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Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

Bloom


 

“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”

T.H. White, The Once and Future King



I came across the video below first thing this morning, just before 6 AM. It’s titled Bloom and is written and directed by Emily Johnstone and Brian Kistler and animated by the students from San Jose State Animation Illustration. It’s a simple but lovely vignette that illustrates the effect that one person making one small effort to reach out to another can have on the life of the recipient of that effort.

The current time of the year coupled with the isolation of the pandemic and the uncertainty throughout this nation fostered by the unsteady handling from the current people in power make it a ripe time for those suffer from the darkness of depression. I thought about how terrible a time it is for those folks who haven’t developed methods and mechanisms for dealing with it. This, in turn, made me think about my own struggles through the years and how fortunate I have been to have survived long enough to develop my own personal system for dealing with it.

I don’t even know if I have openly mentioned them here. Such is the stigma of depression. We openly discuss the most intimate details of our lives but depression remains a difficult subject to broach because we still see it as a sign of weakness or a character flaw rather than an affliction. 

If you’re a regular reader you probably have deduced by now that I have had bouts of depression without me ever coming out and stating it plainly. I really wasn’t planning on talking about it this morning and don’t really want to go too far without a little more consideration on my part. But I will say that the simple message in this short animation is essential to dealing with depression. The thought that one person is concerned about your well being is often enough to get through a dark period. And the care and dedication required to foster a living thing such as a plant or a pet often gives us the validation that one is needed.

I know for myself, this blog is one of my primary mechanisms for dealing with my own darkness. It provides structure and a sense of dedicated obligation. Having that task in front of me every morning helps greatly and makes me seek things to discuss which goes to the blurb at the top from The Once and Future King, a favorite book from my youth from T.H. White, which speaks to the effect of learning something new on one’s sadness. It’s a beautiful paragraph.

Learning alters the path that the mind is traveling and for the depressed person sometimes that is enough to elevate their state, even if its only a small bit. And sometimes that small lift takes them to a point where they can see new horizons that remained hidden to them before.

The other obvious benefit of this blog for me is the human contact and feedback it provides. Just knowing there are people out there, even if only a small handful, that might read this and respond once in a great while is enough to fulfill the void.

Enough to reach across the darkness.

I really don’t want to go any further into the subject this morning. As I said, I had no intention in doing so this morning. But seeing this short film and knowing how many folks are struggling right now, feeling the hopelessness and isolation that comes with depression, I thought it was important to at least speak briefly to it.

I am often hesitant in speaking too much about it because there are no one-size-fits-all fixes here. One of the aspects of depression that make it so insidious is that each person’s experience is personally formed that it is sometimes difficult to find the mechanisms and methods that will get that person through their dark patches.

I can only speak to m own experience. For me, it is in having set routines, such as this blog or caring for my beloved studio cat, Hobie. In having methods of making contact that allow me to feel that my voice and concerns are being heard. In setting goals that force me to work and not fall into the idleness that often brings the darkness.

I could go on and maybe I will at some point. But for today, try to look outside yourself and recognize the indications of depression in others. Something as small as a quick note or text or call might be the difference that changes another person’s whole outlook for the day.

And that one day might make a crucial difference in their life.

So, have a good day. Learn something new. But mainly, reach out and try to bring a little bloom into someone else’s day. 

(The video is below. There’s a little gap so make sure to scroll just a little lower if you don’t see it immediately. I have to learn how to better embed videos. Ah, learning!)



https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js

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Riding It Out

GC Myers- Riding It Out 2015I was and wasn’t surprised by the reaction to my last post where I noted a recent period of being deeply down in the dumps.  Almost instantly, well wishes and advice came from many quarters and to all of those who offered kind words I extend my most heartfelt gratitude.  The reaction was very reassuring, to say the least.  But that doesn’t surprise me as those people who might read the blog or follow my work tend to be feeling, empathetic beings.

But I was a little embarrassed by the reaction.  I mentioned in the post that  I thought about deleting the whole thing and it was just for that reason– I didn’t want to appear needy, begging for validation and attention even if it came in the form of pity.  And I didn’t want to show any signs of my own vulnerability.  The stigma of having one’s insecurity labeled a weakness is a powerful silencer for many people who suffer depression.

But I decided to let it go out to the world.  After all, I have always exposed both my strengths and vulnerabilities in my work and in my words.  Emotion and response to it is the basis for my work at its core.  Vulnerability is, in fact, a strength and certainly not a weakness in that realm.

In fact, exposing that vulnerability and not worrying about masking it is the key, at least for me, to climbing out of the hole.  That allows you to move, to break the paralysis of fear and lost confidence.  And sometimes the simplest movement provide that spark.

For me, it was combination of a couple of things.  First, I began to take lessons in stained glass.  Just focusing and concentrating on mastering a new process helped block out the negative thoughts and opened up new avenues of potential.  Second, I simply set my mind on clearing the cattails from one edge of my pond.  It is  mindless labor that finds me in waist and chest deep water  where I reach as deep as I can into the murky water and try to tug the whole reed and root from the pond’s bottom.  It is a grueling task, leaving me with a sore back and hands that ache severely this morning when I try to bend my fingers.

