I have so many things I want to do, and feel inspired to do, and yet amid the day to day requirements of work and keeping the home I’m unable to complete many of them.
It’s not so unusual, even with my grasshopper mind. I currently have two stories that I’m transcribing, as well as a third that I’m editing in the hope of it being the opener for a series of short stories via Kindle and the like. I also have tee-shirt designs to tidy, some graphics for a friend’s Twitch channel, a number of half-done sketches, and of course there’s posting here on a semi-regular basis and the D&D sessions on Sunday evenings.
That’s not even counting paid work at the library, regular counselling, games, reading, the washing up, hoovering, and other minutiae of daily living.
No wonder I feel exhausted, and why I struggle with feeling guilty when I do none of the creative things when I get home or, like this morning, have a few spare hours.
I know plenty of people who will say that I shouldn’t feel guilty, and one or two who would say that guilt is just a mask for anger. I know that in an ideal world I would apply myself to one thing, and then another thing, and then another thing in turn – but my brain and heart aren’t cooperating. I’m like the dog in Up who is constantly shouting Squirrel!
I’m focusing on being positive this week, what with the anniversary and my brain’s attempts to continue to sabotage me. For the most part this has manifested in new writing, new items going up in the shop (180 odd designs and rising as of time of writing), and going through old backups to find the graphics that time forgot.
Oh, there are so, so, many. I forgot how prolific I was when I was ill back in the early to mid 2000s. Some of the archives have aged very badly, others look amazing, and others are currently inspiring new works as a revisit.
Its interesting to see how I’ve progressed in some areas, and what looks familiar even now. More than anything else it has got me wanting to spend more time pushing to rediscover digital art techniques.
I’ve just sent off my draft to my counsellor talking about my most recent experience of suicidal thoughts and actions and of the journey back. Unsurprisingly it has raked up a lot of thoughts, emotions, and memories.
What has surprised me has been how much more difficult it has been to get it all down on paper rather than talking about it. It has done more than just make me stumble over those words, and had me in tears in the kitchen this evening.
Quite impressive for something barely over 900 words long. It took me five attempts to start, and in the end bluntness was the only way to make it happen. It mirrors the process of taking these things into session – building up and digging over implications and deductions to work out the whys and connections.
I may post it here at some point. If I do it will be heavily marked with warnings.
If you are in that dark lonely place, dare to reach out. Don’t let go. People will listen and care, and they may be the people you least expect. Don’t give up. Talk.
With the weather a bit cooler today, its made me realise what about the steady heat blanket of this week has had me struggling a bit.
Essentially the lack of breezes had brought a heaviness that was reminding me of the dissociative parts of my depression. Everything was feeling dull and distant and my head was responding to the familiarity of those sensations.
Being a reasonably smart cookie, I recognised this on a subconscious level at least, because I’ve been making efforts to drag myself outside the flat in search of light and sound, and at least hints of moving air. Being around people, talking online, keeping busy, these have all kept my brain shaken from the old tracks. So thats a good thing, possibly even means I’m learning to look after myself.
That said i didn’t really put it all together until counselling this evening, but then that’s what its there for.
I probably spend far too much playing around with the silly filters on social media – mostly as we send updates to each other to put a smile on each others faces.
What I find interesting is to see how much fun I can have to produce the more unusual poses rather than just the stereotypical straight to camera glares. It appeals to me on an aesthetic level, and can be a fun way of practicing for the cosplay photos.
While that may seem of limited use – it a) is something that makes me happy and b) means I have more confidence when more official photos are taken. I recently had a shot taken at a work event to go on an ID card, and was able to pose enough within the limits that I actually appear to be full of life rather than sapped of the will to live.
Being able to have confidence in my own appearance is a relatively new development. My weight gains due to disordered eating while depressed were huge – at one point I weighed over twenty-one stone (135kg) which played no small part in my developing type two diabetes. I came to loathe images of me, especially when I compared them to the slim and athletic appearance I had when I was younger.
It has only really been the last couple of years since I’ve started cosplaying that I’ve begun to be comfortable with having my photo taken. Dressing up and putting myself in the hands of photographers keen to help me make the best images has both boosted my confidence and given me practical guidance in how to hold myself in healthier and more flattering ways – and to stop caring about looking silly along the way.
