Story: Love Without Self Punishment – 03/09/19

With her eyes closed, she felt serene and free. Acceptance swirled within her like a welcoming mist, a self-love that had taken many years to grow, for herself to believe. Standing there with her curvaceous figure clad only in a bikini, she knew that years prior she wouldn’t have been comfortable in this size of clothing, wouldn’t dare to be seen. Now she felt a sense of quiet confidence. An accepting of who she was, what her image had become, so different from who she had once been. Unlike the yesterdays where she would shy away, embarrassed by a single stomach roll popping through her clothes, she had learned over time to simply appreciate and love herself. She had not always been so kind to herself, so many precious years had been wasted, pure happiness missed, completely wasted in the process.

She’d lived through years of feeling pressured to conform to society’s norms, to be toned and thin, wear revealing, tight clothes, they were not only the pressures of society but a decision she had also thrown upon herself. She’d control and obsessively count her calories, exercise excessively, measure the deficits, plan out every meal to each macro and calorie, all for the need to be beautiful to herself and all, because she knew of the attention she’d draw, and she essentially wanted to be seen. She had been invisible for too long in her life up until now, a quiet girl, a wallflower of a woman, barely noticed by the world.

But there came a time when she couldn’t control her world any longer, everything became far too difficult, she felt her mentality being somewhat snowed under. Her disordered thoughts and life became too tiring and too physically exhausting to keep up the effort and the pretenses, thus she allowed herself, reluctantly, to slip, and this did cause her much distress. But she couldn’t continue without risking breaking herself, in this life she had been abusing herself, and she knew that it was only a matter of time before her body broke internally, for the doctors with their worried expressions to shake their heads sadly.

Then came the slow weight gains, then faster as she binged to subconsciously make up for the restrictions, and faster still her body would grow until she had regained to her original size, original weight, and then some more as well. She was dismayed, heartbroken because of all her prior control and hard work, there was nothing anymore to show for it, her memories she might as well throw unwanted, useless into the welcoming dirt. Her photos which she’d taken of herself over time were like a collage, a catalogue of attractive to not, in her eyes, she couldn’t accept herself, because this shape, this new form, was something she wished to be rid of. She couldn’t muster the energy to recommence with the tactics of shrinking again though, her secrets, her techniques, it was as though they were meant to be leaving her, this was the correct thing to do, it must be so.

So, she carefully learned to love food again, she learned to enjoy every single bite. Not hating herself for wanting more, and reaching for the second serve, her body needed the vitamins, the sustenance, the help, to be healthy and alive. And no matter how many kilograms she was gaining and would gain, she understood that this was simply the course of Nature, and to not fixate upon the negatives, but the positives, such as improved health and happiness, this she would again and again. Sure, she was now classed as medically overweight but aside from a health factor what did this matter? As long as she had learned to be happy within herself, that was the feeling that mattered the most. It was a welcoming interior picture.

Because for the first time in years she could enjoy a glass of regular Coca Cola, not fearing that one sip that may lead to another and another, and she could eat a slice of pizza without concern or care, and she could dress herself in a bikini and parade around the shop where she was trying it on there. There was no sign of her wanting to hide within the change room, calling over her friend to view her while she was still enclosed in it, a closet view, she was able to stand outside, look in the communal mirror from which she used to, when previously gaining, shy away from and hide, and now she closed her eyes again, breathed in and out, a deep sighing. How far she’d come from those years of great starvation.

Never again would she punish her body, she would feed it whatever it so desired, she would provide it anything she wanted, without a single shred of guilt to be had. There was nothing to be self-conscious of, no matter whether her curved, bulging stomach was on show, in fact, this was a form of wondrous beauty in itself. In this bikini, her thick thighs and curvaceous hips were displayed, rather than hidden within a one-piece instead. And she somehow liked it this way, understanding in her heart that she must accept this was her body’s way of making her love what it had become, and to not alter herself again with any sense of unhealthy methods or desires or needs or wants. She didn’t care that her arms were now thicker, that her thighs rubbed against each other when she walked, pressing firmly together, that her chins were more prominent, because inner beauty was what she should prize the most.

