Here is a video about my photography & video installation, which I shot at the gallery and edited in this way to share with people who could not make it. It was really meaningful for me to build the installation in this year 2012. You know, I feel like, I went though a long dark tunnel, finally....
Anyway, if you have 4 minutes... Hope you enjoy :)
"Now or Never" - Photography & Video Installation at the show "10 under 40" River Gallery Fine Art Chelsea, MI from Toko Shiiki on Vimeo.
I shot this installation inside the River Gallery Fine Art in Chelsea Michigan.
Here is the artist statement: "Now or Never"
This is my internal journey with my little self, to reconcile my present with my past, something I've neglected for a long time.
One day the beginning of the winter 2012, I used a Holga (a plastic toy camera) and opened the shutter for a long time in a small dim room, and recorded myself on film. Not sure of what the outcome would be, I was very surprised when I first glimpsed the negative -- I felt I had captured a self portrait of me as both an adult and child.
For last several years, I had had one idea on my mind - through photography, could it be possible for me to “meet the little Toko”? After seeing the image, I felt a need to continue shooting in the same way: long exposure in dim light, finding images of myself as both adult and child, with the toy camera.
And I've been wondering and wandering… "Who connected the time?" "Where will they go?"
I'd love to write this out now, about one of the milestone-moments of my life...
I finally had the last step, out of the room. Two years ago or so, it seemed to be far FAR away: Having the day of "graduation" from my psychotherapy... ...Truly speechless to have the moment. Anyway, finally got that day several days ago.
It was the moment I ended my therapy and also it's the beginning of... new chapter of my life journey/story.
...Anyways, THIS MEANT A LOT to me to have the day. The last question was "How do you feel now, about to have the last session?" ...something like that? I'm not quite sure because my mind became blank white instantly to hear that. "How do I feel????? I did not even know how I should feel?!?!?" I could not answer right away, actually until the end of the session. Before ending the session, I finally answered to the question, "I'm feeling so thankful" with tears, of joy.
The very first day, I didn't really know the reason why I was recommended to see the specific kind of therapist. I just needed help, so badly, asap. Confusion. Shame. Hatred towards myself. I felt like... as if I was about to explode, internally. But even so I didn't know why or what was really going on. I just hated to be like that. When I called the office, I was seeking help so badly but at the same time, I kinda... to be honest with you, half doubted about doing the therapy. "Does this really help...?"
There have been SO many things had to be processed, inside me but I didn't even know that. I was wondering why I had to dig holes inside me to pull those old darkness from my past, again. At first, it seemed to be silly thing to do. "Why does this help?" but at the same time, I had no other idea to make things better. So I decided to follow my therapist, since I committed to do the session with her. Anyway, I decided to be honest with her and also myself, as much as I could.
Before starting the session, I had somehow stayed at "reality" but so many times, I actually disassociated from "that". Sometimes, I didn't remember how long I 'went away' even in the middle of a conversation with someone, or in public spaces. I had huge panic waves. Sometimes another myself was staring at the whole situation. Hard to breath. Sometimes I could not hear well or see. I didn't quite feel "I exist in this world" and it was getting worse. Didn't know where to be, or go. But, how could I ask someone, "Could you please teach me how to be me? Could you please teach me how to live life? How to love myself? Who am I?" you think they are silly questions? But... really I didn't know how to figure out those things. ... at that time of my life, I didn't know what to do anymore, just by myself. I thought I have done a lot already before coming to US but I felt I completely lost any way to move forward. So... I decided to do anything she (my therapist) recommended me to do, or suggested me to do.
And... ..................Really truly, glad that I did not stop that until the end................ Already I really wanted to change my life when I was in Japan. I could not stand my life anymore. That's the reason why I decided to move to US and wanted to start over. Started learning English and saved money and came here, to learn what I really wanted. It was a big shift and seemed like changed a lot in good ways, BUT things were not that easy. The dark shadow part of myself was showing up in front of me gradually more often, which I was never expected before leaving Japan. Things were supposed to be getting better but mental status had been getting worse. I didn't know why, back then (Now I kinda knew why) But that's why I could FINALLY admit, "I need help". Very sad and hard but I had to admit that. (And I'm glad about it... now) I think......... I could not do this IF I had stayed in Japan. (It's different story, so I won't write now.)
