Ketamine Saved My Life

For the past few years I’ve been very unwell.

Unfortunately things took a turn for the worst recently and I was hospitalised. Underneath the nice and calm art and photos I post there’s a destructive storm.

Due to my mental illness “Schizophrenia” I often find myself ramping up and becoming manic. This is what landed me in hospital, put simply my brain wouldn’t shut down.

The hospital staff first tried to give me normal sedatives but unfortunately they did not work. Then they ended up giving me two doses of ketamine. They had to do this because I had 2 weeks of only a few hours of sleep a night leading up to 3 full nights without sleep with no sight of ever sleeping again.

You can imagine the havoc that insomnia can cause. (Paranoia, delusions and confusion)

I was very fortunate not to have audio or visual hallucinations, a common symptom I’ve experienced in the past.

While all this seems like a horrific experience I’m glad it happened. It felt like a right of passage and being reborn. The psychedelic experience from the ketamine had a very powerful effect on my psyche and has healed much of my depression.

It was a very strange experience like an electric light carousel with many compartments of my life being folded away infinitely.

Due to my Schizophrenia I’ve not been able to use any psychedelics to heal because it is too risky. So I’m very fortunate that I was able to have this experience. While it was given to me as a sedative I found it very therapeutic for my mental health.

I’m also very grateful for my beautiful partner Maddie who helped me through this. It would have been one of the most stressful ordeals for her to go though. I’m very grateful for all that you do my love. ♥️

Now that I’ve been given a new medication I’ve been able to get back on track with my life. I’ve also been given the inspiration to create beautiful new art because the Ketamine opened a can of whoop-ass on my depression.

Another amazing thing that’s blessed our life is a new addition to the family. Maddie and I adopted a dog yesterday. Which has already been an amazing experience. 😍

Stay tuned for more beautiful art coming your way!

Enjoy Life

When Einstein gave lectures at U.S. universities, the recurring question that students asked him most was:

Do you believe in God?
And he always answered:
I believe in the God of Spinoza.

Baruch de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher considered one of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy, along with Descartes.
Spinoza believed his God would say:

“Stop praying. What I want you to do is go out into the world and enjoy your life. I want you to sing, have fun and enjoy everything I’ve made for you.

Stop going into those dark, cold temples that you built yourself and saying they are my house. My house is in the mountains, in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches. That’s where I live and there I express my love for you.

Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you there was anything wrong with you or that you were a sinner, or that your sexuality was a bad thing. Sex is a gift I have given you and with which you can express your love, your ecstasy, your joy. So don’t blame me for everything they made you believe.

Stop reading alleged sacred scriptures that have nothing to do with me. If you can’t read me in a sunrise, in a landscape, in the look of your friends, in your son’s eyes… you will not find me in a book!

Stop asking me “will you tell me how to do my job?”

Stop being so scared of me. I do not judge you or criticize you, nor get angry, or bothered. I am pure love.

Stop asking for forgiveness, there’s nothing to forgive. If I made you… I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies. How can I blame you if you respond to something I put in you? How can I punish you for being the way you are, if I’m the one who made you? Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who behave badly for the rest of eternity? What kind of god would do that?

Respect your peers and don’t do what you don’t want for yourself. All I ask is that you pay attention in your life, that alertness is your guide.

My beloved, this life is not a test, not a step on the way, not a rehearsal, nor a prelude to paradise. This life is the only thing here and now and it is all you need.
I have set you absolutely free, no prizes or punishments, no sins or virtues, no one carries a marker, no one keeps a record.

You are absolutely free to create in your life. Heaven or hell.

I can’t tell you if there’s anything after this life but I can give you a tip. Live as if there is not. As if this is your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist. So, if there’s nothing after, then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is, rest assured that I won’t ask if you behaved right or wrong, I’ll ask. Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?…

Stop believing in me; believing is assuming, guessing, imagining. I don’t want you to believe in me, I want you to believe in you. I want you to feel me in you when you kiss your beloved, when you tuck in your little girl, when you caress your dog, when you bathe in the sea.

Stop praising me, what kind of egomaniac God do you think I am?
I’m bored being praised. I’m tired of being thanked. Feeling grateful? Prove it by taking care of yourself, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy! That’s the way to praise me.

Stop complicating things and repeating as a parakeet what you’ve been taught about me.The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders.”


Salvation From Suffering

It saddens me that there’s still lots of stigma around people who have mental health issues. The past 10 years I’ve been on the receiving end of gaslighting, subtle mocking, verbal and emotional abuse.

This is why I’m quiet and don’t interact at parties or socialise much, I keep to myself to avoid judgment for what others may think of me. I’ve been called things like “a loser with no future”, “F**d in the head”, that my art is bad, that I’m not good for anyone. I’ve heard people refer to my medication as “happy pills” & “shut up pills” (they are far from happy). Some people have even referred to the mental health cage around the courtyard as a “monkey cage” because the patients would try and climb out.

While that may seem funny to some, it’s very ignorant and dehumanizes those who are suffering from mental anguish. It does not surprise me that people would want to climb out of the “monkey cage”.

I myself wanted to, as some of the staff in the mental health facility use emotional, verbal abuse, forced treatment such as stuffing pills down my throat and threats of violence if I don’t cooperate. My family put me in hospital after I became catatonic (non verbal). I was barely grasping reality after seeing and hearing demonic entities. So, you can imagine those abusive staff amplified the already frightening situation.

I’ve even saw a patient jump from a two-story balcony to escape the institutional abuse that still happens in the 21st century. It’s sad that those who are meant to care for you can do more harm than good. They see people with mental health problems as less then human. The moment you dehumanize someone you feel you can treat them how you like (like the Stanford prison experiment). While what I’m thinking or say may not always make sense to others, it’s not something I can “just knock it off” as some people put it.

