SPEAK Season 1 Episode 2: Up in the Clouds

Caroline Joanisse: My Mental Health, pencil crayon on paper

Speak Episode 2: Up in the Clouds Featuring Caroline Joanisse

MUSIC CUE: THEME & background

Rachel [00:00:00] Hi, I’m Rachel Grey.

Debbie [00:00:01] And I’m Debbie Radcliffe, and welcome to our podcast.

Debbie [00:00:07] Speak.

Rachel [00:00:08] Yes, a podcast from Being Studio. Being Studio is a community of artists with developmental disabilities.

Rachel [00:00:18] In this podcast, we’ll bring you the stories and voices behind the artwork at being. And today, we’re bringing you stories from Caroline Gianni’s. How would you describe Caroline Dabby?

Debbie [00:00:29] Caroline is so funny. I love her to pieces. She’s like a ray of sunshine. Like your personality really, really is great.

Rachel [00:00:40] I would say the Carolinas also glamorous fashion is very important to her. Caroline is someone where it almost seems like a creativity or art is pouring out of her. Like almost everything she does.

Debbie [00:00:52] He’s like a diva on steroids.

Rachel [00:00:57] What do you think of the stories that Caroline’s about to tell?

Debbie [00:00:59] Funny love. Interesting. Very interesting.

Rachel [00:01:04] And now we’ll pass it over to Caroline.

Debbie [00:01:07] Here’s Caroline.

MUSIC CUE: Transition

Caroline [00:01:10] Hi, I’m Caroline Jonas. I go to being studio. On Tuesdays and Fridays, these are my stories that I’m about to tell.

MUSIC CUE: Am thinking of something like those audio books for kids, the turn the page cue.

Rachel [00:01:24] Chapter one,.

Debbie [00:01:26] Caroline kicks the Devil.

MUSIC CUE: dramatic

Caroline [00:01:29] I grab the devil one night and I start to kick the tarnations out of it. So some some might say had some beef with the devil. I knew the only way to get through the devil is to get passed the devil. The devil is a sneaky, cheeky little bugger, but he’s got a downfall. People that don’t believe in the devil, the devil can’t do anything to. And the people there can do things to the devil are people that have power. But not the kind of power like in an outlet, but power as in momentum. I think that the devil lurks in people that have experienced a lot of pain. A lot of pain, a lot of hurt. The devil that I saw was not the colour red. Like you’d think a devil would be. But it was more like the colour charcoal brown with red, orange, glowing eyes.

Caroline [00:03:10] When I was in the hospital, I learnt how to do things for myself. In the hospital, the observation ward is on the third floor and they keep you there for about three days, three nights. And if you’re not suicidal, they then transfer you up to the permanent hospitalisation ward. And depending upon how much treatment you need, you’re either put with the less intense or the permanent.

Caroline [00:03:51] So there’s an East Wing and a West Wing in the West Wing. Are the people who are hospitalised permanently and people who are not hospitalised permanently are to the east wing. And in the middle is the nurses and the doctors and the psychiatrist station.

Caroline [00:04:26] And there are two security guards. Cause sometimes when inpatients are coming in for the first time, they have a hard time settling where they are. And sometimes they fight or they get aggressive or they yell or they scream. And it’s not that they can control this because they cannot. And so sometimes the nurse. The nurse will say, OK. you’re an in patient that is on the right track. So they go in the East Wing. The patients that go in the West Wing are the ones that need to be in the hospital even longer. And some permanently. Which if I go further in the West Wing, there’s doors where you can see the patients that stay permanently in the hospital. And they’re kept separate from all the other patients that are more like temporary or a short while or just a little while.

Rachel [00:05:53] And what does it sound like they’re.

MUSIC CUE: building sound

Caroline [00:05:57] Uh.It sounds like a lot of different voices of many different conversations going on at the same time. Honestly, it felt kind of surreal. It didn’t. It didn’t quite feel real to me. It’s like, you know, you’re there. But you don’t feel like you’re there in a spiritual way. You feel like you’re there physically, but mentally or like in a different spiritual type of world. It felt like where real life met plastic.  You know, it’s there, but it’s not there. You’re there yet, you’re not there. It was kinda interesting in its own way.