And appreciate herself for her interior that she did, no more worrying about what others would think of her, how she’d be viewed, judged or seen. She loved every part of herself, even her two wonky side teeth, and that was the end of the tale for this little former wallflower who had finally bloomed so delightfully.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.


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Story: Dream Crawlers: The Experimental Treating Team – 25/06/19

He was the last person I saw as they put me to sleep; I was terrified, they were going to crawl through my dreams. My days as of late had been incredibly disturbed, I was seeing things, hearing voices, and my sanity I could not be assured, not so sure. My doctor, Mr. Celephelump, advised me of this certain procedure, where they could place me into an induced coma, and intrude upon my rapid thoughts of delusions, grandeur and paranoia. For my nightmares had shifted into my daydreams, they were not separated, nothing was what it was meant to seem, and the images which terrified me into the night continued on existing in daylight, a shadowy corner here, a creaking there, a BUMP, goes the fright in my day and night.

As you can imagine, I was not so certain of these proposed intrusions, I wanted to keep some of my thoughts private, the embarrassing ones, the special ones, the private ones. Would they like their thoughts being read like a book, how would they take the endless openings into their minds, allowing others a firm, scrutinising look? I expressed my concerns with the doctor; he simply laughed all of them away.

“Why, dear Penny, there is nothing to worry about, we will not use these thoughts against you,” he said with a smile. Under my breath, I muttered, “You may.” Thankfully though, he didn’t catch wind of my apparent insolence, and explaining the process again to me, yet more thoroughly, I understood that I had little choice in the matter of this. Because I was so out of control, unable to take care of myself properly – why, I was eating toast only thrice a week as my weekly meals because I couldn’t manage my finances – I was addicted to buying cigarettes, alcohol free beer, and full cream and flavoured milks – my mind was spinning all the time, bouncing off the walls, it seemed I was crazy, without even a sip of my favourite richest strength dessert wine.

My alcoholism had been the trigger of my mental downfall, and that was why I now only consumed alcohol free beer, I thought of this solution it would fix me, all in all. But it didn’t, my thoughts centred around how gravity was the answer to everything, how a burning bush that I would light meant the created reference and celebration of Biblical story telling, and my little toy dolls, who I played with giving cups of tea every night, despite the fact I was now thirty two and no longer five, I would talk with the sweet girls well into the morning after midnight. I exercised fervently every morning, to wipe the sweat away with glee, weight dripping off me with every moment, then once home, I’d dehydrate myself further and set my heart racing with a teacup loaded with five bags of tea. Such utter chaos was in my land, visibly by my doctor when we finally did meet, that he was so very severe and concerned that he must enter my dreams.

“You will be fine,” he finished off, “Allow me to make an official time, we can book in for two weeks from now, at a quarter past nine. Please fast from midnight onwards, only a small amount of water permitted, and come in relaxing clothes, with an overnight bag of several changes of outfits. You may need to stay more than one night, but we shall see, from your dreams, what will become of them.”

With a presented hand to shake, I formally took his hand, wondering what would happen when they viewed all my secretive, locked away dreams that presently only I could command to come at hand. How embarrassing would this be, if they could view my exact hopes and dreams, when I was but a patient who couldn’t even take care of herself, needing others to decode my heaven sent thoughts and dreams? How could I help it if I had taken the available clues and figured out my true identity, the one which was forced upon me as I grew, as a wee embryo, a little baby inside, I was bound for greatness, this my middle name did decide.

I was given the name of my great grandmother, we had never had the chance to ever meet, yet when I was taken to her former home by my father, the streets and surrounding courts and roads were the words I used into my dramatically written screenplay scenes. Astounded, I asked my father how did I know these strange otherwise unknown words, had I been here before, for if not, this was all rather untoward. With a twinkle in his eye, he shook his head and said to me, “Darling Penny, you are special,” then he fell silent, that was all he would explain to me. I found it rather peculiar, if you were to ask me.

