Feeling Blue? It Looks More Like A Grey Color To Me.
Can you think of a color to give to all the feelings of depression, anxiety or any other mental illness you have experienced?
As an an artist, I’m trying to show the real and true colors in the story of my life. Well, just a segment of it, as I see it as Sylvia Plath did, branching out like the green fig tree story.
The branch with bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety. A life full of contrasts and extremes. With down, dark parts, and with the up, bright side, colors shining vibrant and intense, vivid and brilliant.
These ups, and the way we can see the beauty in life and relate and empathize with compassion to others, is something I consider we are lucky and special to have, like a warm blanket offered after a storm.
I like to think we are those souls who need to go through these painful and sorrowful moments, so we can see the light in tones, dimensions and levels maybe others can’t reach. I wish you, like me, could stay there always, without having to go through the painful falls or unwelcome visits of depression.
I hope it will be like that for us one day, however those are wishes to wish upon the stars and I am grateful for the way the stars shine in my universe.
Since I was little I tried to shake this off me, all those dark feelings and lack of energy, but it always seemed like I had buckets of sadness thrown at me. I idealized my willpower, and felt so weak and frustrated when it didn’t respond the way I was demanding it to be.
I have many days when I catch myself staring to the horizon, so lost in my thoughts, those moments when my life makes sense only while reading Plath’s and Woolf’s words. The tragic endings of these memorable women are not a motivation for me, but a concern I always have in the back of my mind.
You know how depression hurts. I’m learning to take it day by day. Today is our day. I’m making a promise to embrace the moments of happiness without the fear of losing them or being distracted with what’s coming after.
The difficulty of managing our illness and going on with our jobs, relationships, family and lives is exhausting. I have tried most of the anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medicines and many psychological therapies since I was 21, and I’m not yet at that point of my life when this disabling disorder feels any easier.
They say treatments are becoming more successful each passing day, so I invite you to join me in this hopeful thought, and while we wait, let’s breathe and look for the silver lining instead of the normalcy and stability we are often chasing.
We are in a sea, moving along the waves of our moods, why not try to find a soothing rhythm, rocking ourselves gently and call ourselves castaway survivors? We are trying and we are thriving. I don’t settle with myself, I have the chance to be better every day. We can still swim life in great lengths.
We can swing and groove just fine.
Let’s give a meaning to our struggles. It’s hard to live with a label of a mental disorder and the stigma that comes with it.
Unfortunately, there are some people who don’t believe in mental illness or minimize what we go through, but if you put yourself out there and share your story, I am sure many could have a change of heart and mind.
I wish, in my downs, that I was just sad, but my mind is so full of obsessional thinking, besetting patterns, and perception changes, that I become more than that. I literally turn to the dark side, but Anakin is cool and I’m far from that.
I’m lucky, because even with the big mistakes I have made while not having the right state of mind or while being away fighting with my ghosts, I have been loved and appreciated. Gratitude keeps me alive. Without it, I would be burnt, toasted, and well… dead.
So, in my good days, or whenever I am able, I want to bring some awareness to others. Telling my story heals me.
This is the thing: loving or liking myself when I am stuck in a hole feels unobtainable. It is hard to be my own friend.
There is no fun or romantic part of it. I hit rock bottom, and the air that felt fresh and clean turns sour and dense.
I’m a fighter and I fight against myself. And this is what I do:
I can move even when I don’t feel like it, I pretend and act as the woman I want to be, and suddenly I am she.
In a place that feels very cold, dark and damned, the people who love me and accept me the way I am, are God-sent, I stick to them. They have been the only light I have been able to see in completely black days. They have been the only meaning I have had when I have been lost.
Painting and walking, writing like I am doing now, are therapeutic. Being in touch with my spirit is essential. Ignoring the negative or obsessive thoughts by meditating and connecting to a higher power is one of my survival kit tools.
Whatever your affliction, disability, burden, illness or limitation is, know that there are other people who experience what you do. Knowing we are not alone brings so much comfort. Speak up your truth.
Practice courage even when your legs are shaking, and then celebrate that victory, even if it might be small in everyone else’s eyes. Self-love, self-compassion and courage, these are the ways to go beyond feeling scared and afraid.
Sometimes holding on or opening your eyes is a victory, give yourself that credit of rising among the darkness and the demons.
Try to speak up to the right audience (family, lovers, friends, counselors, children, Rebelle Society!) and if what you get back from them is not lifting or comes as negative criticism, then find another compassionate ear. So you are already down, don’t let anyone or yourself pull you any lower than you feel right now.
These words I wrote for you and for me, and it is not a coincidence you are reading these today, so read up well:
Life is beautiful
Remember that even if you can’t see any good around you, in that moment of struggle and loss,
You carry a light
You have a sparkle
You have a soul and a beating heart.
In those times when everything and everyone hurts, and the weight of the troubles feels so heavy to carry, there is a world waiting for you with so much left to reach, live and experience. This is not a false positivity or ignorant statement, life can be good and there is only one of you that can’t be replaced.
The situations or surroundings don’t matter anymore. Always choose you. Believe, accept and love every inch of your body, spirit, heart and mind. With all your lovely imperfections, you are deserving and enough.
Lift your chin up, and fix your eyes on those things you can’t see at the moment, but which exist, like this wonderful life you are living. A life that is meant to be happy and free. A life that is your masterpiece.
Adriana Arzeta is a passionate Mexican artist and community worker who was adopted by Canada 11 years ago. The culture shock, the experiences in a less sexist and more free life, and a loving and fantastic Universe, gave her the chance to finally own herself and play the main role/protagonist in the story of her life. She is growing older and wiser, and is a crazy dancer, mother of two humans and two canines. Adriana surfs the waves of life with enthusiasm, compassion and acceptance. She avoids any judgmental tides to keep away from drowning., as she knows that’s just her own insecurities floating around. She paints every day, loves, plays, works hard, and fights against depression in Kamloops, BC.