Health professionals I've been in contact with regarding my depression, and some friends, refer to "you artistic types" or similar. I don't see myself as artistic, so that's a problem right there, but I wonder if "we who make things" have a propensity for depression, or is it self-doubt, or do we just notice/talk about it more? Is our work more conducive to introspection?
As a kid, I loved artists' (especially composers; I was far more into music than visual art in those days,) biographies and in the first term of third grade, I read all biographies in my school library except those of scientists. (Yeah, Dad was a chemistry professor. Anyone care to analyze?) And I learned from those books that artists were perpetually poor, and many didn't get much accolade until they were dead, but none of them said they had depression, or melancholy, or self-doubt and crisis of confidence. And at least the composers seemed to have spent a lot of long evenings in quaint cafes with constant friends. When they finally got paid. But I digress.
As I headed towards finishing my pieces for "Bye Bye, Blue Eyes", I thought about how other artist operate. I get so gung-ho towards finishing a project, especially exhibitions, I can fend off depression in most cases, but I do suffer a bit of after-due low. And I wondered how I can be a happy artists, hopping from one project to another, holding on to a light-hearted, forward-looking attitude. Then I wondered, are there artists who manage to consistently work like that? Do truly happy artists exist? Can I manage to be happy most of the time about what I do?
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My parents raised me to plan ahead, prepare for all contingencies, consider, if not leave open, all options, and live with the results/consequences. In other words, we did our best, but if fate intervened and outcome didn't turn out the way we intended, it was most probably inadequate/insufficient planning, but occasionally something bigger than us working.
As I grew up, particularly in college and IBM, I became very focused on the planning and preparation process. In IBM we even had courses on time management, efficiency, and whatever else, and I was among the star pupils; sometimes I worked in jobs where I streamlined processes, planned and oversaw projects, or, do forgive me, improved others' efficiency. Albeit unintentionally, plans and process became the focus and the ends of my life. I was high-strung and could never leave work at home. As well, I started avoiding things which I suspected would not yield desired outcomes, even if I really wanted to try Like pottery, singing, and painting/drawing.
And then I changed my course and started this art thing, and you know, my expertise in planning and forecast and scheduling don't amount to a hill of beans if I don't get the warp on the loom and the scarf off it. Depending on how you count, it took me five to seven years to get used to this life of mine. Truthfully, it took my insane 18 months of due date after due date that forced me learn, (or as they say in Japan, for my body to learn,) my "ends" was to have a finished piece. Then sometime in the recent years, I also learned I had to abandon the idea that the process is gold, and let ideas gestate; that art takes a long time.
Somehow, and I realize there's a leap in the logic, I became what I thought at first was a realist, but also a pessimist. I don't know if it's depression, the constant "having to prove myself to myself", insisting that handweaving is fine art to an anti-women's-craft world, or even the financial worries; most probably it's the combination of all of the above and then some.
The thing that bothers me is since I have become a pessimist, I feel I have a lot of negative self-fulfilling prophecies. Some tell me I can't get rid of depression because I keep thinking about it. In the first instance, that's not true; I don't keep thinking about it. In the second instance, I've been reading about depression because I want to know my enemy. But in the third instance, I sense there have been times I forecasted low periods, because circumstances and symptoms pointed that way, because I became more aware of what to look out for. And I can't differentiate self-fulfilling prophecies and learned realism. I really feel powerless in controlling my life and it feels safer to assume the worst so I'm won't be disappointed. But you know, it's not a nice way to live, it's like once I've fallen into a bottomless pit, I've chosen to fire up my jet pack and falling faster and further.
The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or what little I've read of it, has proven to me to be a good tool. And yet I wished I didn't have to think about it, that I didn't have to live with it. It's a fine line, this one. Art was supposed to put me in a childlike euphoria, I thought.