I was talking to a friend today and she asked how I was doing. I started to say "oh, fine." as you do, but other words spilled out instead. Shitty. Sad. Depressed. Isolated. Anxious, having panic attacks. Hadn’t been out of the house in 3 days. Agoraphobia in full swing. As yet (today) unshowered, unfed, uncombed, unmedicated. Guilty about not being in the studio. No motivation. No spark. Skies are grey and the rain seems never-ending. The holidays are over and spring seems like a long way off.
Can I just say, it’s nice to have friends who will hold some space for you while you dig out and take a look around?
When you’ve been dealing with mental health stuff for as long as I have, you learn to recognize what the warning signs are, what the long and slow (or sometimes short and fast) slide into a depressive state can feel like. Sometimes you miss them though. And the reality is, it’s been a strange start to the new year. The urgency of unpacking and settling in are over, the twinkle lights and sparkle of the holidays are gone, it's hard to sleep at night, the house makes weird noises. I’m struggling with figuring out Portland, where things are different, I don't know where to find the good Thai food, there are grey skies, no tacos, and never-ending rain. It took me a few days to recognize the signs.
Btw, if some wise-ass wants to take this opportunity to say, “Well go back to LA then, Californian scum.” I’d cordially like to invite that individual to eat a bag of dicks. Adjustment to a new place is a thing. Cold, dark winters are real. Wanting a taco is okay. It’s ok to talk about all of this.
After my friend and I hung up, I made a list. Self-care things. Small things like, “make the bed, take a shower, eat breakfast, take your meds, remember vitamin D, go outside, take a walk, happy lamp, pants.”
Obviously, that list looks different for everyone, but those are some fairly critical, daily, self-care steps for me. I feel pretty good that I remembered to add pants.
I took a shower. I made my bed. I stepped outside and took a breath of fresh air between the raindrops. I ate breakfast and took my meds. I tidied the bathroom, loaded the dishwasher, wiped down the kitchen. And on the other side of it, I really did feel just a little bit better. I'm not sure what tomorrow will look like, but the list is going to be there on the door for me to shoot for.
It was late and the sun was going down by the time I finished. My whole day was basically just spent getting real about where I was at and doing a few small things towards basic maintenance of life and home. There’s some guilt there, I will admit it. Did I waste the whole day? My shop is slow right now, I haven't had a sale in weeks and I haven't done a shop update since before the move. Or an Instagram update. What if I never sell another pair of earrings? I haven't done any stock for Southern Faire! What if, what if, what if... ugh. My inner voice went there, she definitely wants to tell me that I wasted a perfectly good day. But as I said to a friend earlier this week, “Self-care is stuff,” Today I needed that reminder myself. Even if it wasn’t making jewelry stuff, earning money stuff, or clever social media stuff, it was enough. Today I started to dig out, a little bit, and that matters. The truth is, I will never NOT deal with depression and anxiety. I will never NOT have to actively manage my mental health. It’s simply the degree to which I have to manage it that shifts. Today, "doing stuff" meant actively being present with what was happening with my mental health.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to talk about it here, in this space, on this blog. I used to keep a separate blog for all the real, but I just have too many spaces, too many things to maintain. And this is part of the process, this is part of my life as an artist, as the artist who inhabits this online space. The artist who lives here is more than just earrings. So you are going to get the real, along with the sparkly. I do think it’s really important to talk about, to remove some of the stigmas from it and to be out loud with it if that’s what’s real for you. I've been talking out loud about this for years, I'm not about to stop now.
Sometimes you get pretty earrings or stuff made out of thread and yarn. And sometimes you get musings on neurotransmitters and wonky brain chemistry. They go hand in hand, here. I'm not sorry for it.
And on a personal note? Since this is so personal?
I’ve decided to bring back the twinkle lights. Who cares if the holidays are over? Sometimes you have to invite the light back in, especially when it seems so very far away.