Girl. Pensive. Ocean.

The inner world of depression is one dealing with deep truths. We think of depression as something bad–something we don’t want to happen. But I have always felt if we go visit the dark ocean on our own volition, then the dark ocean will not overflow and come swallow us up.

(Well, if all we had to worry about was ourselves, anyway.)

Dive deep. Look inward. Eyes open wide so the salt can sting you.

Dark Ocean

It will make you stronger.


Through Her Eyes


I have to post this picture first, and then I will explain. This girl had big dreams. Well, she still does.

My intent today was to discuss how people who suffer with depression and anxiety need to share their experiences. I, personally, have always been skeptical of our healthcare systems and institutions, so I’ve never seen a psychiatrist or taken any kind of psych meds. I’m not here to say that’s the correct path for anyone, including myself, but here I am.

So I thought, hey, I’ll start posting stories about various experiences on my blog.

And! A big part of this blog is to share my art. As you see in the photo above, I have all these books full of sketches that very few people have seen. I should mention that this sketch doesn’t show my technical skill, and I know it’s kind of fuzzy, but the subject matter is appropriate.

E3 through her eyes

But, in planning this blog post, I unearthed something else–a deeper story. A prologue, if you will.

Digging for the sketch was its own walk down memory lane. Once I found it, I prepared it and took a photo with my digital camera. And, once that was done, I put the SD card in my computer to save it and edit it. Now it was time to decide where to file it away. I was vaguely aware that I had an art folder which already contained some pictures of sketches, and found it quickly.

And then I saw this photo of me. I had forgotten about this picture–hadn’t looked at this whole folder for ages. (My sketches, both digitally and physically, have moved from house to house over the years, always tucked away for later.) The date shows it was taken in 2007. In one of those typical flood-of-memories moments, I remembered having this exact same intent–to start posting my sketches online–all those years ago. I had intended to use this photo for my first post, the file was even named “opener.” And there would be a tag line: Time to unpack all this crap! Something along those lines. A very ERMAGERD style photo.

Well, with that bizarre realization out of the way, I was trying to decide how to label and organize my sketches.

Then I realized, looking at the thumbprints, that I had also already taken a picture of this sketch. I had taken a picture of every single sketch from four different sketch books, and labeled them so that the cover of the book and all the pages within would have the same name. It was like I was repeating myself, and I felt like I had let myself down. Like I wasted all this time.


What happened all those years ago? I had done all this work… but I never put my stuff out there.

Well, I have to admit some things about myself. This still happens when I approach a new venture or a way of expressing myself. First there are the normal, expected reactions of anxiety, trepidation, doubt. Then there’s the over-analyzing; wanting my work to be portrayed in a certain way, a way that is always too ambitious and then I give up. And then… beyond all that… is the very foolish and embarrassing part.

I always wanted to be famous. I mean, don’t we all? Most of us? It’s not just any kind of fame though. I have always wanted to make an impact. Make a difference. Not anonymously, though–look I’m a little neurotic, ok?

So, when I considered taking on a new project of any kind, I would weigh it against the possibility of… you know… becoming a BIG DEAL. And I would become paranoid that this was not the path that led to being a BIG DEAL. It would overcome my mind, rattle my common sense, until all these scenarios were spinning me in circles and I had to retreat.

It took until I was 30 to get past this notion. It took until today. These obsessions and delusions got me through hard times when I was younger. I built castles in the sky so that I would never give up hope. And now I am picking apart what was true and what wasn’t–about everything. About myself, the world, the nature of existence, my purpose, my future, my concept of success. In a way we are all going through that process. Hopefully I made a little progress today.

So I want to close out with a mantra. If you want to try something, anything, don’t over-analyze what might or might not happen. Don’t let the scenarios play out until they drive you crazy. I mean, use some common sense, of course, but too much is too much. Don’t cripple yourself like I did. Right now, instead of running scenarios, I am just looking at that open door.

So that’s the mantra. Just focus on the open door.

E3 curtains

Personal Stuff

The Cold.

Everything was so quiet. Snow does that–muffles sound. The night wasn’t so dark with the streetlamp right next to my car, not to mention the shopping center on the other side of the parking lot. When I stepped outside, the cold fell on me immediately. I could see my breath. I could feel my life seeping away.

Because that’s what cold is. Transferring heat–much needed heat–away from you.

But the quiet was still so serene. And the realization of death was awe-inspiring. I also had my car, right there, with the engine running. There wasn’t an actual fear of death–just stepping on the threshold and peaking over to the other side. Taking a moment to feel delicate.

It was snowmageddon 2014, Birmingham, AL. Like many people, I was stranded in my car overnight. Luckily I had snacks from an earlier trip to CVS, and enough gas in my car to run the engine all night. There were other options; nearby businesses, public shelter at the fire dept., and that strange but nice lady who had asked if I wanted to stay at her house. But the cold was trying to tell me something. I wanted to go on this journey alone.

Also the Fire dept was over a mile away. That lady was weird. And the nearby business in question was full of children. No thanks. I’ll stay in my car.

At that time in my life I seemed to have everything: a great career, a wonderful life partner, tons of friends, and a …. decently fulfilling spiritual life. But the cold was telling me something. My life was cush. It was cozy. And I was getting weak.

The truth is I put minimal effort into everything and enjoyed many comforts. I could feel this in myself, but honestly I didn’t know how to change it. No one wants unnecessary suffering. If we are offered comfort, we take it.

Well, I made it home, of course. The cold went away and I continued my cozy life. How do we foster growth in the deepest, darkest parts of ourselves? How do we impose loss upon ourselves when we have everything we need and more? I thought about going on a spiritual retreat, having some kind of ascetic experience, but of course I never followed through.

Now we live in a different city and all those things are gone. I never wanted to rely on comforts, I always wanted to be the type of person who sought challenges and even struggles. Boy, did I have some misconceptions about myself. The older you get, the harder it is to break old habits. I suppose I have some work to do.

Me and the cold are getting to know each other.