suffering is back
will my art therefore return
better than ever?
suffering is back
suffering is back
will my art therefore return
better than ever?
When you have depression, suddenly the world shifts. You have the burning desire to sleep all day, your passions become an afterthought, and small tasks seem unattainable. The number of times I have had to explain to my dentist that I don’t brush my teeth as often as I should because of my depression fills me with shame. Or when I start crying when I get the urge to pee because that means getting out of bed. When I’m at the bottom of a depressive well, the amount of guilt, shame, sadness, and exhaustion cover me so I can’t even see the light at the top. And I’m at the bottom of that well right now.
One of the adjustments I have had to make lately is adjusting the standards I set for myself. I now get rewarded for the smallest things. Things that I’m sure most people have no problem doing every day. I now get congratulated and celebrated when I do something simple, like put a dirty dish in the dishwasher, or take a shower. I have to force myself to go hang out with my friends, or reach out for help when I feel overwhelmed.
Today, I was congratulated for making social plans. At first, I was disheartened. All I did was reply “Sure” to a text from a friend who asked to hang out. Why does that earn celebration? I once read a memoir about a woman with bipolar disorder, and she writes something similar about receiving praise for moving from her bed to the couch.
The thing is, I can’t look at things the way I do when I’m not depressed. Because those are completely different circumstances. When you feel it’s impossible to get out of bed, or keep your eyes open, it is a major celebration when you do those things. Because, in your depressed mind, you have just accomplished the impossible. Which means, you can do anything. It will be hard as hell, sure. And it is doable. That is what I’m holding onto while I’m stuck looking up from the bottom of this hole I’ve found myself in. It’s going to be work. I’m going to have urges to act on maladaptive behaviors. I’m going to want to sleep all day. And I know that I can say no. I can get up and go to work, or see my friends, or buy groceries.
Just because I have to lower the bar now, doesn’t mean it’s forever.
I’ve been having judgments lately about myself, and my poetry, in particular. Nothing seems to measure up to the standards I have set for myself. The content– what I have to say– doesn’t seem worthy of publication. In fact, I believe it only encourages judgments from others.
The last poem I wrote, unnamed 1.49, was one that I have many judgments about. Specifically, the topic: someone’s hands. I don’t know what it is about hands that I love so much, but I wanted to try and write about it. After all, the blog is all about me challenging my perfectionism. So, I posted it. And as soon as I did, I started beating myself up.
But the thing is, that’s not what art is about. It’s not out there for the sole purpose of being judged by others. It’s for you, the creator, the artist.
I don’t know if that poem was any good. I do know two things, however: that it came from me, which makes it the right thing to post here, and that it is imperfect. Nothing is perfect.
I’m going to challenge myself more and not call the judgment police each time I have an idea that I want to explore in my writing. This blog is for me, not you. I’m just privileged you would want to come on this crazy ride with me.
So, thanks for reading and please be sure to challenge perfectionism in your own life!
I let it slip
the darkness won
took over for a few minutes
and that was it
grasping at the empty air
needing something to hold onto
everything felt too far away
The darkness enveloped me
until i found some small part of me
that had the strength to claw my way
back towards the light
Maybe i won’t have to free fall into the unknown
maybe someone or something will be below
To catch me
nothing will make me love you less
nothing will make you less beautiful in my eyes
you are everything the sun envies
and i couldn’t be more happy to know you
please hear me when i tell you
i love you so much
i see you
and i love you
Good afternoon, readers. Happy Saturday!
So, do you remember when I told you why I named this blog “Putting Down the Rope”? (No shame, if not. Read it here.)
Well, since treatment ended I’ve been feeling much more like myself. I’m sure recovery and the right cocktail of meds is doing the trick, but it’s so relieving to feel more productive, creative, etc. It feels like I’m putting down the rope.
Last night I had the opportunity to attend an art installation at my friends’ art co-op, Holy Unlikely. It was a gathering of some really amazing people, both extremely talented and exceedingly kind. I brought some of my photographs/poems to display in the visual art/gallery-style portion of the evening; something I would have never done a month ago. But now, I wanted to display it. My self-doubt was no longer shrouding my consciousness and I was proud to display the more vulnerable parts of myself. (Recognize the work?)
Later on we arrived at the performance portion of the evening– open mic style– where anyone and everyone were encouraged to sign up to share music, performance art, poetry, random thoughts, etc. I already knew I was going to abstain from participating in this part of the show; I was perfectly content being invisible in the audience. The last time I said I was going to do an open mic night, I ended up hiding in the bathroom when it was my turn. (I still can’t apologize enough to my friend who took the time to learn the song I planned on singing that night…I owe you one, Skyler.)
