Blog / 2020 / Conversations with Myself

September 21, 2020

Am I the person I am when I am on medication? Or am I the person I am when I’m not?

These questions have been chasing each other around in my mind since last fall, when I started treatment for hypertension. For six months this year, from February to August, a combination of the right medication and a plant-based diet gave me normal blood pressure on a consistent basis, and for the first time in forever I slept well. I seemed to have near-limitless patience, and I felt good about myself.

I wouldn’t say I was happy—only a sadist could be content living in a pandemical fascistic hellscape where police murder people with impunity, the wealthy make bank while millions are facing eviction and massive rental debt, and the globe has irrevocably warmed. Still, I felt gentle and strong.

Then the Department of Labor decided that the thirteen Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments that it had awarded me needed to be paid back immediately. Though I’m appealing the decision, it’s still stressful, and this happened right as I was launching Lifesavers Fan Art, a project that’s really more campaign than series. If it’s going to have a real impact, #LifsaversFanArt requires the participation of other artists, meaning that I’m making myself super-vulnerable by asking for help—a process that rates high on ye olde stress-o-meter because it invites rejection.

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg died a few days ago and Christian supremacists started gearing up to replace a champion for human rights with a Justice who will destroy life, liberty, and our ability to pursue happiness, something in me broke.

making of magpie painting

I don’t like who I am when my BP is high. I’m in a constant state of startlement, meaning that I feel assaulted by everything at every moment. I’m scared of myself—of my inability to be the person I am when my blood pressure is normal. Hopefully, I’ll find the right combination of meds soon, but in the meantime the conversations going on in my head are endlessly exhausting.

two black-billed magpies arguing painting by Jersey artist Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Black-billed Magpies
acrylic on unmounted canvas
10 x 10 inches

This magpie painting was commissioned by one of my Patreon supporters—AKA one of the amazing people who has made the DOL’s lack of understanding of self-employment merely stomach-churning instead of completely catastrophic.

If you want to commission an animal painting of your own, sign up to send me $50 a month for six months through Patreon. There are prints and pretty things with this image in my Redbubble shop.

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


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