Then came the date for the dream crawling, I had been dreading it for the two weeks, my stomach had been perpetually churning. What if they saw, the being they didn’t realise or understand who I was truly was, my great grandmother’s soul transported within me, living now upon the Earth with me, rather than resting in the sparkling stars? They would, have and did call me delusional enough for the thoughts I stupidly shared, the ones which I possessed, wanting to be honest, truthful, forthcoming, as they required me to be, no less, because my mental health team apparently only wanted what was right for me, but now I wasn’t so sure, and of these hospital grounds I wished to leave. It was too dangerous here, I was already easily enough read like a book, what would it mean to give the final, private details, my true identity could never be accepted, and the notion that I was incredibly unwell would be spoken of with great concern, again and again. This treating team shouldn’t treat this way. They should simply leave me be.

And the Doctor was the last person who I saw as I slipped into my dreams, falling, flailing, helplessly trying to keep my head above the pool of consciousness, paddling despite failing in every manner, I would sink further, it would seem. And then blackness, an overwhelming silence, and there was nothing, nothing like I had ever known it. But I could feel an icky sensation of someone filing through my thoughts, as though they were arranged carefully in a cabinet, from A to B, to C to D, each pull making me feel tenser and more taut. Instead of being able to unwind in the murky scene, I felt myself angering, agitation growing within.

“Ah ha, we’ve found it!” I heard my Doctor call triumphantly. An exiting motion, a sliding sound, and apparently this meant the selected memory was freed. I suddenly felt emptier, like something was missing, something important, something that couldn’t again be derived, its former presence within me was so potent. It was an original, and saddeningly, I realised that a part of me was no longer alive. I fought now, I kicked and screamed to be freed from the deepening darkness, and swimming desperately to the surface, I broke the air of consciousness with my gasping breaths.

“Penny? Penny? Are you okay?” my doctor called from far away.

“How dare you?!” I seethed, grabbing the small folder he held in his hidden hands, attempting to keep my eyes at bay. I ripped open the paper and what did I see? The details of my great grandmother’s life: her name, her birth date, certificate, her portrait, staring right back at me.

“You disgust me!” I spat, and with that I launched a physical attack, but the other medical staff were ready, within seconds they firmly held me back. But my heart was frantically beating, the adrenaline keeping me still ready, I was panting and flailing and groaning, why wouldn’t they leave me alone now? Deeply concentrating, as I closed my eyes, I reabsorbed Great Grandmother’s facts, taking in her details, her knowledge, her love, her life, and now once more she was again close to and within me, Penny and Great Grandmama together, our names intersected so freely.

Never again would I trust this doctor, and his treating team, I wasn’t ill, I was blessed and enlightened, and this could have all ended in a terrifying dream. Where I would have lost all sense of the layering of who I was, and who I was born to be, my family member’s soul atop of mine, providing me love and protection, and additional creative energy. I avoided all members of the medical professional of psychiatry from here on in. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust them, I simply didn’t want to be treated for something that I felt belonged within me. Eccentrics and dual lives aside, I was happy with who I was, am, and who I have always been.

© 2019 Alice Well Art. Lauren M. Hancock also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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Story: The Most Unique Little Fruitcake You Ever Did Meet – 15/08/19

There was a little fruitcake, who was as fruity and unique as could be. He loved to perform amusing antics, such as jumping high then falling upon splayed feet. Another of his tricks was standing on his head, while barking and picking away at the fruitiness that was inside his form, in order to self taste test. His fruit was very tasty, having been soaked in liquor prior to his baking, the content made him a little inebriated and rather distractedly happy and loopy.

Fruitcake loved to pop his happy pills, he would carry them wherever he would go, these were filled with corn starch and maize, but also alcohol and sugar, to taste. The combination of the ingredients of these pills made Fruitcake go, “WOW!”, his energy would rise, and his fruitiness would grow. He didn’t need these pills but they aided his cause, to be happier and happier, and fruitier because, that was the point, wasn’t it, to be unique and eccentric, different from the others, so utterly fantastic. He wanted to ensure that if ever anyone had a taste, of him they would cherish his decadence, that this would not go to waste.

