The Burnout. Part 3.
April 30th / May 1st, 2018
I started painting late January. I felt cracking and I was desperately looking for something to do. I wrote some poems; beautiful but depressing as hell. Didn’t really help as it was just pain staring in my face.
I painted a tree. Looked terrible, since I hadn’t painted since 6th grade. But it had a lot of leaves. Which meant a lot of dots. Dots, dots, dots, hundreds of dots. I felt a bit psychotic. It felt a bit…crazier… but all the dot-focused work worked. I started to feel my mind a bit at ease. For the obsessive dotting made sense. They were leaves in a tree after all. And there are many leaves in a tree.
Since then, I painted a lot. And got better. Recently I tackled a bit abstract painting after some symbolist poetry I love. Depressing but beautiful. I was still cracking and falling apart, but at least I was creating. As I used once to write, now I was painting. It is phenomenal to see what can come out of a broken mind if we truly want to help ourselves. I still have my pain, and some more deep, personal aches I will not talk about; they are too, quite crippling but I kind off know it can be sorted. They make me write. But this other pain makes me paint. And I like that I discovered this ability while on a mental breakdown.
With acting it was the same. In 2011 I hit rock bottom after terrible problems at the workplace. Will not talk about them now but, while away on a scientific session by the Black Sea, when my mind got a fraction of a second of relaxation, I had remembered something I forgot.
Long, long time ago when I was in 4th or 5th grade, my father heard me reading out loud, with different voices, having the time of my life. He burst into my room and screamed at me out of nowhere, to stop reading like I was at the theatre. Then he left. Of course, I went on until I was done. I would have never given in to him! But after that day, something happened, I was never ever, until one day in 2014, able to read similar to that again.
I guess my child mind blocked the memory, that short burst of brutality, for it seemed so strange when I remembered… how was it possible to have forgotten such a thing? And I remember exactly what I was reading. It was a comedic play by I. L. Caragiale. I also remember a specific story my teacher would ask me to read for the class when I was in 4th grade. It was a sad story about a dear and its baby. And I would read it as I heard it read on the vinyl discs I had at home. I understood why they read it the way they did, and everyone was listening to me in perfect silence. And then, it all stopped. And I hated reading out-loud in front of the class ever again.
As a scientist, I did a lot of presentations, defended my Ph.D. thesis but, has nothing to do with reading. One day in 2012 I believe, I made a presentation for a new Scientific Director of the Research Institute I was working at. It was the first time after about 2 decades when someone said to me I read like I was telling a story, and if lights would have been off, he might just have gone to sleep to the sound of my voice. I was still not thinking of really leaving my university job and becoming an actor.
The first time I truly read a poem out loud was April 2014. Two months before coming to England. At first, I could not really speak up, barely could hear my voice. I was all alone and still could not do it. Two years before, I sensed something coming back but under the hidden scientific coat, I did not feel threatened. Slowly, my voice came into hearing. And I could finally speak.
I admit that I cannot yet, after all this time as an actress, commit to reading as a professional. I feel as my innocence has been taken away that day. That no matter how hard I would try, it would never be the same as it was before that day. So, in a way, I am afraid I will never be complete. I sometimes listen to one of my favourite actors reading, and he is all there. To me, it sounds like his innocence was not stolen. There is something in the vibration of his voice that to me reads “complete”. Nothing is missing. When I read, I feel it deep, deep down, that is gone. So, I can’t really do that 100%.
Those terrible memories, even if they did not make me whole again, reminded me of what I desired once. And opened the gate to today. I may not yet be able to trust my reading, but my acting has all my attention and I love the camera. So, I am not sad for my pain. I wouldn’t be here without it, for my mind would have still be sealed.
There are beautiful things to be discovered in a burnout. In the falling and hitting the ground. There is something beautiful in the splatter of blood and brains. From afar, might look like a painting, if not knowing what it is. I believe that the beautiful work we see created by others, is their own splattered bodies on the hard concrete. Just magically turned into an expressed talent. My pain is vivid, organic, I do not know how to be another way. But no matter how hard these last few months were, how hard my brain got caught in this mess, I feel quite at the end of it.
In a way, as for many years I used to be unhappy, incomplete, I believe that my brain started feeling it is not possible this to be real, all the acting, the awards, practicing and developing my hobbies; the wonderful free time every day, basically living my dreams. Tired by all the suffering, caught in between feeling like falling behind, being inadequate, fat and broke, stressed that might be the time to start making some money, even get a job; I am afraid my brain thought that too many good free days, happily building towards my extraordinary dream, are supposed to get to an end. I can’t be that happy and free forever and ever. Can I? In a way, it started to recreate the unhappiness it was used to. On top of the already existing trauma.
Can you imagine dealing with this stuff? I think you can, because no matter how different, we all are the same. We are raised like this. To be miserable. To believe that a wheel will turn, that happiness can’t last forever. So, on top of everything, would you like a slice of more self-sabotaging, next to one of society mentality, and a bucket of traditional superstition and bad ideas? I think an indigestion is around the corner.
I truly hope I get to have some more days like today and yesterday. I hope I recovered, and what is left and hurts, at least I know how to deal with.
My diet is going well, and I am not starving myself (never could anyway); I am shooting one of my stand-by projects this weekend and I definitely fit in the trousers I bought for it; I feel new and evolved. Free. Lighter than the past few months. I feel at ease with my choices in life. Motivated mainly by my inside dream, and only partially by my devoted husband. He hates seeing me like I was. I am afraid it makes him feel inadequate. So, I owe it to myself first to get back on my feet, and to him to make sure he knows he’s great.
That was hard, I am quite sure times like this will reappear, I might have a disposition towards it, but as long as I fight for myself, I guess I will be just fine. Although, I wish not to put this kind of memories on paper again too soon.
Have a lovely spring everyone!
© 2018 Carmen Silva