D words / part 1

Monday, March 5, 2018

Beginnings - early layers of acrylic paint, marks + scribbles mixed media panel (can't remember what this became)

D words / Part 1 - Depression

"The main thing is the intensity of it. It does not fit within the normal spectrum of emotions. When you are in it, you are really in it. You can't step outside it without stepping outside of life, because it is life. It is your life. Every single thing you experience is filtered through it. Consequently it magnifies everything. At it's most extreme, things that an everyday normal person would hardly notice have overwhelming effects. The sun sinks behind a cloud, and you feel a slight change in the weather as if a friend has died. 

Depression, for me wasn't a dulling but a sharpening, an intensifying, as though I had been living my life in a shell and now the shell wasn't there. It was total exposure. A red raw naked mind. That shell might be protecting you, but it's also stopping you feeling the full force of the good stuff. Depression might be a hell of a price to pay for waking up to life, and while it's on top of you it is one that could never seem worth paying. Clouds with silver linings are still clouds. But it is quite therapeutic to know that pleasure doesn't help compensate for pain, it can actually grow out of it". 

Matt Haig / Reasons To Stay Alive *

Hindsight is 20/20. When I reflect back over my life I realize that depression has been a part of who I am for as long as I can remember. Since childhood. I was a shy, awkward, self conscious, worried child. My pre-teen & teen years were practically unbearable, I began dabbling with substance abuse - food, drugs and alcohol (makes perfect sense now). 

I worried when I was 6 years old. Be careful ! Caution ! Watch out ! When you feel these feeling you want to isolate yourself, you become a loner, you adapt - necessity indeed becomes the mother of invention.  The reasons are two fold, you isolate yourself for self protection - if the real you slipped out by accident you'd surely be judged possibly shunned and you are acutely aware of the burden of your own intensity and sensitivity, it's hard enough for you to bear let alone thrust it onto someone else. 

At this point in my life (I'm 58) I'm exhausted from trying to cover up that part of me. I'm so tired of trying to fix myself, and worn out from trying to hide from the world such a huge part of who I am. Thankfully with the help of lots of reading and listening and learning and practicing I finally truly get that I don't have to change it. Hallelujah ! I just need to learn how to live with it (an ongoing and life long project and practice). Learning how to love myself ... all of myself. The darkness and the light. Learning what things and what people make me feel happy and alive and comfortable as well as those that can trigger my unhappiness. Self discovery and self awareness is one of the biggest secrets to having a happy life. 

This new and fantastic book project I've recently embarked on, a 128 page illustrated guidebook to finding your own happy life, is the culmination and compilation of everything I've learned thus far in my efforts to live a tiny, mostly happy, little, life - it's all about learning to understand yourself and your own unique recipe for happiness. It's the book I wish I'd had many years ago, it's the book I'd share with my best friend, daughter, sister, mother. It's the book I know I'll need to turn to in the future when my days next become dark with depression. It's the book I hope will help guide us gently through that darkness.

While I am still figuring out a comfortable blogging schedule I'm committed to posting a written something (thoughts & feelings not just artwork) a minimum of twice a week. And I do plan to post about as many aspects of writing/illustrating a book as I can think of. From the beginning idea, book proposal, book agent, publishers through to the overwhelming & freak-out worthy task of actually doing it - yikes !! How the heck does that all come together ? I'm in the thick of it right now ... so stay tuned.

Future D word posts coming up Distraction, Discipline, Daunting, Detoxing & Doing. How all these words that begin with the letter D have significant meaning and substance in my day-to-day life and that ultimate goal of mine, of ours, to stay happy.

* if you or someone you know suffers (or has suffered) from depression rush to purchase Matt Haig's amazing little book Reasons To Stay Alive. It is comfort and love, reassurance and redemption. Validation. A book to keep by your bedside always, a book to pick up anytime, anywhere, to open at any page and to feel hugged by (and with) compassion, validation and understanding.

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