Caroline [00:07:02] Something woke me up and it was really cold, like really, really ice cold. And I got out of bed. I put my slippers on. I walked down the corridor and then I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, so I got my best friend Chris Wyle up at the same time as me, and we both ran towards the west side of the West Wing of the hospital floor. And that’s where I saw … Chris and I we just stood there looking. All the hall lights flickering on and off, on and off, on and off. And then jet black, everything. And then we ran towards this beating red orange eyes and.  I knew it was the devil. And I just ran towards it. So did Chris. I grabbed on its horns, I kicked it in the face I kneed in the face. I just kicked his ass, basically. And my friend Chris had a few turns in right after me and after that I went back to bed. He went back to bed.

Rachel [00:08:41] You you describe running towards the devil. And I’m curious if it ever occurred to you to run away.

Caroline [00:08:50] No, no, not me. I faced danger right in the face. I’m just that type of person.

MUSIC CUE: Am thinking of something like those audio books for kids, the turn the page cue.

Rachel [00:09:04] Chapter two.

Debbie [00:09:06] A blessed angel comes into this world.

Caroline [00:09:10] I was born in Barrie, Ontario, to a woman that could not keep me because of her situation. I was given to an orphanage. I was the cutest baby ever, I swear. And I had nuns looking after me until I got to one year old. When I was born, I saw the room in like a very, very, very, very bright bright yellow. I remember seeing some shapes, but not very much. But I, I saw the helicopter, the side of the helicopter that had orange, yellow and brown. And the helicopter brought me to my adoptive parents in Kapuskasing. Been with the Jonas family for thirty seven years now. And I love my family, my entire family, my extended family and my family in general. They’re just super cool people.

MUSIC CUE: uplifting, celestial

Caroline [00:10:42] I believe that before this lifetime, I was a very special arc Angel. One that was very, very, very rare. But I sat on the staff of Gods thrown. And God started to teach me the ways of man, the ways of woman, the ways of children, and the ways of infants. And I believe that I still possess in this life something that I had in the last life where I would fight for human beings, I would fight for humanity, I would fight to help and to help and to help. And to help. And to help. And. It goes deep down inside me, somewhere deep that I can’t even begin to explain in a logical sense. And I believe that I’ve been helping people out. Not just in my last life, but also in this life. I believe that when you help other people and different people and all kinds of people, you’re helping them to learn that there are better ways to learn. And there are always better perspectives than just one perspective. And there’s more to life than just what’s on the surface of a person. And there’s more to life than just what is on the inside of a person.

Caroline [00:13:08] And. I believe that people can change the course of history if they just start to look within themselves. If they’re not happy in the way that they are at present then search deep down, try to find out why you’re not happy. If you can strengthen yourself from the inside and from the outside. You can reach your goals a lot quicker. But if you’re scared to try to heal from inside to outside, then you’re not going to heal it quickly.

MUSIC CUE: emotion, building,

Caroline [00:13:58] I was a baby that cried a lot. I don’t think I was held that much when I was a baby. I don’t think I was loved that much when I was a baby. Over the years, it took a long time to get comfortable with people and start to show my affection, start to show my attention and start to to hold people’s hands or half hug people, or fully hug people. And it was difficult for me. It did not come easy.

Caroline [00:14:44] Boyfriends were interesting creatures. But over the years, I had to force myself to get used to having affection and get used to having people be affectionate towards me. And we don’t know if it’s a combination of me not being affectionate to other people or other people being affectionate to me. But something was missing somewhere along those lines. I think I’ve come a long way that I’m starting to open and starting to start to show it a bit more than I have in the past. I hope one day to have it mastered. That’s my biggest goal to get towards.