But last night was different. I felt safe. I felt comfortable. And I was surrounded by people who were baring their souls, just like I wanted to.
You see, art got me through some of the worst times. If it weren’t for this blog, I don’t know if I would be this far along on the road to recovery. It carries me when I can’t lift a leg to walk, it flies me into the clouds when I’m elated.
The memory of this feeling is what made me decide to share the art that got me through some of the hardest times of my life with a group of mostly strangers. I read three of my poems. I didn’t stutter, choke on nothing, or shake so badly it looked like I was having a seizure. And, most importantly, I didn’t hide in the bathroom when they called my name. I told everyone I have an eating disorder, and got applause when I mentioned I discharged from treatment. I read the poem that helped me realize the staff at clinic knew what they were doing even if I thought they didn’t. I read about love, I read about feeling invisible. You can’t take that away from me. Neither can Sasha.
Afterwards, the strangers, who I suppose weren’t strangers after all, came up to me to thank me or share their opinion. One person came up to me and told me they were proud of me and gave me a hug.
The thing is, I feel like shit most days. I’m warring with that rope most days, unable to believe what I have to say or create makes any difference in the world. But yesterday was not most days.
Yesterday I stood up in front of a crowd and delivered three poems into a microphone. My first public performance.
When you put down the rope you can live your life worth living.
Art is subjective, it’s meant to be shared. Art helps me exist in the world. My wise mind knew this enough to allow me to put down the rope, and walk to the microphone- raw hands and all.
when i struggled
people watched me drown
instead of helping me,
and shouted demands and instructions
that i could not follow
as my hands flailed beneath
i think sharks would have
than these people—
frightened and alone,
angry and miserable,
morose and full of tears;
but no one would
they all believed the lie of my smile
perhaps because it was more
than asking me something deeper than
a question about the weather—
the weeping willows and soft needled pines
always whispered to me kindness,
the fields always gave me flowers and butterflies to
kiss away my sorrows;
the clouds always gave me worlds to escape to,
winds sang to me myths and truths
of old and new,
the sun gave me warmth and the rain washed away
and rainbows always spoke to me of compassion;
there is a healing in nature
people just could not give me.
– linda m. crate
*If you are interested in submitting work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am developing a potential project, and I would love your help! I am currently asking for submissions of any medium for the blog!
I am exploring art and mental health and how integral they seem to be with one another. Especially following the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, I really want to create a space that is a safe and healthy outlet for artists who struggle with mental health.
Your submissions can be anonymous or not, it’s completely up to you. I ask that when you submit you please specify whether or not you would like to remain anonymous, otherwise I will leave your name off of the piece. Also, please include any trigger warning at the top of your post, if needed.
I’m not looking for anything profound. I’m just looking for you. Bring me the work you love the most, hate the most, and everything in between. I am accepting art in any medium, whether that be visual art, poetry, music/songs, short stories, narrative essays, etc.
I cannot pay you for your submissions, but your work will be published and you can advertise it as such. I will moderate which pieces I will publish, though I will do my best to post them all.
Mental health issues are incredibly difficult to live with. Art makes them a little easier to bear. When it feels like too much, PLEASE reach out. If you are uncomfortable calling a hotline, reach out to friends or family. Even me. As someone who struggles with self harm and suicide ideation, I am here to remind you that you are special and loved, even when you don’t believe it yourself.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255. It provides free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week for people in suicidal crisis or distress.
You can also call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to someone about how you can help a person in crisis.
Call 1-866-488-7386 for the TrevorLifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community.
Text HOME to 741741 to have a confidential text conversation with a trained crisis counselor from Crisis Text Line.
Online, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a confidential chat window, with counselors available 24/7: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/…/LifelineChat.aspx
For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.
For more resources, please visit CNN for more information about how to reach out for help for either you or someone you know.
If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
Well, that”s it. I am officially discharged from program! I was hoping to publish this yesterday, on my actual D-Day, but alas, time got away from me.
So, here we are. My first day of freedom. I definitely thought I would feel terrified to discharge, and I ended up leaving program yesterday feeling really positive. I’ve learned all I can…it’s up to me now.
I wanted to post something profound, but there’s really not much to say that hasn’t already been said.
The biggest obstacle I’m already facing is dealing with the loneliness. I no longer have a place to go and see friends every day. It feels a lot like graduating from college; you suddenly wonder what to do when you can’t just go hang out at your friends’ place anymore. If anyone has advice to combat loneliness, feel free to leave it in the comments.
Thank you for everyone’s support! The road to recovery is longer than ever, but I’m still walking!