living next door to alice (in W-LAN) (2010)

off with her head

i’m never really here
never really not here

this is the in-between
where we un-appear
in the web of day to day
it’s the back alleyway
that sucks us in

mind that gap, gal, you say,
it’s no zero-sum game.

ja-nee
it’s a dirty crack habit
but i’m not paying, pal!

i’m chasing that rabbit
i’m hunting that quark
i’m ripping, unzipping
tumbling through the dark

i’m pulled, i’m polluted
the vertigo’s heady
the jostling vacuum
blaring and unsteady

warrens of voids
streaming past
screaming future
endlessly new
have i seen this already?

uh-huh, it’s not pretty
these blown-up dead pixels
no taste, so not witty
they stink like nothing

on earth

in asunderland
nothing rots

i’m always here, not-here
it’s off with me ’ead
when bored, i bore deeper
through holes yet unread

i need more; drop a fresh tab

hop a window

and i tiptoe
past the daemon
with a keygen
while it snores
unlock the door

to

another tube flickr-ing
twittering, bickering
low resolution
there’s no revelation
there’s no revolution
just revaluation
search optimisation
and too many shares

i spin rumpelstiltskins’
straw dogs into gold
using worm-riddled troll jam
i scavenge ‘twixt threads

i needle this grey gunk
i snip it to shreds
i bump and i juggle
grind bones badly bred

i flip and i giggle
i slough off my shame
i slurp it up, spew it out
flooding the drain

logged in or logged out
i have no real name
if I do it is M.U.D.
and i’m out of my death

and where is my body?

my own flesh and blood
it sleeps with the ‘fiches
not holding its breath

see, it doesn’t do digital
it keeps crashing
so it’s chained to the terminal
wired to the grid
with a stay of execution

logged on or logged off
the haunted dimension
buzzes in my marrow
drowns out my dreams
howls me back
out of bed
out of the car
out of the street
from the supermarket
from the sunset
from supper
in a stupor
on my phone
into my inbox
unto my outbox
onto the blog

*welcome to [UR(hel)L]*

you can’t turn off a never-present stranger.

(2010)

alice1

chet baker – for all we know (1987)

“Recorded just before he passed and released posthumously, this is some of Chet’s best work. Arguably it’s his best work. As his life deteriorated from drugs through the years, his work had suffered and he had faded from the music world. It all came together in this concert in Tokyo. Absolutely fantastic musicians backing him up, and Chet had somehow come back into top form for this show. In fact he was better than he used to be… the years, the pain, the experiences, the feeling all came through in a more mature fashion in his voice and trumpet.”

a year since phillip seymour hoffman’s death: addiction & #againststigma

It’s been a year, on the 5th February, that Phillip Seymour Hoffman and a friend of mine succumbed to addiction. A reminder of the continuous fight #againststigma

Here is the piece I wrote a year ago, more pertinent with each passing day:
https://germainedelarch.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/philip-seymour-hoffmans-addiction-and-death-and-our-culture-of-stigma-and-hypocrisy

And here is the call to action to join the fight #againststigma. Please join me.
https://germainedelarch.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/taking-the-anonymous-out-of-addiction-mental-illness-photographic-project-in-recovery-the-face-of-addictionmental-illness/

in recovery – #AgainstStigma the face of addiction/”mental illness”*: one month in

One month into my ‪#‎AgainstStigma‬ project and I have had 10 participants, with three more in the wings – more than I could have dreamt of! To my participants: I am beyond grateful for your incredible courage to stand up and be the face of addiction and/or mental illness, especially in the face of the very real stigma. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You guys are the modern day heroes. You guys are the ones fighting the battle, day by day, and living to tell the tale.

And please, if anyone has any queries, reservations or debates to offer up about this project, please contact me. This is a project under constant revision and re-creation. Let’s discuss and create what we live with together, instead of having the medical and psychiatric industry define it for us.*/**

And let’s keep speaking out against stigma, for the sake of those still struggling with addiction, mental illness and the stigma that prevents them from realising they’re not alone and from getting the support they so desperately need. Please share. Please participate.

Click for: The participants thus far.

