Tag: depression

Contemplative Ennui at the Blanton Museum of Art

I am standing in a museum surrounded by marble statues of people from worlds long gone; they are echoes of some other unreal time. History is like that to me, it never feels real.

I pick a bench in a sunny, windowed corner to sit and write. I’ve come here to try to dispel the dark clouds that have been chasing me this week… to try to numb the swollen ache in my heart. I thought the art might help, that it would give me something to look at so I could get out of my head for a little while. Maybe, it would ease some of this ridiculous pain. Instead, I feel every piece. It’s like they’re all playing on the same vibration as this depression; each one feels like a thumb pushing on a deep bruise.

The Blanton Museum of Art - Austin

I am mourning an inexplicable loss, something that doesn’t exist, has no resolution, and I am powerless to make myself feel whole. I’m a control freak, so this kind of thing sucks. All I can do is wait it out.

Is it her? Is that what they like? I compare myself to every woman who walks by and every piece of art. Notice how imperfect I am. I have a thing for perfection, or rather for being perfect.

Recently, I started to people-watch and noticed for the first time in my life how men will stare at certain women. Grown men will slow their cars to watch a young woman in shorts cross the street, a woman in a dress walking past the entrance to West Elm causes a conversation to halt while the three men crane their necks to watch her walk by. It is creepy, this level of unabashed focus that I’m seeing men devote to a woman who is merely crossing their path. I’ve never paid attention to it before, and now I can’t unsee it. It’s everywhere and I feel like I’m losing a competition. I’m pretty enough, but my strong suits have always been humor and intelligence… not the kind of things that random men notice when I walk down the street.

The modern art made me sadder. I can’t really explain why. I stared at the replicated cardboard box, sleeping bag, pack of cigarettes, marble sculpted trash bag. A marble trash bag… that’s what I feel like sometimes… a waste of materials and talent.

I can’t let go. The sky is divided – filled partially with angry sun and heavy, dark clouds. They tease rain, but won’t let it go. It is both sunny and potentially stormy, I’m caught in the tension.

The statue in front of me has no head or arms, and is missing its legs from the knees down. Incomplete or damaged, I don’t know. It’s only a replica, so I feel nothing when I look at it; none of the artistic energy of the real one is there.

I whisper to the universe, If you ever loved me, let the rain fall.

What about that statue, the topless one. I wonder if they prefer the curve of her breasts; if she meets the standard. I wonder how many would turn to look at her in a crowded restaurant or bar.  Even minerals are my competition. I stare at her breasts and feel a sense of loathing for her – for her perfect breasts, their shape and lift, for her look of contentment. I feel an alliance with the male statue across from her: poorly endowed, exposed, and forced to stare forever at her ample perfect chest.

I am not enjoying marble today.

I leave and enter the calm quiet solemnity of the masters – perfect imperfection – ample bodies and vacant empty stares. I stand for a long time in front of a Flemish portrait of a man with a curved mustache. His look is so sad; he’s pale, anemic. He stares at me while I examine his facial hair. It’s so realistic; I can’t even see the strokes. I want to climb into the painting and touch his mustache.

It’s cool and dark in here which matches my mood. All around me are paintings of saints and sinners. I’m stuck, standing still in front of The Visitation. I think it’s about the Virgin Mary but all I can focus on is the donkey in the corner staring at me, upstaging everyone else. He’s looking at me as if to say, “Pfft, I know, right?” I nod. I like this room, everyone in the paintings looks like they’re rolling their eyes.

I walk a few steps, but I’m stuck again, this time in front of another portrait of a man with sad eyes and a mustache. Maybe I stop here because he’s looking at me, while everyone else is looking off to one side – like they know they’re in the painting, but want to act casual. This guy though, he looks right at me, and I can feel his hurt or maybe he feels mine… or maybe his collar is too tight.

I leave the dark cool space and find myself in the hallway, assaulted by sunlight. The clouds look like they are giving up and the sun is claiming the sky. I feel heartbroken by the brightness, I turn and give one last look at the donkey who still gets me, scoff warily at the giant reproduction of a milk carton near the entrance, and head towards my car to find that despite the sun, one cloud – one persistent cloud – waited for me, and gives rain to blanket my path.

First Day of Summer – Pale Girl Edition

Seeing as how today is the first day of summer, I feel it would be appropriate to celebrate this day by saying, omg, I can’t stand summer.

I’m not a fan of summer for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I get SAD in the summer.

Summer SAD Homer

Seasonal Affective Disorder (or its cutesy acronym SAD) is depression that occurs during certain times of the year.

Most people who have the disorder get it in the winter because it gets dark and they get mopey and are all,

Maaaaaan, I miss summer,

and I’m like,

Whatever losers! Woo Hoo! Dark and cold rocks! Let’s run naked through the woods!  – right in their sad faces.

Now, however, it’s summer and I’m sad and moody and the rest of the world is like,

Yay summer! A million degrees! Sweating! Pools! BBQ’s! Mosquitoes trying to eat off our faces! or whatever. (Also, I am very sorry about getting all up in your faces last winter.)

