October 7, 2013
Celebrated creative artist, Porcelain Utopia; eccentric schizophrenic, writer, producer, musician, developer, blogger & podcaster.
The eccentric recovering schizophrenic, accomplished writer, producer and musician comes alive here, where it all comes together, all the art… blogging and podcasting about mental illness, inspiration and even some transgressive fiction and Duran Duran. Lots of fantastic quotes as well.
Experience Meaning, Purpose and Peace of Mind With or Without Mental Illness
“Whatever the struggle, continue the climb. It may be only one step to the summit.”
Porcelain Utopia is a well thought out website that breaks the boundaries of commentary about schizophrenia. It is a living breathing document or blog that inspires to lead us to inquire about the illness and both provides us supportive feedback as well as helpful solutions to the coping mechanisms that Mr. Harnisch has found valuable. The medium which is offered is of a higher respect for recovery and faith to those who suffer and hits the mark to bust stigma through his personal stories.
In medicine, the term comorbidity is either the presence of one or more disorders (or diseases) in addition to a primary disease or disorder, or the effect of such additional disorders or diseases—I have a form of schizophrenia called schizoaffective disorder. Schizophrenia is a disease of the brain that affects cognition, behavior, and social functioning. Schizoaffective disorder is schizophrenia plus a mood disorder. In my case: bipolar disorder. Both are complex disorders, and both fascinate me. I’m always trying to understand my own mind and experiences. Schizophrenia, by itself is known to be a long-term mental disorder, or disease, depending on the source, which involves a breakdown in the relationship between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to inaccurate perceptions and faulty interpretations of reality as compared to the interpretation of reality by someone who is mentally healthy. In addition, inappropriate actions and feelings tend to occur, withdrawal from reality, “dissociation,” withdrawal from personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation. That is why I think I have chosen art as my hobby—not as my profession, but my life.
My entire life is a work-in-progress, a work of art that is fueled by my illness. Recently, I have been on my way to being “recovered not cured.” My entire life is spent recovering. My life in general hasn’t always been this way but, in short, as many thought processes and systems seem to play a large part of my experiences, my life frequently feels like an LSD trip—sometimes for the better sometimes not. Sure, hallucinations, voices, and all the well-known symptoms are involved, and I prefer not to be beaten by something I can laugh at—so yes, of course it’s devastating and debilitating, day by day, minute by minute, but when I can, I laugh, as laughter is, indeed, the ultimate medicine. Some days I have schizophrenia; schizophrenia doesn’t have me, and some days, schizophrenia completely has me. Today, for example, is not the best day, but I believe it is—so it is. It is the best day of my life. I playfully, but with all sincerity, believe that I am schizophrenia, in the sense that the mechanisms of the illness dictate my experiences, actions, and so on. I just do my best to have my say, to use my mind, which is the “problem” in order to fix my mind, which again is the problem—sure that’s “insanity!”
I tend to have a very difficult time with having a “pressure” of thought and thus often a pressure in communicating—not that oh, I just talk too much—it’s real. What’s called my executive thinking has declined over the years, since I was a teenager—and yet I went to the best schools, lived a pretty interesting and intense life, certainly a privileged life—yet most of it has been lost. Rather, not completely lost—I have gained as well as I have lost. As I said, I have a form of schizophrenia called schizoaffective, and a personality disorder not otherwise specified which means that it does not fit any single one in particular—but a “landscape,” perhaps. I have Tourette’s syndrome, even now as an adult. And anxiety, which for the most part derives from a series of traumatic events in my life—Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is the medical diagnosis. It has taken years for psychiatrists to put that much together, and yes, it’s a handful, to say the least.
I accept my illnesses and yet I take it as simply being my eccentricity and just rolling with that! Making it as good and as fun as I can! What are my other options? Accept or not accept. How can you not accept who you are?
I consider myself an accomplished writer, producer, and musician. I blog and I host a podcast about mental illness and inspiration, and I write transgressive fiction. Transgressive fiction is, in a way, similar to erotica, but with a twist of some more disturbing elements. Fight Club is considered transgressive fiction, and it’s one of my favorite films. This might come across as controversial but Fight Club actually mirrors a lot of my experiences, though even in the book, or the movie—it is not about schizophrenia, or multiple personality disorder. Neither the book nor the movie ever even mentions the word.
