Monday, June 11, 2018

The Other Me

Speaking now from the other side of depression, at least for the present, possibly forever.  I won't say that I'll never fall into the pit again.  But I will say that I feel I have more inner resources now to guide me through if that happens.

Realizing that the depression has been/was a thing in my life, a major blockage if you will, has enabled me to see it as an entity apart from who I really am inside.  An entity that was created, by me, in response to a lifetime of grief.

I have been aware of for a long time, albeit now far more keenly attuned to, the fact that there are two Connie's in this body of mine.  Were I never aware of this, it's easy for me to see that I probably would have drifted into psychosis, as did my predecessor. Instead, I've had this overly strict superego that judges everything I do or say and always has, that's rendered me neurotic.  Better neurotic than psychotic, I guess.

But maybe not.  You have no idea how often I've said to myself, "Ignorance is Bliss," implying that if I weren't aware of the inner workings of my psyche, life would have been so much easier.  I could have just been clueless in word and deed, and moved on.  Rather than inwardly excoriating myself for everything I say and do.

The me I feel is the real me is the adult inner child, that innate playful, spontaneous, spirited, loving person, who was metaphorically beaten out of me at about age five.  She's still inside, but buried very deeply.  If I have any life goals, one of them is to free her before I die.

The other me, the one I've taken out into the world to do my bidding, is the me who was made by my environment.  This me has gotten through life by reacting to everyone and everything, defending and protecting myself, pulling a lot of interpersonal shenanigans because I never learned how to play well with other people...basically doing whatever I had to do to scrape by.  Clearly, I always did the best I could at the time, given the circumstances and who I was.  But there's a lot back there in the past about who/how I was that saddens me deeply.  Regret would be the right word here.

I've been on somewhat of a mission over the last three or four years, to express that regret to people in my past who were negatively impacted by my words and/or behavior.  I've written letters, made phone calls, seen people, with no motive other than to apologize for being who I was at the time.  I'm still making verbal faux pas occasionally, and apologizing for them.  All the memes say to "never apologize for being yourself."  But the me I feel I need to apologize for is the me I can hardly relate to any more.

The other life goal, if I have them, is to bring the two me's into alignment.  So that who I present to the world is the soft, vulnerable, real, compassionate, loving person that I truly  am inside.  Instead of the other person I no longer want to be.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Timing is Everything

I'm a big believer in ~ things happening for a reason; there being no accidents or coincidences; growth happening in its own way, at its own pace; connections ripening when one is open to seeing them.

I am feeling better. And not just in a day-to-day functioning-in-life sort of way...

I've befriended this thing called depression and its role in my life.  And this is what I've discovered...

The depression is a massive boulder of personal ancient history, that has kept me stuck and prevented me from moving forward in life...until now. I created this context for my injured soul when I was a child, as a way to protect myself from bad things (toxic people, confusing situations, difficult circumstances) over which I had no control, and it served to nurture me in the absence of actual human nurturance.  When I felt threatened in any way throughout my life, I would go to that depressive place to lick my wounds.

So as much as the depression has been a millstone, it was also a balm, a place of great comfort for my wounded soul despite its life-sucking characteristics.

But depression is not who I am...I won't even own it by calling it mine. It served its purpose, and now I don't need it anymore.  I may always need medication because of its impact on my biology.  But I don't need it anymore to hide myself from the world...which doesn't mean this reclusive introvert is suddenly going to become a socialite 😉.  It means that I'm going to honor myself, be good to myself, and live the rest of my life in a joyful way, letting go of that past that is not who I am.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Comfort Zones and Expectations

At the beginning of the year, when I was feeling so good, I did a fair amount of acrylic painting, as I said I'd wanted to.  I liked, and still do, nearly all that I created.  Some pieces are influenced by other artists whose work I love; many pieces are wholly my own.

But then I lost confidence, as depression engulfed me again.  And I've stopped painting now...until I feel stronger.

Art, for me, has always been "something to do," a way to utilize my creative skills...but I've never felt compelled to make art, like "Make Art or Die."  For many people, art is what "saves" them, especially when they're going through difficult times in other domains of their lives.  It's not that way for me -- I need to be feeling good inside in order to push forward with art.

And when I say "push forward," what I mean is going outside my comfort zone.  In looking back over my life as a whole, I can see that I pushed through comfort zones, virtually endlessly, in every area of my life, because I had to. The only option would have been to vegetate, to stay totally stuck wherever I was. And being a survivor, that wasn't an alternative I could have chosen.

I can't push myself right now to venture beyond my comfort zone, creatively.  What I'm really comfortable with is collage, so that's where my creative energy is focused these days.  Albeit I'm currently doing less here than previously, because my back and neck have been bothering me lately.  Still, collage is what I continue to gravitate towards when the mood strikes.

