So far,

So good.  I’ve set some small goals for myself and have managed to stick to them. Situps and pushups each day. Painting each day.  Just added “exfoliate” each day. I know that may seem silly, but it helps me to feel better when I look in the mirror.

I’m REALLY pleased with my painting efforts.  Not that I’m creating masterpieces, but that I’m actually just painting.  I have a tendency to avoid trying things I have not fully mastered, at least in the creative fields.  If that makes any sense.  Like I expect to be a full-blown master at something the first time I try it.

This is not the case with less creative endeavors, like I’d find in the safe confines of cubicle hell.  It took me a while, but I eventually became quite confident in my abilities as an administrative assistant, even though I loathed the job. I came to understand that I was viewed by my co-workers as one of the best, if not the best, admins in the office.  I had a professional demeanor and was technically much more than proficient.  This was due to my natural curiosity, and unwillingness to let a challenge go.  If I didn’t know how to do something on the computer, I figured out how.  I ended up sometimes irritated with others who would come to me for help, having not even bothered to hit the F1 key first, which is how *I* initially learned. Google is for everyone, people.

I suppose it’s ridiculous to not approach art the same way.  I would have been mortified to be so lazy as to give up the first time I tried, and failed, to accomplish something on the computer as part of my job. It was a point of pride to me to teach myself.  So why am I so impatient about my art? Maybe I’m hung up on the notion of, you either have talent or you don’t, as if every painter I admire just picked up a brush one day and ‘BAM’, “In Blue” is born.  It takes time, and I’ll never get better if I don’t work at it.

In Blue, by Wassily Kandinsky

In Blue, by Wassily Kandinsky

Waiting, by Audra Arr

 

Advertisements

Toying…

…with the idea of combining two blogs into one.  After having just reread all posts from this blog, I can say this one is far darker than that one.  What’s most frightening is the thought of combining the two audiences, knowing who reads which one, and what will they think of the other?  That swings one direction really, from Arr Bazaar to Melancholianation.  I don’t think the readers of Melancholianation will be too shocked by an artist/repurposer’s blog after reading about suicide, addiction, and forced copulation.  But I could be wrong.  “Oil painting!  Bottle lights!  THE HORROR!  THE HORROR!”

The primary impetus behind this notion to merge is that my interests as an artist and my continuing quest to heal my psyche have become more and more intertwined.  As they should.

In the last year I’ve become resigned to the fact that my condition is more than medical, more than physical. IT JUST IS. I am fundamentally unhappy, with the choices I’ve made and the actions I didn’t take, and if I don’t want to end up six feet under prematurely, then changes are required.

Parenthetically, it just occurred to me….I refer to depression as being in a 20 foot hole.  Being dead is referred to as being six feet under. So death is a step up? <shudder>  No, thank you.  I read recently that, while suicide may seem like an end of pain to the one who chooses it, it’s actually just the choice to transfer that pain to those left behind. Having been the recipient of that pain from Josh, I’ll pass. Or, more appropriately, I’ll NOT pass…the pain, that is…on to my loved ones.  Particularly my child.  I will not set her up for a life of pain by leaving her.

So, what to do?  I’ve written before about all the things I’m going to do that will radically change my life and kick ass and fuck yeah.  I think I’ve done maybe three of them.  If that many. The truth is, I’ll have many dark days ahead, and that’s just how it’s gonna be.  But I’ve recently had a significant realization.  At Sea World.  Yikes.

August 28, 2005, I realized I’d hit bottom in terms of my drinking, and quit.  July 2, 2014, I realized I’d hit bottom in terms of my health.

At age 44, I was in a wheelchair at Sea World, unable to walk more than 30 feet without pain.  My back was bothering me a little when I went with hubs down to San Antonio to partake in the celebration for my beloved San Antonio Spurs (WOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!), so I wore a back brace and took my cane…and subsequently spent two weeks in bed, unable to walk at all.  My mother had bought my family some tickets to Sea World via Groupon, and they had to be used by July 3rd, so I had to suck it up and join the family on this sojourn, even though by this time, my physical shortcomings had contributed once again to an even more crippling depression that left me sobbing in the shower on the morning of our planned outing.

