Depression, Memory, and Art

You know, it's funny, my memories from times when I've been depressed are very fuzzy. I don't remember what it's like very specifically. I have journal entries and I can go back and read them now that I am well and say "Wow, I was really depressed," but I don't remember the details of what that feels like. I can only read them on the page.

When I'm no longer able to speak or to write, that's when I draw or paint or play with collages. I'm so verbal, when I can function at all my feelings come out in my words. I write here in the blog or in the journal I carry around with me at all times. I have a journal beside my bed. I write a column. I love to have long, involved conversations with people I both agree and disagree with.

I'm looking back at my journal, and there's a period from April to August of last year where I barely wrote anything. What I did write is abysmal: "I wish just something wouldn't be so hard. It seems like I struggle with everything lately. School, friendships, my parents...I want to be able to rest for a while. I want things to be easy and to be able to truly have fun and be relaxed and easy just for a little while. Maybe then I'll be able to make it through all of this..."

I don't know how much of my personality comes through in this blog, but I'm just not like that. I want things to be challenging. I thrive when I'm pushed. That up there is me altered.

And I know at that time I was drawing and making collages, which I almost never do. I don't think I have any talent, although I'm sure I could cultivate it. But I usually just have my words. They are my art. At that point, though, I couldn't express myself that way anymore. I'd lost the ability to describe my feelings so I just had to represent them.

I think that's why my memories are so funny from those time periods. Normally, I remember things in words, in stories. Of course I forget things when I'm depressed, because I do become so non-verbal. I lose my systems of expression and therefore of remembering.

It's crazy, the total effects it has on my life. It's been over a year now, since I was depressed like that. A year and a half. I'm lucky, in that I can be a functioning person without anti-depressants. Now, I have no idea if that will change in the future. I know that if I get into a really major episode I could need them to get out. I've tried to set up support systems for myself so that I can have them gotten for me if I get that bad.

I definitely do things to try and keep my brain chemicals level, though. I exercise, I have to be sure I eat enough or I'm vulnerable to a mood change. And I sometimes take medication for ADHD, which actually usually has a positive effect on my mood. The writing does help me to constructively deal with things as they come up so that they don't have a long term negative effect on my well-being.

I know I've been writing a lot about depression and mental health. I had a spurt of productivity and thinking after I went to that Active Minds meeting. I've also become much more comfortable with the idea that I have depression, and so I want to talk about it and find others like me. I want to make connections and build support. This blog is part of that for me.


On living, loving, learning, and fucking with the materials I've got at hand.

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