I subscribe to the idea—the action—the results and consequences of doing something each day—even today, and for now, just today—doing something today that my future self will thank me for. I’m always preparing for that: my future, my future life, my next incarnation—always doing and creating—my art. My life.
Day-to-day? I’ll start and stay right here and now and I choose… I choose to live my life today by choice, not by chance. To make changes, not excuses, to be motivated, not manipulated.
I choose self-esteem. As I create my day, as I set it up, doing my part so that the illness doesn’t do it for me, I choose self-esteem not pity. My inner voice—not the schizophrenic voices of, call me crazy—but Satan, OK? I know him well. Actually get along with him these days, and see? I have what’s called an insight or high metacognition, which is again, quite rare in schizophrenics, yes, I’m a schizo—I can laugh at that idea—I take responsibility for that. I own it. And I love it. It makes me feel good. Helps exorcise the demons—and I know that sounds ridiculous—it is ridiculous! It’s not necessarily real. But it is to me, even while I am aware that it is simply, a symptom of my illness.
My inner voice: I live a very spiritual life a New Age kind of life. I’m interested in that. I let my intuition—my sometimes, rather psychic abilities—guide me. Yet there’s a gray area, because this is yet another overlapping effect: is this my schizophrenia? Or are some of the impressions I get—or even voice—are they the Voice of God, or Spirit, or simply nothing at all? Why did a voice tell me randomly, just a few weeks ago, the square root of 587? I typed it into my calculator and it was right. I called my wife once—she was out one day, and I asked her what happened, that something was wrong. And she had had a small car accident I believe—everything was OK but there still seems to be a lot of misunderstandings of what this is all about. Mental illness, in general, is what I’m referring to, the further we can get in and articulate what is inside the mentally ill mind the better able we’ll be to understand what we consider “illness.” And, maybe one day with this understanding, science might be able to cure more disabilities.
My future self will thank me for what I am doing today. So, that’s my little off-the-cuff introduction. I hope to inspire courage and break stigma, and to express myself, because that, to me, is what being an artist is about.
Envision a blend of a mentally ill mind with unsurpassed resiliency and fiery intellect and your result would be the brilliant Jonathan W. Harnisch. An all-around artist, Jonathan writes fiction and screenplays, sketches, imagines, and creates. His most recent artistic endeavor is developing music; a new-found passion with visible results already in the making. Produced filmmaker and published erotica author, Jonathan holds myriad accolades, and his works captivate the attention of those who experience it.
Manic-toned scripts with parallel lives, masochistic tendencies in sexual escapades, and disturbing clarities embellished with addiction, fetish, lust, and love, are just a taste of themes found in Jonathan’s transgressive literature. Conversely, his award-winning films capture the ironies of life, love, self-acceptance, tragedy and fantasy. Jonathan’s art evokes laughter and shock, elation and sadness, but overall forces you to step back and question your own version of reality.
Scripts, screenplays, and schizophrenia are defining factors of Jonathan’s life and reality – but surface labels are often incomplete. Jonathan is diagnosed with several mental illnesses from schizoaffective disorder to Tourette’s syndrome; playfully, he dubs himself the “King of Mental Illness.” Despite daily symptomatic struggles and thoughts, Jonathan radiates an authentic, effervescent, and loving spirit. His resiliency emanates from the greatest lesson he’s learned: laughter. His diagnoses and life experiences encourage him to laugh at reality as others see it. Wildly eccentric, open-minded, passionate and driven, Jonathan has a feral imagination. His inherent traits transpose to his art, making his works some of the most original and thought-provoking of modern day.
Jonathan is an alumnus of Choate Rosemary Hall. Subsequently, he attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where he studied film production and screenwriting under Gary Winick and David Irving. During his studies at NYU, he held internships under renowned producers Steven Haft and Ismael Merchant. He is best known for his short films Ten Years and On The Bus, both of which boast countless awards including five Indie Film Awards, three Accolade Awards, and winner of Best Short Film and Audience Award in the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, to name a few.
