Saturday, January 23, 2010

53, or The Ultimate Cure for Sadness

"Red is the ultimate cure for sadness." - Bill Blass

Imagine: we fashion ourselves through clothes. Years ago a woman in Harper's Bazaar talked about being so depressed she had to clear out her closet and start from scratch with a new wardrobe. The end of the article: "Who am I today? Scarlet perhaps."

Like for any of us her psychiatrist knew she was getting better when her clothes were on the upswing too. I once on a day pass bought a pair of plaid walking shorts to wear on the ward as if to impress the staff. Certainly even today this is the antidote to the schizophrenia blues: fashion.

Consider taking photos of your clothes before you throw them out if you need a reminder of yourself instead of keeping on hand outdated expressions.

Suddenly now I remember my black Einsterzwende Neubaten tee shirt with the gold and red figure on it; the Sonic Youth tee shirt with the Roy Lichenstein graphics; the black Siouxsie tee with her face silk screened on it in white.

My self at 22: a chalked slate with a menu of longings in a far from the beaten path life. To travel to Greece. To be the different drummer other people marched to. The words written in my journal circa 1985: I want to hold my life up as a candle to other people who flounder. How could I have known even then? Two years before my breakdown? 25 years ago. I struggled with silent words scrawled at 3 a.m. That is how I met myself: in the pages of my diary.

It was all I had as a defense against the oncoming SZ: my words. I attended a journal workshop circa 2000 where a woman wrote: Truth is the sword of us all. Those words stayed with me.

My truth is justice as well as beauty: I recovered. That is how you change the world: you change your life. "Nothing succeeds like success" to quote a newspaper article on fighting stigma.

Though I keep time with others who are not on the same page as truly we are the one. A person could not accept me and not accept others. I consider recovery a package deal.


Red IS the ultimate cure for sadness.

As I began to make my way in the world I started to wear red. Before: I had a strong aversion to the color. Then: in college I bought a cotton red shirt with pockets. The brand was Gasoline if memory serves. I bought it in a store in the Woodbridge Mall. It was my favorite shirt and ever since then I haven't been without red in my closet. I now have a red jacket with big round silver buttons and the red military jacket as well as the red hooded sweater with toggles and the limited edition hand-stitched red J.Jill sweater that is number 53.

One of the cashmere tees I bought was rich red: so there you go sadness.

Now a dose of the blues every so often I submit could happen to anyone. My first published article talked about doing spring cleaning in January to beat the winter blues. It ended by saying that when we clear our minds of negative thoughts "we can imagine instead of agonize; we can do instead of dream."

Long before: I was a woman who even then sought to inspire people even though she was restricted. I judge whether it's better today by the kinds of jobs I have. That is the ultimate test of the cure. Once I told someone that the atypical I'm on was as close to a cure as I could possible have. Others criticized me for using the word cure.

I stand by my words.

Some people claim the drugs are mind control or that people who are homeless should have the right to be homeless. That the drugs don't work. I would love to see a poster of my face in an airport with the slogan: treatment works.

Treatment works. Red works too.


1 comment:

Karen May Sorensen said...

My memory; collecting clear plastic jewelry in the early 1990's. Wore it with black. Wore almost ALL of my clear plastic necklaces with a black dress to my father's wedding - braided my hair the night before so that it was full of bounce and kinks and curls. I think I looked more like I was from the Amazon jungle then like a respectful, loving daughter. But at least I was clean! In the early years of my illness I wasn't always clean!

What I'm ashamed of is that black tee with "Porsche" (oh, did I spell that right? - the car) emblem blazing on my chest, in sequince! It cost way too much. But I loved the blue sequince tank top that I bought at the Salvation Army.

Best Salvation Army finds - a black Banana Republic feminine tuxedo jacket, Large black silk jacket when I was heavier that I still wear on days I want to wrap myself in something and hide, a beautiful flowered Chinese silk shirt/jacket with the special Oriental neckline.

You make me want to revisit the color red. I honestly don't have much red in my wardrobe. You have me thinking that this might be a problem. My goodness, it just occurred to me, am I scared of the color red? People can get scared of certain colors you know.

My jewelry box that I keep my most precious jewelry in is red leather, and my wallet is red leather - love having a red leather wallet. My sheets on my bed are all deep red and the velvet coverlet for the comforter is a matching deep red.

Favorite fantasy item; a red silk tank top. Then I could pair it with a black cardigan. Just a little red but not too much.

I remember a fushia (not sure about spelling again, - hot pink) dress I picked up at a thrift store that I loved to wear, had matching heels. A happy outfit. Yes, it made me feel happy. I am slowly starting to think that you are really right about color.

Take care,
Karen Sorensen