* A note on what I mean by mental illness. The word ‘illness’ is something I use for the sake of clarity, to make sure that everyone knows what I am speaking about. So I use the psychiatric term. So whatever your definition and whether you see it as a burden or a gift, what I mean here by ‘mental illness’ is the same thing you mean. I have huge issues with the psychiatric institution and see it as very fraught, and I am not a big fan of the DSM whatever version we’re on now. I don’t believe in ‘diagnosis’ and hate how it labels and limits one. I see my ‘mental illness’ as part of my personality, not a pathology, something that makes me more sensitive and creative than most, which is both beautiful and difficult. Whether you align yourself to addiction as an illness or something that is not pathological, this project is for you, because I would like to put a face on those living outside the boundaries of what most people consider ‘normal’, and making a success of the daily struggles.

** recovery / active recovery / clean time / active recovery from mental illness / clean time from mental illness‘Recovery’ is not easily definable. I use the terms ‘recovery’ and ‘mental illness’ in the way that they are defined by the very, very fraught psychiatric institution. What I mean by ‘in recovery’ as opposed to ‘active addiction’ is that the former has taken the steps needed to live with their mental illness/addiction. They are aware that it is a day-to-day struggle and not something that is ever cured. An active addict or someone who is a victim to their mental illness is someone who is waiting to be saved; someone who does not take responsibility for what they are dealing with. And certainly, reaching out for help is taking responsibility. It’s the difference between between active, an agent in one’s own recovery, and being passive and waiting for a pill/professional/sobriety to save one. What it means for me is the last time my life was completely unmanageable, when I was not functioning, when the depression controlled me instead of the other way around; when I was a victim to it instead of a survivor living with and dealing with it daily. But having said that, it is not all smooth sailing. And not just because I’m an addict and living with mental illness, but because I’m alive ;) There are ups and downs and I have bad days and even relapse in some of my addictions. Or if I don’t relapse in my addictions, then I relapse in my addictive thinking and do impulsive, self-destructive and general ‘addict’ things. This clarification is under constant revision and has not been expressed very well here. Comments, queries and suggestions are very, very welcome. Let’s keep redefining what we live with, by ourselves, for ourselves, instead of having a psychiatric institution tell us what we live with. 

call to participate: #AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*

Please join me in providing a face to the anonymous diseases, in standing against stigma. (For more information about this project, the ideas behind it, and the inspiration for it, please visit my WordPress site: http://germainedelarch.wordpress.com/)

We all have addictions, and a lot of us live with mental illness. If you’re in active recovery, whether it be from mental illness* or from the addictions of smoking, sugar, over-working or heroin, etc., please take part and please share. So this is a call to take the anonymous out of addiction and mental illness. I’d like to begin a movement, centring around a photographic project, where we ‘come out’ as addicts and those living with mental illness. Because those in active addiction and active mental illness need to have a blueprint of what it looks like to be ‘allowed’ back into society, of what it looks like to live day by day with these diseases. Because being in recovery is one of the bravest things anyone can ever do, and this needs to be celebrated rather than stigmatised. And perhaps this will prevent the completely unnecessary deaths of those whom we know and love who feel that they are alone in their addiction and depression.

What are the requirements?
– That you’re a recovering addict** and/or living with mental illness, and not in active addiction** or in any way a victim** of your mental illness*. This project is for people who have overcome or are in the process of overcoming the dysfunction and are stronger for it, who have learned or are learning not only to live with their addictive personalities and mental illness, but who are stronger and more whole than when they first used or became mentally ill.
– The willingness to have your photograph, your full name and your information about your addiction and/or mental illness published on the internet in various social media forms, to be tagged on Facebook, as well as to have your image and details publicised in the form of a physical exhibition.
– That you use your full name.

Submission details:
– Photo: This project is about the message, not the photograph, so it will only work if all the portraits are in the same format. Sorry to limit your creativity, but if you could keep the photograph setup as close to the ones already online that would be great. I’ll edit if needed. Thanks!
– Text: Please fill your details into this format –
My name is ____________. I am a recovering addict (_________ [__ months/years], etc.). I live with mental illness (_________ [_____ months/years*]).
[…] indicates clean time.

* A note on what I mean by mental illness. The word ‘illness’ is something I use for the sake of clarity, to make sure that everyone knows what I am speaking about. So I use the psychiatric term. So whatever your definition and whether you see it as a burden or a gift, what I mean here by ‘mental illness’ is the same thing you mean. I have huge issues with the psychiatric institution and see it as very fraught, and I am not a big fan of the DSM whatever version we’re on now. I don’t believe in ‘diagnosis’ and hate how it labels and limits one. I see my ‘mental illness’ as part of my personality, not a pathology, something that makes me more sensitive and creative than most, which is both beautiful and difficult. Whether you align yourself to addiction as an illness or something that is not pathological, this project is for you, because I would like to put a face on those living outside the boundaries of what most people consider ‘normal’, and making a success of the daily struggles.

