Imagine: Mental Health by Jewish Federation of SHAW - 10/30/19 Bridgewater Manor 9am-12pm
Small World Coffee, Featured Artist March 2019
Art All Night Trenton 2019
Art All Night Trenton 2017
Art All Day Trenton 2017
West Windsor Arts Council STEAM Series 2016
West Windsor Arts Council 2017 "Off The Wall"
JCC of Somerset County, Artist of the Month 2016
JFED SHAW "Imagine" Event 2016
March 3, 2018 - West Windsor Arts Council Masquerade Event
Off the Wall, November-December 2018 in West Windsor Arts Center
Have you ever felt so excited that screaming with joy did not express your excitement enough? Have you ever felt so angry that going to the gym and punching a punching bag for an hour did not exhaust all your anger? If not joy or anger, maybe fear, sadness, envy or doubt. Those over-the-top, beyond bodily capability, mind numbingly over powering feelings are what ignite my artwork.
Each painting is a pure expression of my feelings in the moment. From the colors I choose, the application of the paint, the texture and finish of the paint and the type of “canvas” I use. My hope is that the viewers of my artwork get a sense of that feeling and enjoy the beauty that any emotion can produce.
All I asked was if I am going to be OK. I really did not think it was a difficult or unreasonable question, yet I received no answer. Not from the doctor, not from the nurse. So, I asked again a bit louder. The nurse looked at me quickly and said, “We are doing everything we can.”
From that point forward, things just declined, and fast. I went through so many tests, blood tests, MRIs, scans, and questionnaires. This was April, 23 2009, less than a year from when my father died. I had contracted meningococcal bacterial meningitis. I had a high fever, flu-like symptoms, but the one thing that caused alarm was I couldn’t use my legs and had awful pain in them. Once I was at the hospital, I was in renal failure & purple spots started to show and crawl up my legs…this sounded the alarm to the staff which started the whirlwind of trying to find out what is wrong and how to save me from dying.
After hours of tests, they said there is nothing left to do but wait for the results to come back and manage the symptoms. So, they gave me some pain killers, fluids and 3 different antibiotics – in hopes that one of them would cure whatever it was. By chance, one of the doctors on staff chose the right one and saved my life.
The next day they found out my diagnosis and started calling me, “the miracle child”. Due to the IV fluids and bacterial burns, my feet grew blisters. Somehow my left hand was stuck, in a claw, I couldn’t move my fingers at all. I had to undergo surgery to fix all of that. This resulted to me being in the hospital for a month. That isn’t all, I was unable to walk – I was in a hospital bed and wheel chair for a whole summer. I required physical therapy for a while also.
I am happy to say though, I survived. I now only suffer from spontaneous nerve pain (fibromyalgia) and can't stand/walk for too long. Coincidentally, I now have awesome looking scars on my feet that look like fireworks or starbursts. I lost no limbs, like many people who have gone through bacterial meningitis have suffered. I had terrible nerve pain though…so bad that if I forgot to change my pain patch on time, I would cry and scream in pain. Let’s call that survival #1. I could not and would not have survived without my Mom – Lisa, I tell her that she gave me life twice.
Survival #2; I still question why. I still question what and how. I still wonder and feel guilt for this occurrence. I still very much struggle with it, on a daily basis and I don’t know if I can truly say that I’ve accepted it…but I deal with it.
It’s November of 2015. By this time, I had married the man of my dreams, received my Bachelors Degree in Psychology, started on my Masters Degree for Art Therapy and was an art instructor. For months I had been struggling with depression and anger issues. I had taken the appropriate steps and started seeing the right mental health professionals to try and get rid of it before it got worse, but it did not prevent what happened in November of 2015.
My husband and I were grabbing snacks at the local Wawa. I don’t remember exactly what I said to him, but it was along the lines of, “If we go home, I will take a bunch of pills to kill myself.” With those words, my husband, Dan, took me to the emergency room. From there I was transferred to an inpatient facility. I stayed there for two months. They diagnosed me with PTSD, Bipolar II Disorder (later to be re-diagnosed with Bipolar 1) with a major depressive episode. While there, I was placed on tons of different medications, and eventually told that ECT (electric-convulsive therapy) might be the answer. I went through almost two dozen ECT treatments/procedures. It helped. I was then placed in outpatient care for a month or so and then “released back into the wild”.
I have survived a mental struggle I can only explain as exhausting, frustrating, ruthless and borderline unbearable. This is where my art comes into play. I had always loved art, creating things, even playing with my left over food and making decorations on my plate… That love for art helped propel me towards wanting to become an art therapist. However, illness put a real hole in that dream. I dropped out of the masters program for art therapy. BUT that did not stop me from making and creating things. I found that when my mental health is at a low point, when I feel nothing but disgust for myself, that painting makes me feel better. Art also helps level me when I am happy, joyous and overwhelmed. It is an overall balance in my mental health and emotions.
That is where I came up with my studio name, “Jayme Pours Out”. Every single piece, I pour my emotions, my heart, my struggles, my joy, my thoughts, my pain, my history into it. I try to translate with color, movement, texture and contrasts. Each piece is a part of me…each title is very thoroughly thought out and means something to me.
I have been unable to work since the incident, but I try to help support our family with whatever sales I am able to make through my art. If you would like to find out more about anything I’ve shared, please e-mail me. Also, if you want to find out more about bacterial meningitis, you can visit NMAUS.org
That is a very abridged story as to why I am a survivor. However, I cannot take all the credit. I’d like to take this little space to thank my Mom, my husband and love of my life, Dan, and my entire family (Fahrers) for being so amazingly supportive and loving no matter what.