Bare with me, this may be long as hell to you and frankly, I don’t ever really explain myself; but here it goes. This may sound strange to some but my nightmares are the only things that keep me alive. In many ways I am grateful that I still have the ability to experience fear, because I know then that I still have the ability to feel.

Mental health has been toyed with lately, many people claim to have experienced it. I can say for myself, experiencing it is something that you literally live through; it is not your next tweet or instagram paragraph. When I experience it, I literally lose the will to live or go on about my daily life, I isolate myself, and I lose. I’m sharing this because I grew tired of losing and I wanted help. I sought out therapy and was labeled and given medication; I never felt like I was getting real help. I became a diagnosis instead of a person, an identity was further stripped away from me.

I often wondered how I ended up like this. I am and always have been in love with who I am; I have no problem loving myself. Through isolation I realized that the problems began with my love for others. Unrequited love does not have anything to do with relationships, only the shallow will make that connection. Unrequited love can be experienced in friendships, with family, with basically anything that you are giving your all towards and receiving little to nothing in return. With that being said, the idea of that put me through so much mental anguish.

I was diagnosed with anxiety and “adjustment disorder” with a depressed mood. That became my new name, I started to identify with it; ultimately wanting nothing to do with myself and others. I saw myself dissolving piece by piece, unsure of what was next for me. I started having the worst nightmares which then led to the development of insomnia. During this time, I began writing poetry again and painting every nightmare or dream that I had. I felt it all leave my brain and release the pressure that I felt each day. With insomnia, lack of sleep can lead to your body finally crashing; mine did. I went to sleep for the first time in 2 weeks. The moment I closed my eyes, I experienced what this whole thing is about: sleep paralysis.

For those who act is if they’re gurus on what people go through; things they have not themselves, sleep paralysis bluntly is some scary shit. I physically could not move my body and had no control over that and there was a black shadow that constantly held me down. My body was sleeping, but my mind was awake.For 5 days, I experienced this and through literal paralyzing fear, came understanding.

I take tribulations in my life as symbolization for things that I am ignoring. Sometimes outlandish things will happen to you because you are refusing to acknowledge the little things that led up to it. I took this paralysis as a message of how I was allowing myself to feel in real life; paralyzed, hopeless,and afraid. I was allowing my life to become dormant, while my mind and body merely existed. The true paralysis came within myself. With this series, I wanted to give a visual of what was going on inside of my mind and also what I was actually seeing.

I am grateful for my artistic abilities because I have finally found a way to help myself. Creation has not cured me, but it is healing me. It is hard to describe to others the way you feel with just words sometimes because words can be twisted, taken out of context, or left for your own interpretation because you know my “zodiac” or you felt my “energy”. I do not wish to be falsely related to, I want others to see my visions. If these visuals reach you in some way and you can relate or for a second you could understand me, I am grateful.

Art for me has become the best form of therapy when I cannot talk, the best medicine has been the colors I’ve used to release the colors inside of me. With that being said, I hope you enjoy my series and if someone is going through what I have been going through, then this is for you as well.

Much love!

Joia B. (artbyjoia)