But what of Fruitcake’s mindset, was he of soundness or unbalanced? Did the liquor within him make him a danger to the lot of us, to the residents of town, to the lot of them? Was he a hazard, was he a danger, and was he a harm, should others keep him at a distance, away at the length of an arm? What you need to understand was that he was a slight danger, not to others, but himself, because he was simply of a slightly strange nature. His hyper energy caused people to get going, they would see him striding forth with purpose, then pacing, his energy racing. He needed to get things done as fast as he could, he understood that this was an important point and thing to perform and do.

Then came the rush of thoughts, this was what happened when he slammed his personal thought door, the area in which he subsisted daily, his thoughts he captured in a small area, then flailing, he would bask in his convoluted thoughts within his mind, swimming in the glory of them, outlandish and grandiose were they of this kind. And then the rapid bundling of words, flying, word vomit, out of his mouth, sometimes he was barely able to catch them, they escaped from his lips, tongue, mouth. He could not stop being verbose, he was always over expressive, in the past, perhaps he was more curt, but this manic slew of words could be oppressive.  

Then with the excessive highs, aided by his overdosing of happy pills, came the irritation that aligned, with the rise and the falls, and the rise. For with every excessive rollercoaster of emotion Fruitcake experienced, the fruitiness inside him grew and danced. He knew that the irritation would slowly erase, when he caught up on the sleep that he had been direly missing. That was part of the rise, he would lose patience as well as sleep, but the benefits of being fruity meant he could always join in a festively spirited world.

As an opposing mood, Fruitcake occasionally experienced deep sorrow, in which he would pick at his fruit and eat it with sorrow for days, nights, and tomorrows. It was simply the consequence of overindulging and having his moods so high, Fruitcake knew that when he reached this state, he would remain there for a while. Fruitcake loved how his moods would flit here, and flit there, it was all part of his charm, and of others’ opinions he did not care. He was happy to bounce from one polar end to the opposite, even it meant that the lower times were not so abounding.

One evening, I believe it was Christmas, Fruitcake was designing, in his own mind, his perfect missus. Rather than focusing on her physical traits, he was designing her from the inside, with her personality traits, to be perfect toward him, to be able to handle his ever changing moods, there to comfort and see. But then Fruitcake decided to stop for a while and indulge in some of his fruitiness within him, and some pills for tea. He was extremely looking forward to this combination; it always served him well, and provided positive brain connections. The pills, along with the fruit were comprised of a dangerous dose, but Fruitcake knew what he was doing, he had performed this often, rightly, he believed, and just so. And pick and pick at his fruit did he, and swallow eight crushed happy pills, this was his delightful tea, and relaxing back into bed now, he understood the next few hours would be a desirous dream, he closed his eyes and of his perfect little cake he thought of, knowing that whatever he believed, most real it would seem.

Poor Fruitcake felt he was sinking in the middle of the night, his consciousness falling, falling, his grip on reality gone, he was gasping, for freedom of the heavy weight now bearing upon his mind, he felt he was slipping and slipping, and if he let go he would quite possibly die. He had never experienced anything like this before, the waking with a gasp and feeling of a sinking, like an elephant was sitting on his mind, to be sure, to crush any option of the rise, and powerless to fight off its dead weight, he fell deeper and deeper into his unconsciousness, until it was simply too late.

Or so it seemed, for Fruitcake would live another day, just not that day being too soon, for he was discovered by his roommate, roused for over sleeping, and then with horror, she realised what Fruitcake must have done. With a deep sharp intake of breath, she, shocked, called triple zero, to fetch Fruitcake and rectify what he had done, she hadn’t known that he was so depressed that of this life he wanted to go.

