aqua fortis

Monday, March 16, 2009

In Touch with My Inner Cameron

Reductive charcoal figure study

I have this odd quirk that makes me reluctant to write a blog post that will be a huge bummer to everyone’s day. For one thing, I don’t think of my blog as a confessional space, generally speaking. Also, I have a very strong desire not to be that one downer friend, though I suspect I very much resemble Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

On the other hand, if I’m Cameron, that means the rest of you are Ferris, and that’s a good thing, right? So today I decided to yield to my inner Cameron and let the bummer-osity flow. Sorry. Consider yourself forewarned.

I realize I haven’t posted in a while, and I’ve been hesitant to admit even to myself that the reason is probably depression. It’s something I’ve struggled with off and on for at least 15 years, sometimes with medication, sometimes without. I don’t like to stay on medication for the long term, nor do I think my depression is serious enough to warrant that; so the longest I’ve stayed on antidepressants was a couple of years. Also, when I taper on and off the pills--Effexor is the one that seems to work best for me--I suffer from feelings of vertigo until I get used to the medication (or to not taking it). So I’d rather avoid that.

Anxiety has been a bit of a separate-but-related problem, and I wish I could get the good meds for that—but my doctor is stubbornly avoiding giving me Ativan, which works great. He’d rather prescribe the antidepressants. So I’ve been trying to persevere in a non-prescription-medication vein for the past few years. I see Dr. Yoda (not his real name) once a week or so, and I try to get regular exercise and take fish oil capsules.

Motion Study - Female modelI’ve not been doing as well as I could be with the latter two. With the capsules, it’s just remembering to do it. With the exercise…I sometimes don’t have time to exercise. Other times, I get in a terrible catch-22 where it would probably really help me to exercise, but I’m to depressed to motivate myself to do it. I lose large amounts of energy. Even just walking around feels like I’m walking through water.

I’m wondering, though, if I need to go back on the serious meds again. I can’t quite seem to keep it together. I haven’t felt much like writing at all, and can’t see the point of doing it. What really worries me, though, is that I don’t even really feel like reading. That is so intensely abnormal for me—ME, the person who almost never goes anywhere without at least one piece of reading material. I mean, my husband made fun of me when we were in grad school because I would put down my required reading and relax by…reading something else. But right now, reading just reminds me of all the writing I’m failing to get written and failing to get published.

Yup, I’m REALLY good and stuck.

But I do feel a little better talking about it. I feel like Rob is too stressed right now for me to inflict it on him, and I haven’t been able to get in to see Dr. Yoda for a couple of weeks, so blogging it is. Thank you for letting me unleash my inner Cameron for a few minutes, along with some unrelated but hopefully interesting accompanying visuals.


Ethel Rohan said...

I'm sending you lots of love and light. Thanks for writing and sharing.

DaviMack said...

I hope that Rob reads this blog, so that he can smack you for not talking to him about your stresses. Really.

I'm with you, though, on the depression. Have you tried the full-spectrum lightbulbs? They're not strong enough to beat back Glasgow's gloom, really, but they do help.

Nice sketches!

a. fortis said...

Hmm, maybe that's why I felt better when I was spending time printing out in the studio--we have full-spectrum "daylight" bulbs out there, the better to accurately see one's artwork with.

tanita s. davis said...

I think that's the depression giving you the advice not to talk to Rob. Don't let it boss you. Get a blank book and just write how you're feeling and let him read it, if you're not into a long discussion. Try not to cut him out of the process, because it's just too easy to find yourself way out on a crumbling edge and him miles back, wondering how you got so far away.

I am so close to where you are now it's not funny. Don't think you're alone. You're not. Sit under the lights, try walking around the block if you can't run around the block, and think of this as a war. Don't give up the territory of your sanity without a fight. I try and find, on any given day, the things I can control, and control the hell out of them. Some days this is something like a really clean bathroom, but heck, that counts.

Keep talking. You're not alone.

DaviMack said...

Maybe we're wrong, not to write about depression on our own blog.

I took antidepressants when I moved from Southern Cal to Northern. They were an horrendous experience, one which I'll never repeat voluntarily.

T. and I both suffer from seasonal depression. We realize it when we're coming out of it. People say all this about "the fog lifting" ... and that's not what it's like, for me. It's as if some part of my brain has turned back on, and I'm able to think again, to read, to process. I can gather several thoughts together, to make connections between things again.

We've done the lights all winter long, and they barely kept the depression at bay. What was the best was coming back to California for those few weeks, where there was real, continuous, strong sunshine.

This Spring ... well, I've always been susceptible to the manic side of things. I'm going to be giving up coffee in a few weeks, as I'd really like to be able to sleep some, to maybe NOT wake up at 5 in the morning to pull out one of the dozen texts beside the bed (if the light is on - it's a full-spectrum on a timer, set to mimic summer, coming on at 5 until we get up, then coming on again in the evening until about 9). But this is a new problem - this is the result of having adapted, somewhat, to the misery that is Glasgow, where we get 2 fewer hours of sunshine than you do, during the Winter.

25% of the world population are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder. If that's what you've got, you're certainly not alone. If you feel better under the lights, then that's probably what you have.

Don't let the feelings get the best of you. I know that's hard - as evinced by how little I've managed to turn out this Winter.

One of the strange things, reading about all of this psychology for my PhD? The brain is a really whacked-out, irrational critter. I mean that literally: it is its own little beast, which will tell you the answer to a problem, and you then fill in the gaps until you get what looks like a rational chain of thought, but which is really just ... well, making the critter look as if it's logical. It's not. It's just a wee beastie, cramped up inside your skull, who has the ability to make you feed it. It's a consistently mad bugger. This has caused problems for my research, let me tell you (no, really: let me tell you).

Back to the bread-baking.

Charlotte said...

I hope the fog lifts soon for you!

a. fortis said...

Thanks all!

D, would that it were SAD, but I think it was actually working in the studio that was its own form of therapy. :) Time has shown me that it's not a seasonal thing (and I doubt that's the issue at the moment--seeing as spring has well and truly come to the Central Valley and the skies have been sunny, trees abloom, etc. etc.). In fact, I think it's the trees abloom that are part of the issue, in the physical sense of affecting my allergies. Ugh.

In any does always come to an end eventually. I try to focus on that.

Simon Dyda said...

Hope you get well soon!

chloe said...

I'm sorry, Sarah. I wish there was something I could do. You are still producing stunning art, though!

Beth Kephart said...

I am so touched by this—your honesty, the response of those who have read and reach out with their own understanding.

But what I want most of all for you is peace. For the sun to shine straight through you.