Category Archives: Mental Health

Day Late, Dollar Short

Hello patient readers.

I took a bigger break than I thought.  The thing about depression is it can be sneaky and it can be crippling and it can take a long time to notice that you are there.  I’m not really out of the woods if I’m honest.

But!  I’ve been thinking about Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Outliers” because I’m reading it for the first time and it gives me hope that the strange and diverse situations in my life are preparing me for something particularly.

It’s been hard for me to Make Art lately.  In fact, it’s been hard for me to do anything but play World of Warcraft without intense obsessive compulsive thoughts and behaviors kicking in.  It’s this time of transition where so much is up in the air: the direction of my job, where I’m going to live, the situations of the people around me.

So, you know what?  I can’t do that anymore right now.  I have to care about things, and make things, and sing things and I’m not sure how I’m going to do that yet, but what I do know is I need my fellow Leaguers… so the treehouse is open again! ❤

Between meh and blah.

I haven’t even journalled this week.  I have been really tired, fighting some combination of virus and hormones that makes me feel like I’m at war with my own body.  The most creative thing I’ve done all week is place stickers on my new laptop.

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My personal brain takes this as a signal to come up with All The Ideas.  It goes between unreasonable amount of activity for how tired I am and super whiny.  I never know if this is a particular quirk of my manic depression or if that’s just how it goes for creative folk, and I don’t know that it makes a difference.

Have you ever been so relieved to be home and so relieved to be away from your desk at work staring at a screen, but then all you have energy to do is watch TV?  Last night I couldn’t even watch TV properly, I curled up in bed and watched Travel Man on YouTube because Richard Ayoade is one of the most interesting creative people I can think of in Television.

Anyway, it is Friday and I’m looking forward to this weekend, and if you have some great journal pages from this week, why not post them in the comments?  They’d cheer me up mightily!

Gentle Reader, Strong Loss

deep forestYesterday, February 11,  my dear friend would have been 35, had he not left us 8 years ago.  I managed not to think about it in any sad way all day long, just in context of being terribly grateful for our short, intense friendship.  Once I tried to sleep, all I could feel was loss.

Like most people, I’ve lost quite a handful of people at this point in my life.  My grandmother who got me interested in painting and art,  the childhood mentor who encouraged my writing and my love for detective novels (just to name a couple).  The loss of a collaborator had ramifications that I still feel today.  He’s been gone 8 years and I still get the same sharp pain in my chest when I finish something and feel as if I have no one to show it to, no one that will understand the heartbeat of it.

Over the few years of our friendship, there were daily debates, all night calls to discuss Radiohead and how it’s like and unlike Classical Music and Art,  trips to the Albright Knox Museum in Buffalo where I learned appreciation for Modern Art, poems that flew back and forth, songs sung over the crappy pre-skype video services or phones propped up by the guitar.  We both used to write for this online community/blog thing, and from the first few interactions, I’d write my post knowing that he’d read it and get it and still tell me what could be better about it… I would post knowing that if no one else read it (and people did, it was a vibrant little community), he would read it and since he was my Gentle Reader, it didn’t matter to me if anyone else did. From the moment we connected via AIM (yes it was that long ago) there was constant feedback, revision, collaboration and camaraderie.

I read a quote on Tumblr last night, it said:

“One day, whether you

are 14

28

or 65

you will stumble upon

someone who will start a fire in you that cannot die.

However, the saddest,

most awful truth

you will ever come to find —

is they are not always with whom we spend our lives.”

-Beau Taplin from Hunting Season

It took me years to force myself to start to do things that mattered to me creatively after he died.  I knew it would piss him off, just stopping, but my grief was a tidal wave that would flatten me when I least expected it.  And I had lost my Reader, why did it matter if I made anything?

I had never needed that before, I spend most of my life just making things as it pleased me, or writing songs for a bigger audience.  I don’t know why the second I found my creative twin soul I couldn’t do without him.

I finally just started forcing myself.  Just knowing that I would be sad and it would suck, and that maybe I was just doing it for me. It helped a bit.  Therapy helped a bit.  Prayer helped a bit.  Doing The Thing helped in various amounts. But I didn’t get over it until I inundated my creative world with the permeating sense of impermanence.

The thing about grief is that I think it needs to be expressed, and we don’t always get to choose what that looks like.  Until I started writing and painting and drawing my grief, until I started to be completely bored and frustrated by loss, I just couldn’t get past it.  I thought chin up, make myself Do, make myself Carry On and it would lessen.  But time doesn’t heal some things, really.  I don’t know if it is healthy for other people, I don’t know if it was healthy for me. However, for me the only way I have found is through it.

It’s a strange thing, setting foot outside the door of my inner creative mind, and to express it these days, sort of without a net.  Although, the gift of having loved someone is that I do hear my grandmother’s voice, my mentor’s voice, my gentle reader for good or for grief, in every scrap I release to the wind.

Social Media Blues

I wanted to write about devotional spaces and art spaces today, but I just don’t have it in me.  I’m working really hard to not care so much about external forces on my thoughts, but once you put them out in the world, it is difficult not to care how they land.

