No Escape – from “The Barrier Series” on Art and Healing

Barrio Brewery

No Escape © 2012 Bo Mackison

We can spend our whole lives escaping from the monsters of our minds. ~ Pema Chödrön

It has come – time when I need a safer environment.
I need protection from myself.
High away – no escape, no contact.
High away.
Plexiglass windows and wire screening,
protecting those of us on the inside from ourselves.

Administrators make attempts to brighten the environment –
primary colored lounge furniture,
paintings on the walls.

But nothing offers protection from the hurried words,
the rigidity and restrictions,
the mind-numbing drugs,
the incessant blare of competing televisions and radios.

Or the voices that only I hear.

~ based on journal entries, 1990


The photographs that make up the Barrier Series are a set of photos that symbolically follow the story of my breakdown and healing process. The photos are not related to any specific places where I had treatment. The series metaphorically corresponds to the phases I moved through during recovery, first focusing on staying safe; second on regaining basic functioning, and then the most difficult, regaining my wholeness.

This photograph represents a difficult time in that process. Unrelated events led to an awakening, necessary but brutally painful, which led me to assess the reality of my past. I was devastated and suicidal; I required in-patient psychiatric care. And although it was a difficult time for me, it was excruciatingly painful for my family, including my husband and small children.

The place I stayed is a place no one would want to remain for any length of time. And yet I was fortunate to be in a hospital that provided me with the greatest likelihood for my survival. At the time, I was not appreciative of the efforts and time my caregivers expended on my behalf. But as I look back on those years, decades later, I am overcome with deep gratitude for these people. They worked with dedication to keep me safe until I was ready to take that responsibility myself.

It wasn’t an easy job for any of us.


Over the next two weeks, I am re-posting an 11-part series I first ran in January, 2013 on art and healing. Feeling somewhat vulnerable doing this once again, but this message is too important to keep buried in my blog. It is my hope that my journey will also inspire others. We are all on a journey of one kind or another. We are all pilgrims following our path.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.

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