Unicorn Tears: Depression and Atlantic Fashion Week

Last year, around this time, I was in a very dark place. I was broke, financially, spiritually, mentally and emotionally, but auto pilot kicked in and somehow I was able to keep pressing forward, even adding a second job to my full-time load. I kept telling myself that I was doing what I needed to do to keep myself afloat but, truth be told, it was probably the instinct of my self-destructive nature wrapped up in the guise of strength. When I’ve fallen that far, I self harm. I told myself that I’d given that up, and just because I’d stopped cutting myself for many years, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t self-harming. I was isolating, sabotaging my relationships with others, not eating, barely sleeping and purposely depriving myself of self care because I didn’t think that I deserved it. It seemed more noble to seemingly put others before me but really, I didn’t know how to be selfish when I needed to be; it’s easier to just ignore myself. It was a strange form of suicide, killing myself everyday by depriving myself of the things I desperately needed only to force myself through the same hell the next day and the next.

On the outside, I was doing a great job of keeping myself together. I was going to therapy. I was paying my bills. I was caring for my dog. I never missed a day at work. I worked 6-7 days a week. On the inside, everything was locked away in a safe, just to keep it contained. It festered. It fermented. It went from being just pain, hopelessness, and grief to a toxic resentment. I lost my smile. I lost my laugh. I lost myself. Depression is an invisible illness, one that will always be such a strange and twisted part of me. The one thing I couldn’t lose.

Looking back at the pictures from my Atlantic Fashion Week Debut, I can’t remember smiling harder. It was radiating off of me. I’d just been through hell and I’d used my designs to slay those ugly demons. It was a dream come true. It was magical. It was my Cinderella moment. Yet despite a glowing smile, if you look closely enough at the pictures, my skirt is too short to conceal the still healing cuts lacing up my thighs. I might bleed glitter, but I still bleed. Unicorns may cry crystals, but they still cry.

I don’t like people to see me cry.

So I didn’t. I kept to myself, hiding away in my little loft apartment. But there was something fighting to get out of me. And that is how my second Atlantic Fashion Week collection “Pieces of Me” was born.

“I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah”

– Leonard Cohen

I had no money for all the pretty things of daydreams and pintrest so I started repurposing things I had around the house. The first thing to go was my pillowfort/reading nook. The mesh curtains came down and with the help of some silk flowers and a little bit of paint, became the finale piece “Letting Go”; a waterfall washing everything away, almost naked yet delicately concealed by blossoming hope.

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Bedsheets were the next thing that I attacked. I painted them, bleached them, ripped them, burned them and embroidered them into the winged, orange creation that I called “Burn”. I wasn’t just setting pieces of fabric or loose threads aflame, I was lighting the fire to the bits of my soul that needed to be cauterized.

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The dresses I made were nights of tears and days alone, a constant, invisible struggle behind a brave face. My therapist at the Avalon Centre wanted me to reflect on my hyperarousal responses: fight, flight, submit and attach. I’m not always the greatest with words, especially when it comes down to emotional explanations so she asked me to show her. She probably figured I would paint it out but what I had to show and tell needed to be embodied – the other pieces of me.

Fighter was fierce and graceful. Exposed yet raw strength. Refined and primal. She is my protector. She leads my herd as she is my first instinct. The fur bringing out that survival mode made from the scraps of the unicorn plushies that I used to sew and held up by a spiked, braided chain of gold, studded with crystals that used to be one of my favourite boutiquey necklaces. It may be barely held together by threads but it’s hanging on, ragged yet elegant.

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Flight. My Monarch Butterfly Queen. Layers upon layers of butterfly wings that just seems to float effortlessly about the form as the wind would as she flies away. Her shoes have no heels, lifting her that much closer to flight. I’m not the best person with dealing with emotions or even confrontation so I hide behind something beautiful and run away. A monarch butterfly’s wings and colours are warning sign to predators, just as I have always been upfront with how skittish I am. Flight has it’s own strength carefully concealed behind vibrancy  and delicacy. It’s not always not being able to fight, sometimes it’s the strength to know when to walk away.

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One of the most difficult things to portray was “Submit”. This was not something that I even wanted to look at within myself. It was not something I ever wanted to admit to or even get close to. Even thinking about it now, is bringing a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. This is my survival mode. This is the “why didn’t you say anything?” “why didn’t you just leave?” “why didn’t you say no?” mode. This is my mindlessly agreeing to anything if it means that specific people wouldn’t get mad at me. This is me drinking and taking drugs to make me complicit and compliant so that life could just go on. This is me letting people do whatever they want to me because I don’t have any fight left in me and I didn’t place any value on myself.