In the emergency department, Fruitcake awoke confused, why was he in a strange bed in a purposefully whitened, glaringly brightened room, guarded by a burly looking member of security? With his arms folded tightly around his barrel chest, he looked down upon Fruitcake with a mixture of curiousity, and a feeling of “ What is that?”

“Awake, now?” he said gruffly. 
“Where am I?” Fruitcake asked, “Am I in hospital?” The guard nodded, then seemingly switched off.

“But why?” he pressed.

“Your overdosing may have earned you a place in the inpatient mental health ward,” he replied. “You’re waiting to be assessed by the doctor now.”

“But, BUT!” he said, a feeling of flailing filling his soul, he hadn’t overdosed, he was simply making his evening meal, he did not wish to be locked up, he couldn’t then do as he pleased, they would take away his freedom, and label him with a mental health condition with great ease.

When the doctor came, he took away any chance for him to express his truths, twisting his answers into those of someone unwell, of a nature that capitalised upon his thoughts of him being extremely unwell.

“I’m fine,” Fruitcake insisted. “There is nothing wrong with me!”

“I beg to differ,” the doctor stated. “From speaking with you, you possess grand delusions, suicidal ideas, and racing thoughts, all under the umbrella of Tricolour Three.” Fruitcake didn’t even know what Tricolour One was, let alone three. But what he did know is that he didn’t fit under any category such as this. He was simply himself, although often inebriated and skittish, he was not depressed, nor wanting to be comatose, he just wished for nice meals of his happy pills and dried fruit treats. Was that so much to ask for, to be himself, and not be labelled with something that surely wasn’t even real? These doctors, making up conditions, why were there even three versions of the illness to be seen? It made no sense, he wished this was just a terribly horrid dream.

For four and half weeks Fruitcake was in the ward. He always protested that he wasn’t unwell, that they could see it, this was his cause! To highlight to them his completely normal, not abnormal behaviour, yet they kept him there, as long as they could, claiming he needed much help from them. The help basically consisted of being assessed daily by his doctor, and being fed tablets morning and evening, not his happy pill favourites, of course, he’d tried to sneak them in but was caught, oh, what a blunder. Then the sociable activities such as the patients all eating together, and performing daily walks or other activities, perhaps to get them to focus not on themselves, but a holistic approach of healing oneself and all others. Then came discharge date, he was allowed, released, with his bag of chemist goodies to take. His four types of medication that he was now required to swallow, he detested them, they made him heavier and slower, but he was required to conform, to the mental health act, it was so.

Still remaining in the system of community mental health to this day, Fruitcake knows not to take risks with his mental health and avoids eating his liquor soaked fruit and happy pills popped once frequently throughout the day. With his current medication, he is more focussed now, his moods less erratic, and his depression he now no longer knew of, it is essentially unknown of, not catastrophic. All of his characteristics which he had always thought of as being part of his personality were now firmly controlled, with the assistance of his medication and the mental health system in all its capacity. He could now be in command of himself, no need was there for racing thoughts, he was still the Fruitiest Fruit Cake there was, but reigned in were his temperamental moods and thoughts.

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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Story example: Brushy the Makeup Brush Makeup Artist – 31/07/19

Brushy the Brush was on a unique path of self discovery.

Brushy was a makeup artist like no other, she liked to provide her customers the ultimate powder. From her kit she would extract a mixture of bronzer and blusher and at that, she would dump her head into them, clean for a second, then rubbing herself excessively into the pigmented colour, she was ready to gently splat. Now saturated with pink and brown, a dusting onto the palette by her hand, then onto their faces for contouring and highlighting together to be had.

One might find it cute, unique, that a makeup artist was an actual makeup brush, but one must take into consideration her prior history, of her struggles which were so very rough. The discrimination toward her at beauty school, the confusion she tolerated from those who were mere fools, they did not understand her dream to be an actual application queen, her dreams she understood and knew she would succeed.  In the best of her situations, in life she would pursue, her dream of contouring faces, using wild makeup colours, lining eyes with fierce cat eye liner, touching up with a dropping of luminescent powder, what say you to her dreams of becoming an ultimate beauty application queen of quiet power?

