Tag Archives: Family

Moving Past Depression

For me, depression is not a new thing but recognizing it is. Even more so, doing something about it is a whole new experience. I don’t mean eating well or vitamins or any natural way to pretend I am treating the issue without actually dealing with the problem. I mean actually going to someone and getting the medication to balance out my chemical state in my mind to get out of the deep hole I have been in. The idea of visiting a psychiatrist was a major taboo in the churches I grew up in and the entire field had a terrible name for doing bad things to children with medication.

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Dealing with others my age (gen Z) I find many have a very bad opinion and fear of the field of psychiatry and a disdain for psychology. It has left a generation with many in need that refuse to get help. Many things have changed in the industry, including the medications and understanding of needs. Gradually I see people I know accepting the industry is changing and seeking help for various things. Sometimes it is a simple thing or a small problem that is just too frustrating. Other times it is a crippling problem like my depression has been.

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What brings up this discussion now? I started my new meds this week. Although it will be weeks until I feel the full effect, I get changes and flashes already of the meds affecting me and moving toward balancing things back out. There are moments when I feel like myself again. All this time I didn’t get help and a few days and I understand how much damage those biases did in my life. How many people are hurt by those biased attitudes?

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You see, these things don’t just hurt the person in need of help. They hurt families, friends, coworkers, and others. Jobs are lost and marriages broke that could have been mended. Sometimes good things happen but what could have happened and how would it have felt if they had been in a healthy state instead? My marriage is strong and survived a great deal of strain because we love each other and we have been very close friends for almost 20 years now. Our patience and understanding with each other has been strained and pushed near limits but we put in our vows the space to be us as individuals together or apart so that we could be a strong partnership and continue.

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It makes me angry to think that as a child the two things that did the most lasting damage were the inability to afford correct medical and dental care and the psychological help I really needed but didn’t get. But more than that, I get angry thinking of the years I avoided any hint of treatment for major instances I needed it because it was ingrained in me to fear the help and the need. I was trained to hide the need and push through it. You know the whole “be a man” thing that is put on everyone in some way? Well it is a terrible foundation for a culture and relationship.

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But I am not angry in that I feel anger because it is in the past and I can only actually change now for myself. I am angry for all the people hurt by these things every day and I am glad I moved past it and am improving myself and my life with the support of my husband and those friends I reached out to in support of my decision to get help.

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Cults and Memories

The past, mothers, religion, improv, and relationships are coming up a lot lately in a mesh of memories and reminders. Relationships are challenging when you have depression and social anxiety. Flashes of memories or just the feelings from the past can sweep over you when triggered and your mind is confused but your body is set in the reaction to something years long gone.
My family was very religious, restrictive, and poor. Unlike some of my siblings, I did not do home schooling at any point. I attended private religious schools. However, I was expected to follow my parents rules of dress, behavior, music, work, speech, and life and not participate in most of what my fellows at school did. Simultaneously being told I needed to be more open and friendly because I was shy and felt isolated from others I was expected not to integrate or enjoy the things they did. My clothes were a source of mockery, along with my speech impediments and that I wasn’t allowed the entertainments those around me shared.

I am a reader. I always have been a reader. But my choice of books was highly restricted. I read everything I was allowed multiple times, even the encyclopedias and dictionaries. But once my options opened when I left their home, I realized that despite the apparent attempts at a good education I was woefully lacking in knowledge, experience, and variety. I began to read a wide variety of books and materials and continue that to this day.

Each incident at school was the start of a chain of emotional events and trouble I knew to expect. In many ways, the expectation was worse than the series of punishments. The schools had orders to use swats for any offence they felt worthy, which is broad and covers most things including failing to turn in homework I completed but didn’t give them. I would ace a test and go to receive my swats for not doing the homework to prepare for the test I aced. Walking dejectedly to the office I knew it was only the first because when I got home I would would get a lecture separately from each parent and swats again from one of them.

Rarely did I do anything truly deserving of punishment because I had a very clear understanding of the consequence and reward ratio. I felt I had a hard enough time without adding extra issues for limited reward. Of course, that means when I did choose to do something the punishment was fairly pointless because I knew what it would be and chose to act anyway. I had already determined the risk to reward ratio was in my favor.

The lives around me were like another world to me that I watched from a distance without relating or fully understanding. From the girl whos parents dropped of hundreds for her to go shopping in the mall alone after school or to take her friends out to the kids sharing the newest dance moves in the halls I could not participate. I was quiet, shy, and introverted and places like a shared locker room were a terrifying thought. Numerous times I opted to accept detention for changing in the nearby restroom rather than endure mockery and embarrassment in the locker room. I also had it drilled into me not to undress in front of others so a locker room was a problem.

