What am I working on right now? What am I doing? Some days I feel lost, dazed, worthless and powerless. I want to share a thought I had one night that helped me answer some of these feelings and questions, but first some personal background:
I am 27, and have had chronic depression since elementary school with 2 serious episodes/periods in my life before becoming clinically diagnosed and starting therapy 4 years ago, at the age of 24.
When you have long term, chronic depression like I do, it’s different than being depressed normally. Usually chronic depression is less severe, aside from the occasional serious episodes, and for the most part you have good days and bad days like everyone. The difference is that my bad periods lasts weeks to months at a time.
I’ve gone through a lot the last couple years. A lot of life changes, abuse, and trauma, in a short amount of time.
This year, I have started getting therapy and medication, after not having any therapy the last year.
My depression is manageable right now and has been doing better with therapy, but it’s still there, every day, and I have to actively work on specific things every day, that normal people might not think about or have to do regularly.
So one of those things for me is motivation. When I am having a bad season, and my symptoms are really high, it lasts for weeks and months at a time. Last year, I counted I was depressed with symptoms for 6 to 8 months out of that year (it’s difficult without medication even with a good diet and exercise) and it’s really hard to have motivation to do things. Things you normally like, things you enjoy, even responsibilities you need or have like being able to work or keep a job is all affected. It’s so serious that it is a clinical impairment. You can’t live life.
But in the darkness, you sometimes find a light, and you learn things you wouldn’t have, without having been in the dark for so long. What came to me was a small epiphany or mantra that I had while I was trying to fall asleep. I was in a mix of insomnia, anxiety, with thoughts and my imagination running. But the thoughts quieted when I focused on the words: “What do I want?” and “How do I get it?”
It’s become something I ask myself now when I feel like everything around me is going wrong. When I am tired of working towards a degree that the rest of my class has already graduated from and began their careers. On the days I feel hopeless, I meditate on the questions What do I want and how do I get there? Kind of like a mental cross list in my head, it helps me to put my immediate feelings aside, and remind myself why I do what I do. Like the saying, “when you feel like giving up, remember why your started.” This didn’t just help me remember my goals, but it helped me decide, -Okay, this is my goal, now what’s the first baby step that I can do right now?
Realizing that I had no motivation, I had to start with what I could do in a certain amount of time -Want to get your degree? I would ask myself, what can I do? I could probably turn on my computer and answer 10 or 20 practice questions and then take a break to see how I’m feeling. Soon, you find yourself starting to work on different things, and you take pride in even small accomplishments that took only 10 or 20 minutes of your day.
When youve got no motivation, when you have no hope, when you’re like me with few close friends, a lacking support system, and struggling to even get out of bed, you grow up early and learn to answer questions yourself. Sometimes all you have is yourself, and you must be your own motivation, your own friend, or support system. You have to find that for yourself and be that for yourself sometimes. You won’t really feel motivated to start something when you’re depressed -I’ve tried. I just end up sitting or laying around, wasting 10, 12 hours of the day not getting what I want done and feel anxious throughout that whole time because I want to do these things, but I felt like I “couldn’t.”
It was a lot of unnecessary stress. So, you need to start small. You need to have that mental checklist and an idea of what baby steps to take, and a reasonable amount of time for each step. Action-before-motivation my therapists call it. And these small actions you take, even when youre starting from rock bottom, start to inspire you and become your sources of motivation when you really have none.
So, that’s just something I wanted to share. On the mornings you wake up asking yourself “what are you doing?” and feel trapped by your feelings and circumstances, this reminder helps to sort out your thoughts. It is a mental stepping stone or list that allows you to slow down and take some time to know your goals and the small daily steps you take to reach them despite what you’re feeling or going through in the moment.
Having depression, I learned not to let circumstances, feelings, or emotions decide your life. You must decide your life, moment by moment, or continue to let life decide for you. Its simple. It’s so easy to say, but takes time to really live it out and understand what that looks like in your own life.
So ask yourself -“What do I want? And how do I get there?”
What about you? Are you working on yourself? Do you self-motivate? Self-love? What is something you are working on about yourself and what do you do?
Thank you for taking the time to read through my own thoughts, in this form of therapeutic writing.
