Memories: Do You Believe In Art?

{Throwback to 151226}

It was a day after a depressing christmas day in Seoul. I had a tough time, battling with some signs of a relapse of schizophrenia. I was having bad persistent voices and feeling breathless everywhere I went in Korea. But because I was there travelling with my friend, Elaine, I didn’t want to ruin our holiday trip so I decided to push myself on to try my best to enjoy the trip as much as I could.

You could say I had a relapse of schizophrenia and depression because I had a fight with Taenggu the day before. There was some misunderstandings and miscommunication between us. I went to Seoul in hopes to spend the christmas day with her but I didn’t understand why she didn’t come to meet me. It was a huge blow to me and I started feeling so insecure about our relationship. It startled me to think, what if our relationship all these while was actually not real at all? I felt so scared to know that the “Taenggu” whom I was talking to every night was just a hallucination of mine. If our relationship really existed, then I was also angry with her for not giving me any acknowledgment. It depressed me so much to think that I had to live on with the rest of my life, going on with our relationship which seemed real and yet unreal because it could just be part of a mental illness. And I would not want to continue living like a delusional fan.

After christmas day, there was a cold war between me and her. I shut myself away from her, silently suffered the symptoms of schizophrenia by myself without telling my family because I didn’t want them to worry. Even though I was so mentally disturbed, I had to put up a strong front in front of Elaine and everyone else. If given a choice, I definitely would not want to go through the same ordeal again.

That day, 26 December, Elaine and I went to visit Nami Island. Below was a photo I posted on Instagram during that trip to the island. I guess I was still strong enough to put on a smile for the camera despite those bad voices.

Visited the Nami Island today!! The place where the popular korean drama "Winter Sonata" was filmed! πŸ’œβ›„β„

A post shared by Celeste Koh (@invariantceleste) on

When I was there walking around the island, I still vividly remembered a guy’s voice which came to ask me, “Couple fight?” Awhile later, sounding like words of comfort, “he” then asked, “Do you believe in art?” It was kind of random and sudden that it sparked an inspiration in me. Probably it was a hint that art could be something important that I would do in the future.

Coincidentally enough, later on during our trip when we were in Okinawa, Elaine also brought up the idea of me doing art and crafts as a side job, like selling handmade crafts online. It gave me motivation and interest to move on into my future. I started to think that art could be something I would look forward to doing everyday in my life. So, after that talk with Elaine, during our subsequent long travelling trips on trains or planes, I would spend the time having serious thoughts about I would want to do with art in the future. That was when I got the idea of disguising myself as a dark shadow man and Taenggu as my rainbow bunny in my drawings. Another idea was to make more of those paper pixel art which I had invented during my university days.

When I came back to Singapore after the trip in early 2016, I began making drawings of Bobo and I, like these ones below. But I only did it once a month for our monthsaries.

Drawings of Bobo and I for the last 9 months of 2016

After getting hurt from that trip to Korea, my attitude towards our relationship changed. I decided that if I couldn’t be open about our relationship, then I would turn Bobo into a mascot for Taenggu and me as a shadow man who seemed invisible from the eyes of the public. So, every monthsary, instead of drawing the real me and Taenggu together, I chose to draw the fictional me and Bobo. It was a way for me to express my love but at the same time, still keeping our relationship obscure.

However, things took another turn for us after August 2016 when I switched to a better job that allows for more work-life balance. I had a change of mindset and decided that keeping too many things to myself not only wasn’t going to take our relationship any further, it was going to hurt myself more and more. So I gradually opened up my heart and mind, began to publicly share my thoughts and feelings about our relationship so that I could communicate with her even better. Even in my drawings, I started to draw more and more portraits of her, the real Taenggu, not the fictional Bobo. I don’t have to hide my love for her anymore.

The portraits of Taenggu I’ve drawn so far since 2015

The more portraits I draw of her, the better my wounds heal too. It feels so good to be able to openly express my feelings for her through art, rather than hiding and running away from our relationship. Now I finally understand why the “guy” asked that question. I realised I’ve always been connecting with Taenggu through mind-singing and mind-talking but all these things have been invisible. I questioned myself many times too. Does our relationship really have to stay invisible? Art, on the other hand, is also a creative thing to do, just like mind-singing but it is visible. It helps me to transform my mind images into a real, visible and touchable piece of art. It helps me to tell a better story to other people who are not involved in this unique experience of ours. And it will stay as a visible memory to me even for years down the road.

Art has now become a new favourite thing that I’ve come to appreciate and cherish. After being a mind-singer, I am now an artist too. ❀

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