From her outer world she kept these dreams to herself, secretly, she understood they were not for anyone else, to know or be made privy of just yet, for it was better to appear to coast on autopilot and then in the future surprise everybody with her victory and bests. Besides, she was laughed at often for being a brush, often she’d hear, “Why don’t you stick to your actual life task?” At a comment such as this she would grin reluctantly and grit her teeth, doing her best to keep silent she would walk away and seethe. It was difficult not to react to such ignorant comments made to her when they did not know the facts.  

For, since the age of two she had been practising applying makeup to her dollies, Baby and Boo, and then she progressed to the difficult task of defining her hairy face with contouring colours and adding pretty pastel eye shadow shapes and marks. The day that she finally succeeded at a full face application she wanted to weep with pride, instead she held herself together – as much as a luxurious brush could – and pulled her mother into her bedroom, to view a close up of her face, the victory that was inside.

From the outer appearance, she had shimmering black noir shadings with steel highlights, then gazing deeper into the brush head, she had light, brightened, pink and purple and gold eyes shadow, and silvery cat liner eyes. And finally, the piece de resistance was observing her face highlighted and shaded, creating an illusion of a human shaped oblique face for visual consumption.

Now that she had graduated college, with the highest marks and best portfolio within her year, not only her class, she knew she was now ready to make it on her own, her reputation would grow at last. No longer was she a mere student, absorbing new knowledge each day, she was an actual graduate, with a piece of paper to show for her hard work, over the many months, years and days. And slowly, then quicker, rapidly, more, with the word of mouth spreading throughout the online world of her work, and her special techniques and unique makeup application skills, as well as the novelty factor of being able to provide a full face of beautiful makeup by an object which was meant to only have one role to fill.

All of a sudden, a worried future client arrived hours early, knocking at her door.

“Brushy, Brushy, I need your assistance, please open your door!” Brushy heard the panic in her voice, there was certainly something remiss, she flung open her front door with great gusto and allowed the future client within.

“What is the matter?” she asked. “I wasn’t expecting you for several more hours,”
 and with a saddened face the client explained, “I need a new disguise, from my partner who is running backwards and forwards outside, muttering that I have filled his life with lies.” She went on to explain that the partner was most frantic, and somewhat, perhaps manic and psychotic, for her had been off his medication for two whole weeks, the stabilisers and antipsychotics were required for him to live positively and coherently, without losing his cool at home or on the streets.

“Why don’t you help him?” Brushy asked, aghast. “If you love him, help save him, from his troubling thoughts which might last. Do not run away, but I will help you today, if you alter your plan, and provide assistance to this poor man.”

And so the client agreed to help him, after she would receive the new makeup disguise, for Brushy was skilled at special effects makeup application also, and this meant essentially she was providing her client a new face mask. And then together, once complete, they snuck out onto the streets, quietly and gently approached the man who looked at them deep with fright and prepared to violently scream.

“Honey, honey, it’s me,” she called. “I needed this disguise to come nearer to you. Please, darling, come with me, your doctor or the hospital we need to see.”

Brushy tagged along, to ensure that he received the medical assistance he had likely needed for those two weeks, they must have felt so long, and into care he would go, his medication reinstated, observations in tow. And after a year Brushy heard a frantic knocking on her door again, she flung it open with trepidation and there stood that very man!

“Brushy, I wanted to thank you, for what you did that night,” he said, eyes genuinely glistening with hope and pride. “Sometimes of my medical condition I lose control, and you assisted me to correcting my life. For now I am engaged to my love, your intervention helped us build, become more, cherish our love, and now I look after my health the best I can, always, for now my love and I have a daughter on the way.”

With tears glistening in her one, single eye, Brushy leaped forth and leaned her brushy head on his shoulder and proceeded to cry. It was this moment that she knew, that she had made a true difference in the life of a client, and wasn’t this a great moment of her life truths to be held up and vividly viewed upon, so beautifully brightened?

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved.

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