Despite his impressive formal education and awarded honors, Jonathan is your normal, down-to-earth guy. Meditation, Duran Duran, vivid colors, Patrick Nagel prints, and rearranging furniture are some of his favorite things. Vices include cigarettes, Diet Coke, inappropriate swearing, and sausage and green chile pizza. He enjoys irony, planned spontaneity, redefining himself and change. Jonathan lives with his beautiful wife Maureen, their three dogs and seven cats, in the unique, desert village of Corrales, New Mexico.
-H. S. [Staff Writer for Local News Journal]
-From the Henry James’s novel The Portrait of a Lady.
The worldly Madame Merle, a collector of antique porcelain, describes herself in the following passage:
“It’s very true; there are more iron pots, I think, than porcelain ones. But you may depend upon it that every one has something; even the hardest iron pots have a little bruise, a little hole, somewhere. I flatter myself that I am rather stout porcelain; but if I must tell you the truth I have been chipped and cracked! I do very well for service yet, because I have been cleverly mended; and I try to remain in the cupboard—the quiet, dusky cupboard, where there is an odor of stale spices—as much as I can. But when I have to come out, and into a strong light, then, my dear, I am a horror!”
…simply stated, an ideal place.
ABOUT THIS WEBSITE
In 2011, author, producer and screenwriter Jonathan W. Harnisch has announced the launch of his website “Porcelain Utopia” jwharnisch.com where he chronicles his day-to-day struggles with schizophrenia and Tourette’s syndrome. Using art as his therapeutic medium, Jonathan wields humor and unrelenting honesty to expose the reality of living with such devastating diagnoses in the hope of eradicating the stigma of mental illness.
Jonathan has designed a media-rich website, where he hopes others affected by mental illness can connect with one another and begin to replace secrecy and shame with truth and acceptance.
Initially diagnosed with depression in 1994 at the age of 18, Jonathan was prescribed antidepressants, including the newest of the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). Unfortunately, the SSRIs triggered mania, and to combat it, Jonathan began to drink, which intensified his psychological instability and led to an addiction that he was finally able to overcome when he was 26.
However, as difficult as the disorders have been, in many ways, Jonathan has been blessed. He is a gifted artist, and he has frequently used his art to exorcise his own demons of isolation and loneliness. In 1998, he dramatized those issues in his award-winning film Ten Years, which he produced, directed, and wrote while attending NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
In 2008, Jonathan once again dramatized those themes of isolation and loneliness in another award-winning film, On The Bus, which in addition explores the horrors and chaos of mental illness. Through the eyes of the main character Larry, we see the uncontrollable, tumultuous symptoms of schizophrenia and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as brought on by a random act of violence.
A single act of violence rarely causes severe mental illness. Current research indicates that mental illness is generally a result of a genetic predisposition combined with environmental factors. Jonathan’s case would seem to validate that research, as there is a history of mental illness in his family, and he has suffered repeated trauma. Whatever the genesis, beginning in 2009 and culminating in the summer of 2010, Jonathan experienced a severe psychotic break that manifested in inappropriate, violent outbursts and regnant destructive behavior. Ultimately, however, this break brought Jonathan the help he needed, including a comprehensive psychological work-up that provided an accurate diagnosis and the right medication. Now psychologically stable, he invites others to behold his candid daily encounters with the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Jonathan willingly and genuinely shares his life through his written blog, and with his iTunes podcast “The Real Me”, both easily accessible at jwharnisch.com. In the vein of prolific figures such as Elyn R. Saks and Kay Redfield Jamison, Jonathan illustrates his personal ongoing struggle with chronic mental illness in this supportive website that nurtures truth, acceptance, and community.
Jonathan’s art, imagination, and various creative outlets are simply his own catalyst for continuous resiliency and recovery. With the launch of his new website jwharnisch.com he turns another engaging and uplifting page of his story. Jonathan hopes to impact others positively through his publicized journey of how one individual copes with the perpetual rollercoaster of schizophrenia and Tourette’s syndrome.
Celebrated Schizophrenic Creative Artist—Porcelain Utopia—writer, producer, musician, developer, blogger & podcaster; an evolving process of consciousness.