Art Journal Page: What’s in a word?

IMG_6274For those that don’t know, I have recurrent depression, with relatively frequent episodes of lows and pretty good recovery in between. You may correctly guess I’m struggling at the moment, based on my art journal reflections today (which are based on my ruminations in the shower this morning). Now, I don’t normally share autobiographical stuff, but the topic of depression is being discussed elsewhere in the crafting world and I felt moved to share my own experiences of this mental (absence of) health issue – the more we talk about mental illness, the less threatening it might be for someone else.

What’s in a word? Recurrent – it’s a cruel word. You don’t hear of people being recurrently happy. Or recurrent joy. Those too can be ‘unending’ but recurrent has it’s root in the Latin to ‘turn back’. And with recurrent depression, it’s like that – only a passive result of chemicals misbehaving rather than a conscious turning from ‘health’. It’s especially cruel, I think, as recovery between makes the downs even more difficult to deal with. Though medication is helping, and next week I’m going to be discussing throwing a mood stabiliser into the mix as well, there’s not a lot I can do to stop an episode occurring. Or recurring. Resilience disappears out of the window in the middle of an episode, and everything is an effort. I am lucky enough to be aware enough not to curl up in a ball, and capable enough to at least do some of my normal activities – even if they take up twice as much time and energy as they otherwise would. I am lucky enough to still have hope – I know at some point the bleakness will lift. It’s the not knowing exactly when, or how long for that’s the killer. And on that topic, I’m also blessed not to have suicidal thoughts or ideas that often accompany depression – but I so understand where they come from. I am supported by an extremely understanding wife and a close group of church friends, and indeed customers, who cope with me whatever state I happen to be in – and that’s worth keeping going for.

Back to business: background is acrylic paints in teal/brown/black – I think they were part brayered on, part swiped. Main word is stamped in Hickory Smoke Distress Paint. Rest of text in Sharpies.

8 thoughts on “Art Journal Page: What’s in a word?

  1. I am a great believer in talking about problems. Your previous life probably helps as much as it could hinder in your understanding of what is going on. I am glad you feel able to share with us. When you are down in a dark the place, the only way to go is up. ☝🙏💐

  2. Any sort of depression is a very lonely place and I do not want to return there. Support of family and friends is so important and having someone to talk to is crucial. Art helps me express feelings and heal. So Neal, I’ve got you in my prayers and firmly believe that is God brings you to it, He will get you thru it.
    Now go into the studio and CREATE!

  3. All any of us can do is deal with one day at a time, one step at a time, one breath at a time. Remember that a whole lot of people are cheering you on to that next step.

  4. Thank you for sharing your personal journey, Neil. I had depression when I was young and can relate. I also understand about recurring… I am half way through 6 months of chemo at the moment and each treatment leaves me flattened and I spend the next 3 weeks till the next one climbing back to relative normality, knowing I have to face the same thing yet again… At least I know that this is only temporary and should lead to a cancer free lifel. Life is so precious and this wake up call makes me realise just how important it is to forge ahead and not waste a moment of it, and to do art and be fulfilled in every way possible, and to try and make life better for everyone. I love how you have interpreted your depression in this art page – the colour scheme, the minimalist theme and the lack of border speak volumes to me.

    Hang in there – you have so much to offer and I always enjoy visiting your blog.


  5. Neil;

    Be encouraged. I am sending you love and prayers from Across the Pond. I am also experiencing a recurrence of depression, but, like you, am blessed to have faith in God.


  6. I so appreciated your heartfelt blog post. I think discussing this is vital, and you do a beautiful job describing this illness. I too suffer from depression, as do many others. We may not be able to control the chemistry at all times, but we can combat the isolation that it can bring. Thank you very much for your honesty. It has helped me today.

  7. I suffer from bipolar and have a mood stabiliser combined with my happy pills. The most frustrating thing about medication I find, is that it helps but also kills the creative spirit and imagination, making creating sometimes extremely hard work. And at times impossible!
    If you decide to add mood stabilisers/suppressors, finding the right levels is crucial.
    Anyway, be kind to yourself,
    Dawn x

    • That was one of my concerns too, but I’ve asked to try lamotrigine rather than lithium or valproate. Last thing I need is my creative outlet being stymied! It helps having been a psychiatrist in a previous career 🙂

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