Sometimes I wonder if Social Media has ruined me for sharing art.  The biggest problem with Social Media is that I always seem to find out something sad and dark and disappointing about someone I love. But it leads me to question,  if they can say such vile things, how did I ever trust them with my thoughts or heart or company?

It starts to affect everything I put out there.  I tailor my Facebook statuses to not attract that kind of exchange, and it feels vapid… and still they come. The pedantic, the ignorant, the blindly political, the angry.  How come it’s harder to love someone on Social Media?  Does it bring out our worst, or does it break through our carefully constructed facade?

Yet, there’s all sorts of creative release in Social Media too.  Artists can share directly with their fan-base,  there are good thoughts and discussions to be had.  So it feels as if I would throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater to eschew the platform completely.

And yet it makes me weary.  I start to question if there’s a point to Art and Beauty in such a world, where people who have chosen to befriend each other engage in such rabid egotistical written pummeling.

Sorry guys, I wanted Monday to be cheerful and well researched, but sometimes that is just not something I can work up, even though I spent a lot of time on the groundwork for it.  I probably need to spend more time in my devotional spaces and art spaces to mitigate the social spaces.  I just feel like I do that an awful lot as an introvert already.

 

My First “Leaguer” Blog Post

emotion It has been said people remember not what you do, but how you made them feel.  I’m not a “quick to make you feel at ease” type of person.  I pull no punches and say awkward things at the most inappropriate times.  I also have a habit of saying too much all at once (too often).  I am only aware of these instances  after the moment has passed.  Most of the time I have an objective, or a goal to accomplish because I see right through all the bull, the masks and the lies people tell themselves for their objectives and goals. Nevertheless, I have become more aware of the havoc I create by acting as my own form of “The Justice League” instead of looking within myself.  I think I am helping someone when in reality, I am only serving myself.  It’s a delicate balance to develop a social filter.

I serve at The Rock Church every Sunday either as a camera person or a Producer.  I enjoy serving – A LOT.  I like to observe worship with all the lights, the sounds and multitudes raising their arms in submission.  I get all teary in a way that “allows” me to feel when I see others acknowledge the Spirit moving about the room.  This is only a recent revelation.  Why?

I’m saying “I” a lot here because focusing on myself is something I love to avoid to the point of making all emotion unavailable.  This is an extremely slow process that happens over a very long time of isolation – even in the midst of those who love me or crowds of people.  I cannot confidently say I “feel” anything in between ultimate joy or acute fear unless lazy is counted on an emotion.   This is something I want to change desperately. Specifically for the reason that people I interact with on a regular basis do not know how to read me.  I mean, it’s getting pretty bad when someone approaches me with a puzzled look on their face when they ask “How are things?”.

Emotion is a scary thing.  It creates anarchy in the brain when unchecked and isolation when it’s out of balance.  Emotion when it is in balance allows us to enhance the human experience by sharing life through joy or empathy.  I recently RE-learned that smiling, genuinely smiling, more often – affects everyone around me.  Which brings me to the core of my fear – I don’t like to be responsible for someone else’s unhappiness, rejection or dissatisfaction.  Choosing not to react is an odd choice to make slowly over time.

Serving and spending more time in the Word has gently helped me to face the way God sees me.  Since I stopped reacting to how the world sees me I am feeling mostly peaceful but I admit I am still way out of balance.  I’m far from feeling burnt out because when I serve or study I feel one step closer to the person God created me to be.  empty full

Honoring The Natural World

February is the month where it has been winter too long for me.  I find myself feeling cold and fatigued and my creative outlook bleak.  I think that one of the things I forget to do in this part of the year is to connect with nature and contemplate the created world, and I suppose that is terribly fixable.

All of the Psalms that I find most passionate, most inspiring have that wonderful wildness about them that only being intimately acquainted with the creation can bring.  “The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters…”  Psalm 29 goes on to talk of cedars, calfs, oxen, lightning…. oaks twisting, forests stripped bare.  It may seem like a hallmark of a book written in an ancient world, but the connection of the Word to the earth is as intentional as the Word creating the earth.  God put considerable work into this piece of art, and put it into our care, and I just completely forget about it sometimes.

In my comfy modern cave I forget to be stirred by the natural world.  I can be found under piles of soft blankets, laptop in front of my, cup of tea in my hand, and perhaps a cat nearby.  Sometimes I forget to look at the cat and marvel that an animal lives in the house with me, and become mildly annoyed that it is blocking me from watching “My Unfortunate Boyfriend” on Hulu.  By no means are these bad activities, but just like you can’t live on takeout alone and be truly well fed… one cannot live in their cocoon of constructed comfort and have one’s spirit fed in a holistic way.

I have planned out my February with the goal of going to museums and feeding my sense of wonder, but I have to re-assess and ensure that I’m also feeding my sense of awe and wonder of the Master Creative One. I shall never write a poem as lovely as a tree, I see the stars and hear the rolling thunder and proclaim How Great Thou Art, I shall listen to the declaration of glory from the heavens.  In other words, I hope you will join me in bundling up, and going for a walk.