Conversations were hard because we shared nothing in common other than classes and those were mostly boring and too easy so I didn’t really pay attention. At some point there was always the risk conversation would veer toward my mother and her cancer, which was not something I wanted to discuss. Religious people would imply either that they were praying which was obviously not working or that if she actually had faith she would not be sick. The added issue that she was a test patient because we couldn’t afford treatment much less any extras or luxuries. I absolutely was unwilling to discuss where the food on our table came from because that was a mockery I knew I could not handle. How do you feed 7-10 people on $20 a week, sometimes more, sometimes less? The poor ladies of the church had a list of stores that discarded usable food and mom had an agreement to collect discarded vegetables for the horse. We sorted through the horses vegetables to see what could go on the tale first.

Many times I remember sitting in a parking lot while my mother composed herself or cried in the one place no one could see. After a horrifyingly degrading day trying to meet the needs of the family or accepting charity she would go home to dad’s anger and screaming rants about anything and everything. She would go home to 2 children in constant medical car and her own terrifying medical care. She would go home to the holes in the floor and walls and the car held together by duct ape and wood. She would go home to watch me cower from dad’s anger and my brothers acting out. Failing that we would go to church, where we spent more evening than not to be told how we were all sinners and needed to give more, do more, be more, bring in more people, and earn a place. We went to the church where I was yet again alone and mocked and here knew the question of my families lack of faith and why they were poor and sick would come up. I knew there would be taunts and often physical confrontation. These happened at school but more consistently at the churches.

Each service I listened then as mom taught me I went home and studied. I read their books and teachings. These always led to questions that if I asked someone other than my parents resulted in something to the effect of me being a girl child that should learn my place and be silent and do as I was told. Years of memorization and reading led me to no other conclusion than the religion was a compounded grouping of modifications stolen from older teachings and chosen by various leaders in the worst periods of history to best control, dominate, and instill fear. It is a religion based on fear and control. It is a religion that teaches the only reason to be a good person is to avoid punishment not because it is right. Each test of the history I was taught led to the inescapable conclusion they had manipulated the teaching to show a lie and manipulate the views of the children they took into their care.

What I saw from the outside was a cult that manipulated participants to view the world through a filter and with careful blinders. They were trying for the isolation of those in the retreats but in the city so they could better raw more people.

My mother was a brilliant and strong woman trapped in a world that treated women as a lower level being. She did all the work for a doctorate but was denied the degree because she was a woman at a baptist college. She was a writer and a researcher by nature, a leader and communicator but denied the right to lead, teach, research, or speak freely. The man was the head of the household and the wife was expected to follow him, obey him, accept his behavior, and not question or attempt to teach men. With permission a woman could teach other women or children but that would be shut down if they questioned her teachings or behavior outside class. Children were under her rule but punishments were the prerogative of the man, as were the rules she was to teach. Girls were expected to be obedient, submissive, silent, and learn the proper behaviors of a good wife. I refused to learn any wifely duties at every step, only many years later learning some of them were fun skills when used for your own pleasure or business rather than in service to a master.

