Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Depression and life.

Sometimes the veil of consternation seems like a burden too heavy for any of us to carry. It’s that moment of realization that after you’ve fallen from a height, there is no getting back up, clinging back on, your just falling. You surrender to the fate that awaits your plunge nether and can do nothing to alter the course. Helpless, you flail your arms knowing that all you have to wait for is the fall to end. It is a horrible feeling and one which too many of us have had that suffer from depression. Add to that the additional feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or that you are a burden to your loved ones. Overall, it is not a happy place to be and thus the term depression.

Phaethon’s Faux Pas - a study in depression, which I completed in 1998.

In my own experience, I have had to sink to the depths of utter despair, crisis, and despondency before I reached out for help. Like a man holding a hemlock potion I felt that this stoic reality was the only conclusion and thus the bitter solution was to imbibe the deadly brew. Happily, I did not partake as I spit the bitter drink from my mouth as it crossed my lips.

For the sake of my art, and my loved ones I will gladly endure to the end! I painted this watercolour in 1997.

What I learned from those experiences was that great height from which I felt was so high was only the first step, of the staircase I had ambitiously attempted to climb. The only real height was in my head, which was indeed in the clouds and my feelings were obscured by the fog of being there. It took a crisis of major proportion before I surrendered to my need of help and when I did, it was there for me. I recognized that I could not arrest my fall before I addressed those issues and only then did that cloud dissipated and I saw where I really was.
You feel alone and that absolutely nothing can change the outcome of your destiny as though you’re swimming upstream against a strong current. Suddenly, a life-buoy lands before you and you clasp on as though all of life depended on it and it does.

Like a heroin drug addiction, you can’t really stop the scratch of desire because it has become the shroud in which you hide from the real issues. Taking the methadone only helps relieve the pain of withdrawal; it is not until you seek council and deal with the issues that the dependency abates and the monkey lets go its talons firmly grasped to your back. Likewise, it is with depression, your body, after a time starts to recognize it as part of your being and it becomes the norm. Letting go seems as obscure as not breathing, as it slowly takes over the throne of your being. When you finally realize that the throne of your being has been usurped by something not entirely you, only then can you regain your rightful place on that throne.

A reworking from the above painting in pen and ink. 1999.

After a serious crisis in my life I went to my family doctor for help. At first, it took drugs to lift the cloud and see the pressing issues standing right there before me. I wasn’t falling helplessly but rather had lost sight of the fact that I was lying flat on my back looking up at the ether of those dark clouds above me. Then with a great psychoanalyst, I began to address the issues that had clouded my vision and had moved themselves onto the throne of my being.

Life is not as simple as taking a pill, damn how many of us wish it was. We could be like Neo in the Matrix and take the blue pill making us oblivious to the reality surrounding us. Dealing with the reality of course means taking the red pill and that only begins the sojourn of which we must now traverse. I urge those of you with such misery to take the red pill and start to deal with the issues clouded behind that wall of pain and consternation.

Now some 4 years later am I happier, by no means. Has my life become a bowl of cherries, in no-uncertain terms it has not. Am I looking through rose coloured glasses, for the first time I can honestly say that I see clearly the obstacles still in my way. What I have achieved is regaining the throne of my being. While the demons still raise their ugly heads, I am able to sit on that throne and say no, as they attempt to recover what does not belong to them. Yes, every now and then, I must get up off my back and with every effort I can make, crawl back up onto the seat of power. Nothing in life is that easy and that is a good thing as it helps us gain wisdom through experience. Where there a refrain in my life that chorus would be, “I’m a survivor of my own stupidity”. I live though and not as a victim.

So today I’m still feeling blue. I am worried that writing the above might seem somehow vapidly platitudinal or cliché. I realize I should divest my energy in my studio instead of the thirty plus minutes I have just spent doing this and it makes me feel guilty. If I can say anything, I’d like to use this probably over used anecdote: A man was walking and complaining to God that he was forced to make this journey and all its travails on his own alone. God instructed the man to look back, where he saw a single set of footsteps and said, “See I am alone.” God answered him further by saying “Those are not your footprints but mine as I have been carrying you these past many miles.”

I hope my own confessional here might encourage only one person to call out for help. Help is there, of that be sure; let me be that testimony.


Post a Comment

<< Home