Friday, February 20, 2009

Depression and Anxiety Are My Special Needs Children

(I try not to cross-post too much, but, well ... )

Movies I watch can inspire me to write or paint or sculpt.

But some only create the longing for it, and not the release – like the nightmares where you can’t scream but know that if you try with all that is in you, you could make enough noise to cast your voice out among the billions who also trudge this land.

There’s an ache – when I feel unable to create my art -- a loneliness that wiggles inside my brain so that it hurts, and my throat so that I cannot communicate.

My fingers are frozen at the page, clamped desperately around the pen. My breath stops as I wait for the timid kernel of inspiration to share itself through me – but alas, it is not Inspiration or Idea or even Plot Device that appears … it is: Clamminess, Brick Wall, Pettiness, Fatigue, and Not Good Enough.

The metallic sour taste of lethargy and self- judgment sit with me when the longing to create art is strongest. I’ve sat with and asked these soul-sucking companions why they visit. I sometimes get a response and sometimes not.

I wonder how to get rid of them – like they are the slugs on my sugar snap peas that eat holes before I get a taste.

But perhaps I should simply share space with these evil shadows of myself and honor their place in my house. What if I extended love to them, accepted them and knew there was an ancient lesson they came to teach me, if only I would listen -- like the hundreds of thousands of families with special needs children?

Depression and Anxiety are my special needs children. I court them, suckle them and find their triggers to tantrums. I sit with Depression and rock him to sleep with haunting music lilting from the iTunes across the room; I coax Anxiety out to play -- break out the glue and treeless paper and collage until she is more grounded.

I discover their strengths and weaknesses and take time out for myself when they become too much for me to bear alone. I nurture myself with popcorn and movies under the feather blanket, hot tea with a friend, or an afternoon alone at a coffee shop with my laptop and latte. And I think. I take time to Feel.

When I do this -- when I give myself permission to emote -- only then am I open enough to welcome ideas and plans and as-of-yet formless characters into the sacred circle I have created for them. Only then am I able and willing to give birth to their stories.

But that’s not right either. I am always willing. That yearning and longing to write and to create are always there. But maybe the readiness is not.

Maybe I must coddle my children, Depression and Anxiety before I can create. But … I don’t believe that one must be depressed or suffer anxiety attacks in order to create art. Art lives in us, we breathe it as air and it binds to the molecules within us. We bleed our art. We are art.

Perhaps I don’t need to be depressed to create art, but that if I am struggling with it at some particular time, I must sit with it first before I attempt to express an emotion I do not yet understand. Only if I take time to nurture myself, to Think, to Feel, to ask Depression why he had another nightmare, to ask Anxiety why she cried today when the house was a mess – maybe then I can unfreeze my fingers and find my voice and let it roar with all the passion and longing and creativity I have.

And then, I can create. I can write, paint and sculpt. I can communicate and breathe and love myself again. All the parts of me. Even the shadowy parts.