What may seem like a fantasy and a made-up story to others is a lived experience to the person who is suffering. It’s not the magical thinking that’s the problem, it’s the concreting of ideas (the inability to discern fact from fiction).Magical thinking solidifies into the fabric of your entire reality, becoming a lived experience. It’s easy for others to simply say “knock it off” but unfortunately, it’s not possible when your symptoms are strong.

Many people still have this perception that someone’s mental illness is their identity and generalise. First and foremost I’m a human not a Schizophrenic. I’m a human who expresses symptoms of Schizophrenia when I become unwell. Unfortunately, most doctors dismiss what I say when I tell them I have Schizophrenia. They would not allow me to wean of my medication when I told them my brain is foggy and I feel dead inside. Over the years I’ve made several attempts to go off my medication but was unsuccessful. It turns out if you do not wean off them you can get a side effect called rebound psychosis. It’s been one year now and I’ve successfully come off my medication without a psychotic episode.

This was possible because my doctor thought that my physical health complications were caused by my medication. He agreed to step me down to the lowest possible dose and I was able to wean off them.

After a few months of the low dose, my brain started to function, I could think clearly again, and experience the full range of emotions. This might not be the case for everyone but for me it was the best thing I could have done to regain both physical and mental wellbeing.

2021 was a bit of a rough year but now I’m starting to find my inner light and share it with the world again.

People with mental health problems may not have the interpersonal skills to cope with everyday life and the abuse sent their way. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel… they are still humans with valuable gifts to share with the world.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

-Mark Twain

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Out From The Mist – A Film/Photography Competition Breaking The Stigma Of Mental Illness

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‘Relentless’ by Kris Anderson, Colin Biggers & Paisley Prize winner (2020)

Out From The Mist is in its third year – a film and photography competition breaking down the stigma of mental illness by sharing experiences of those who have lived with it.

Now is an important time to spread awareness of mental health. One in ten people globally experience mental health disorders. Out From The Mist Founder and Creative Director Michael Lockwood says since being diagnosed with depression ten years ago, he’s had to learn to manage it.

“For better or worse, this illness is an integral part of who I am, and I’m proud of who I am, depression and all.

“The competition shines a light on the varied experiences people face with their mental wellbeing, from experiences of pain and suffering, caring and empathy for loved ones, through to elation of conquering obstacles. While the focus is on mental health, Out From The Mist is about so much more. Harnessing the power of storytelling, it looks at mental health through the lens of art.”

Micah Prize winner ‘Journey From The Shadows’ by Jay Salton (2020)

Danielle Pocock is a former winner of Out From The Mist.

“I definitely felt that it was important to put my work out there in this space,” Danielle says. “There is nothing like this. A photographic competition about mental health and expressing mental health. I want my work to resonate with others, and hopefully open up conversations or a way for other to express how they feel.”

The exhibition of entries will run during Mental Health Week this October, and the competition’s awards night will be held online and in the host city, Brisbane. There will be 20 category winners.

Entries for Out From The Mist are open now on the website, and close 24 September. Winners will be notified by 10 October.

The art of Jay Salton in Sansar

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Sansar: Jay Salton Art Gallery

Jay Salton is an Australian digital artist with a remarkable eye for creating stunning images which encompass fantasy, surreal and abstract elements and which are rich in colour and depth. He’s long held a desire to see his art evolve into a virtual space which people can explore and experience with their own senses. As Renegade Rabbit, he has taken a step along the road towards this evolution within Sansar, where he presents the Jay Salton Art Gallery.

Set within a walled meadow, the gallery building is fronted by a small garden with a lean towards Japanese influences. The spawn point is at the end of a footpath that leads beneath a Torii gate and over a water feature from which rise two small islands, each topped by a tree – one of which has something of a Bonsai-like topiary around it. A young lady sits on a rock before the water feature, while Jay’s love of the surreal is catered for by the presence of two gigantic mushrooms flanking the gallery building in the meadow.

Sansar: Jay Salton Art Gallery

The gallery, wrapped in the greenery of young birch-like trees, is of modern design, with clean lines with the interior finished in soft tones – an ideal backdrop for Jay’s stunning art. At the time of my visit, fourteen pieces of Jay’s work were on display, eight in individual alcoves or mounted on their own on walls, the remaining four grouped together along the rearmost of the gallery’s walls.

These are all visually stunning pieces, presenting marvellous scenes that range from might Saturn (at least I assume it is Saturn) rising over one of Titan’s hydrocarbon lakes, to images of fabulous islands one can easily picture in the South Seas, to studies of fantasy settings and images hinting at mysticism and magic. All are fabulously evocative, carrying rich narratives that speak to us as we look at them – and which perhaps reveal something of the artist himself, and his love of the digital medium.

Sansar: Jay Salton Art Gallery

“My artistic pursuit started at a young age when I dreamed of creating worlds and realities of my own,” Jay notes, before going on to reveal his life took a darker road. Drugs, a diagnosis of schizophrenia at 18, and a decent into hopelessness from which he escaped through glass blowing after his uncle stepped in and gave him a job at his glass studio. And thus his delight in creativity and art was renewed.

He goes on to note, “When I discovered digital art I was given the tools to turn my childhood dreams into a reality.” With a gift for working with Photoshop, 3Ds Max and Bryce, Jay now offers his worlds and his imagination for all of us to enjoy – and having visited his work in Sansar, I’m looking forward to see how else he might use the platform where he might further realise his dream of evolving his art as a virtual space.

Sansar: Jay Salton Art Gallery

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