Walking with Depression

Yesterday I did something I never do; I took a three hour nap in the middle of the day. My family attended the 29th iteration of Missoula’s Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention, MisCon, over Memorial Day weekend and afterward I was completely wrung out. Even after napping, I’m still fighting the after-effects of tired and extreme emotional highs and lows.

I submitted my artwork to the MisCon Art Show for the first time this year. It was a risk that mostly paid off… but the nerves. Oh. My. Goodness. I took in 25 pieces for display and it was nerve-wracking to wait and see if any sold. I’d hoped to break even on costs and thankfully, enough sold for just that… but the waiting… the waiting to see if my work was judged worthy to be bought, that is the exhausting part. The extreme irony is that just under half the pieces I took in sold. Half.

Miscon Art Show | Dakota Midnyght Art

The same thing happened at my December art show. I spent the month biting my nails and resolutely not thinking about what might happen, and I sold half of my framed pieces and a number of prints and cards.

I don’t know if half is anything to boast about – I’m not experienced enough to know – but it is apparently my benchmark. And for a new, unknown artist, it’s probably nothing to sneeze at. But the ups and downs of the past few weeks are definitely getting to me. On Sunday night, I wrote this:

Post Divider D

The hardest part about the descent is not anticipation of the coming crash. The challenge is pulling up enough to make the crash softer than it might otherwise be. The challenge is riding the fall and clinging to the knowledge that you will come back up even though it feels endless. The challenge is hoping that the ricochet will not cycle as badly this time – that perhaps – even though it doesn’t feel like it, positive change is just a few heartbeats away.

Depression.

I’ve not ridden this cycle enough times to say I’m an old hand. I’m not sure I ever will. It hits hard every time. I thought I’d hit my nadir about a month ago, I was wrong. Or maybe not wrong, just that I’ve been bumping along the bottom ever since.

It’s a struggle to create. to write. to feel like any of the effort and investment is worth it. I’ve been working on the #100DayProject in fits and starts – doing well for stretches of time and then hitting a bump and having to restart. I’m quite sure the process I’m working through is not what the project-creators intended. Perhaps that is okay. Perhaps what I will find through this is something quite different, but just as valuable.

I struggle to continue this post or even to consider it “post” worthy… I was previously working on (and by previously I mean last week) on a post on the fallacy of outward-appearance (related to depression and our current family monetary (mis)fortune). But I just read an article about young nine year old girls abducted by ISIS tonight and my heart is breaking for them and their mothers. I am whining and complaining about my “lack,” over here, and these women are losing their worlds. I cannot imagine, cannot fathom their pain.

I think depression is a first world privilege.

Post Divider D

It’s difficult to write about depression without sounding like I’m whining or looking for attention. It’s difficult to feel like my ongoing sortie with it belongs on the pages of this blog. Recently, as more comic panels explaining what it’s like to be depressed circulate through the web, it’s even difficult to assume that I can lay claim to being “depressed.”

(And that is a contradiction within itself. I do not want to “lay claim” to it, I do not want to “own” it, I do not want to use any language which assumes this… condition… is assimilated within my being and that I cannot eventually exorcise it.)

My particular brand of “depression” isn’t feeling nothing – it’s feeling so small, so unworthy, so unnecessary, that any efforts to be out there on social accounts – business or privately – is to feel that I am a complete waste of time. It’s a little voice whispering “you are nothing and offer nothing of value” when putting words on a page. It’s feeling like I am too unworthy to even be allowed to feel depressed when I am so blessed and so many others are grappling with truly life-shattering struggles.

Poems on Depression | Dakota Midnyght Art
Three of the #100DayProject pieces, quite a few have dealt with depression.

Thankfully, my experience as Miscon 29 this weekend pulled me out of the funk a bit. I’ve apparently gained a reputation as costumer to the young Jedi running around MisCon 27, I received some lovely compliments on my art… but mostly, I felt part of a community of loving, like-minded people who accept me for me, who are encouraging and supportive, and who wrestle with many of the same issues I do. For now, it is enough.

15 thoughts on “Walking with Depression

  1. Hang in there! You have lots to offer to the world, online and offline. I struggle with anxiety, and can feel your pain. It’s not easy. Congrats on selling half your art at the show! That’s great! Keep up the good work. 🙂

    1. Anxiety is the… mm, not the flip side, the rim? of my emotional coin… I’m really sorry to hear that you also struggle with it, it’s no fun! Thank you so much for your well-wishes, and I’m sending them right back at you!!!

  2. Oh Dakota, my heart hurts for you. I don’t know the world of depression, but I know a little bit of how it is to fight the lies that try to convince you that you are not good enough, not worthy, or that we have something to prove. You know where I come from in my faith, so I’ll do what I believe is best and pray for you!!

    1. Oh JoEllen, just because we are not in the same place faith-wise doesn’t mean I don’t believe what you believe isn’t effective! Thank you for your prayers, I accept them wholeheartedly and I appreciate them so, so much.

  3. I can relate. I could say so much, but mainly I know that Depression Lies. She’s a bitch and she likes to talk a lot of shit.

    I could easily close myself off. As far as the writing goes – I have the same thoughts. That bitch whispers.

    The truth is… You are monumental. You are priceless. You are so needed.

    -Angie

    1. Oh Angie, thank you so much and yes, she’s a heck of a force to contend with. And thank you so much for that last piece of your comment. Just… thank you.

  4. Depression is a beast, isn’t it? That feeling of being unworthy must be even harder when you are an artist putting yourself out there day in day out. You most certainly are worthy of a lot. Even besides your success with writing and artl, you have raised two wonderful little guys who I hope to meet someday!

    Thinking of you…and I am so happy for you to have sold even just a few pieces– not to mention almost half!– that’s amazing.

    🙂
    Julia

    1. Thank you so much Julia, I do hope we can bring us and the kids together someday – I think it would be so much fun! And thank you for your thoughts… I really appreciate it.

  5. Dakota, I would not at all worry about people considering this truth and rawness whiny or “un-blogworthy.” You are being real and helping others who are perhaps less able to articulate those same feelings.

    Sending hugs.

  6. I relate on so many levels! You are doing amazing work and I’m so glad you are gaining success as a working artist. It is hard to make yourself vulnerable and put your art work / writing out into the world. Kudos to you! I’m finally trying to get caught up on reading some blogs after a

    1. Thank you so much Justine… It is definitely difficult – I’m sure you know with your writing! And I sooooo know what it’s like to be trying to catch up on blog reading. I think I’m averaging a catch up every 1-2 weeks right now… which is an eternity in the blog-o-sphere! Thank you so much for coming by here. 🙂

  7. I know (so much) how difficult it can be when we are anxious or depressed then see the horrors of the world and ask ourselves how we DARE be depressed. I think you can feel for the world and its problems and atrocities while also acknowledging and honoring ourself. <3

    1. Sarah, thank you so much for your kind comment and also for your understanding and solidarity. It’s such a fine line to walk, isn’t it?

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