Progress, not Perfection

Hello, I’m Stuart Smalley.

Now, I’ll wait here while you google that reference.

Done?  Mmm’kay.

Still having some dark moments, but overall, feeling somewhat decent.  I’m doing my situps and pushups every day (started at 3o each, now doing 40), reading every day, taking care of my skin each night and, most importantly, I’m painting every day.  Starting to feel better physically and emotionally, though I finally broke down and put in a call to a local psychiatrist in hopes I can get a med check and some talk therapy.

In the meantime….Screen Shot 2014-07-20 at 4.36.22 PM

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

 

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.

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.

 

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.

Too busy to post, a.k.a, 19 things I’d rather be doing with my time

Right now, my weekdays are spent buried in employee benefits and my nights spent recovering from same.  I don’t mind being too busy to write, if it’s for a good reason other than insurance and exhaustion.  My list of ratherbees, as in, I’d rather be….

(in no particular order)

  1. Driving down an open highway in Texas/Oklahoma with requisite wind in hair and music blasting
  2. Learning to throw clay
  3. Painting
  4. Repurposing something
  5. Playing with my dogs/cat
  6. Hanging at the beach with my family
  7. Sending silly texts back and forth with my brother
  8. Sudoku
  9. Watching Leverage, M*A*S*H, Frasier or King of the Hill
  10. Writing
  11. Riding my bike (assuming the tires were fixed)
  12. Working in my yard
  13. Going to Adventure City with my daughter
  14. Making homeade pasta (never done it…want to try)
  15. Helping my husband run a massage business/spa
  16. growing my own food
  17. having a good talk with my mom or dad
  18. visiting with my cousin, Jo
  19. doing math (I know, I’m retarded)

Quite frankly, I’m too tired to think of anymore right now.  Goodnight.

Zazzle-Etsy-Spoonflower-Blah

I’ve tried selling things on Etsy, Zazzle, Spoonflower, and on my own websites.  I’ve even done eBay. My efforts have been met with limited success.  I keep plugging away, and have a fantasy of one day being able to make enough money to at least support my hobby, though I’d much rather be able to quit my day job.

Today, someone I follow on Twitter posted about having made her 1,000th sale on Etsy.  I congratulated her, then slowly felt my mood sink.

It’s so damn hard to keep trying and trying and trying when no one appears to take an interest.  I’ve gone through highly productive phases when I’m adding dozens of products a day to the various sites, and been able to keep my energy up in order to promote my items.  Then, when nothing happens, my mood drops, as it has tonight, and I lose all enthusiasm, for selling, for promoting, but, most importantly, for creating.

Though I’m also an artist, lately my passion has been about repurposing the many, MANY items people leave in the alley behind my house.  It’s fun to me to find a new use for drawers, doors, and especially the bottles my friends and co-workers bring me.  It just sucks to get so excited about something I’ve done, like an actor who’s just given what they believe to be a breakthrough performance…only to be met by the sounds of crickets.

My love of being creative will win me over again, and I’ll resume painting, drawing, designing, etc. at some point.  And I don’t mean to sound like I’m whining.  Yes, there are so many more important things and great suffering going on in the world.  But we all want our efforts to be appreciated.

So tonight, blah.