We like to think monsters hide under beds, in closets, in the dark skittering corners of alleys. We cast them as The Other in our ongoing head-sagas.
If you spend longer than five minutes near me, you're probably going to hear me say, "Let's make a list." It drives my free-spirited friends mad. My desire to plot and plan doesn't extend to my creative projects, as I find I tend to over plan and suck the marrow from them before they even get started. So how do I find a balance? How do I feed my need to plan and not stifle the flow of random dot connection that makes an idea breathe?
What is a brain dump? Imagine your brain as a backpack or purse that you've been lugging around for three months. Stuff has Accumulated. There are old receipts, that thing you need to take back to that person, loose change, old used(!) tissues, a couple of chocolates, and an emergency pair of flats, bare minimum. The weight of carrying all that garbage around starts to take a toll on your back and shoulders. When you dump it out, you're amazed at the untold detritus of your life that comes tumbling onto the table. You vacuum the lining, sort out what's really useful, dump the trash, and repack. Everything is tidy and light.
This might not seem particularly related to mental health or creativity, but stick with me here. I have a problem with the word "nice." I used to pride myself in being a nice person; when someone said, "Oh, you're so nice," I was set aglow with pride. But the problem here is the definition of nice. From Webster-Merriam: "Nice comes from the Latin word nescius (“ignorant”), which is also the origin of a lesser-known English word, nescience (“ignorance”)." That's a far cry from the general public's modern understanding of the word, to be pleasing and agreeable, but [...]
I don't want to be writing. I want to be sleeping. I want to be curled up in a blanket, with my aching body and giant yawns covered by my soft grey duvet. Yet here I am, with a frozen gluten-free pizza (courtesy of my sister-in-law, who spoils me) in the oven and my hoodie pulled over my head. My inner critic is perched in her favorite place, just out of sight on my shoulder. She's whispering to me and you know what she's saying.
Yesterday I forgot to take my meds. So what better time to explain what antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are? My intention here is to provide a personal, anecdotal record of the experience of missing a dose of an antidepressant. If reading this brings up questions you want me to address in follow-up posts, please comment! This is a big topic!
A few days ago my mom and aunt came to visit me. In preparation for their arrival, I became incensed at myself, shaming myself into the work, the cleaning I thought needed to be done. I had a moment where I thought, okay, maybe I can kill myself by working too hard. I was fighting waves of nausea, pain and fatigue with every medicine I could, determined to be presentable and enough. When I finally admitted how stressed I was to my aunt, she told me, lovingly, that I was being stupid. That they were coming [...]
Today I read – inhaled – start to finish, “When Breath Becomes Air,” by the late Paul Kalanithi. It clarified the thoughts I was having yesterday, which I feel perhaps didn’t come out as clearly as I would’ve liked. Certainly, if I wasn’t participating in NaBloPoMo, I wouldn’t have published it. It’s rambling and a touch too raw, too close to how I think to be palatable for mass consumption. Kalanithi’s theme, for me, is distilled into a single sentence on the seventy-first page: “What makes life meaningful enough to go on living?” This idea is [...]
I’ve been unwell. This isn’t a surprise, or news. It just is a thing that happens in my life. I got swept up in physical pain, anxiety, and the depression that trails after the two. Often my issues feel like they’re surrounding me, a pack of hungry dogs, nipping at me to move in certain directions, blocking me from moving in others.
One of the biggest hurdles we face as creatives with invisible illnesses or disabilities is our own expectations of ourselves. They’re often far harsher than what our friends and loved ones desire for us.