** recovery / active recovery / clean time / active recovery from mental illness / clean time from mental illness: ‘Recovery’ is not easily definable. I use the terms ‘recovery’ and ‘mental illness’ in the way that they are defined by the very, very fraught psychiatric institution. What I mean by ‘in recovery’ as opposed to ‘active addiction’ is that the former has taken the steps needed to live with their mental illness/addiction. They are aware that it is a day-to-day struggle and not something that is ever cured. An active addict or someone who is a victim to their mental illness is someone who is waiting to be saved; someone who does not take responsibility for what they are dealing with. And certainly, reaching out for help is taking responsibility. It’s the difference between between active, an agent in one’s own recovery, and being passive and waiting for a pill/professional/sobriety to save one. What it means for me is the last time my life was completely unmanageable, when I was not functioning, when the depression controlled me instead of the other way around; when I was a victim to it instead of a survivor living with and dealing with it daily. But having said that, it is not all smooth sailing. And not just because I’m an addict and living with mental illness, but because I’m alive ;) There are ups and downs and I have bad days and even relapse in some of my addictions. Or if I don’t relapse in my addictions, then I relapse in my addictive thinking and do impulsive, self-destructive and general ‘addict’ things. This clarification is under constant revision and has not been expressed very well here. Comments, queries and suggestions are very, very welcome. Let’s keep redefining what we live with, by ourselves, for ourselves, instead of having a psychiatric institution tell us what we live with.

Stigma Too Much for #AgainstStigma? Please Participate Anonymously in Writing.
Now a month into the project, I must say that I had absolutely no idea how great the stigma is re addiction and mental illness until I started my In Recovery: The Face of Addiction/Mental Illness. ‪#‎AgainstStigma project. I’m getting quite a bit of feedback that people would love to participate, but that they too did not realise how insidious the stigma was. I’d like to ask that those of you who feel that they cannot participate in this project due to the stigma please inbox or email me (germainedelarch@gmail.com). I’d like to include your anonymous comments in this project in a piece I’ll be writing along with it.

And remember: this stigma says more about society than it does about you and your ability to participate.

For any queries, debates, additions to my definitions or submissions, please email germainedelarch@gmail.com

#AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*  1.
My name is Germaine de Larch. I am a recovering addict (self-mutilation [7 years], bulimia [13 years], overeating [3 years], co-dependent relationships [3 years], cigarettes [2 months, 10 days]). I live with mental illness (chronic depression, social phobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder [3 years]). […] indicates clean time.
Photo: Self-portrait by Germaine
Johannesburg, South Africa
Image

#AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*  2.
My name is Marelise van der Merwe. I am a recovering addict: bulimia [3 years], cigarettes [9 years], compulsive overeating [6 months]. I live with mental illness: Complex PTSD [ongoing] and a number of anxiety disorders [3 years].
[…] indicates clean time.
Photo: Self-portrait by Marelise
Western Cape, South Africa

Image

#AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*  3.
My name is Paul Strappini. I am a recovering addict: alcohol [11 years], methamphetamine [3 years]. I live with mental illness: Generalised Anxiety Disorder [15 years].
[…] indicates clean time.
Photo: Self-portrait by Paul
Johannesburg, South Africa
Image

#AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*  4.
My name is Zunia Boucher-Myers. I am a recovering addict (cigarettes) [13 years], (compulsive overeating) [3 years]. I live with mental illness* (depression) [2 years].
[…] indicates clean time**.
Self-portrait by Zunia.
Western Cape, South Africa.

Zunia

#AgainstStigma the face of addiction/’mental illness’*  5. 
My name is Airen McClure. I live with mental illness* (chronic depression, anxiety [9 months] and gender dysphoria [one day at a time]).
[…] indicates clean time**.
Self-portrait by Airen.
Pennsylvania, USA

Airen

Anonymous #1. #AgainstStigma

#AgainstStigma_Anonymous 1 copy

Anonymous #2. #AgainstStigma

#AgainstStigma_Anonymous 2

For more information about this project, the ideas behind it, and the inspiration for it, please visit my WordPress site: http://germainedelarch.wordpress.com/