A few months ago, I launched a participatory art project designed to help me work through a death I am roughly, tangentially connected to. I needed others to help me illuminate my own feelings about generalized states of being, I thought.
A few months ago, I decided, through a combination of rational thought and antipathy toward my medicaid benefits to begin "stepping down" my antidepressants. I needed to see if, after eleven years on various combinations of happy pills, I could be happy on my own.
It's been a mixed bag of results re: the art. I've gotten some amazing submissions from friends and strangers, and lots of kind words if not outright participation. My website is home to nineteen solid submissions, all of which I am utterly grateful for. I find myself trying, more and more, to appreciate the small and wonderfully bizarre moments I experience daily in a customer service position. I also find myself wishing for someone with a significant social media following to take an interest, for the project to get coverage on Buzzfeed or something, for a secret weapon that would send millions of details to me in a flash. I'm not so great with delayed gratification.
I'm not as crazy as I thought I might be without the drugs. There are some moments, hours even, when I question, almost obsessively, a single sentence that I might have uttered to a stranger in passing. I try to find great comfort in envisioning these moments as a handful of sand, microscopic and probably insignificant, unformed and swept away as soon as they occurred. I have learnt, in some respects, how to be comfortable with the dark, treacly thoughts that I compose no matter the level of uppers coursing through my brain. They might not be the best things to be comfortable with, but I'm not so great with change.
The picture accompanying this post is a pastel drawing I did during high school of a girl (me, probably) screaming. It's in my parents basement, and I've been thinking of it a lot lately. Perhaps influenced by the change in brain chemistry, I have felt extremely stalled with this project. I've not been as "on it" as I could have been, not undertaken color-coding spreadsheets of people to contact with my usual zeal. My inaction has produced some self-loathing (that's the depression, for sure). So, naturally, my inner catastrophist has extrapolated my lack of manic work related to gathering details into some deep regression to that frustrated adolescent girl who is unable to change her situation. Woof.
This blog post, small as it may be, is the first step to me pulling myself out of this semi-imagined slump. The girl on that canvas didn't acknowledge her feelings. She sat in a therapist's office saying (verbatim), "If I could just lose weight, I'd be happy." The therapist agreed. My existence then seemed contained in one grain of sand. Today, even if not gathered in physical evidence, my existence is composed of infinite grains. I do hope, honestly, that I have many more submissions for this project, and that it becomes a smashing success. But the bottom line is this: in my creative practice and emotional life, my views on what constitutes success are changing constantly.