...Now I more aware, unfortunately there are many people who could not have a chance to 'lean' (I'm not sure this word is correct) "you are precious being as just you are" from their care giver(s) which is usually parent(s). We all need the unconditional love and care when we are little. But many people didn't get that. ...And, many of us still somehow could find a way(s) to survive under the difficult circumstance, as a little one. And then... sadly those 'survivors' may form an abnormal personality development during such a difficult childhood - which also can develop self-hatred and self-harm issues. And all those old habitual unhealthy thinking patterns ARE really powerful and affect our lives, even became an adult. Notice or not, many people carry that in their lives. (I did too. I just didn't notice that before.) Yes, I am also one of them. I don't blame at my parents at this point but it was really not a good environment to live as a child. (seriously I didn't even think it was dysfunctional since it was the only family I knew and it was my everyday life.) Anyway, again, it's another story. I stop now.
Until I started the therapy I didn't think in this way but actually, I believe now, the way of seeing world and interpreting events around me were most likely to be conditioned (I guess not everything but most of the things) - "how to react" to some certain (positive things too but especially negative) things since I was little. It is a complete opposite from 'living now this moment' sort of zen mental status. Anyway, I mentally and physically reacted to some certain things in same or similar negative way, repeatedly... and hurt myself. Living with distorted cognition is really hard (if someone has been 'there', you may understand what I mean?) Anyway, I gradually could identify 'that' one by one with my therapist's support and guidance. It was quite new things to me. Gradually I could re-think and realize many illusions from past still affected my life negatively.
To be really honest, I sometimes still hear the negative voices inside me. But now, luckily I also instantly recognize that it came from past, not belong to my present time. It's all past! We can't change our past but at the same time, we no longer live in the past. We live now every new moment. He and she could never hurt me like used to and no longer need to hurt myself or dissociate from this body, in order to escape from that. The old voices can never completely bring me down in present time and future. I DO KNOW THAT now.
In order to really strongly believe/got to know 'that', I needed the all sessions with her. Session is basically re-learn self/life view and see the world with healthy mind's eyes. And also I needed to 'practice' some certain things for that, by myself, in my everyday life. I'm so fortunate that I have wonderful friends around me to support during the whole time. Truly. It was not easy but really great things to try anyway. I am really glad that I chose to do so.... Now, feel so much freer which is really wonderful and thankful... Those things used to bother me are not a big of deal anymore. Kind of feeling... "What was that?!?!?!" Anyway, huge relief..... ohhhhh... really.........
So... one more thing, I'd like to write. I haven't officially been diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder since I didn't meet 5 criteria out of the 9 when I started the therapy (I believe that there were some other reasons not to be diagnosed. By the way, I met 4 criteria.) My therapist truly believes that people with BPD formed those issues because of the distorted cognition and it's all trauma related symptoms, and she cares more how to re-think/re-build proper cognition, rather than focusing on what the each client's diagnostic name is. So, I decided to go with that, instead of focusing on figuring out what the specific mental disorder I had lived with.
During the session, in fact I was actually diagnosed as "Depersonalization disorder" and "PTSD" as a matter of convenience (for my insurance reason, sort to speak), but I think... to be really honest, NOW I think...... more like, I had been a person with BPD traits. (To me, BPD seems to be an extreme case of PTSD.) Even if officially I wasn't diagnosed and/or I may have not been (it's... all in gray zone to find out. I would never be able to find this answer, and also it is not much important, at this point...), I saw those traits in me anyway. I may not have been like a typical BPD. My anger was not going outside or to others, instead towards myself. All those things stayed inside. So, more likely not many people even noticed all those dark harsh storms inside me. Anyway, my self-hatred level was REALLY high. Tended to think "all or nothing". Fear of abandonment. Dissociation. ...actually, I used to do self-harm acts, too - it was before coming US, over 10 years ago from now (I wonder... if I had met a psychiatrist back then, I would have been diagnosed as BPD? I'm kinda wondering about that. And wondering... most likely the answer was "yes", if I have met a right psychiatrist back then. Once I learned more about BPD, I was like the high functioning BPD person, in many ways. Anyway...) I knew two people with BPD in my life (That's why I initially got to know about it) and I also experienced to ride on their emotional roller-coasters. It was... really hard, least to say. I felt huge pains from them. I knew they didn't even know how to stop or what to do. Of course, I could not rescue them even if I wanted. (maybe, , IF I had known about BPD more, I could have been able to support in much better ways rather than just being an enabler...) And then... I also had a fear of being like them, but (or because?) I knew they were very similar to me. I just could not open my emotion like them, but at the very bottom, I was very much like them. I knew "it" has been also in me.
