Friday, October 30, 2015
I know the title isn't exactly the loveliest one I could come up with, but I really do believe I need some form of creative laxative. I haven't been able to dive into my art or create anything new for the past six months and the bits that I have done - just to maintain my stationery company - have been mostly business. Receive order, package order, mail out order. A dream I'd put so much money and effort into making a reality crashed when I had to pull out of this May's National Stationery Show at the last minute. I haven't fully recovered from that disappointment yet and I know this because I've been too afraid to face several things since then.
My retreat from social media happened for a few reasons, but the first step I took in that direction was on Instagram right before NSS. I just couldn't handle seeing all my creative peeps getting ready and excited for the show while I was home, depressed and recovering. I felt so embarrassed because after all that hype I'd made about my upcoming debut, I was going to be a no-show. I imagined my booth space sitting empty save for a sheet of paper stating that "Porcupine Hugs" was supposed to be there. I wanted to crawl under the covers for forever and I pretty much did, but when followers started asking me for my booth number and saying they couldn't wait to see me at the Jacob Javits Center, I had to come clean. Everyone was incredibly supportive and I wanted to wish everyone a great time, but I still felt like a loser and some Instagram posts later, I stopped being active on there. It's crazy because I so loved Instagram above all other forms of social media, but it just hurt too much to confront that anxiety.
After I retreated from Twitter and Facebook, I closed down my Etsy shop. Everything was just too much. I wanted to hide and I didn't want people to find me.
But that's the crazy thing about craving isolation and then getting it...you end up feeling lonely and that depression continues feeding back into the isolation. I had sidelined myself to such a degree that I didn't even know where or how to start integrating. I do have friends, so many of them, and am grateful that they've refused to let me become a perma-hermit, but I also keep thinking of those other people I had connected with via social media. The other small businesses owners, the creatives, the group that would cheer each other on through obstacles and victories. In my mind, I had closed this thriller of a book I hadn't finished reading yet and here I was obsessing over what happened next, but too afraid to flip it back open. Even after re-opening my shop some weeks ago (after the constant nudge and encouragement from a well-meaning friend), I haven't been able to tap back into those circles. I haven't created anything new either. I miss it, but I haven't been craving it as much as I used to. A friend once told me I should be gentler on myself. While art might have served as my therapy in the past, right now my mind is focused on healing itself in other ways. Eventually, I will be hungry for it again.
A few friends of mine have taken to adult coloring books to relieve stress and cater to that inner child. Some books are much more intricate than others, but they're still a fun way to be creative without the added pressure of making something that will sell. Some good choices (and the ones my friends have played with):
1. Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns
2. Creative Haven Creative Cats Coloring Book
3. Secret Paris: Color Your Way to Calm
4. Fantastic Cities: A Coloring Book of Amazing Places Real and Imagined
I bought that last book after falling in love with its wanderlust aspect as I've been dreaming of taking off and traveling the globe for a while. Whether it happens or not, it's been a most welcomed distraction. At first I thought the intricate cityscapes would kick my hyperventilating skills into high gear, but when I started coloring in the teeny houses of Bremen, Germany, I couldn't focus on anything other than painting that particular house in that particular color before moving on to the next tiny building. I hadn't meditated on a regular basis in a long time, but coloring something so detailed came close to it. I imagined this is what it would feel like to build a puzzle of 10,000 pieces. My mind has been going non-stop, obsessing over things said, not said, what I wish I had done or not done, mistakes I wish I could erase, moments when I wish I had stood up for myself over and over. All. Day. Long.
This was a break, a quiet from the negativity clamoring around in my brain. And while my best antidotes have been moments with friends and genuine connections, I can't be around others 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In fact, it was that very neediness and fear of being alone that partly led me to this situation. So here I am, learning to be on my own again and remembering how much I loved to draw.