I apologize for the long read in advance, but if you’re like me, and enjoy reading the photographic experiences of others, you will hopefully find this enjoyable. =)
I am getting into film and printmaking for the first time.
Growing up in the digital age of the 90s, my first camera was a Canon 20D which i bought used on ebay in 2012 (this was originally new in 2004! Isn’t used eBay gear always great!?). With no budget for a modern lens and just wanting to make pictures with my new camera, i found a generic brand lens, a 35mm elicar f 2.8
Soon after, a voigtlander vitomatic iia caught my attention after seeing some low light photos on Flickr, and had to pick one up. I decided I loved the lens and ergonomics of the film camera, but didn’t enjoy using the rangefinder so much, so I became more…
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This year is the start of something new in me. It’s a year for new beginnings, and a path to healthy emotions, self-love, new photography and art things, and of course the ever-elusive six pack abs.
But really, the last couple years have been very, very bad for me. And for the sake of journalism and accurate documentation, I would like to re-cap the last 3 years very briefly in the form of a crude timeline. To begin, let’s start with school: I’ve been attending Cal Baptist University for a 3 year nursing program from 2012-2016. I transferred from Riverside Community College Norco, with two of my buds who I also took karate with. Around the first semester of nursing 2013, I met this girl, who I would go on to spend time with at school lunches, and friends’ parties, we hiked, we watched movies and ordered Chinese, we drove around both of out cities hanging out at Barnes and Noble, or the park, or getting drinks and renting out hotel rooms. We would meet up after clinicals and get a hotel and watch tv and order food just to be with each other until we both had classes again.
We become boyfriend and girlfriend, we move out of our parents homes and rent a room and get jobs together while we’re in school. I’m frustrated that I can’t go home to my moms or have an opinion on the groceries we buy together. I’m belittled for our different upbringings, and things like how I make the bed differently. We fight sometimes, but we make up and she says she still loves me and I believe her. I start living with her and her family. We take a trip to see her great grandma in Nebraska. That was our first trip. We bring her dog. It was amazing. She looked beautiful. Later she inherits her grandmas house, we both move and get new jobs, and it’s just her and I now. We fight some more about nothing important, and I help her renovate hew new home. Her dog dies under my supervision. I tried to give him CPR.
Its our second year of nursing school now and I am beginning to feel alone and even worthless in the relationship. I’m at fault for everything, always. She tells me her mom thinks I am a loser. I start to become depressed. We go to couples counseling now at our school, after classes to try and get help. We fight and it drives me to seek suicide help at the hospital. I start therapy and medication. She decides to get a new dog. Then she gets that dog a playmate. It’s a girl. Apparently she’s mine to train. We go to Petco now for puppy classes together and schedule it around school. I like the dogs. I like walking them and having them with us in bed for movies.
Things are getting good again. She tells me that she’s gone off birth control, and I’m glad because I think it will be good for us. We are fighting a lot less. I’m still not feeling good sometimes. It’s the depression. One spring break she tells me that she’s made plans for me to spend spring break with her dad because he’s had depression too and she thinks it might be good for me.
I hesitantly go, and am irritated that I never had a choice or a say in it. But I make the best of it. I enjoy the drive up to Oregon. I enjoy camping and I keep in touch with her. I come back a week later. I missed her. She was having heart tachycardia lately. The first thing I do when I get home is I kiss her in her bed. I think “I’m back now. I missed her so much. I know we’ve had our struggles, but maybe that trip will help me.” No –She breaks up with me. She says it doesn’t mean anything, and she still wants to marry me. She says it’s because I told her one time that she was the only thing that made me happy (and unfortunately, that put too much pressure on her).
I move out. I rent a subletted room with 3 other guys in there with me, in a mobile home packed with another 5 people, an only one bathroom. I start thinking, maybe she left me a long time ago. Maybe the whole trip she planned for me was just so she could be with someone else. I go through all of my thoughts, I finish out the last semester of the year, barely. My last year in school, I am doing better in therapy, my girlfriend, now my ex, is doing things on her own. She seems like she still cares about me. But has stood me up about 10 times in a row in about 2 months. She never notices.
