"it's an artist's job to be open." Sinead O'Connor
I was awake last night listening to Sinead O’Connor.
We were both born in 1966, Fire Horses on the Chinese zodiac. Fire Horse women, according to Japanese history, are dangerous, headstrong, and seen as deadly to men. I watched a video of O’Connor in 1990 wearing a bomber jacket over a cropped top, cinched jeans, shaved head and bare feet singing Nothing Compares 2U. She wasn’t a musician, She was music in form, music incarnate. There’s a moment midsong when her mouth becomes a well of Universal breath and you can feel it lift the hairs on your skin.
She’s stunning, flawless, beaten and uncontainable — the perfect threat to authoritarianism.
The power structures have drawn a box around mental health so crazy people would have somewhere to be locked up and agendas could continue unimpeded. But sometimes God gently places a body on this plane to rattle the cage. O’Connor, with transcendent beauty and sound, cried into the dark inequities of my generation with a cracking beam of light.
Patriarchy has virtue signalled about mental health so it could perpetuate myths of genetics and biochemistry. Big food and big alcohol poisoning people in tandem with big pharma manufacturing smoke and mirrors: toxic and violent medical modalities that aren’t medicine so they can keep enigmas and stigmas alive. It’s a perfect ecosystem to shirk responsibility for industrialization that strangles sensitivity, creativity and connection.
I’m out on a limb here confidently saying that in my experience there is no such thing as mental health/illness. Terms like mental illness and psychosis are very successful false pathologies made up by capitalism to perpetuate gaslighting and create dark containers of isolation.
Systemic regulation is the cause, not the cure.
There were years when doctors legally had me taking over 20 different types of poisons compressed into colourful plastic corpuscles. I was a drug zombie and the psychiatrists were my dealers. They said things to me like, you’ll be taking those for the rest of your life, We’ll have to institutionalize you and perform shocks on your brain, you’ll never be able to work and my favourite, you’re a danger to yourself.
In 2016, near the end of my time in psychiatric clutches, they switched me from vials filled monthly to blister packs I had to pick up weekly. It became my job to live in poverty and manage the symptoms of chronic conditions and the side effects of toxic pharmaceuticals. One prescriber removed my agency and ordered a pharmacy to place highly addictive benzodiazepines in my drug packs without my knowing. I was on the slippery slope of addiction before I knew what was happening to me. I grieve the mothering years with my children that I’ll never get back. When I questioned the violence being perpetuated against me repeatedly for over 30 years I was called non-compliant, difficult and threatened to have my care cut off or be incarcerated.
How can I convey to you what it means to become dependent on experimental chemicals
and the doctors who prescribe them and be threatened with not having support if you
attempt to flex any shred of autonomy.
I have walked the tightrope of not living since I was a child. My paternal grandfather shot himself leaving my Dad fatherless and unconsciously bereft for 80 years. One of my best friends left by her own hand. I personally know teens that are leaving their heartbroken families in droves and I’m acutely aware of the mounting numbers in my geographical area.
My voice has been stuck in my neck for so long that I developed thyroid disease and migraines, I’ve been terrified of speaking and it’s made me sick. It may be gallimaufry to speak up now but I have to take O’Connor’s lead because if I don’t then my years of persecution mean nothing.
I know why people take their own lives — Because being unseen is a type of cancer that burns you from the inside out until there’s nothing left of who you were born to be.
The weight of collective projections are too heavy for artists.
People who contemplate their own ending don’t actually want to slay their bodies, they want to murder the cartoon character their early caregivers conditioned them to become. Once a mind has been disempowered it takes an often inaccessible awareness to regain it.
Stop looking so far and admit you know why too.
Stop putting trigger warnings in front of the word s…ide and just look at it, talk about it.
Stop putting regulatory waivers at the bottom of articles on the topic that say, if you or someone you know is considering S… 1-800 blah fucking bladdy blah. Get uncomfortable AF talking to someone who’s living with the torture of ideation.
How about making safe places for artists, how about letting people rage at injustice and shed the suit you assigned them at birth? How about celebrating failed attempts instead of further isolating survivors? Say to them, to us, I’m so glad you’re alive, let’s figure out who you really are.
At the age of 26 Sinead O’Connor stood alone on a world stage and silently tore into the longest-running authority in civilized history and then they socially tortured her for 30 years until she gave in. If you’re reading about Sinead like me I hope you’re baffled by the floods of accolades and monikers like battling demons, Icon and warrior. Like so many brilliant artists, O’Connor was beaten and belittled in every way during her lifetime. While she deserves to be canonized, it sickens me that it took fatal self-injury for her to be seen by the world as the inconvenient prophet she was. Had her attempt not been final the headlines would surely be full of more name calling, shaming and deprecating.
Don’t mourn for Sinead, mourn for yourself that you’re allowing a system that refuses truth to be the governing body of artists' minds. Mourn for the music that will never be made because you reject angels and sirens and seers.
I listened to my intuition one day when a psychiatrist was about to incarcerate me and start sending electrical currents into my brain- my crime, you ask? I was depressed. I walked rapidly away with nothing but an inner knowing that I wasn’t in the right place. It took me 3 agonizing years to get the poison out of my body with the help of a team of pharmacists.