Discarding the voice that cares and frets about not looking ridiculous has been a freeing experience and helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin. It has helped me in my own journeys to know myself, and it has helped reduce my retention of stress.
And that’s why I love playing the Fool for selfies. I can let go, laugh at myself and with others. I can welcome the silliness and feel both childlike and more adult in my appreciation of using my body with at least a little less shame.
I’m still engaged in rehousing the black dog. Some days are better than others, and Sunday was a good day. It also took a lot of spoons so today has largely been devoted to pottering around, decluttering and watching YouTube videos. It’s also been spent thinking of lady s who is fighting her own battle with the black dog at the moment – dropping little notes into her messages to remind her she’s not alone and is loved.
I’ve also checked in with Lady M, and we’ve talked to make sure neither feels we’re taking each other for granted. Like any set of relationships, working at them and having time to reflect with each other is important. Talking can be hard, especially when moods are low, but it does help clear the air and sweep aside or address insecurities.
It also helps remind me I’m not alone or acting in a bubble, so helps challenge the black dog – and that’s never s bad thing.
Maybe because I’ve been doing this for so long, but depressive moments don’t really tend to hold any terrors for me. It’s more like a “oh, okay brain, you’re pulling this shit again? Fine, but we’ve got stuff to do so you just tag along.”
Keeping busy, getting out and about, and taking my meds are all part of the survival net that more or less works for me these days. I kid myself sometimes I don’t really need the meds, but then my brain reminds me that feeling okay is actually my meds working. That still confuses me more than it should.
The other thing I’ve had to get used to is that sometimes there just isn’t any discernable thing that has made me stumble. Sometimes with a bit of digging in counselling I can come up with a weird working hypothesis based on past baggage unfolding in a weird way, but sometimes it can be as random as having a sinus headache in the morning escalating into another round of self excoriation.
On the plus side, sometimes it’s the littlest things that make all the difference. Today I had a brief text from a friend touching base. Later I had a lovely message from lady s. Some comments in reply to a stupid graphic I posted online helped too. All of these things reminding me I was loved, had people thinking of me and that I’d made a small difference in some people’s lives, even if that was only a groan of moderate amusement.
I’m still not really back up and running properly – this feels like a lingerer – but comedy shows and keeping busy are keeping the lid on things mostly. Reaching out and communicating is still hard work – this post has taken about three hours to slog through and create for example – but hey ho, I’m sure I can find more nonsense to entertain people with soon.
If you follow me on any other social media, or know me in real life, you might have noticed that I’m drawing and doodling and sketching and painting, and generally being an expressive soul all over the place. I have work colleagues who are reassured to see my doodles all over scraps of paper as they know I’m based out of that location for a while, and others who in the past have zealously gathered up those scraps before I can throw them in the bin to keep hold of them.
I mention this because I’m starting to return to writing and drawing in my journals, especially as I’ve been gifted with, and also acquired for myself, a number of different sets of brush pens and other lineart tools. It has prompted me to develop new refinements of my artwork. It has also meant that I’ve returned to drawing around odds and ends that I’ve written in the books as I can’t stand having wasted space in them.
Sometimes these are fiction fragments or bits of a story that I’m working on, and sometimes they are more thoughtful pieces that I’ve written – often while the black dog is barking and worrying at my heels.
I write these pieces to ground myself and force myself to acknowledge the positives and available options around me. Sometimes they are light and fluffy, and sometimes they are from a lower and more stubborn place, plodding along like a donkey pulling a cart through the mud.
Many of these pieces end up on Instagram to break up the flow of selfies, cosplay pictures, book covers I’ve enjoyed encountering, or other random facets that I highlight in any given day. I present them “as is” without comment, simply because I want to preserve them somewhere, and I like some aspect of technique or design and want to show it off. I certainly don’t expect to enter into long conversations about them as they’re usually just dashed off while watching tv or something.
This piece however got a response from someone who read the text and found it spoke to them – that it was what they needed to hear at that point – and that even though they often use writing for similar purposes they don’t feel the confidence to post them online. This spoke to me – partially in recognition of the power of similar moments as I’ve encountered them, partially being glad to have been able to give someone a lift in that moment, and partially a disbelief that I have been able to affect someone in that way. Its humbling and more than a little cool to receive that kind of feedback, and I hope I managed to not sound completely awkward in responding to that person.