So I give in. I submit.

This dress began as white. It was bleached, stained, dyed and painted to the chaotic sea that rages about the body. There are the ghost hands prints, holding her back, taking possession of her body. The body chains are just that, chains.The choker was designed to be similar to a bondage collar and it drips chains that surround the ribcage (repurposed from old necklaces). The butterfly wing is held captive in the centre, dangling a pearl teardrop because at this stage, flight isn’t an option. It’s just a pretty decoration that once symbolized hope. Although probably the simplest design of the collection, it was probably the most difficult for me to display.

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I adored my Attach piece created from a vintage wedding gown and sari, a floating cloud of fabrics to make the model look and feel like a princess. It’s a mixture of a little girl’s joy, her hopes and dreams of being a fairytale princess, wrapped up in the security blanket of something beautiful life has created for her. I was lost in a sea of uncertainty, so I attached myself to the things that I thought were safe; things that society told me I should be. I clung to toxic relationships and situations. I couldn’t let go when I should have to the things that did me more harm than good but at least they were familiar. And somehow, that was comforting, that was my security blanket and in my own mind, I could make that beautiful somehow. I clung to fairytales, fantasies and pipe dreams. I would just accept things at face value because it was easier and in my head I could spin that tale into something more because that’s what I wanted for myself.

I love how Katie is barefoot on the runway. There’s something so pure and innocent about it. Something so naive that is the Attach piece of me.

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So there you have it. The fragmented, upcycled, resewn pieces of me. Covered in glitter and fortified with crystal. A textile diary, my emotions brought to life.

Using Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” added an unexpected emotional power to my showcase that could not have been more fitting. It really brought everything to life.

“Take your broken heart and make it into art.” – Carrie Fisher

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It’s taken me months to write this post. What a lot of people don’t realize is that when my final model left the stage and the final walk began, I broke down in tears. Chest heaving, gasping, sobs. I couldn’t even move. If Sarah hadn’t grabbed my hand and pulled me out from behind the curtain, I wouldn’t have had the strength to do so on my own accord. I smiled through the sobs as brilliantly as I could. Don’t get me wrong, I was overwhelmed and extremely proud of what was taking place, but I was also being consumed by the demons in my head. I had never been more vulnerable in front of all those people and all those cameras who had just seen the deepest parts of me and what’s more, they now could see me cry. Something inside me broke, and finally, everything that had been building, shoved away and ignored, came pouring out. And there, in front of my friends, my colleagues and strangers, I had a complete mental breakdown.

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I kept a smile on for as long as I could. I fought back tears with all that I had. I laughed and celebrated with the excited people running around frantically backstage. I left as soon as humanly possibly. I cried all night. I got put off work and practically couldn’t get get out of bed for a month. I still cry when I have to go out in public and can’t always complete the errands that I have set out to do. I still lay in bed in the morning and give myself pep talks to get up.

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I have a very bubbly reputation, one of childlike joy and naive glee. I’m that unicorn girl whose answer to everything seems to be “sprinkles” or “more glitter”.  Atlantic Fashion Week gave  me an incredible platform to share with everyone else how I could create my own Cinderella story;  how I could take rags and abuse and turn them into something beautiful. It gave me a voice, when I thought I had none.

Depression isn’t always dark and ugly. It’s a way of life for me. It’s how I deal with it, that matters.

I’m extremely grateful to the models who formed my beautiful herd of unicorns. You ladies were exquisite and your enthusiasm meant the world to me. You ladies were my driving force forward and without even knowing it, you carried me through that night. From the bottom of my heart; thank you.

 

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True Colours

So I’ve been posting a lot of my art lately, but I know so many incredibly talented artists! I completely surround myself with them. Sarah, my best friend, the other half of my brain happens to be one of the most talented people I’ve ever come across. (In case you were wondering, yes, it IS the Sarah from my Wooly Unicorn post.) Last Saturday, we were supposed to collaborate on a body painting for the opening of the new location of Kryart Studio Gallery. We were so excited! After how many years we were going to collaborate? But fate is a funny, fickle friend and all our models seemed to back out at the last minute. We were crushed but the show must go on! She already had an idea in mind that, as artists will understand, HAD to come out. What was there left to do? I stepped up to the plate.

And I’m so glad I did! We had such a blast and we couldn’t be happier with the results. They requested abstract art and Sarah absolutely delivered!