I am useless

I am a failure

I am nothing

I barely spoke on the way down to Sea World.  I hid behind my sunglasses and a large hat.  I had initially resisted my mother’s suggestion that I use the wheelchair she had borrowed, for I figured nothing could make me feel worse and more broken than having to use it.  When I got to Sea World, I hadn’t even gotten from the handicap space to the stained glass entrance before realizing I had no choice, and asked my husband to go back to the car to get it.

That’s when I hit bottom.  Nothing will ever change if I don’t change it.  I cannot live life if every action I take is designed to avoid it.  And my body is falling apart from my inaction.

Some realizations:

  • As much as I love my bottle lights, and love the idea of repurposing things and really, truly believe we, as a whole, need to be less wasteful and more creative to sustain our resources, I use my bottle lights/repurposed items, or, more importantly, my attempts to sell them, as a way to avoid what scares me the most, creatively speaking….trying and perhaps (gasp) failing as a painter. The few times in the last year that I’ve sat down (stood up?) to put paint on canvas I’ve experienced a natural high like nothing else. I feel alive and (GASP) happy when I paint. I put on headphones and listen to music and get dirty and love it. Yet my studio is the messiest room in the house.  And not good messy, but, like, I-can’t-even-walk-from-one-end-of-the-room-to-the-other-for-all-the-crap-I’ve-thrown-on-the-floor, messy.
  • I use my weight to hide from life.
  • I’ve probably spent more time numbing my brain and avoiding life using electronic games than I EVER did with alcohol.
  • I feel stupid and uncultured for not being well-read, using a (possibly imagined?) learning disability as an excuse.  Yet I buy book after book and then….nothin’.  I’ve got at least 20 books I’ve started and let languish.
  • I worry and fret about changeable things, yet I make virtually no effort to change them, outside of planning to do so.  I’m a plannin’ fool.  Every day, my Mac shouts at me with reminders…

Read

Interact on Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook/WordPress

Paint

Walk

Garden

Exercise

Clean your face

How many of these things I actually do, I’m too embarrassed to say. But, if I was really committed to doing them, would I need Steve Jobs to tell me?

So, I sat down and meditated on what I’d do. I loathe myself, and not just for my weight or missed opportunities. I want to be fit and strong, physically. I want to be the strong woman emotionally that so many who love me swear I am (really?  what are they smoking?). I want to be someone I’d want to be friends with.  Funny and warm and kind and, yes, well-read. So I made goals for myself, though I’ve intentionally only implemented one set of goals at the moment.

I’m doing 30 situps and 30 pushups a day.  I know it doesn’t seem like much, but, for me, it’s a big deal.

I’m also coming to terms with the fact that I need to treat sugar and fatty, carb-laden foods like I treated alcohol.

I have to avoid numbing my brain with pointless time killers as can be found in abundance in both the iTunes AND Google Play stores.

If I want to be well-read, I actually have to read.

If I want to be positive, I have to avoid the negative.  No more reading the comment section that accompanies news items of interest.  I realized the reason I read them, even though they infuriate me every time, is that I’m looking to find like voices, someone who reacts to things the way I do.  I’m looking for validation.  From people who resort to name-calling at the drop of a hat.  From people who don’t know the proper use of “we’re, “where”, and “were”.  I also have to avoid the crime reality shows I tend to watch.  I watch programs about Scott Petersen or The Night Stalker because, what, I’m looking for justice in the world, since I didn’t really get any as a child?  That’s ridiculous.  I fill my head with the horrors that people are capable of and expect to be purified?

On that note, I have to stop seeking validation / acceptance from stupid-ass places. The comments section. Responses on Facebook. Pretty much anywhere that exists outside my own mind and that of my higher power.

If I want to help people, even if it’s just to feel good about myself, I actually have to find people to help. Not bursting into tears at the drop of a hat would seem a necessary hurdle to overcome, though. Baby steps.

Meditation and/or prayer helps me to feel calm and peaceful, so why aren’t I doing it more often? I can actually meditate away most headaches, so why can’t I do something for my back / leg pain?