Caroline [00:15:48] Sometimes when the odd boyfriend ask me, well, how come you don’t hug me back? And I said, Well then you have to initiate the hugs and hug me first. And then I will hug you back then and say for me to kiss you, you have to kiss me first, then I’ll kiss you. I guess I’m just a weird kind of woman. Yeah, people love me.

Caroline [00:16:21] I think that there are several different forms of love. Like some of them are like giving your mother a hug, some of them are like kissing your boyfriend on the lips,  you hug your teacher. But unconditional love, which is what I’m trying to teach people everywhere I go, is it comes from inside. It comes from inside and it just comes out the way it comes out. Unconditional love comes from the heart. It doesn’t come from your lips. Doesn’t come from giving a hug. It comes from what’s inside you. That’s true love. That’s unconditional love.

MUSIC CUE: Am thinking of something like those audio books for kids, the turn the page cue.

Rachel [00:17:21] Chapter three.

Debbie [00:17:24] Adam and Eve.

Caroline [00:17:26] We all love. Love is a powerful thing. It can lift you up or it can lower you down. Some people like the word love. Some people hate the word love. And love is just an ongoing thing of the Earth. And in the Earth, there’s also water and lakes, ponds, rivers, oceans. And there’s fish, there’s algae. And the ground has a bunch of earthworms. But I don’t want to know earthworms. And caterpillars crawl up trees and so do inchworms but I don’t want to know them myself. And the trees are full of leaves, luscious and green. And the sky is bluey purple at the top, pink  towards the middle, blue towards the ground, yellow towards the sky, orange towards the sunset.

Caroline [00:18:47] And living, well, what happens on planet Earth. It happens everywhere on Earth. When some people grow old and die and others get older. It’s always a constant cycle. The new replace, the old old die off. The new take over. And then the cycle just continues.

MUSIC CUE: movement, unpredictable, dancing

Caroline [00:19:21] Life’s patterns sometimes can be unpredictable even upon this earth, like if you put a magnet near a water. You’ll see the ripples dancing. But if you put two magnets near a water, you’ll see the water really jump. But anyway, what I love about nature. All the trees don’t look the same. Every tree is a different species. Some grow tall. Some grow medium. Some stay small. And they provide homes for the ground animals and birds.

Caroline [00:20:14]  And everybody on Earth came from, in my opinion, something like Adam and Eve, but not quite. Adam was hungry, so he grabbed an apple out of the tree and God said to Adam, Don’t you take that apple off the tree and. Adam did it anyway, and then he took a bite and then he gave it to Eve and he said, You take a bite. And then God said, Did you not hear my instructions? Do not take the apple from the tree. And after that happened, God decided that humans have to eat. So God created food, food that will grow from the ground, food that will grow from trees. And God said, look at all this food and abundance that I bring. Now, isn’t this better to eat than to touch the forbidden apple tree? And I believe that Adam and Eve are the ones that influenced humanity, what they should be striving towards. Peace, harmony, tolerance, love, kindness, caring, sharing. And Love. But not this fake kind of love. But the love that is ongoing and hope. Cause if you have hope, you can get through anything in this world. If you don’t have hope. And you don’t have love, you won’t get through tough stuff.

Caroline [00:22:32] And I believe that God tests everybody at different times. So many people think that their judgement day is the day that they die. No. Your Judgement Day is from the time you’re born to the time you die. And. If you make the most out of your life while you’re living, then when you pass over or pass on, you go exactly to the place that you know in your heart, you know in your soul, you know in your mind. And it’s a place where you just feel love. Love. And again, hope. And mainly love.

MUSIC CUE: upbeat

Rachel [00:23:26] Where do you think hope comes from?

Caroline [00:23:30] I think hope comes from persistence, perseverance. I believe to this day that people who drink apple juice, eat apples. They are getting the ideas from Adam and Eve because the imprinting is still stuck in the apple juice, still stuck in the apples. And people keep eating and drinking it.

Rachel [00:24:06] You think they get anything good out of the apple juice?

Caroline [00:24:10] I think so,.

Rachel [00:24:15] Because I love apple juice.

