Colours and Depression

Colouring page from “Saggesse D’Asie” by Hachette Loisirs

As I bounce up and down with my new medication, one thing that I’ve been in awe at the appearance and disappearance of is my ability to understand and use colours in my art.

Let me explain.

I’ve had colouring pencils and access to a digital tablet for long periods of time, but to be able to feel like I understand the way colours work? It always felt immensely difficult, like it was warping my brain in ways that didn’t make sense. I thought it was just me not being educated or skilled enough. Then, I discovered that I could shade perfectly well in black and white. But whenever I added colour it felt wrong. Just- wrong. When I coloured in a picture, I had to change the filters to black and white to make it make sense to me.

It’s not that I’m colour blind. I just, it felt weird to create colour. And then, one day, a friend told me that depression inhibits your ability to see colours. Bingo. I researched a little, and realized that there must be some sort of connection there.

Once I started medication and was stable and not depressed for the first time, I began colouring in my pictures. For once it felt natural. It made sense to colour in faces, and I realized that indeed, it was ridiculous and illogical to worry about bringing a page to life by colouring in the eyes (oh, the things we discover with medication!).

Recently, I started a new antidepressant (from which I am still stabilizing, hence the shortness of this post) and a few hours after- wham! I looked up and realized how much colours surrounded me. It was drastic. Not only did I feel better and a bit elated, but I could see the difference between the grey world of depression and the beautiful reality that was there to be seen. I couldn’t believe it. It was beautiful.

Now, as my medications continue fluctuating up and down my ability to understand colours fluctuates as well, but constantly trending to the positive. Now using colouring pencils feels logical. Filling in a colouring page no longer feels strange. I feel as if the colours just make more sense and are easier to manipulate. Progress is being made, I can feel it. Now I can look forward to a day when hopefully, it will be easy and natural to colour in an image.


Theater, Medication & Beauty and the Beast

Coffee and thoughts of the day!

I went to the theater this week, and it really was quite fun. Despite my medication not yet having stabilized, I strapped on my “I’m doing this” boots and went out with my wife to celebrate our anniversary at the movies. Not just for any movie either- Beauty and the Beast is a very special movie for us.

It really was quite an experience to go while being unstable. Due to my sensitivity to music while being altered, it brought up some old thoughts for me. Mainly an old saying that was repeated to me over and over in the days where I was trying to heal without medication.

It would often go in a series of questions. I would say that I was trying to heal. They, the sage elder or wannabe healer, would look ‘wisely’ over me and ask if there was any part of my symptoms that I enjoyed. Slightly naive, I would answer that yes, I did enjoy the way music would sometimes become a portal to ecstacy. Or that sometimes I felt like I was flying. Instantly they would latch onto whatever I said and say that it was that! I had to “Let Go” of it! I had to be prepared to leave it behind! Ohhh, pop psychology at work.

I would often leave these meetings confused and bitter, wondering if it actually was all my fault, but mainly blaming myself for miscommunicating pleasure instead of pain. For really, I would gladly trade these few moments of bliss against the days of horror and struggle that they plunged me into.

And yes, the medication has taken away the music’s ecstacy. It took away the wings that made it difficult to walk. And you know what?

I don’t miss them. When my service dog signals, sometimes it does feel like music is on the brink of sending me an ecstatic message. But now I don’t jump that bridge. It never goes beyond that. And that’s great. I was able to sit back and watch a movie, and though the soundtrack was very moving it was not overwhelmingly so. I didn’t feel like I was falling into a trance or receiving mind-blowing revelations through a fiddle. I was just watching a movie. And that was really nice.

Cold Weather, Wicca, and Triggers

Colder weather has long been a favourite temperature of mine. It brings meditative calm, peace of mind, and the stilling sound of snow falling has a precious quality to it. Ice, to me, makes sense as an element on the pentacle, for ice has so many qualities to it that none other has. To me, ice represents the cold very well. But what does cold do? It turns visible that which is unseen. Breath becomes mist. Water, which slips so easily through our grasp and ever moves on in evaporation or descent into the earth, is suddenly turned still and hard. I could go on and on about all the beautiful things that cold represents to me, but suffice to say that I am slightly infatuated with it.

And yet, cold is a massive C-PTSD trigger for me. Due to my past, a lovely taste of cold weather can suddenly turn into sharp mood swings, dissociation, and a vast amount of other complications. Usualy I can balance this. I’ve been forced to learn the strict amount of times I can spend immersed in this element, the very little amount of cold I can actually stand, and have to bundle up to the point that I almost do not feel that sharp bite upon my skin.

Unfortunately, curveballs happen in life and recently the heating broke in my apartment. Ah, global warming. If this wasn’t unusally cold weather locally for the time of year, it would have been no problem. We hardly would have noticed. Yet, there is still several feet of snow here, and I was forced once more to acknowledge my weakness to cold. How tiring a constant trigger can be. How exhausting it is to fight not just the draining sap of cold, but psychologically to battle against constant reminders of the past. To distance myself again and again from what feels like overlapping realities.

So what does this have to with spirituality? Balance, I would say.

For those of us suffering from triggers, we would love to live our life in a total absence of any reminders of our past. Of ‘those’ or ‘that’ event. But unfortunately, this blissful erasure is not always possible. So we live in a balance. We want to experience life in all its fullest, yet not be inundated by our past rising up from behind like an engulfing monster. And this is not a still thing. It reminds me of the pentacle, ever circling and rolling and flowing in the cycles of nature. Some days we fail, and the destructive forces of nature feel incarnate in us. Other days, we may feel successful, proud, and striving forward with the strength of fire. Yet other days we merely exist or cope, like a chunk of ice that neither melts or condenses. Life, we, are a cycle. Destructive and creative forces are a part of nature, and triggers, repercussions of destruction, are just as much a part of this cycle as anything else.

Sprouts & Healing (Wiccan thoughts on psychiatric medication)

This year, which started with a new, medicated and balanced me, I have once again decided to give gardening a shot. And, as so many other things are going better now that I am medicated, so is gardening.

Thanks to me watering them consistently with coffee (water mixed in with coffee grounds), my herbs have sprouted within a week! A week! Last year they’d sprouted so late I thought they were dead, and the few that managed to sprout had only a few inches of height by the end of summer!

Alright, moving on from gushing about my sprouts, what does this have to do with Wicca? Or even, mental illness?

Well, from a Wiccan perspective sprouting is a very important and symbolic act. It can be tied to the turning of the year, the onset of spring (though there’s still snow and its very cold in my region), and rebirth. But as a Wiccan, I think of all the elements in the ritual as symbolic. This includes the coffee water.

What of the coffee? A foreign element, not usually given to plants, not necessarily appearing in a ‘natural’ form. Yet with the proper care, it gives them the strength to burst free from the natural bonds (that are meant to be overcome) and be what they were meant to be. The seeds become plants, thanks to the aid of this foreign and un-natural product. And that’s ok, it works great.

I like to think of this as a metaphor for what psychiatric medication does. I like to think of it as a gift from the gods, a strange element taken from the world around us and derived so far from their natural habitat- yet it works. Like ashes, wood chips, or any kind of fertilizer, coffee needs to be balanced and tailored to the plant’s individual needs and environment.

The same can be said for psychiatric medication. It is a delicate balance to find the right medication, the right amount, and like so much in nture it can change and need adapting. Once this balance is struck, I feel like the person recovering can be like the plant, breaking free from the natural bonds of the shell and growing freely.

So for me, I find this year’s sprouting to be a lovely, divine, metaphor of life – for all of us, even the non-neuronormative ones. Because we too, are a part of nature’s beautiful cycles.