Depression, journaling and the power of the weekly blank canvas in my journal.

My week was varied with encouraging highs and depressing lows. But the weekly canvas in my journal helped me pull it all together, see the big picture and look forward. This is how I find meaning in life. I tend to record the events and experiences of my day in a small notebook that I carry with me everywhere. Then on weekends I sit at my desk and create a journal spread around my week. 


Getting Settled

Everyday I get a little more comfortable and everyday I spend a little more time with my creativity. These past two weeks have been very hard and very densely filled with moving out, temporary housing, a red eye transatlantic flight with children, more temporary housing, jet lag, new school, new job, cultural adjustment and then finally illness. All in just a two week time span! Today as the sick haze lifts and life is beginning to feel normal again I am rediscovering myself and what drives me forward. A new and improved self that isn't frustrated and longing change like I had been back home. After so many years Boston had become my home and I loved it. But I was also struggling and had wanted to make a big change for years. Well, here is my big change and I am appreciating it. Doesn't make it less hard at times and doesn't make me miss our friends any less, but I can't think of a better place for me to grow as an artist at this point in my life. We still don't move into our apartment until mid to late February but we are expecting our air shipment to be delivered today and it has some extra art supplies for me on it as well as toys for the children. What wonderful timing! 


Sad and speechless over Robin Williams suicide.

Celebrity deaths rarely get to me. Usually I feel bad for the family and if they are somebody whose body of work I follow and enjoy sad for the loss but rarely beyond that.

A few days in and I am still shook up about Robin Williams suicide. I couldn't bring myself to post yesterday because I couldn't get this post out and everything else feels utterly meaningless. This post also feels pretty meaningless. With article after article, some powerful and other total clickbait, coming out on the topic it is hard to not feel that way about the subject.

Then I just let myself put on my favorite Robin Williams' movie The Fisher King and cry alone in my living room for awhile.

I am pretty family with depression and mental illness. Back in my teen years my life was kinda hard. Notice the qualifier on that statement because of course my pain isn't really legitimate or valid. But for me it was hard and by my teen years I was cutting myself and attempting suicide. Situational depression that was wrongly treated as chemical depression because I was a minor and couldn't tell them to stop drugging me.

But I got through it, grew up and moved far away and now I am a successful and competent adult with a family and responsibilities. And my life is really not all that hard as far as life goes. Depression gone right? Wrong.

I'm not suicidal or actively depressed. Please note this my loving family that may be reading this. This post is not a call for help before a suicide attempt. But to some degree the depressed and even suicidal thoughts are always there. I am writing this because I don't want to die before my time and leave my family and this life that is often filled with pain. Yet Robin Williams suicide teaches me that no matter how successful I become and how many people love or even look up to me I will never be free. That is when the despair really takes over in my trauma marked survivors brain.  Nothing can fully cover up or heal the hole in our heart, brain, soul whatever. And that ignorant people will always accuse us of being weak and how those fears keeps the stigma high and the sufferers silent. Because depression isn't a simple matter of seeing the sunny side of life and be more positive. It is a toxic often hardwired wired way of thinking that is hard if not impossible to completely overcome. We can push it down and focus on our lives, our career or even God more but at least in my case it is always there as a frightening possibility. Because despite popular ignorant blogger material we don't actually want to die and leave our loved ones. We struggle and fight and sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.

So please go gentle on others. Depressed people often get really good at hiding our pain from the rest of the world. A little bit of kindness can go a long way. And rest in peace my brother in pain Robin Williams, you made it through for 63 years and I hope to learn from you and make it even longer than that. I'm glad that you were here to give so much to the world and I am sorry that it cost you so dearly.

I am ready to get back to my work and keep the demons at bay another day now that I have this out of my system. If you are feeling vulnerable and at risk of suicide and at risk please reach out to trusted friends, family or professionals.

Crisis Services has a 24-hour hotline where you can reach a trained professional. If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the 24 Hour Hotline at (716) 834-3131.

Fresh Start Monday

My last sketchbook page before this and another sketchbook were stolen. These past few days I have been more focused on the depressive feelings and the loss than about what I can do about it. Sure, I started a new sketchbook right away and I got my phone replaced so I can continue to share images like this one. But in my head was a dark cloud. After a sting of bad weeks and particularly bad Thursdays this week is going to be awesome. 


Fighting off the Darkness

Every morning I wake up and say to the darkness: "Not today, you can't have me today." But I feel the anxiety and depression lurking around the corner all the time. These are emotions that have completely mentally crippled me and almost destroyed me a handful of times. They are as much a part of me as my brown hair and brown eyes at this point in my life. It is something that I have to actively combat. Vacation should help but it mostly stresses me out as I anticipate everything that could go wrong. But I do eventually start to relax and feel less anxious and have a good time. Now I am pretty relaxed and hopeful as we head home, I just need to work hard to maintain this feeling and keep the darkness at bay.