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Posts Tagged ‘counseling’

Life is a delicate balance between tranquility and chaos for the best of humanity.  For those of us in the creative arts, it’s a downright screaming roller-coaster ride careening from absolute bliss to the deepest pits of hand-wringing angst.

Okay, maybe not quite so harsh, but it’s a great description, isn’t it?

While there have been those occasions in my life that would make that roller-coaster seem tame by comparison, they have been few and far between.  Good counseling, bio-feedback, modern pharmaceuticals, and the most awesome husband in the world have made functioning on a day to day basis much easier for this diagnosed chronic depressive.  But it is still a daily battle, with some days victories and some not.

Depression is a cyclical beast.  I can go for weeks functioning just fine; house is clean, bills are paid, errands are run, animals are fed, blogs are written, jobs are searched for.  And then, for reasons it is often difficult to trace, the downward cycle arrives.  When it hits, it makes even the simplest things nearly impossible.  Just getting out of bed takes a huge effort of will, and there are times when the will is more of a won’t.  With no definite schedule, no boss to answer to, no real reason to go anywhere, that cozy king-sized haven becomes Sanctuary.

Long, long ago in my youth, I instinctively turned to sleeping as an escapist self-defense measure.  Get a migraine:  go to sleep.  Get stressed: go to sleep.  Get depressed:  go to sleep.  It’s my version of the ostrich-head-in-the-sand solution to the world.  Doesn’t really solve anything, but hiding for awhile can sometimes help you regroup so you can approach the world with better answers.  For me, though, it’s mainly just hiding.

And I’ve realized lately that I’m not just hiding from the world, but I’m also hiding from myself.  I’ve never really liked myself, for reasons still undiscovered, and avoidance is one of those natural things we humans do.  But it’s really hard to avoid yourself: wherever you go, there you are.

I’ve often wondered if that unlike of self (can’t bring myself to say dislike, so maybe there’s hope yet…), is a function of the depression.  When I fall into a low cycle, where I have been lately, I can barely look at myself in the mirror.  All I see is a big, fat, ugly, hopeless slob.  Which of course becomes a Mobius strip of self-fulfillment.  One of the exercises my counselor was trying with me (before I had to cancel because I couldn’t afford the co-pay anymore), was to find one thing about myself that I did like, everyday.   Seems a simple task, but to a depressive in a down cycle, nearly impossible.  I can’t even accept compliments from my husband, inwardly cringing when he tells me I’m beautiful or what a wonderful dinner I made.  Nothing is ever good enough, by my standards, and therefore I am doomed to fail, cut down by my own perfectionistic nature.  Going through life with blinders on, seeing only the flaws.

So what the hell does this have to do with writing, anyway?  Well, everything, actually.  Seeing everything through the Doom-&-Gloom glasses of my miss-aligned mind makes everything I write nothing but crap.  And since it’s all crap, why bother writing it at all?  Intellectually, I know that what I manage to put on a page is mostly decent, that I’m not such a bad person in reality, and that the world isn’t a big pile of steaming dog shit (well, not totally, anyway).  But the intellect is, sadly, not in charge right now.  Please leave a message at the beep.

My husband, for all his wonderfulness, still can’t quite understand why, after nearly a year out of work, I haven’t finished my novel.  In fact, by his reckoning, I should be putting the finishing touches on my second one by now (a correct assessment, given the average paperback is around 80k words and 1-2k a day is pretty doable).  Not that he has been at all a butt head about it:  it’s simply a curiosity thing from a former Marine sergeant who will let nothing stop him (okay, there are a couple things, but that’s another story completely, and not likely to appear here) once he sets a goal.  He is right, of course, but when the artist is in a constant wrestling match with the depressive, and they’re pretty evenly matched, you’re more likely to find the ostrich with her head in the sand, trying to avoid the issue all together.

The bottom line is:  the artist has to find a way to pin the depressive.  Even if only for a short time.  Deep down inside I do believe that I can be a successful writer, and that is why the artist keeps fighting.  Depression may be a constant companion in my life, but it will not be in charge of my life.  As Tim Allen’s character said in Galaxy Quest, “Never give up.  Never surrender.”

Off to the next round of the wrestling match…

© 2010   Cheri K. Endsley.  All Rights Reserved.

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