So, in the last few days, I’ve done situps and pushups every day.  My appetite has been somewhat suppressed to due my recent depression, so it’s been easier to avoid crappy food, though I know that won’t always be the case. A few days BEFORE I had my “hit-bottom” moment, I actually bought and READ COMPLETELY a book, “High Rise”, by J.G. Ballard.  Thank Tom Hiddleston for that, as he is filming the adaptation starting this month and I was curious about his new film.  But, having read the book from cover to cover in less than a day, I found myself feeling pretty decent about the fact, even though I found the book disturbing (think “Lord of the Flies”, with grownups).  FYI, knowing the casting of the film helped.  Hiddleston (yummy) as Dr. Laing.  Luke Evans (also yummy) as Wilder.  And Jeremy Irons (decades-long yummy) as Royal, though I realized five chapters in that I was picturing Royal as played by Richard Chamberlain.  Go figure.  But I digress.

I painted last night and was high as a kite for hours as a result.  I immediately pulled my family into the studio (well, two feet into the studio, since it’s still wrecked) and informed them I’d need at least an hour to paint each night and could they support that.  They could.

I am treading carefully, though. I feel as though the path I’m on is no different from that of a newly sober person. I have to be vigilant. Regardless of how good I felt last night, I awoke this morning with a “oh, yeah, same crap life” feeling. I started to sink in mood, until I sat down to write this LONG-ASS-POST, and feel better now. I’ve made my daughter lunch, and will do my situps/pushups with her shortly (she does them for karate homework). Then I’ll work on my studio, trying to make it fully useable again.

One last thought. Yesterday I saw something that hit me hard, and I burst into tears. My husband, in the room at the time, was keen to know what brought about THIS particularly bout.

  

What would happen if I forgave? I’ve forgiven my brother, but what of my parents, for their shortcomings? What if I forgave the babysitters, and forgave the other family members who abused me? What if I forgave the boys/men who devalued or overlooked me? What if I forgave former friends and associates for their simply being human? I’M the one carrying the pain that comes from hanging on, not them.

I learned at age 18 that if I made a mistake, owning it and apologizing when needed made me strong, not weak. How much better would I feel, how much more productive and useful would I be, if I let these things go? How much more love could I give to others, how much more kindness and beauty could I add to the world, if I let go of the hate that too often drowns me? This one is a doozy, I know, not to be accomplished with a list of goals and mini-steps to be taken. This one will take a lot people, but I need to do it.

So there’s that.

Now, what was I saying about merging blogs?

Drunk on D

I admit, since moving to Texas, I’ve struggled with my depression like never before.  One would think that things would be getting better….I no longer have to work in cubicle hell, I’m able to stay home and homeschool our daughter, like hubs and I always talked about.  I can devote hours and hours to things I care about, like my drawings, and the garden I planted.  Yet I find myself so deeply depressed some days, I can barely get out of bed.  The good news is, at 6 1/2 years old, my daughter is old enough to feed herself with the fruit and vegetables we always have around, and she entertains herself with reading, playing with legos, computer games, etc. The bad news is, she’s 6 1/2 years old….old enough to see my struggles and to know something is wrong.  It breaks my heart when she approaches me and gives me a comforting pat on the arm.  

My life took a seriously craptacular turn when *I* was six, and the events of that time and the years that followed left me with a seriously weak foundation from which I’ve done nothing significant with my life.  I’m filled with self-loathing and regret.  One of my biggest motivations, one of my ONLY motivations right now, is to help my daughter build a better foundation for her future than the one I had.

Towards that end, I’m on yet another new medication, but I’ve really come to believe something I read some months ago.  Depression could be less about a “chemical imbalance” and more honestly just our body’s reaction to being fundamentally unhappy.  So many of us are unhappy, often about things we seriously have a right to be unhappy about, but we take these pills to numb that unhappiness and make life liveable.  Then we say things like “depression lies”.  Well, yeah, sometimes it does, but sometimes, isn’t it spot on?  Depression tells me, “you’re a failure”.  My husband argues with this, as would many who love me, but, really, haven’t I failed to meet most if not all of the goals I’ve set for myself over the years?  Yeah, I’ve done some neat, even terrific things. I went to Paris, by myself, not speaking the language, and had a fabulous time.  Still my favorite memories/actions.  I’ve managed to keep from drinking alcohol for coming up on nine years.  I’ve been cigarette/nicotine free for over ten years.  I’ve got a husband who loves me, and an adorable and smart daughter.  But there’s still something missing.  Something very big.  And it often sits on my chest like that elephant in the COPD commercials.  I’m “happy” when I work on my artwork, but otherwise, life seems a bust to me.  I’m fortunately still able to laugh on occasion, but most days I’m operating on auto-pilot.

