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Arts & Culture / First Person

CATHARSIS

Audio: Reading (text only) by Emily Simmons
Audio: Reading (with image descriptions) by Emily Simmons.
DISCLAIMER: The contents of this zine may be considered sensitive. The zine illustrates visual hallucinations from a depressive episode with psychotic symptoms. Please note they may be upsetting or distressing to some readers.
Twice in my life, I have experienced depressive episodes with psychotic symptoms because of suffering from Bi-polar.
The following collection seeks to illustrate some of the hallucinations and delusions I had during both episodes; they are largely taken from my first which was longer-lived and had more hallucinations.
During both episodes - whilst recovering on mental-health wards - I engaged in art therapy. It was a useful process of catharsis to be able to sketch out the hallucinations images as they resurfaced during my recovery.
I am really not seeking to romanticise or skilfully illustrate what I saw when unwell, I just wanted to 'get out' the images that I had going around in my head.
I hope this zine may inspire others to use any positive creative process which may help with getting over trauma and unburdening the mind.  Thanks for picking up this zine, I hope you enjoy it...
ID1: drawing of a hand with a hole in the palm. Text reads: As is common with delusions, I thought I was a godlike figure. An androgenous Christ, just without the gaping holes in my hands.
ID2: drawing of a hand pressing against a mirror. Text reads: I thought other realms could reach out from the opposite side of mirrors.
ID1: drawing of a bullet shooting through a flower causing it to come apart. Text reads: I rarely ventured into the garden. I thought there was a sniper in the upstairs flat.  ID2: drawing of a circular point surrounded by branches and leaves. Text reads: In the garden, I saw a singularity point made of twisted branches and light: beautiful, but brutal and eerie at the same time.
ID1: a drawing of a dragon made of leaves. Text reads: The elderflower tree became a nodding dragons head made of leaves.   ID2: a drawing of a ghost of a little boy, holding a teddy bear with eyes made of crosses, with large piano keys in the background. Text reads: When I tried to play piano, a ghostly little boy watched me...
ID1: drawing of hands holding a landscape photography book. Text reads: I would look over a landscape photography book, trying to find 'pop-out' secret images...  ID2: Drawing of a hand struggling to come up through stringy spheres of scar tissue. Text reads: I would lie on the rug in the living room, doing relaxation exercises but it would feel as if scar tissue grew around me...
ID1: drawing of a rug with stars and planets on. Text reads: the lines on the rug became doorways to other universes...  ID2: Drawing of lots of frogs crossing over one another on the floor. Text reads: The carpet to another dimension suddenly became a carpet of translucent frogs.
ID1: drawing of what looks like a noose with hairs coming from it. Text reads: Looking up at the lightshade, its wire struts turned to strangling hairs.  ID2: Drawing of a plant pot with the face of a wailing banshee. Text reads: The streaked porcelain of the plant pot became a wailing banshee.
ID1: drawing of coats turning into a vampire, a bear, and an evil looking spirit. Text reads: The coat hanging on the door became a vampire, a grizzly bear, a block shadowy spirit.  ID2: Drawing of long-armed demons moving through curtains with stars on them. Text reads: In my bedroom, I imagined demons dancing in the star-patterned curtains.
ID1: drawing of an octopus on a bed. Text reads: The blanket on my be became an octopus.  ID2: Drawing of zombies coming up through the earth. Text reads: Lying awake in both my first and second episode, I would imagine a thousand pounding bodies - a rising zombie apocalypse; up from their graves...
ID1: drawing of elephant seals colliding. Text reads: I would see elephant seals bloodily colliding, like a nature documentary all in my head.  ID2: drawing of bleach, shaving cream, and a razor sitting on a shelf. Text reads: luckily, razors and bleach never caught my eye in the bathroom.
Cíara Gaughan About Author

Ciara Gaughan (she/her) is a 23-year-old writer who comes from London, who is currently finishing her English Literature with Creative Writing Degree at UEA. She enjoys writing from experience and generally stays within the bounds of reality.

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