BLESSINGS

I keep a gratitude journal (irregularly, but it’s there.) It’s a powerful tool for attitude adjustment, especially a few years ago when I had three surgeries in six months and was in constant, frightening pain. The journal really helped me see what my blessing were, even though, during that time, the lens I viewed them through had grown very small.

I also have days where I wonder if the time and energy I put into my art and my writing have had any effect on the world. On those days, I console myself with the image of a pebble thrown into a great lake. We know we throw that pebble with our greatest intention. But we may never know how far the ripples travel, nor what shores they eventually fall upon.

So those are my tips on how to get over the Eeyore thing.

Yesterday was a perfect day for me. I finished up a new series of small framed pieces for a little art show at a friend’s coffee shop, Prime Roast, in Keene NH.

Judy Rogers roasting coffee at Prime Roast Coffee in Keene, NH. Photo from the Keene Sentinel.
Judy Rogers roasting coffee at Prime Roast Coffee in Keene, NH. Photo from the Keene Sentinel.

That’s my friend Judy in the photo. She hosts exhibitions for emerging and local artists, supporting our community artists.

I’m thrilled with the new work, and I had a few compliments before I’d even finished hanging them.

The icing on the cake was finding this reaction to articles I wrote recently.

Is it bragging to share with you? I dunno. Well, yeah.

(Remember, I said I’m trying to be a better person. I didn’t say I was perfect.) (VBG)

But it’s not often we get to see the shore where the ripples gently fell. And when we do, it’s a blessing.

So I am grateful to LaDonna today. Thank you, LaDonna!

P.S. And just in case you think I take myself too seriously, here’s one of my favorite movie quotes, about what Conan the Barbarian thinks is good in life.

I don’t think he keeps a gratitude journal, do you?

BLAME IT ON DRUGS

It’s been a hard, hard month. And this is a hard post to write. I’m not sure where it fits with my professional posts on my life as an artist.

But how I deal with depression has been a topic in the past, and perhaps it’s not so out of place this time, either.

Simply put, the long winter, my laundry list of surgeries and injuries, and my inability to work in my studio caught up with me awhile ago.

In hindsight, it was not a surprise. A good friend, an artist as well as a therapist, pointed out afterward that all my usual coping mechanisms were unavailable to me this year. I slipped from my usual mild depression into a deep depressive state.

It was bad. But what was worse was when I went on medication for it. The side effects from Wellbutrin nearly killed me (figuratively.) I fell lower than I’ve been in decades.

I experienced massive anxiety and agitation. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t concentrate. I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin. And I cried a lot.

Worst of all, even though I was now able to return to my artwork, I had absolutely no desire to.

I was devastated.

I didn’t realize it was the medication til I followed up with my doctor a month later. By then I was so low, I thought I would never come back up.  I went off the meds immediately, and soon felt merely depressed instead of suicidal.

But tiny little miracles have shown me there is a way back.

I look back now and see the chance encounters, the simple words of near strangers, that gave me a light to see the path at my feet.

I realize once again that though many friends cannot, should not or will not be present for someone in this state, there are some who can–and will. (To be fair, I spared many people the fact I was even going through this.)

I can now accept that chronic pain may be my constant companion, but that regular exercise can help–a little. And as my mood improves, I can bear it.

I realize how blessed I am to have found the martial arts teacher I have. When I am ready to start that journey again, I will have safe passage there.

I am blessed many times over in my loving husband.

When I called a friend who beat cancer last year and found out he’d had the same reaction after he’d gotten through it, I realized my feelings may be normal. When you get through something awful, you expect to feel better and different when you reach the other side. But sometimes you feel let down because you simply don’t. Looking back, I think it’s because it actually takes much, much longer to recover emotionally than we think.

I have a great referral to some docs who will help me sort out what my best choices are. I hate depression medication and their side effects, but I need help figuring out whether that is my best option or not, from someone with more oversight and “industry perspective” than me.  (One said dryly, “Please do not take more Wellbutrin til we can talk, yes?”)

And somehow, knowing all this has actually helped me feel better.

I even worked a little on my new ideas for polymer the last few days, though the results were embarrassingly dismal and uninteresting. But I can remember failing before I found my way to good designs, and the process doesn’t seem as awful as I thought it would be.

There you have it. That’s where I’ve been for the last month. Down, down, down in the dumps.

But suddenly, it doesn’t look so far to the top of the hole anymore.

p.s. Now for the funny part.

The Wellbutrin also raised my blood pressure 30 points, and I lost my appetite.

And even in the depths of my depression, when I weighed myself and found I’d lost five pounds without even thinking about it, I thought, “Well, maybe I could stay on it a little bit longer….”