Too, I have a couple of small knitting projects in the works, very simple scarves made with my own handspun silk yarns from 10 or more years ago.  Rather mindless, but keeps my hands busy.  I also sometimes have "cutting jags," where I'll spend whole days cutting out ephemera for collage, which I find meditative.

I've had to let go of my expectations for myself, regarding painting, or the making of art in general.  It might even be that those hidden expectations, even though I kept trying to convince myself I didn't have any, contributed to my becoming depressed again.  Other than my interactions with people, which in nearly all cases have soured with time, all of the stress that I continually experience is internally generated.  I see that; I know that.

The healing is about learning, mentally and viscerally, how to do everything differently.  And that is my own personal Mt. Everest.    

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Plan

Thank you all so much for your comments and anecdotes to my last post.  As I said, I can't do this alone anymore, and I realized that I really need this cyber-support system more than I'd imagined.  So I'm back again.

The meeting with the doctor, who's now my new practitioner at the clinic, went well.  He's young yet seemed quite knowledgeable about depression.

The decision about medication is that since we know my body tolerates Prozac, I'll take 60mg/day for six weeks and then see him again.  If I've stabilized, I'll stay on that dosage until such time as I might need to change again.  Then I'll go to 80mg/day, if necessary, same scenario.  We'll find a new drug if Prozac subsequently doesn't work for the long haul.

I'm fine with that, and so relieved that I've got a medical partner now in this journey.

Those of you who are depressed or have friends or loved ones who are, know that there's no cure for depression.  It's a matter of finding the right drug/chemical that will alleviate enough of the symptoms that you can function in life, and feel your best.

So here's to better living through chemistry.  x

Monday, May 21, 2018

Such Is Life

I need to talk publicly about this...

I've suffered with depression for my entire adult life.  I've been on prozac/fluoxetine for the past 25 years, on a very low dose.  I had about three really good years, after the drug took six months to kick in, back in the mid-1990s.

The truth is, my life has always been an emotional roller coaster (if you've followed this blog for the last several years, you'll know why), exacerbated in the last 20 years, I now see, by the fact that that antidepressant wasn't really working for me, or stopped being totally effective, years ago.

I started taking it when I lived in San Francisco and had Kaiser insurance.  Since then, I've self-managed the medication, because I didn't have insurance (until Medicare) and couldn't afford psychiatric care (for medication management).  Also, being the self-reliant, "I can do it myself" type, it honestly never occurred to me, since I've been on Medicare, that I could seek a doctor's help with the depression.

There's also this thing when you're chronically depressed, that even if/when you have periods of emotional equilibrium, when those times end, you don't realize you're depressed again.  You think it's just who you are, to feel so bad inside.

Back in December of last year, I had the inkling to increase my dosage of prozac to 40mg/day from 20mg.  So January through March of this year, I felt really great, better than I'd ever felt.  Then I had a depressive crash in late March/early April, that I still haven't recovered from.  It was only last week, when my closest friend suggested maybe my medication wasn't working, that I had the big AHA moment.  It had just never crossed my mind previously.

Now I can see just how much time in the past 25 years (not to mention the preceding 20+ years) I spent in depressive periods, regardless of taking medication.  And I can see how many of my physical symptoms of the last few years are likely related either to the medication no longer working, or the depression itself, or both.  Shit.

I have an appointment with the MD at my clinic this Wednesday.  I can't do it alone anymore.  I need help managing the depression.  I also have no illusions that I'll ever stop needing ADs. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Options

Hello dear friends,

I'm not really back...but since I've had several requests to see my collages, I decided to do this post to let you know your options.

I'm really happy not blogging anymore.  Really, it's a load off my mind.  It's a real hassle uploading photos from my phone to the blog, because it takes forever for them to upload.  Alternatively, I can download photos from my phone/GooglePhoto to Photoshop, resize them and then upload them to the blog, but that, too, is a hassle that I don't miss.

For a while I sent collage images to a friend via Messenger, but that felt much like blogging.  So, your option, if you want to see my collages, is to join Instagram.  I am uploading collages there several times a week.  It's just so easy -- I take the image on my phone, and I upload it to IG.  Period.  No need to setup my computer as I need to do if I'm going to upload images to the blog.

I've setup an IG widget on the top of the right side bar here on the blog.  Or, if you're already there, find me here, @connieandbeegee.

If you want to get in touch with me by other means, email me or get in touch via Messenger. Or we could be snailmates if you want, but you have to go first.  I always reply.  But I can't tell you how many people have asked to be my penpal, then I wrote first, and never heard back from them.

I love you all.  And I'm really enjoying life post-blogging. xx    

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Pace of Grace

I celebrated my 10th Blogiversary last month...it passed me by without my realizing it.  Some of you have been reading me since the very start -- Thank You!

I find myself winding down now, retreating again into virtual obscurity.  I'm hardly online these days for all intents and purposes.  There are a few artists I'm following on Instagram, but I'm hardly posting there.