Relationships

Relationships are a intricate part of life and communication. We have relationships of many types from casual friends, neighbors, close friends, parents, siblings, spouse, children, work, employer, and many more. How we interact, communicate, react, act, and view others depends on our relationship with them, ourselves, others our brain deems like them, and others around us at the time. Some people are more influenced by some factors than others. sometimes a close relationship can mask truly unacceptable behaviors or words because we have viewed it through a filter. But things can change those filters and that can change our relationships in every area. Every action, reaction, bias, interaction, decision, and communication we have is influenced by the others in our past. Our mind tries to predict what the outcome will be and triggers responses down to our emotional state that may or may not be appropriate from someone else’s perspective. Some people pay attention to those responses and make more active decisions about response and some are happy with that state.
Have you ever had a time when something happened that changed how you viewed a whole host of other things? Relationships are subject to this same thing. You can be is a long term relationship that has been a comfortable place you don’t want to leave for years but a major pain in another relationship can suddenly cause you to see the red flags you were ignoring before. A conflict in one situation can be the last straw that leaves you unwilling to accept similar behaviors from anyone. Sudden realization of ongoing trauma and abuse in one relationship can cause you to see it it in others. Our relationships are not vacuums and our lives are an intricate web of who we are and who we are around, and what we do and think. Just as what we say and repeat impacts what we think, so do relationships affect each other.
How does your family and your past with them impact your spousal relationship? Do you have certain behaviors that trigger responses because of childhood? Do you have tones of voice that cause you to respond in predictable ways? Do you accept behaviors or words that you don’t agree with because you feel it is how things always are? Do you expect a level of intimacy or closeness that is in some way related to what you knew from your family? Do you fear being alone more than bad relationships? Do you fear bad relationships more than being alone? Has your family changed how you give or accept trust or compassion? Have you ever looked at these things and decided to change them and be aware of them?
We spend a great deal of our time at work. In the US, we often spend the majority of our time at work. These are the people we interact with the most and they will impact our other relationships. A stressful environment at work not only changes what you need and want at home but it changes our level of patience and communication. When I go home angry at a coworker that in many ways reminds me of my husband then I am less tolerant of things I might otherwise accept in my husband. The question is sometimes should I accept those behaviors and this is just lowering my tolerance wrongly; or is it just highlighting things incompatible to a relationship I want to have? I’m not sure I can answer that even for myself.  Our work relationships may strengthen personal relationships like friends or they may strain them. I may leave with great relief to be out of there and with my friends or I may leave under too much stress to deal well with others. A happy work environment leaves you more able to have casual relationships that are not touched by work but how many of us have that?
So what about the other direction? When you fight with children or spouse in the morning do you enter the office affected by it? Maybe your commute is long enough to diffuse it or maybe it makes it worse. If you are having a long term issue with family does it change your mood at work? If it impacts your mood, it impacts your relationships. Returning to the we don’t live in a vacuum and our lives should be viewed as a whole picture not separate parts. When we try to be someone different for each hat we wear, we are straining all the others.  The cross impacts can be positive or not, both from trauma and pleasure. A terrible fight can open your eyes to things in many other areas. A peaceful and wonderful trip can highlight the unhappiness in areas of life. A depressing occurrence in one relationship can hurt other relationships or tie them closer. A new strong friendship can show flaws in other relationships or show you why you love them all.
Our work/life balance is important because it is part of how we live, how we interact, how we grow, how we connect. Change and growth is good and should remain part of our lives all our lives but we also need the stable parts that draw our core. Some people need a stable job and career. Some need a home they own and love. Some need family connections. Some need the little rituals they can do anywhere like my bedtime pot of tea. For some it is a place, others a person. For some it is a feeling or a state of being, and for others it is whole picture. But the state of that stable point impacts our relationships. Knowing what our stable point is allows us more freedom in other areas that we may not need to be as stable in as we thought in our fear of change.
Relationships are work and they require patience, acceptance of others, commitment from all involved, communication, and time. But how often do we fall into the trap of sunk costs? A marriage is a commitment we made and it should be honored and helped, worked for and treasured. However, the sunk costs of our time, commitment, work, emotional state, and years of tolerance do not equate to requiring us to keep sinking our value into it if it is a lost cause or should be ended. How far does tolerance extend? Just because we are at a fragile state and accepted things in the beginning we should not have accepted, does not mean we should continue doing so. You should grow together so if one person heals and grows and sees these issue and the other can’t join that then there is likely little to be done. If communication and passion is a one way street there is no relationship in the positive sense. that leaves you in an unequal and destructive relationship that drains one person to feed another. Instability or unequal states can be emotional, verbal, physical, economic, and any other area of the relationship. It is not wrong to reevaluate those commitments and consider that all parties must be keeping the commitments or it is not being held to value.
Friendships have the same issue of sunk costs. A close friend for many years that has drifted away on their side but you still hold in the same position can be just as much a drain on you and the pain is real when you realize it. There is no vow or legal commitment to a friendship and you can choose each day how you will continue to connect to them and nurture a friendship they no longer care about but you hold dear. In any relationship there must be balance and communication but you have to be able to see when the communication is one sided and it is not of value to try and show someone something they don’t care to be a part of. Honesty is important and they must be honest and open with you or there is no path forward.
Blindness to reality is a disservice to you, to others, and to your relationships. We need to be open and clear minded to aid our best emotional state and nurture the relationships that nurture us. We also need to build the strength in ourselves that allows us to deal appropriately with unpleasant and but inescapable relationships like often occur at work or in families.
How many drains can you allow in your life before there isn’t enough in you to live your life? What areas can you or will you change to address the overabundance of drains and add more inflow and balanced interactions?
The painting is Nemesis, acrylic on stretched canvas by me.

Work and Art and Life

I have been good at working on my art every day since I removed the requirement to finish one each day. My new work schedule has not allowed me to finish the longer projects I tend to prefer. I have one in progress that I am considering putting on hold in favor of 2 others I have in mind. It just isn’t going as planned and doesn’t really contribute at the moment. Also, life has intruded with other ideas and needs.

One thing is I want to focus more on the things more directly related to the game project, my practice has been good but it is time to focus it a bit more. Also, I am considering designing new wedding rings for my husband and I. We were unable to go with some of the ideas we considered before based on a variety of good reasons, but now with my ring still missing somewhere in the kitchen wall…

Overall, projects floating around, kitties going in to be neutered and in a few weeks spayed, and car being challenging to repair and pout together, and work taking time, I am still restructuring my life and looking and what and how to do everything.

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Todd

Todd

This is my brother. I am pleased with it and I gained some insight from it that will help in my next one. Drawing family members and people I know well has really helped me learn the tones, and textures I need to work with because I know them and I am recreating something I am familiar with in a new way.
I actually had a couple of subjects I wanted to write a blog about today but they shall have to wait because this was my first day at a new job and I am tired and have things to do still. But the ideas will ruminate about my head for a bit while they await release into the wild.