Caroline [00:24:15] Me too

Debbie [00:24:18] I love it, too. Even dragons like apple juice.

MUSIC CUE: Am thinking of something like those audio books for kids, the turn the page cue.

Rachel [00:24:27] Chapter four.

Debbie [00:24:29] Walking with the pain in my leg.

MUSIC CUE: medical, science,

Caroline [00:24:34] I have dystonia. I first had this condition eight years ago. I had a medication that went toxic. And because it took such a long process to get off that toxic medication, I have long, long term brain damage and short term brain damage. My right leg has a paralysis because of the dystonia. And because of the toxic medication at the same time as causing the dystonia. And that’s what caused my well, my right leg and my right ankle to basically be like permanently paralysed.

Rachel [00:25:31] What does your leg feel like?

Caroline [00:25:34] My leg feels something like when your foot falls asleep. But all the way up the leg. I used to take Botox injections to help the leg to keep open. But because of Cosied 19, there are no clinics right now that do Botox. So for now, I’ve just been going without.

MUSIC CUE: relaxing, meditation, breathing

Caroline [00:26:05] My dystonia and nature have a lot in common because my dystonia. It’s almost like it’s a second person and it’s trying to tell me that. Really take the time to get to know nature. Really take the time to get to know the natural world. Stop and look. Stop and breathe. Breathe in and out the fresh oxygen. And I have fallen in love with nature. From springtime to summertime to now in the fall and I find that it’s just it’s opening and it’s welcoming, it’s a more positive side of my dystonia. I take a step at a time because back when my dystonia was at its worst, it was all about taking one step at a time. And now I understand it. But back then, I was a bit naive and I thought that because everybody was going faster than me and then there was something wrong with me. But after a while God seemed to say, hey, you, shush! Read what you wrote, and I said to myself. Take one step at a time. So it doesn’t mean I have to go. Rush, rush, rush, rush, rush. Fast, fast, fast, fast, fast. I just have to go at my pace and I understand it now, but at the beginning, on my dystonia was at it’s worst I didn’t even know what to make of it. When my dystonia was at its worst, I was at a beach near an ocean where there was some seals. And I noticed one seal in particular had a, a flipper that wasn’t properly formed, either accident at birth or accident in its life. But I thought to myself, gee, if he can struggle along the ground and still swim in the ocean, why can’t I swim with my dystonia, even if it is not so good? And that seal. It has like an attitude like I’ve never seen one where. It’s just like, yeah, my flipper may be different, but, hey, that doesn’t change who I am.

Debbie [00:29:20] If you don’t like it, flip off.

Debbie [00:29:28] Did the seal try to kiss you?

[00:29:33] I wish I could.

MUSIC CUE: the moral, the revelation

[00:29:38] It’s almost as if the seal was saying there’s nothing to be afraid of in the water. Just get out there and swim.

CREDITS> Theme Song

I am an artist, and through painting I can express my firm beliefs in how much the disabled stereotype must be broken. I see myself as somebody who is strong, dedicated, hard working, compassionate and caring. I am an artist with a disability. I have fetal alcohol syndrome. People can’t see it physically because it affects my brain. They see me as impatient and frustrated, as somebody that needs more assistance than the average person.

I want to show the world that just because you have a disability, there shouldn’t be limits to what you can do. Hopefully my art gives a visual perspective of some of the difficulties of having disabilities, like trips to hospitals, medications, and how much of a role the family plays. I like being heard as an equal member of society despite my own situation.

All of us feel the validation of art—that all art is created equal.
Behind the Scenes:

BEING’s original podcast series Speak is presented in collaboration with CHUO 89.1FM, in partnership with Bronson RISE, a collective impact initiative of the Bronson Centre.  

Host: Debbie Ratcliffe

Co-host and producer: Rachel Gray

Music: Jesse Stewart

Audio Technician: Erin Flynn

Website Design: Luisa Ji

SPEAK is a BEING original podcast.

SPEAK brings you the stories behind the artwork at BEING studio.