I have barely touched a drawing implement since October. I have a thousand thousand excuses. November was a hard month. December’s been a hard month. October was a hard month. To be honest, August and July before that were hard months.
I can list every excuse I have, each one on its own very plausible. But when you string together excuses like a necklace of pearls, it represents a weight around my neck that I wasn’t acknowledging.
I genuinely, seriously thought that maybe I didn’t want to do this anymore. Maybe I just don’t want to write, or draw. I used to do these things like I was running out of time, to borrow a phrase, but somewhere I just thought I lost the imperative. Clearly these things weren’t really me, they were just a passing fad, a manic interest that’s fading now. Like my certainty that I’d open a microbrewery up the street. Or that I’d buy the house down the way and just move a couple blocks.
I’m feeling better today. And when I’m feeling better it’s easier to look back and go “oh.” Oh, the passing fad is not the creative work I’ve been interested in and played with since I was a child. Oh, the sudden lack of desire for things that once held your attention is not a natural progression of maturity. Oh, I’ve been depressed for months.
Low-grade depression is a new one on me. I’m used to bi-polar mood swings, not just a persistent feeling that I should just give up. My mood swings I know how to deal with. Find whatever is winding me up, confront it, and then lots of self-care as I come down or come up from wherever I pushed myself. The mood swings come less and less often these days as I get better and better at engaging with my problems rather than trying to bury them or brick them up. A cask of corked bottles of feelings, an Id that I’ve been working on unsealing from behind the wall.
This was…insidious. And I don’t yet have the tools to deal with it. I can step back a little and see the big picture, I have a fuzzy idea of why I slid just under the water, not under enough to recognize I’m drowning, but just under enough to be constantly choking on the waters of despair.
Not so far under that I could tell I needed to swim, just under enough that I thought half-drowned was just my new normal.
I will be the first person to remind my friends that mental health is a cha-cha, not a choo-choo train. Two steps forward, one step back, a slow crawl toward stability. Just when I think I’m doing well, I start to slip again, get another reminder that it’s not over yet, it may never be over.
I want to be healthier than I am. That’s the thought I hold on to. And hopefully this forward surge will get my head above water, to be able to breathe. The more I can breathe, the more I have space in me to create.
But in the end I have to remember: just breathing is pretty good. This is an illness that has tried to claim my life more than once. Breathing, in and of itself, is a spiteful act of life. Keep breathing.