I am an artist. I am an artist coach. I am a writer. A mother. These things are core parts of my identity. But I also struggle with depression and anxiety. This time of year, as for many people, my struggle is heightened. And by this, I don’t mean that I just get a little down when the weather turns cold and gray (though SAD is also a legitimate struggle for many). This depression feels like turning inward, but not in a grace-filled introspective sort-of way. It is not peaceful or patient. It is anxious, fearful, irrational, and erratic. And it is lethargic and apathetic. It is confining to the point of panic. And that is why many people struggle with depression and anxiety in tandem. To boot, the apathy makes it difficult to pull yourself out. It is difficult to not feel like my identity has become, simply, depression.
By God’s grace, and with the support of friends, family, and medical professionals, I have learned to identify depression when it creeps in. In many ways, this helps nullify its power in my life, but this does not necessarily eliminate its presence. It comes back around again, routinely, like the seasons. This predictability has, in some ways, become a comfort to me because I can realize: this isn’t me, it’s the depression. Depression is not my identity. In my case, it appears that my struggle is genetic – a combination of personality characteristics and biological chemical imbalances passed down from the women on my father’s side of the family. I will admit though, it has taken several years to put the puzzle pieces of doctor’s visits and family research together, and to quit blaming myself.
In many ways, my own struggle has been a helpful window into the minds and hearts of the many artists I have the privilege to work with. Mental health struggles have often been speculatively linked to those with exceptionally creative brains (although the causal relationship between the two is less clear). My own journey toward mental health has helped me empathize with so many others along the way, and given me a passion to support artists who struggle with mental health, in particular.
I am grateful for a family that has been supportive in my journey, and for the psychological and medical professionals I’ve had access to in my life. For this reason, The Story Shop is partnering with Banquet Atelier & Workshop to give back in support of mental health this holiday season. To learn more about this partnership, visit our shop, and scroll to check out the Heart for Mental Health campaign.
If you struggle with mental health, or with Seasonal Affective Disorder, don’t go it alone. Reach out to a friend, family member, or organization that can help. If you don’t know where to start, click here.
Peace and creativity to you all, my friends. Find those others who bring out your light.