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

(C) Masha Nazina Photography

I’m so used to being the body painter that it was such an experience being on the other end of the brush! I totally now feel for all of my models. For everyone who has ever had to model for me, THANK YOU SO MUCH for putting up with the standing, the odd positions, and all my humming and hawing. (Oh and not having to go to the bathroom too!) I can’t get over what a buzz it was to be swept up in such an intense creative project. It was an honour and a privilege to be involved in especially with my best friend.

(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

 

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(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

So being painted, I had no idea what I looked like. Not wearing my glasses certainly didn’t help in the least.That may have actually been a blessing in disguise seeing as it was more of a performance art piece than anything so I didn’t get stage fright but I was so floored when I saw the final result. I was a piece of art! I completely blended in with the rest of the gallery.  I felt like I should have been in Cirque Du Soliel (so naturally I climbed up the side of the wall and hung off a pipe but that’s beyond the point)

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(C) Sarah Ebisuzaki 2014

This entire experience was made so incredible just by the fact that Sarah and I get each other. We bounced off of each other’s vibes as we always do. She truly is one of the most talented people I know as well as my sister.

You with the sad eyes
Don’t be discouraged
Oh I realize
It’s hard to take courage
In a world full of people
You can lose sight of it all
And the darkness inside you
Can make you feel so small

But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow

Baby’s First Portrait!

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26 Weeks!

Not mine, obviously! Somedays I love being a Fairy Godmother. I’ve just decided that needs to be a job. Or at least a job description. I got to see my friend and old pole dancing teacher Lindsay today. I can’t believe baby’s on the way! I did the makeup for her wedding way back when! (Like a year ago.)

So Lindz, being the creative type that she is let me turn her belly into a work of art! I’ve been doing this for friends for years now. It’s a great baby shower gift from me! Historically, there are/were cultures who would paint a woman’s stomach to ward off evil and offer protection etc. It’s a great, unique and personal way of celebrating pregnancy! Makes for great photoshoots too.

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I took the picture of her baby boy’s ultra sound and painted it up there on the right and a map of Greece, because, well, TMI but apparently the little guy was made in Greece!

 

Inspirational Playlist

Trying to keep myself upbeat and positive for the next month until I move and start all over again. It’s way overdue.

Brave – Sarah Bareilles

ROAR- Katy Parry

Defying Gravity – Wicked

Let It Go – Frozen

Almost There – Princess and the Frog

My Life – Billy Joel

Karma – Joss Stone

Survivor – Destiny’s Child

Keep Your Head Up – Andy Grammer

Girl on Fire – Alicia Keys

Don’t Rain on My Parade – Santana Glee Cast Version

Bulletproof vs Release Me – The Outfit

Let Her Go – Passenger

Don’t Stop Believing – Journey (Cliche, I know)

Don’t You Worry Child – Swedish House Mafia

It’s My Life – Bon Jovi

Fighter – Christina Aguilera

I Want to Break Free – Queen

Remember the Name – Fort Minor

I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz

Dare You to Move – Switchfoot

Waving Flag – K’naan

Lose Yourself – Eminem

Go Your Own Way – Fleetwood Mac

Crafting has kept me going alongside music so more unicorns on the way!

Crafting has kept me going alongside music so more unicorns on the way!

Fairy Godmother

“Aren’t fairy godmothers supposed to be nice and make you feel better about yourself?

…No, you’re confusing fairy godmothers with sales clerks.”
― Janette RallisonMy Fair Godmother

So it was my dear friend Dawn’s birthday yesterday and her husband was throwing her an extravagant Mardis Gras birthday party. With everything being left to the last minute, I was in charge of the decorations. Single handed. Where were my little animal helper friends?

So there I scurried around with ladders and streamers. I cut out panels to go as inserts in the dining room. Hung bead curtains and lights in the front hall. Hung twirly wirlys from the lights and ceilings so that the light would catch them.

Then there was the scurrying around for everyone else when they came home with various goings on for the party. It took me 12 hours but it got done just in time for the party. Afterwards, I went upstairs to take a shower and just sat on the floor and balled my eyes out for five minutes before getting ready.

But in summation, I’m a magical fairy godmother to get this all done all by myself without any assistance. That is all.

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 P.S. Does anyone else drink beer out of a sippy cup?

