We bumped into each other over at Stories of Sandeept, (Sheepishly waving hi!) where I gave this completely unsolicited advice:
When I’m in a writing funk, or I’m in a mood where NOTHING inspires me, every piece of advice sounds like a Charlie Brown teacher, “Wawaaa, wa wa wa, waaaa.” Step away from the computer, right now. Don’t check your emails. Don’t check your messages. Get away from the television set. Take an hour for yourself, by yourself, at least once a week, to connect to something creative…something besides writing. Visit an art gallery. Grab your camera and play at photography. Sign up for a local class at your library. Go fishing. Paint. Do something that you keep putting off, or something you used to do, but don’t seem to have time for anymore. Give yourself an hour or more each week to connect with the creative part of you. I started doing this a few months back. It’s the BEST medicine!!! I was terribly burned out from my job, and just life in general. I was at the point where I didn’t want to get out of bed. All I wanted to do is read, sleep, and watch Netflix. I knew I needed to snap out of it, but I didn’t know how. It’s like I checked out from life because it was just too much for me to handle. Going outside for the purpose of doing something that will spark the imagination…was healing. I recently took up playing with water colors. It’s something I’ve always wanted to try, but I kept putting it off, because it didn’t really serve a purpose. My to do list was waaaaay to long for slopping paint around for the heck of it. I hadn’t done anything art related in…30ish years? Why start now? What’s the point? The point is, I’d been working so hard, trying to be a good employee, wife, and mother, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I had stopped planning and dreaming. My life was reality, only what was happening right now. I could be funny, but I’d lost my fun. I stopped growing as a person. I was stuck. Taking time for creative growth has not come naturally for me. I have to push aside the guilt I feel, guilt that’s not being put on by immediate family. It’s ALL me! I have to stop myself from thinking, “You should be doing…” Spending an hour doing something creative each week has made me more productive in every aspect of my life since I started this. That alone helps me ignore the guilt. I think of these “dates,” as they were medicine. I can’t stop taking them just because I’m feeling much better.
Take Care! I wish you well!!! 🙂
Did I mention this advice was completely unsolicited? Umm…yeah. When I get on a rant, I’m like an orangutan in an antique store. By the way, if I offended you in any way, Sandeept252, I do apologize.
When you write a blog post, you never know who’s going to read your words. You put yourself out there. It’s a lot like going outside in your pajamas for all your neighbors to see…but on a larger scale. “Looky there, Juli’s in her PJs and she’s taking pictures of the flowers in her front yard. AGAIN. Doesn’t she ever get dressed?” Not that I’d know anything about that… *cough*
I get passionate when I talk about my experiences with depression, even though I hate using that particular word. Depression. Grrr…
Words have power for good or bad, so do labels.
“I am a writer.”
Good label. There’s strength in this statement. It says, “I’ve purposely put this label on myself, giving me the power to use my words in written form, in all their ridiculous, delicious glory. I am a pen-monkey. Hear me roar.” Owning the label of writer gives me the power to hit the keyboard each day with my ramblings. It gives me the strength to write my stories, to journal my thoughts. This label gives me the power to try new things, to dream of doing something more with the life I’ve been given.
“I have depression.”
It’s a strong statement, and an extremely difficult thing to admit to, but I don’t like the imagery this label implies. It says, “I am broken. I don’t know how to emotionally handle the cards life has dealt me. I’m not good enough the way I am. I’m not like other people.”
Depression and Perfectionism are BFFs. They hang out together. They braid each other’s hair and giggle while they chat about what a failure you are. They lie to you. Right to your face! They tell you, “If you’re not happy all the time, there’s something wrong with you.” If you’re a religious person, they like to drag God into the mix, for fun. They get their kicks by watching you wrestle with your spirituality. Perfectionism whispers, “If you did this, this, and this the right way…you’d be happy, like ALL the time. If you’re not happy, you can’t be right with God.” After that little pep-talk, Perfectionism likes to put an F on your forehead, just to be a jerk. Sooo not cool, Perfectionism. If you haven’t figured this out before, Perfectionism is a bully. Bullies get strength from attention. Hence the reason why I don’t like the label depression. It is what it is, but I’d rather not give the bullies in my life power over me.
I’m not in denial. I know who and what I am, flaws and all. However, I no longer see myself as broken. I am me. I am a work in progress. There will never be a time in my life where I will be finished growing as a person.
My body may be gimpier than it was when I was younger, but this is the way I am. Pain is my side-kick. Past a certain age, that’s normal. For everyone. It’s like a cranky old friend, reminding me, “Don’t do anything stupid.” It reminds me to work safely. It tells me, “You’re not going to be around forever. Mend your fences while you can.” Pain’s got a bad rap. He’s not fun, but at least he’s honest.
Pain, Depression, Perfectionism…I’ve got plenty of other companions as well. Some are more savory than others, but I’m never alone. That’s also normal, in case you were wondering. Being happy ALL THE TIME? That’s not normal. That’s a myth. You can take steps to hide from Depression, treat Depression, commit to a healthy lifestyle, but you’ll never be happy all the time. Even when you’re doing everything right, Depression still has a way of showing up on your doorstep at the worse possible time, like during the holidays. And when Depression stops by, she never brings a dish to pass.
I’m always looking for new tools to deal with the challenges in my life. Journaling my way through depression and perfectionism has helped a great deal. Julia Cameron’s self-help books have been extremely useful. (She’s got a good thirty of them out there. So far, my favorites are The Artists Way and A Right to Write.) Getting out of the house for an hour, at least once a week, to pursue my creativity has given me amazing results. It’s helped me to feel centered, more relaxed. When you get tunnel vision, wrapped up with your career and whatnot, it’s easy to lose touch with…well, YOU. It’s as if you’re mourning for yourself because a part of you is gone, the part of you who remembers how to have fun and joy. When you lose the creative part of you, you’re going to feel depressed.
On this week’s time-out, I went for a long walk with my camera. My knees barked, but I took it easy. I needed to take the time to get away from all the things we all struggle with: housework, the job that pays the bills, blah-blah-blah… I needed time to explore. To feel like a kid again. To play. To get out in the fresh air. To enjoy beauty.
I don’t want to make light of depression. It’s serious business. I also know that it is manageable. There are people out there that can help you, but you have to be willing to fight for yourself and your own mental health. Don’t allow perfectionism to have power over you.
Wishing you well and happy writing!
*Writing 101, Blogging 101