Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Let's Get Real--- Depression Sucks

There's no sense in trying to sugarcoat this, so I'll just be out with it.
Hannah and I have an issue with depression.

I have grappled with depression as far back as I can remember, even as a young child. It was/is a family of origin problem.
It has kept me from important decisions, from direction in life, from being the kind of mother that I always meant to be. It has often destroyed my quality of life, and I'm sure made those close to me miserable.

I have tried a variety of medications since early adulthood.
I've never liked the disconnected fog I felt (or the weight gain!), and nowadays I avoid most medications and look for more natural alternatives. I really did not want to put my kid on medication.

My whole business model is based on the notion that creativity heals....body, mind and spirit. Art Saves.
No doubt that's why I'm still here.

Imagine my realizing my child not only LOOKS identical to me; 
she struggles with the same issues... 
the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, the often inescapable darkness.
Now imagine the feeling that I couldn't help her with her struggle.
Nothing I'd done for myself, or for other people in my work was helping her.

I was watching her sink deeper and deeper, the stresses of her senior year adding more pain. 
It was so difficult watching her, not enjoying those once in a lifetime moments of her last year of high school.

Earlier this year, she sank low enough to become suicidal.
I had to act, and fast.

Fortunately we were able to find a therapist that she truly respects and even enjoys.
Her closest friends, and a kind teacher who goes far above and beyond, have been loving and supportive.

That therapist gently suggested a trial of medication. I relented, wanting so desperately to see my child better.
I can honestly say that I've (and I think I can say WE've) been pleasantly surprised, especially after finding the right dose for her.
It is so wonderful to have my child back! I am loving seeing her participate in life now!

A few months back, still in the throes of that darkness, we made an amazing discovery.
Well....not amazing to me, because.....ART SAVES, after all, and creativity heals, right? It's what I preach!

I had been "doodling" for a while, finding that it helps to calm my brain and focus better, taking my mind off what's going on in my life, and in the world.
I understand that many create mandalas for the same reason, as a meditation even. I never enjoyed mandalas, because symmetry is just not my thing and I would just become frustrated.
I found though, that when I let go and just DO IT, I can create quite lovely designs. Not perfect designs, but lovely all the same.

One day I doodled a huge black/white border on a poster-sized piece of foamboard, intending it for use as a vision board.
When Hannah saw it, she insisted I allow her to color it in with markers.
I couldn't say no.

It obviously brought her a great deal of pleasure.
Well, of course I couldn't use it as a background now, could I?
She demanded that I fill in the center with more and allow her to color it as well. 

Again, I saw some joy in her... some focus (other than television), some sense of purpose.
our original poster, flaws and all
 She begged for more designs. I obliged. I bought her better markers.
Soon I was designing every day, and she was coloring the designs as fast as I could finish them.
I can't even keep up with her insatiable desire to color!
 She says she loves that this is something we do together, something for just the two of us.
In fact, it's so meaningful to her, she's decided she wants one of her favorite mandalas tattooed on her body!
It has been so delightful watching her not only coming back to the land of the living, but blossoming.

Naturally I have scanned all the black and white designs before allowing her to color them in, and I've scanned all of the finished products.
We now call our designs Zen Rainbow, because all this outrageous color has brought us such peace.

Very soon, we will make a big announcement, because we want to give back.
 But for now, I will be scheduling some Zen Rainbow "color therapy" time at the studio.
Anyone is welcome to come and color with me, but there will be a special rate for mother/daughter pairs.
Stay tuned here for our exciting announcement!


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