Saturday, January 30, 2010

How can I be lonely when I am surrounded by all these people?

For years I thought there was something wrong with me...personally...I grew up in the middle of this large family. Ten kids and two parents and there I was in the middle of them all. No one ever sees you when you are in the middle unless you are loud, colorful, passionate, opinionated, sarcastic, independent and a little bit impatient.  I was invisible. At least it felt like it to me. Everyone else around me seemed to be really happy and a part of "IT" but I didn't. 

I started collecting stuff. Bits of pretty fabirc, yarn, glue, paper, scissors...and rhinestones...I LOVED sparkly things! Once I "borrowed" my mom's favorite earrings and made a pair of slippers for my doll. They were leopard print flannel and I sewed  her peridot green rhinestone earrings on the tops of the toes. My doll was stylin! Mom  not so much- I got in trouble for getting into her room and into her jewelry box without permission. But the slippers were SO COOL! 

My Mother used to tell me I was just like Grandma- a pack rat. That made me really, really mad. It was my dad's mom- the one she didn't like. I thought that meant Mom didn't like me either. I needed all that stuff. Because when I was making stuff with all the stuff I collected I was happy and I didn't feel so lonely. I could dissappear into this wonderful place inside my head. And into books.

I am still different- I don't think that will ever change. My personal statement is "Conform- Go Crazy- Or Become An Artist"  I tried to conform- but I couldn't do it. I wasn't quiet like Melanie or popular like Susan or brillantly smart like Frank and Cecelia or fix things like Steve...I collected things and made stuff.

Once I read these books by Rumer Godden. One was called "Miss Happiness and Miss Flower" I was so enchanted with this book and I could relate to Nona- the main character in the book. I spent a week creating my own Japanese garden. I could hardly wait to get home from school so I could work on my beautiful garden that I made inside a shirt box.

Being different meant not having a lot of friends. It's not easy to have friends when you are depressed. They don't understand and sometimes it's easier to be alone than to be with people. But that isn't healthy either.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

coloring outside the lines

In 2006 I published a book with this small independant publishing company Smiling Stone Soup.

 "Outside the Lines" is my journey - as daughter, sister, friend, lover, spouse and mom - through a world colored by clinical depression. it's a story of hoping and coping and learning to live with this illness with creativity, humor and compassion - and a lot of help from family, friends and, well, meds. I wrote and illustrated the book and it met with modest success. So I'm not here trying to sell the book. My purpose is to reach out and connect with people like me who live with depression everyday. Through all its ups and downs.
Depression sucks. It colors every aspect of your life. The drugs also suck. Sometimes the side effects are worse than the depression.  I know there are worse things I could have. A lot worse- but depression is the illness I have to live with.

Sometimes I think it would be better if I was the only one to have to deal with it. Silly me- I got married and had children. Now there are more people in my  life who have to deal with it too. That isn't easy. Trying to explain why you act the way you do at times when you really don't understand why you feel the way you do. Depression and mental illness is prevalent in my family- my  paternal grandmother was bi-polar as was my father. My mother was chemically depressed and my older brother was autistic. Genetics are wonderful aren't they.

On the plus side I'm an artist. People tell me all the time that creative people are predisposed for depression and mental illness. I'm in good company too- Claude Monet, Georgia O'Keefe, Jackson Pollack, Edvard Munch and Vincent Van Gogh. But knowing that doesn't make it any better. I wish there was some way to remove the stigma that is attached to mental illness. Ok- so here's one person trying to make a difference. Me. I am chemically depressed and will be the rest of my life.