I know I haven’t done the Pick A Stick Challenge for a little while but didn’t realise quite how long ago it was… 2015! I’ve decided to try and do at least one ‘me-project’ each month, and this month was the Pick A Stick art journal challenge. For those that have forgotten the format, ten sticks are chosen at random, each with an instruction as to what to put in or a technique to use. The challenge Facebook group can be found here.
The page ended up darker in tone and emotion that I normally do – the quote was inspired by the raven stencil I used. There are many different things that I would call from the poem, but this is perhaps the darkest. As I was writing it onto the page all I could think of was my road with depression, my ‘black dog’.
I’m a subscriber to Art Journaling magazine from Stampington, and every now and then a featured article catches my eye. Reading the fine print revealed that this particular journal was based on a mixed media class available online from Donna Downey.
Between TV shows I can normally fit in a couple of weeks for my own projects, subject to other calls on my time. This time round I managed to take some quality art time for myself, signed up for the class and completed my journal.
For 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.