Before I’ve described depression as living at the bottom of a 20 foot hole.  These days, I feel as though most days I’m about 5 to 10 feet down.  Some days, it’s 20 feet.  And, at least a couple of times a month, I feel like I’m two or three feet from China.  On those days/nights, I don’t sleep, at all, and stay in my ultra large bathroom, curled up on my chez lounge, crying into a pillow so as not to wake my husband.  Everything I think of leads to tears, and I feel like my brain is on fire from a chemical compound made of ultra-negativity and self-loathing.  It’s horrendous.  

The other night, during one of those “digging to China” moments, I pulled out my tablet and started to work on some self-portraits.  A couple of days later, I pulled out my tablet to draw, and happened upon my work from a few nights before.  I was startled by what I saw.  I hardly recognized myself, and barely recalled having drawn them.  It’s like I was intoxicated, and drunk dialed one of my ex-boyfriends.  Mortifying.

Image

Thankfully, I haven’t been that low in a week or so, but it’s disheartening to know it will probably happen again.  Maybe I need to keep the drawings going, as a way of tracking this.  Maybe try to draw myself when I’m NOT feeling that way.

I hate feeling drunk.

Leprechauns for sale

Go to amazon.com, and the first graphic to load is this…

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 10.02.15 PM

Now, I ask you, FOR WHAT!!! A pot of gold?  Lucky Charms? Some green piece of apparel to keep you from getting pinched?  For the record, I think wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day is stupid, and anyone who has ever pinched me or tried to pinch me is asking to be introduced to my fist or my knee, whichever will do the most damage at the time.

It never ceases to amaze me how “we” go from “holiday” to “holiday” on the merry consumerist highway.  ENOUGH!

Agnes rides again…and again

Agnes is in high voice tonight.  The negative little voice in my head just won’t shut up.  Surely if she had a throat, it’d be hoarse by now.

“Agnes” says things to me that I’d never say to anyone else.  Little drips of venom that amount to Chinese water torture within a few hours.

I walk past a little knick-knack on my kitchen counter that I bought to send to my former boss in California.  Agnes starts in:

Like she’d even care.  You email her these lengthy emails, giving her updates about your life in Texas, asking her how she is and she responds with, “miss you!” and nothing more.  She never initiates communication.

No one ever initiates communication with you.  Even when you HAD friends they left it up to you call.

Stella didn’t respond to your Facebook friend request, did she?  Your cousin, Andy, didn’t either.  And Mike Wann ignored your Twitter comment.  Think he doesn’t recognize you because of your married name?  Bullshit.  He can see it’s you from the picture on your account, he just doesn’t care. Just like Rahn doesn’t seem to care anymore.  When’s the last time your “oldest friend” even acknowledged you?

No one said anything about the artwork you posted the other day.  Because its’ crap.

What’s wrong with you anyway?  You’ve never been one to really attract friends, have you?  Maybe you had a few in high school, but even they stopped bothering.  And you weren’t always so steeped in depression, so you can’t say that’s why.  And you can’t say they’re ALL assholes.  I mean, they can’t ALL be assholes, right?  The common denominator here is you, right? <insert joke about Taylor Swift [here]>  You say you’re crap all the time, why are you shocked that others think so, too?

This record plays in my head for two hours, all because I walked past a freakin’ brass armadillo.

I swear, at one point, I was a nice, caring person.  I still try to be, when I have the energy.  But mostly I’ve turned into a grumpy old woman.  I’d put on a shawl and wave a cane at the neighborhood children, yelling at them to “keep it down!”, if I cared to be outside that long.  I’ve let a string of disappointments, some little, some big, turn into a chain around my soul that drags me down.

Every once in a while, a voice of reason speaks up.

Look, this is the only life you’ve got, work with it.

