Feeding the Wolf

I hate personifying depression and anxiety. Calling it a wolf, or the ‘black dog of depression’. My mum calls it the ‘monkey on her back’. I hate doing it, but it does help.

It offers a degree of detachment. It somehow helps you to confront it, and if not stare it down then at least find a level of understanding. This is not defeatest-type thinking, it’s recognising your irrational feelings do not represent you. It’s allowing your poorly balanced brain chemistry to do its thing without berating yourself for it.

It’s starving the wolf.

This post and the one preceeding have been three months in the making. It originally began with the phrase, “I’m okay at the moment” and while that is not untrue, I’ve been better.

I took myself off my medication very gradually and managed to minimise the withdrawal. Three weeks after I ceased the meds completely, I had my first anxiety pang. It didn’t linger.

Some weeks later, I had a significant anxiety attack. It was triggered by a stressful event at work and has returned in waves ever since. It’s taken near two months for them to abate.

And while it has abated, it’s beginning to linger.

This is me right now.

And I’m fighting it.

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I’m trying to ‘art’ more. This is Anxiety sketched in charcoal.

Waking the Wolf

Darkness can be hard to recognise.

It creeps up on you and slides across your shoulders like the arm of a bully. The hand squeezes your shoulder. It tells you not to dob. You dismiss it at first, maybe you try to shrug it off.  You tell yourself it’s normal. You’re functioning. You believe you’re okay.

But the hand is heavy.

It pushes down. It holds you back. Moves you towards a fog.

Sometimes, all at once.

You find it hard to get motivated, you achieve less, you’re angry at yourself for not achieving more. You berate yourself for feeling sad knowing the life around you is wonderful. You feed your self-loathing with more self-loathing.

This is depression. More specifically – my depression. While there are commonalities, everyone’s journey is different.

For me, it grew from an anxiety disorder where worry is a constant background noise. It peaks at certain times as though you’ve just lost your child at the supermarket, but you haven’t. You’ve ordered flowers for a friend. Or you considered buying something. Or you had to meet someone at a place you’d never been before on a two-minute deviation from your normal path. Often the triggers are mundane, often illogical. Which is why it’s a disorder and not simply anxiety.

In my family, anxiety disorder is hereditary. The weird thing is, anxiety can present itself in peculiar ways. For me, it’s nausea, but at its peak, my back, arms, lips and tongue tingle which for a while caused me more anxiety – I thought I had multiple sclerosis. I didn’t. Anxiety is a fiend that feeds on itself.

I began some anti-anxiety medication two years ago and for the first time for as long as I could remember I experienced life without anxiety.  Anxiety was such a strong force in my life, it truly felt absent instead of simply normal.

Normal was wonderful.

Two months ago, after speaking with my doctor, I decided to wean myself of it.

You may even wonder why I would want to de-medicate and I can assure you, it was not a decision I took lightly. I’d been putting it off for months. I’d do it after the work event, or Soandso’s birthday party, or wait for summer.

But, I needed to know. I hoped. Perhaps my brain needed a break, perhaps it had re-learned, perhaps it didn’t need to be on medication any more. I needed to know this. Aside the fact that long-term use of some drugs can be damaging to your liver and/or kidneys – no one wants to be on medication if they don’t need to be. No one.

My doctor, as lovely as she is, didn’t understand my hesitation. She shrugged, “If you start feeling anxious, go back on it again.” She wasn’t intentionally being apathetic. It’s the kind of well-meaning thing someone says when they’ve never experienced the emotional roller coaster that anxiety and depression bring. It was a risk for me. I risked two weeks of drug-withdrawal, and maybe a few weeks of anxiety ‘pangs’ before the return of more severe anxiety attacks. Even if I restarted the medication right then, I would suffer another couple of weeks of anxiety and drug side-effects before I actually started feeling better. On top of that, knowing my own family’s experience, it is likely after this ‘break’ I’d need a stronger dose.

Which feels more a step backwards than forwards.

So.

How did I go?

See Part 2.

The Bigger Picture

I used to draw and paint a lot growing up. This peetered out with my frustrtion as I sought greater and greater likeness to life. At that time, I considered this the epitome of success as an artist – to draw as though I’d taken a snap-shot .

Someone questioned this, “Where is the art in that? You might as well take a photograph.”

I could see their point. I could also see that some artists, especially photographers might take offence to its implication. But I don’t intend to get into a debate about what art is or isn’t. This is a question of ideals.

I’ve always been at odds with the concept of perfectionism. I own and love art that isn’t photographic yet I expect this of myself. I think it’s enviable when an artist can convey a picture with a few dabs and strokes of the brush.