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525, 600 Minutes

I’ve been disgustingly miserable the last few weeks, slowly losing myself into nothingness. I’ve been past the point of tears to the point of merely existing. I got angry easily. I was always stressed. I held a lot of pent up resentment. That’s no way to live. I only wanted to be asleep. I wanted everything and everyone to go away. I spent hours on youtube just watching True Crime documentaries because it was all just mistakes, there was no happy endings, no disgusting love stories, no happiness. I resorted to a lot of unhealthy behaviours just to get by. Today, I stayed home from a dinner party that I was slightly uncomfortable with to play with the puppies and spent two hours on the phone with Ally. That conversation gave me a new drive, a new perspective and a new fight. She’s been going through a lot of the same things I have and she’s really helped me turn a huge trauma in my life into a very positive learning experience. I don’t want to lose that. I smiled for the first time in ages. I laughed, truly laughed for the first time in months. I thanked Dawn for all the wonderful support she’s given me these past couple months because, without her, I would be in so much more trouble. She has gone above and beyond as a friend and employer. I’ve really learned who my true friends are and their support has truly humbled me. Everyday is a blessing and I’ve forgotten to look. I’ve forgotten to make my lists of everything, even the little things I’m grateful for.

Today here are my 10 things:

1. I got word that the place I really want in Halifax is 99% confirmed. *Fingers crossed.*

2. My parents bought me the most epic Pj’s ever. Tardis footie onesie. With a hood, thumbholes and pockets.

3. Dawn.

4. Having a place to live rent free.

5. My parents raised a fighter.

6. People are actually reading the novel I’m writing, enjoying it and are moved by it.

7. Ally.

8. I got to laugh, really, truly, joyfully laugh.

9. I have wonderful friends who truly care about me and support me.

10. I finished my first ever custom garter belt order!

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Steampunk Bridal Custom Garter Flask Belt

 

I just wanted to take a moment to thank all my wonderful friends and family who have continued to support and love me throughout the years and this one especially. You are all truly beautiful individuals and you have blessed my life in so many ways. I may not always show or say or realize just how much you all do for me. I may take a lot of you for granted but I have been overwhelmed, humbled and surprised by your constant presence, care and concern. I love you all. You have all kept my head above waters. May life always be as wonderful to you as you have been to me. Thank you once again.

‘Cause You Make Me Feel Like I’ve Been Locked Outta Heaven

#BlueHairDon'tCare

#BlueHairDon’tCare

Ok, it’s official. After three years of debating and searching and procrastinating I finally have my keyhole tattoo. I gotta remember to lock away a piece of my heart just for me, ya know? I told one of my favourite graffiti/painter/artists Sergio that I wanted a steampunk keyhole and fell in love with the sketch he sent me. Originally he was supposed to do it but never got around to it so lately I’ve been keeping my eyes out for someone who could replace him but I really wanted to have a similar connection with the tattoo artist as I had with Sergio.

Sergio's Concept

Steampunk and graffiti have always kinda been Sergio’s thing.

Sooo after looking around at a couple of places and being told that for the size and amount of detail I wanted it was impossible, I kinda put the whole project on the back burner. Then after a couple conversations with a body painter I’ve worked with, Wong, he steps up and says he’s going to do my tattoo. Just like that. No option, just fact. Having had a couple conversations with him about art, watching him body paint and completely falling in love with one of his paintings, I had to agree.

I still really want this for wherever I happen to settle.

I still really want this for wherever I happen to settle.

So after waiting and waiting and waiting I finally got a day off where Wong was going to pick me up and do the tat at his house. Of course we ended up running on Island time so it was an entire day affair but I’m so thrilled with the results. It was super laid back, chill, movies, tattoo. It was the kind of atmosphere I’m used to. It really didn’t hurt like everyone kept telling me and warning me. It was oddly comforting. It kind of silenced all the craziness that has been following me around like the plague lately. I could zone out and just be in my own head. I had a lot of time to kind of just think and meditate and sort everything out. Weird holiday huh?

"There has to be art behind it, there has to be soul. It has to be original or you're just a tattooer not a tattoo artist. You're just an ink co-oridinator." - Wong

“There has to be art behind it, there has to be soul. It has to be original or you’re just a tattooer not a tattoo artist. You’re just an ink co-oridinator.” – Wong

Blue hair, tattoos and a clothing designer. Oh if only my teenaged self could see me now!

“I can’t waste time so I give it a moment
I realize, nothing’s broken
No need to worry ’bout everything I’ve done
Live every second like it was my last one
Don’t look back at a new direction
I loved you once, needed protection
You’re still a part of everything I do
You’re on my heart just like a tattoo”