Feb. 18,2021 –  In the early 2000s, Novak was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Since then, she has spent time trying to normalise it, telling people it is just another illness that can be treated (in her case with antipsychotics) and not one to be stigmatised. She says she didn’t like lithium, another medication, because it made her put on weight. “I don’t want anything that makes me put on a lot of weight. I don’t feel good. My horse doesn’t appreciate it!” How much does she weigh? “You’re asking a lot of intimate questions! Some things should remain a mystery!”

Novak says that her art has had a positive effect on her bipolar and vice versa. “All those rages and feelings of depression, they leave you when you let them out. And that’s what painting is all about.”  “Painting’s always been there to rescue me. Since Bob passed I’ve done his portrait so I could communicate with him,” she says. Novak sounds as husky as ever. They used to say it was a voice fashioned by whiskey and fags. She says that is nonsense. “I never smoked cigarettes. Awful stuff – they don’t make you feel good. And I was never a drinker. I smoked grass; I still do. It’s relaxing. I like stuff that gives me images in my head.”

You can get lured into loving yourself too much. That’s why I left Hollywood. I didn’t want to get into all of that. I didn’t want to lose myself. I needed to leave to save myself. I like who I am, even with the suffering you go through, even with the fact that when you’re vulnerable you feel everything so intensely.  Did she really think she might lose herself? “Absolutely. It’s exciting to dress up in gorgeous clothes and to feel sexy and to look sexy. It’s wonderful, but it’s a trap. You become satisfied with that being enough, then later in life it isn’t enough. So many people, once they got older and were no longer looked at for their beauty, just fell apart.”



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