I have moved back home because my parents were worried about me. I continue therapy and medication. I do a lot better in school, but I had to repeat a semester because of depression and failing grades. My grades go from D’s and F’s to C’s and B+’s. My ex is happy I’m doing so good -better than they were when they had that class. I finally graduate. My ex still leaves messages on my pictures, but we don’t talk like before anymore. I agreed to stop telling her I miss her and to just talk to her as a friend. She continues to leave me mixed messages, but I can’t open up to her anymore. The hurt is too deep. I keep it superficial.
This year is about me. It’s about acceptance. Accepting what I’ve done, who I’ve hurt, and what I look forward to in life. I’ve tried to date, I’ve exercised, I’ve taken care of myself, I’ve lost the weight I gained from when I was depressed. It’s hard bringing all this up again. I didn’t mean to. They were just thoughts, and I didn’t know where to put them.
It’s Easter Sunday. The same day three years ago, a couple days after I asked her to be my girlfriend. I’ve been through 3 homes, I’ve been to the hospital for suicide help 3 times, I’v emade and lost friends. I’ve been through a lifetime and I wish I would have done it smarter. I wish I wouldn’t have let myself become so manipulated and emotionally abused.
This year, I still feel lonely sometimes. I’ve had to resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms, and I still hardly have a support system, or no real close friends. I’m still struggling through school, and I haven’t been consistent in my relationship with God. I’m not sure about anything yet, but I know I am moving on. I have to. I’m ready to be healthy. I’m ready to be myself again, and I’m ready to succeed. I’m ready to find love, and I’m ready to love myself. I will continue to struggle, but I hope everything will be okay.
I’ve been adopting a vegan diet for the past five months and I am coming into a point where I am not sure anymore if it is healthy.
The physical benefits are great, I’ve lost over 30 pounds of weight and I am not going up and down the weighing scale. I am able to exercise to a greater level more easily because I never feel bloated or too heavy after eating. I just am full but don’t feel like I just had a big meal (because I really didn’t I guess). Point is, I feel great -I just don’t know what the downsides are to a vegan diet.
I first started this after talking with two friends who were a veggie and a vegan and after having seen the film docs Fathead, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, and Forks Over Knives. Also, I’ve been reading The China Study on and off. I am just worried that I am being misinformed: From one side, I hear that saturated animal fats actually raise hdl (“good cholesterol”) and lower ldl – in essence, removing plaque build up from arteries that cause atherosclerosis and that ldl’s (“bad, artery clogging cholesterol”) actually come from factory processed consumer carbs which humans do not need in their diet at all like cereals, grains, whole wheat, white bread, etc.
And on another, slightly unrelated side, that plant based foods including grains and wheat are acceptable to eat and even if removed completely, a green leafy diet is all you need in the first place (for instance, one would get a complete set of amino acids from kale and spinach to have complete dietary protein for their diet). The reasoning being that since saturated fats can be made by the body’s cells you don’t need to consume saturated fats and you can have your polyunsaturated fats from plants. Also, a plant based whole foods diet would cure many of today’s modern diseases -cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, etc.
There are criticisms on both sides here, that I do not mention just because I don’t have much info on them yet. I do know of one vegan’s relapse back into omnivore-ism because she believed based on her research, her vegan diet was un-sustaining and not healthy nutritionally speaking. It turns out, one of my friends who had turned me on to veganism still suggests for me to take protein supplements on my vegan diet.
Now I am just lost -lets take just as an example protein needs: why do i need protein supplements if according to my sources I can get all the dietary protein I need from spinach and kale alone on a vegan diet? Who is giving out the wrong information here? I guess for now, I will continue to see how I feel and if the diet is sustainable.
[Update: This was a draft from 5 years ago. Posted 7/2016.]
The Path of Lonliness
Drawing Lessons From the Great Masters
Henry Yan’s Figure Drawing
The China Study
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: Watercolor Impressions
The Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting
Trigun, Slayers, Samurai Champloo, Cowboy Bepop
ink (check), a rekab oil brush size 1 (check), Turpentine and linseed oil (check), Liquitex Matte medium, some hardboard or masonite, new headphones (check)
Listen to: Youtube original artists, Alistair Begg
[Update: This was a draft from 5 years ago. Posted on 7/2016.]