365, Day 29: Orientations

365, Day 29

Again with the blues. I struggle with depression. This post began with me being drawn yet again into the blues in my palette as a means of trying to express things that have a difficult time surfacing and therefore remain murky, frightening, and debilitating. One of my current therapeutic practices is recognizing “should” statements and cognitive distortions in my thinking. In some ways, this practice of daily painting helps.

This piece began in an horizontal orientation. After I’d laid in the initial color and dropped salt into the damp washes to create “snow”, I decided the piece needed to be turned in order to follow the way the landscape had emerged.

Part of my difficulty in admitting I struggle with depression is dealing with judgement, both my own and that of others. What do I do about it? I feel wrong most of the time, like I “shouldn’t” feel the way I do, like I should “get rid of” the “negative” feelings, “conquer” them, “banish” them, etc. Most of the ways that I feel and think about myself (and about the ways that I feel and think) tend to put me in a position of needing to change myself in order to be ok. And that means attacking depression as an enemy.

Which pretty much amounts to inflicting violence on myself.

I remember years ago listening to Pema Chodron talking about a friend of hers who struggled for years with cycles of severe depression and the journey he made to just be with the depression, to recognize that it arose and was more present at some times and less so at others. In the times of its presence, he adjusted his life, allowing more time for meditation, more time for self-care, more time to honor and nurture himself. He recognized that the depression arose and it fell away and, while it never became pleasant to endure, he stopped waging war on himself as a means of “healing”.

I find that I am sick of most of the “self-help” stuff out there on depression and “negative energy”. It isn’t helpful. But, in its own way, the painting is.

“Helpful” is a definition in the process of unfolding…

(© Karen Opp. All rights reserved.)

About Karen

I am a fifty-something anthropology student, an artist, dancer, photographer, healer, mother, grandmother and perennial seeker. I am distracted by shiny things and infused with a sense of wonder at the world around me and people in general. I am a “journey” person who often wishes that I could have a “destination” day at least every now and then…
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