I have chosen life

 #reflection portfolio work from 1999

#reflection portfolio work from 1999

Anxiety, depression suicide 

I was going through my folio which I presented to the art colleges of Dublin, in 2001 for a place in fine art over the weekend. I was hit with what was like a treasure chest of forgotten memories, or memories I had buried deep down. My portfolio was based on me, a ‘Self-portrait’. I had started it in the summer of 99 when I did a summer portfolio course in DLIADT, my real first taste of working in a college studio. I was in my element. My tutor for the 2 weeks threw that theme at me to focus on. I opened a gate of self-discovery, from my childhood to my present and continued to work on the theme till January 2001. I used anxiety and depression as a starting point. As an artist, when you are being taught, you must do some self-portraits, sitting in front of a mirror and drawing or painting what you see is the norm, I hated what I saw. If I were to do a self-portrait now it would be entirely different. It was so amazing to see and track the birth of the artist that I have come to be today.

I have suffered with depression and anxiety since I was 14. Suffered! I am not sure if that is the right word; now, I live with it and have a love/hate relationship with it, if you will. I acknowledge it and listen to it now, rather than fight it and yearn to be rid of it, sometimes the harder you fight the worse off you are. It is in my make-up and rather then it control me, I control it. I always knew I had it, but never knew the word for it as a child. At 14, I was anorexic and felt so alone and completely terrified of life. One of my oldest friends, Dec, told me he was worried about me, that I never smiled anymore and rarely laughed. My parents brought me to see a therapist, anxiety was riff throughout me. I wasn’t sure what was going on, why was I going to a doctor when there was nothing wrong with me? Until I was sitting at the desk reading the name of the doctor followed by psychiatrist, the realization hit me, and I was suddenly telling her my deepest and darkest secrets, I saw her for 4 years and not once could I bring myself to say ‘I am gay’. I was only beginning to except that I was gay at 14. something I think I have known since I was a young child. When lent would come around every year, I would give up thinking about boys and wanting to be with them. I wanted to be superman’s boyfriend when I was 7, not many of my friends at the time would have fought me for that title, so I knew I was different. At 17 I tried to make being gay, go away. Thinking it would, I had my first girlfriend for 5 days, I couldn’t hack it. I touched her boob on the 4th day and thought, ‘no, no, no, just NO!’ I broke up with her over the phone on the 5th. After a month or so, of feeling, understandable, rejected, we began to talk and could be friends once again.

I came home on the 13th of October 2000, from school, riddled with anxiety and utterly tortured for I was about to tell my mum I was gay. I was cheating on my therapist with the ‘chaplain’ in my school, she was the first person I vocalised the words, ‘I am gay’ to. She gave me the courage to tell my mum that day. My mum was standing over the sink peeling potatoes and could instantly see there was something wrong with me, I couldn’t stand still, I was pacing up and down the kitchen and had tears in my eyes, she said ‘come on, out with it’. ‘Mam… I am gay!’ ‘Jesus sure I know that, I’ve known since you were a baby, I just knew, the second you were born!’ (apparently, I came out of the womb with jazz hands and singing ‘Its Raining Men’) and continued on telling me some random crap about someone. I don’t know what I was expecting? To be thrown out of the house, and never be talked to again? Even though I knew my parents were the most open minded, and liberal people you could meet. I couldn’t tell my dad, a thing I will always regret till the day I die. I asked my mum to tell him. I avoided him for the whole weekend, I thought I was going to let him down, his first son, gay, and will never carry on the Homan name, I couldn’t have been more wrong. He came up to me on the Sunday night after as I was going to bed, he knocked on my door and I instantly knew it was him, I turned my light off in the hope he would think I was asleep, parents know better! He lay beside me and said ‘Your mam told me you are gay, and you thought I would have a problem with it? Is that why you’ve been avoiding me?’ I lay silent and paralysed, he continued on saying ‘Peter, I don’t care if you are straight, or gay, you are my son and I will always love you, no matter what sexual orientation you are, I just want you to be happy’ I apologised for not telling him, which he understood and left me to my beauty sleep. My new life awaited me. After telling my closest friends, (who knew, shocking I know) telling Dec was the worst as I thought I would lose him, I couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I went to the George with two of my friends and hated every second, I thought this is it, I am going to kiss a man, I didn’t! When I was approached by someone I told him, ‘I am happy to talk to you but don’t kiss me, I am not ready for that’, I mean honestly!!!

A few months after telling everyone, thinking I was completely fine and could handle what life threw at me, I decided to come off my antidepressants, cold turkey (only for 2 weeks, went back on them shortly after, still on them to this day, happily!) after 4 constant years of taking them. (hello accident waiting to happen!!!) I found myself sitting on the edge of my bed slitting one of my wrists with a Swiss Army Knife. I had just had a fight with my brother about a ‘Playboy’ and other straight porn he bought home form his trip to Paris with school. I clearly didn’t need it, hiding under my bed any more (the weird shit you remember, it wasn’t about porn at all, but it was the straw that brock the camels back; is that a real saying?) Everything I worked on came crashing down around me, I thought ‘I can’t do this living business any more, it’s too hard, life can’t always be this hard?!’ ‘Everyone would be better off without me’ and so on. Through my blurring eyes, filled with tears, I suddenly stopped and thought of my parents, I couldn’t go through with the other wrist, I had to dust myself off, wrap my slit wrist and go down to dinner as I was being called, (It was just before dinner). I never told my parents, I sat through dinner crying and blamed it on something completely random. Suicidal thoughts were the norm form that day onward, I always knew when shit got too real, I would take my life, the daemons that I fought with every day would win and I would be at peace. That was all to change. 4 years ago, my 19-day old baby niece died, it completely broke me, a piece of my heart left with her. But in a bitter sweet moment shortly after I saw the utter heartbreak in my family and friends near and far, I then knew suicide was never going to be an option. I would break so many lives and to think that that’s what I would leave behind was not an option for me. Form that moment onwards no matter what life through at me I would and will survive.

After all the paths I have been down, the journeys life has taken me on (some I’ve loved and some I wish never happened), and the chapters and volumes of my life I have written and will continue to write, and the pain I live with every day, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was only recently, after excepting the chronic pain I live with and how my life is changing around that, did something click within me, a contentment of sorts. Not to give up, or to give into pain, anxiety and depression, but to work alongside them. 35 years later, for the first time in my life, I love the person who I have become and the man I have grown into, for the first time in my life I am so excited about life, for what it has in store for me, the ups and downs, the ins and outs, it’s only taken me 35 years to get the hang of life. Anxiety and depression is apart of me, it’s in my make up, it comes with the programme. I have my tools and red flags I use for when times get tough or when the daemons rear their ugly heads, (comparison is the devil!) And its always easier said than done to put those tool into practise, when all you want is to stay in bed after being woken up by the daemons within, or the thoughts in your head, and wait for the day to be over before its even begun. But we are the creators of our own lives, we make our own choices, for the good or bad, in moments of bliss or despair. There are always goods and bad days no matter who you are, it is the human condition. But instead of running away from, or cursing anxiety and depression, I give it a high five and face it. Life is to short, I’m constantly being reminded of this in different ways all the time. I want to live my life to the full and not just survive life, I want to manifest my dreams into reality and jump out of planes. Fuck it! I choose life…

 '#SelfPortrait' 1998

'#SelfPortrait' 1998

 #innerchild portfolio work from 1999 based on being bullied 

#innerchild portfolio work from 1999 based on being bullied 

Peter Homan