So yes, most people who get SAD get it in the winter, but there is a summer version and it is the more rare form of an already rare disorder:  “About 5 percent of adult Americans are thought to have winter seasonal affective disorder; researchers estimate that fewer than 1 percent have its summer variant.”  Or so says the New York Times.

I’m one of those less than 1 percenters…  because I’m all pale and mysterious so I get cool disorders that make me hide away in my dark house most of the day… and when I do venture out I’m withdrawn and moody, wear big black sunglasses and sigh dramatically.

Researchers are still unsure if it’s the heat or the light or a combination of both, For me, it’s not so much the heat (though omg it sucks), it’s the light… more specifically the WAY the light is shining. It’s too bright, it’s coming in at a weird angle. I feel out of sync with the rhythm of the planet at this time of year. My circadian rhythms are off, I feel out of sorts. My pockets hurt.

It’s like my brain is now cued for sunset instead of sunrise. I feel “weird” all day and fight off melancholy, and then as the day wanes and the light shifts, I feel okay again. Usually around 8 pm every night I start to feel the depression lift and I am suddenly and inexplicably myself again.

Off and on for the next few months I will battle this depression, and it sucks.

On the one hand, at least I know what it is. On the other hand, I hate knowing that it is a real thing and not just my imagination. Honestly, I think that this disorder affects more than one percent of the population. My facebook, twitter, and blog feed are filled with friends talking about feeling down for no reason right now. It almost seems that as a society we’ve become so desensitized to the seasons and nature that maybe we aren’t aware that as the planet moves, as the seasons change, that we, too, are affected.

Unlike the winter variant which involves staring at a lightbulb (or something), there is not a lot to help with summer SAD.

Summer Sane Homer

So, I fake it and make myself shower and work and all those normal human things even though I am totally not feeling it. I try to avoid pacing. I try to make myself sleep like a normal human. I watch Doctor Who. We pick our Halloween costumes and start working on them. We begin planning our big fall vacation. And when I feel like I can’t breathe, when I feel like this will never end … I will stop and breathe and try to remember that this will pass. It will take a few months, but it will pass.

Needless to say, our family will be hiding inside most of the summer, at least during the day. And when you invite us to your “It’s a million degrees – Let’s sit in direct sunlight and get sweaty – We love summer extravaganza!” parties… and you will… I will smile politely, thank you enthusiastically, and then silently count the days until fall. Oh, and next winter, when the tables are turned, I promise not to get all up in your sad face again.

 

Writer’s Block – Existential Edition

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
Thomas Mann

I love being a writer… most of the time. Here’s an excerpt of the type of conversation I have with myself pretty much every time I sit down to write. And, I’m a professional writer. So, this happens… oh, every day.

Me:  It’s time to update my blog again. Didn’t I just do this?? I need something to write about….You know what? What’s the point? Why do we even write? Everything that needs to be said has already been said by someone, somewhere, at some point in time.

Brain:  Hey. Hey, stop it. You’re doing it again.

Me:  Doing what?

Brain:  Philosophizing instead of just writing.

Me:  Shh, I’m thinking. I mean think about it. Every story has already been told. We just add our own flavor, but is it really necessary? The internet feels like so many people are saying the same thing just to hear their own voices.  Like this morning, I went to find a recipe for baked oatmeal and got 9 billion results for what was pretty much the same recipe.  The only real difference I could see was that this one was made by a stay at home mom with 3 kids who just had a book published about sock puppets, and the other one was made by a lady with blonde hair who has a fancy food blog.

Brain:  How do you know it’s fancy?

Me:  Look at the header, that’s a fancy black and white photo of some cheese. Everyone knows that photos taken just from the side – like you’re sneaking up on the food – are fancy. I think there are whole blogs devoted to sneaking up on pancakes. I should probably go look… Wait. That’s not the point.  What I’m actually saying is that the internet feels so… noisy. What’s the point of writing a blog post and adding more noise?

Brain:  Oh just stop.

Me:  Stop? I didn’t start, how can I stop? We are all born into this spiral of life mid-motion, there’s no way to stop anything is there? We are spinning on a planet that we can’t control. Our lungs, hearts, and brains work automatically. I can’t make the wind stop blowing, or my blood cells stop moving. I can’t “stop” anything. What am I anyway? Where did I come from? Why am I even here?

Brain:  Omg, no… please, not this again, not another existential crisis.

Me:  Don’t be silly. I’m just questioning why I’m even here or the point of my existence.

Brain:  Sigh

Me:  I think the thing is this… Maybe *not* saying anything is really the way to say something. You know? Like a silent protest against noise. Maybe I should just date a blank page and post that on my blog. Like an anti-blog. By saying nothing, I’m really saying that we should all take a minute to stop saying so much.

Brain:  You will do anything to avoid writing, won’t you?

Me:  Yes. Yes, I will.

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