The closest I've ever come to truly losing my mind was a couple of months ago when I moved to Brooklyn.
You see, there's a bedbug epidemic in New York.
Kristin Reger • Bedbugs I • gouache & graphite on watercolor paper • 16h x 20w • © kr. 2010
I'm fairly accustomed to dragging in random things off the street.
It's kind of a hobby. Many of my favorite possessions over the years have accumulated from trash.
Trash, sitting in piles on the streets, for all to see, is even more enticing...
A lamp here, a desk there....
What a nice end table!
So the collecting went on, until my veteran roommate (12 years or so) inquired as to where I was finding such nice furnishings...
But I cleaned everything!?!
Kristin Reger • Bedbugs I (detail) • gouache & graphite on watercolor paper • 16h x 20w • © kr. 2010
Didn't matter. They live in the walls, he said. In your baseboards. In wood.
On your mattress. In your boxspring. Your pillowcases. Everywhere.
So then, we had bedbugs.
A rolly-polly: that was actually a bedbug.
Simple ant? Nope, bedbug. Speck of dirt? Piece of lint? Bedbug again.
Any minute thing I saw, inside or outside of the house, near or far from my bed,
transformed into a bedbug.
This mania became so severe that psychosis overtook my physical being.
I was always itching. I slept little.
I examined and scrubbed and bleached and poisoned everything in sight.
I started to see things move.
I lost my mind.
Kristin Reger • Bedbugs II • gouache & graphite on watercolor paper • 16h x 20w • © kr. 2010
Google, wikipedia, and so forth certainly didn't help. As they don't.
In trying to educate myself, the obsession became another beast.
More and more images, each slightly different, amassed in my mind; each
expanding the already infinite possibility of a bedbug infestation;
and each confirming the impossibility of extinguishing it.
Kristin Reger • Bedbugs II (detail) • gouache & graphite on watercolor paper • 16h x 20w • © kr. 2010
Thankfully, there were no bedbugs.
Only yours truly.
Obsessive compulsive disorderly.
Now, I'm happy to report a full 'recovery' though some self-prescribed art therapy, so here it is.
At this point.
If there is something in town that wants to eat me alive,
I say go ahead and try...