I've come to that place in life where I just want to live it, I don't want to talk about it.  There really isn't anything to say, and I hate to talk just to talk.

I'm happier than I've ever been before.  My life, just the way it is, is enough for me.  I have what I need to live exactly the way I want to.  I no longer need anyone else's approval, acceptance, accolades, applause or acknowledgement.  I'm totally free to be me.  I have no complaints, and a lot of gratitude.
I'm working at painting and drawing and collage.  Abstract, non-objective painting and drawing.  I'm going at my own pace, doing a little bit most days.  Some days I don't have the energy so I just rest and read.  I have no agenda, no deadlines, no have-tos, no obligations, no expectations of myself.

Life is peaceful, and full of grace.

Knowing me, it's possible I'll be back here, but I don't know when. I'm all about changing things up this year...and stepping away from any form of marketing of myself or my art is at the top of the list.

With age, I'm becoming more old-school, especially in this topsy-turvy world of ours where the truth has become a political lightning rod.  I can only live by my own truth now.

Peace and blessings to you all. xx

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Collages This Week

Enjoy these collages from this past week.  I'll start working in one of my recently handmade journals very shortly.

The 50 Percent OFF Everything Sale continues in my Etsy Shop for another week.  If you haven't checked it out, please do.

Otherwise, all is well.

xx 



Saturday, January 20, 2018

New Life in Old Studio

This is my new painting studio.  I'm really happy with it and have spent time this week getting used to working here.

I have my table easel set up on a height-adjustable rolling laptop table...and I also intend to use the easel on the big table on the right for larger pieces.  The drawer unit, also rolling, holds paper and all my supplies and a few tools; in fact, I still have a couple empty drawers.  The 3-tier cart, also rolling, slips under the big table on the right when not in use.

I moved all my old childrens' books to the top shelf above the big table where they're still easy to reach but out of the way.

I've got empty spaces on my shelves now, room to store a lot more work.

Thought I'd mention what I'm up to now re: painting.  I've really wanted to get back to acrylic painting, pretty much since I abandoned it two (or has it been three?) years ago.  Altho I'm still set up to do watercolors when the mood strikes.

I've already taken all the acrylic classes I wanted to take, have the books, etc., and now I will paint in virtual isolation.  No outside challenges, no classes with student blogs, no input or feedback from anyone else (hence no posting anywhere of my work). I am trusting my muse, my inner guidance from here on out.  I know what to do, and I'll be doing it.

I'll continue to post collages here, because I continue to make them.  It's something I really enjoy and I don't intend to stop.

As I do every year, I'll be closing my Etsy Shop soon, until I reopen later this year with new work.  So I'm having a 50 Percent OFF Everything Sale from now through Saturday February 3.

The items currently in the shop will not be available after February 3.  I won't relist them again.  So please, if there's anything there now that strikes your fancy, NOW is the time to purchase.  Go to the shop HERE.




Saturday, January 13, 2018

Work in Progress

My studio upgrade is still in progress...so photos next week.  Every time I do this kind of thing, and as seldom as I've done it, it requires going through everything...getting rid of some stuff, moving other stuff around in the studio, and cleaning it all off before it's jettisoned or rearranged.

I actually love doing this kind of thing.  It's inspiring to go through all your stuff and weed through it.  Also exceptionally inspiring ~ finding work of your own that you love that you haven't seen in a while.  Work you want to go back to, in terms of genre, and pick up again and move forward with.

There's a 30% OFF Sale going on right now in my Etsy Shop, on Art Quilts and Paintings.  Through Wednesday, January 17.

Anyhoo, I'll leave you with my collages for the week.  xx



Saturday, January 6, 2018

Home Free

The new year has started off with a bang for me.  I haven't had a "word for the year" for a number of years, but "freedom" came to me about a week ago, so I'm going with that for 2018.

And it's very apt, because last year I finally put to rest issues that have been dogging me for eons.  And now I truly am free.

Free to live the rest of my life unimpeded by old crap.  Free to create every day exactly how I want it.  So free that I truly love, honor and respect myself, everything I am, everything I do, how I do my life in every way.  I'm who I've been waiting for.

I'm on a creative roll again.  I've taken up painting again, both watercolor and very soon acrylics.  I'm doing it now purely for my own enjoyment and pleasure.  I don't need to show or post my new work anywhere.  It's all for me, now.

I've reorganized and rearranged things in my studio, and after the couple of things I've ordered arrive, I'll be able to keep my easel set up by the north window...instead of the ironing board, which has been in that spot since I moved in nine years ago (sorry, BeeGee), being there.

And more storage for acrylic supplies so they're handy and accessible.  And more storage for lots of other stuff so I have more room to store finished canvasses and panels. 

I've also been getting rid of stuff I don't need, my continual-downsizing practice.  Every time I let go of something that no longer serves me, there's room for new, more appropriate stuff.

I feel in my bones that 2018 is going to be a great year.  I hope it is for all of us.

xx