You can’t change the past, learn from it.

Not happy with the way things are now?  Change it.

Take little steps.  Literally. Go for a walk with your daughter.  You’ll feel better about yourself if you’re healthy.

Creating art makes you feel good.  Not everyone is going to like every piece.

Go back to the meetings. Try to be social.

Get involved.  Help people.

Try to remember that everyone has busy lives, and people sometimes just forget.

And bind and gag that bitch, Agnes.  Shoot her.  Bury her in the backyard and pee on her grave.

Unfortunately, Agnes speaks more frequently, and louder, than the voice of reason.  I really need to do something about that.

 

Step outside for a minute

Not literally, unless you think it will help.  I mean, when you’re thinking of your own problems, or watching tv (specifically, advertisements)…step outside your own world for a moment, and think about someone else.  I try to do this from time to time, and it can be alarming.

Example.  The other day I was watching Almost Human (Fox better not cancel it!) online and up popped a commercial for the Kindle, with the selling point being that it can be read in sunlight.  Two skinny white chicks sitting next to the pool in a tropical locale, one struggling to read her iPad, the other happily reading her Kindle.  The first thing that popped into my mind is “first world problem”.  It can be sooo easy to forget how privileged we have it.  By “we” I mean members of the middle class and up.  This can mean Americans, Britons….anyone who’s biggest concern on any given day may be that they can’t read their $500+ tablet in sunlight.  We can become so insulated, it’s easy to forget there are those out there without electricity, let alone without a tablet to read on.  Maybe they can’t read.  Watch enough advertising and it can be easy to forget that there are non-whites in the world.

One of the things I find helpful, but that I do far too infrequently, is to try to pull my head out of my ass long enough to empathize with those who have less than I do.  Not just materially less, but physically, mentally, even spiritually less.  I’m not trying to sound like an egotistical ass, but I probably do.  For example, I was abused as a child, struggle with depression/bipolar, loathe myself physically, and am not living the life I want to live.  Yadda yadda yadda.  I was given a harsh reminder of how good I have it the other day when I learned that Josh’s sister has breast cancer.  At the age of 36, she had to have a mastectomy.  Her mother abandoned her and her brothers when she was a baby, her father was killed in a worksite accident not long after, so her unbalanced, drug addict mother returned and took in her inheritance and her brothers, one of whom would commit suicide when she was 18.  She’s struggled her entire life with drugs and abusive men, and now has to fight cancer.  But, no worries, since she has little education and no money, the prospects for her beating this are great!

Her life makes my life look like a Hallmark film, and I need to be more grateful.

But I’m sure if I buy her a get well gift, like a Kindle she can read as she lounges by the pool, all will be well.

Hoisted by my own…what?

In my very first blog post, I tittered at the fact that most blogs I’d found that dealt with depression/mental illness don’t seem to be terribly active, and that that made sense to me, since someone who can barely find the will to live usually isn’t all that keen to write about it.

“My life sucks” – the end

Well, it’s been about 14 months since my last post here, and, yes, some of that time has been spent deep in the 20 foot hole.  But it’s also been spent moving my family cross-country, from California back to my native Texas.  So I’ve been busy, and my life has changed dramatically, and yet, the 20 foot hole moved with us.  Of course it did.

I’m long past the time when I could convince myself that “life will be so much better if I just moved to….”.  I told myself that about moving to Oklahoma. And back to Texas.  And California.  Wait, I told myself that once about OKLAHOMA?  To be honest, I love Oklahoma.  It’s where I was born. Born in OK, raised in TX, and most of my family are in these two states.  But, let’s face it, OK is permanently about 20 years behind the times, in my humble opinion. But, I digress….I knew that taking up residency in Texas (again) would not magically make me happy, though I have noticed a reduction in stress since not having to deal with crappy LA traffic.

I won’t go into all the goings on of the last 14 months right now.  Maybe, if I can fully resume my chosen form of therapy (this blog), I’ll share more details later.  But I will say that I no longer have to work in cubicle hell, or anywhere, for that matter, and am able to spend all day with my daughter and take care of my family and even spend time painting/drawing/repurposing, etc., and, guess what?  Still breathtakingly unhappy.

Aw, shit.