with me, that I just need to move in with a girl and all my problems will be solved, and that I will go to hell if I commit suicide, and all this from treatment professionals.
People rely on diagnostic proof of disease. If you have cancer it can be pointed out on a scan or shown in laboratory results. Unfortunately you can’t take a scan of my brain and point out the disease. But I can tell you about being in mania, in psychosis, not being able to sleep, up for days on end. Getting up at 4:00 am to run for a three hours in order to burn off some of the excess energy brought on by heightened states. I can tell you about being hospitalized and what it’s like at the psych wards of the General and the Queensway Carleton. I can tell you about electroconvulsive therapy and the schizophrenic ward at the Royal Ottawa. I can tell you about being terrified of myself. I can tell you about attempting suicide.
This show is about not hiding. About admitting openly what this disorder does to me through my thoughts. I have been expressing myself through painting for years now and these are my boldest and brightest. My art is an outlet for my illness, the daily journal I couldn’t keep no matter how many psychiatrists told me to. My paintings are my therapy. My real journal. My world. This time my thoughts spelled out on the canvas, literally. So take a good look, open up, and let the words in. I encourage everyone to stop hiding. Even just for one night. It’s exhausting and we all could use a break from it.
Right now I can say I’m doing better for the first time in many years. Treatment-wise I have a very good psychiatrist. I am on medication that has resolved some of my symptoms, and always the bottomless well of love and support of my close friends and family. I know I am blessed. And despite continuing to have daily suicidal thoughts which may never go away, despite this very difficult illness for which there is no cure, I really, truly, love life. The will to live is strong” . – Karl Goertzen, 2011
More artwork by Karl @ La Petite Mort Gallery:
Guy Berube, Director
La Petite Mort Gallery