But while I am in the water in my chest waders,  I block out everything but the task of the next group of cattails ahead of me. But it is instantly satisfying to see the progress as the reeds begin to disappear, revealing the beautiful surface of the pond that I built about seventeen years back.  Seeing it without the frame of reeds that has been blocking my view brings back the pride in its creation that I often feel when I look upon it.

I have often thought that I was as proud of the pond as any painting I have ever done.  There is something wonderful in seeing how it spawns life around it.  The fish and frogs and the herons and occasional ospreys who feed on them, the yearly invasion of tiny toads migrating from it, the deer and other animals who drink and eat at its edge, the blackbirds who build elegant nests in the cattails, the dragonflies who hover inquisitively in front of me as I stand on the bank, the turtles who splash into the water from an old half submerged log, the coyote tracks that crisscross it in its frozen months, the bats that shoot across it in the twilight feasting on the bugs who rise from it,the ring of irises around it and the water lilies in it that provide sparks of bright color– they all come together in a wondrous way.

The pond has done much for those creatures and now it once again does much for me.  How could a person not begin to feel better after a few days of quietly working in that environment?

And I do feel better with each passing day, with each new effort to move ahead.  Thank you again for your concern.  It humbles me.

PS- The painting is another new small piece that I call Riding It Out.  Fits the subject, I suppose.

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GC Myers- Nobody KnowsI’ve been in a pretty deep funk lately.  I wasn’t going to write about this at all though I am sure it seeps into the writing that I do post.  But in the name of transparency I thought I would share a few words on the subject.

I have often experienced down periods (or funks as I call them) throughout my life.  In the recent past they are less frequent and last for a relatively short period of time, mainly due to having built up some knowledge in how to pull out of them.  There is a general disinterest in most things and a dulling of emotions as well as a loss of confidence where I find myself questioning everything I think I know.  I feel tired and listless and anxious to the point that I can’t focus fully on much of anything or get anything done.  For example, writing this blog has been a tremendous chore over the past several weeks.

As I say, I can usually work my way out these within days or a week or so.  That has been the gift that my painting has presented me over the past two decades.  But this recent bout has been  a doozy with a complete collapse of confidence in everything  that I do or  have done.  I felt dead inside and paralyzed in every way, fearful to move in any direction.

This extended to  my work, that one thing with which would  normally  buoy my emotions, to the point that I couldn’t even pick up a brush.  The mere thought of it formed a giant knot in my gut, as if actually painting would provide proof of the doubts and fears that were eating at me.  I kept putting  off working on a couple of commissioned pieces or starting any other new work and worked only in fits on another project that was several months late already.

But slowly I find myself creeping out of the pit.  Small goals and small steps forward.  Yesterday I finally picked up a brush and worked on a couple of very small pieces, such as the one shown at the top.  And much to my surprise, I felt that spark once again, a positive emotion generated.  It just felt good again.

So, I see a light at the end of my tunnel.  And believe me when I say I am running toward this light.

As I said, I wasn’t going to write about this here.  In fact, I still am thinking about deleting the whole thing even now.  But I won’t.  I’ve tried to maintain transparency in how my life translates into my work and this is certainly part of my life.  It might be that bit of darkness that underscores the lightness in my work.

I don’t know but at least I feel like thinking about it once again.  And that is a good thing…

So, for this week’s Sunday morning musical break. let’s listen to one of my all time favorites, Sam Cooke, who I believe could sing any song and make it sound incredible.  I took a shortened title from this song for the piece at the top, calling it Nobody Knows.  Of, course, the song is Cooke’s upbeat version of the  old spiritual Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, which might seem a bit on the nose for today’s entry.  But it feels positive and so do I.  So, give a listen and have a great day.

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It’s a funny time of the year for me as an artist.  I’m at the end of a creative cycle and have a little more time at my disposal, which is nice.  Allows me to catch up with things I too long neglect or just don’t make time for normally.

But there is a part of me that is made uneasy by this freedom to do other things.  My next shows and goals seem very far in the distance and I’m unfocused,  floundering around a bit, trying to find my bearings as to where I see my work moving.  It’s as though I am somewhat lost without having to be at work, without having an immediate goal.  Sort of like being rudderless in the waves.

This is not an unusual event for me at this time of the year.  The nice thing in having done this for a number of years now is knowing that this time, and the accompanying uneasiness,  is only temporary.  I realize that this is all part of a cycle and that I have the tools to get through this feeling of being adrift creatively and that the time will come soon when I will be once more fully engaged.

It reminds me of  something I read in the comments of a friend’s blog, when the discussion was about getting through a period of depression.  The commentator said he had learned to accept these periods of darkness as part of who he was and that it became easier once he recognized that when the black crows flew in, they were his black crows.  And eventually he knew they would leave if he could only be patient and wait them out.

I understand what he meant.

Once you know there is a cycle, you know the other side will soon come around.

And I think it’s important to have this part of the cycle, as uncomfortable as it may seem.  For me, it always seems to spur new searching and new creativity.  For that reason alone, I have learned to embrace my own particular black crows…

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