Like this picture.

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It’s a market find, which is HUGE, I might add. I had to fold the seats down to get it in the car. And in truth, it’s cut-off at either end as I couldn’t fit the whole picture into the camera frame, not just because it’s HUGE but because I’ve hung this picture in a very small room. I’ve essentially broken all the rules.

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The close-up shows so much with simply a few brush strokes. These two ladies, one with a white bow on the back of her dress appear to be an intense conversation

The picture itself is undated but it is probably 1960s or ’70s and it’s signed Federico. These type of pictures were painted quickly and often intended for the tourist market, though, in this case, it would have been a tough one to get home. You  know, speaking from experience.

I love this picture. It’s enviable art, and I must try to art more.

 

Which came first?

HUSBAND: Do you want this hard-boiled egg with your salad?

ME: What egg?

HUSBAND: Umm, the one left over from Friday…

ME: But I ate that for lunch.

HUSBAND: You can’t have, it’s right here *opens palms revealing a hard-boiled egg*

ME: But it was the one in the door-compartment.

HUSBAND: No, this is the egg because because it’s just where I left it in the fridge…

[Insert lengthy description of its placement in the fridge]

[Insert realisation I ate the wrong egg]

ME: I’m going to die.

Another Year Ends

A new year will shortly begin.

I refuse to label 2016 as anything other than a good wizard year that bad things have happen to in. Let’s look at that good year…

I admit, I had to research a little to remind myself, as my brain is still all ‘What!? Debbie Reynolds died!?” but, let’s list the good stuff.

  1. Einstein was right – gravitational waves are no-longer theoretical.
  2. After 50 years of war, Columbia finds peace.
  3. Babies. If three babies are born a second, and with still several hours before midnight, near 9.5 million babies will be born this year – they have BIG shoes to fill. Just saying. No pressure.
  4. What about the Paralympics? Yeah, Baby! Oh, and the Olympics too.
  5. This kid makes teddy bears for sick children.
  6. We eradicated the Ebola virus. Long may it be eradicated.
  7. Dinosaur feathers were found preserved in amber.
  8. Good things happen everyday. Find some here. Google ‘good news’ for your area, it’ll warm your heart and make you cry. Not that I did. No. Definitely not. *clears throat*
  9. Barrack Obama is still president
  10. I discovered this again:

Let’s be happy 2017, or at least, thoroughly content:

 

What ever you do in 2017, be your best.

 

Essentially, Lots of Chocolate

After my husband’s final day at work for the year, he arrived home with a mammoth box of chocolates. His celebratory beer was probably responsible for the downward spiral of our conversation.

I don’t believe my Australian accent is particularly strong, but we sound very Australian here, so put on your best accent while reading. Try not to think about this too literally. More importantly, do not take this literally – in case you’re baffled by Australian slang, we’re saying we have a plentiful supply of chocolate.

HUSBAND: We have chocolate coming out our arses. Hang on. Is that correct? Is it ‘arse’ or ‘arses’? Does the phrase imply we have chocolate coming out of each of our arses or does it imply that we each have more than one arse? Maybe we have chocolate coming out of our arse, no, wait that’s really not right.

ME: We don’t have a collective arse.

HUSBAND: Yeah, so it is ‘arses’.

ME: You’ve given this way too much thought.

HUSBAND: *manic grin* You can blog about that if you like.

The Gift of Quirky

While my collections aren’t quite Borgin & Burkes, they do at times,  verge upon creepy with pinch of unconventional, an edge of steampunk and a notch of practicality. Sometimes, I even surprise myself with things that appeal to me.

Fortunately, when it comes to gifts, my family totally understands me and my quirks.

Meet the doll boy, who does not yet have a name.

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There are several curious aspects to this doll. He appears to be made of vulcanised rubber (gutta percha) which was invented in the mid nineteenth century. On the era of his clothes and the toy plane in his hand, I’d call this doll Edwardian, but incase you missed it, he’s wearing a fez, so that makes him what? Turkish? Even that being the case, he was originally made and exported from Japan. According to the internet ‘made in…’ began in about 1915 but prior to 1921, Japanese products were mostly labelled Nippon perhaps making him a doll of the 1920s. The closest example I can find on the internet is a doll from a 1901 shipwreck though it is not of Japanese origin.

My other, slightly quirky presents can be found below.

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What every girl needs. Old books. A child-sized cobblers’ shoe mold and literally a pair of handles.

Hope you all had a merry Christmas, or Festivus, or holiday. Joy to all!