...Anyway, no matter what my diagnosis was, it was really beneficial for me to learn what BPD is. Really. To me, people with BPD is like as if their little one inside them is screaming in the adult body, for longing love. Basically (I think) people with BPD think they are a piece of shit or garbage about themselves at the very bottom. And at the same time, wanting to be rescued by a perfect someone who can accept everything - including all those darkness. I mean everything. When someone is coming closer to the people with BPD, and if he or she shows love, they test the person. And it - their requirement/expectation to the perfect rescuer - is most likely to escalate, higher and higher. Non stop. They REALLY need love but any kind of loving act towards them are never enough to feel they are truly fine and loved. Never ending test, in order to feel "This person REALLY would never abandon me?" It, from outside, looks like the act of "Come here-Go away" "I hate you! Don't leave me!" And of course, there is no such a "perfect" rescuer in this world, not only for people with BPD but also for anyone. The tragedy continues even if changing the rescuer again and again, UNTIL they notice that they need to take care of themselves by themselves and find a proper boundary with others. Also if there is any enabler around, they have to re-think their relationship. (If they truly care each other, they can rebuild their relationship, even if it's not easy. That's I believe, anyway.)
Maybe for some people, this sounded like very complicated...? To me, very simple...
I think... Many of them just don't know yet; nobody but only the self can rescue the self. First, person with BPD needs to accept themselves as who they are and also accept nobody is perfect, including themselves, AND it's totally fine. If notice that, people around them can support (not rescue) with full of love and the person with BPD also gradually can accept the love from others too. Anyway, first, I say again, everybody needs to accept/love self who he or she is as he/she is. Once got that, there are so many opportunities... I could write so much more about this kind of thing. Of course, it's all just my opinion/thoughts and some other people may think differently. Anyway... I stop now...
Bit about myself again.
...After moving here, trying so hard to feel okay and act okay. Doing my best in many ways. Starting with learning English and then photography, etc etc........ Only when I was producing something (art and music) or performing on stage, I felt I was truly there and didn't feel losing myself, but otherwise, it had been difficult. I could not feel that I existed anywhere. I first thought it may be because I live in a foreign country (which is... kinda made a lot of senses to me at first) but it had been getting worse and I was gradually really confused and noticed that it was really something wrong. And... yes got the point to ask help, finally. In fact, my therapist was surprised I had never seen any psychiatrists or therapists in my life after getting know me. But really, this was the first time to see someone for this reason. Really everything was new to me. And I really realized I needed that so bad. Then, finally, I'm here, now...
My therapist told me, "used to... many people tended to think BPD don't have any hope to be cured. But it's really NOT true! I believe that that's the easiest to be cured among the other personality disorders." (note; having said 'easiest', but it's not that easy, of course. Need proper guidance and support. But NEVER impossible. THERE IS HOPE.) Anyway, I believe so too. ...I wanted to write what she said; however, unfortunately I could not recall every parts of her words. (If I write her words, I want to do accurately. But I could not. Then... I found by chance someone wrote about BPD and its cure here which overlapped what my therapist said so I'll add the link here to enclose this post. If you are curious... And if someone has been struggling and don't know what to do, or want to feel freer from many things which tie you to darkness, it might help to know. Maybe... anyway, just in case, I add the link.
So........ Love to you all. And I hope you love yourself, truly, in healthy good way. Even if you feel there is no future, everyday is new day and tomorrow must come. Please keep going. You know, I do too.