Wednesday, January 29, 2014

I Feel I Owe You An Explanation...

Portrait of me by Ellie Lane Imagery

I love blogging.  There's something marvelous to someone who is an introvert and creative about putting your thoughts out to the universe, and having people respond positively.  It's therapeutic to get my thoughts down, exciting to share beautiful objects or discoveries or realizations in an organized manner, and it's great fun to go back and read through old blog posts, almost like discovering all of the discoveries over again. 

But lately I've been a terrible blogger.  I have three blogs, each of which serves a different purpose, each of which I love very much for different reasons: There's Catty-Corner Cottage, my personal blog where I share stories and pictures from the process of fixing up and personalizing our first home.  There's The Beautiful Necessity, where I talk about my never-ending obsession with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and explore new and re-evaluated details of their lives and their art.  And then there's Domythic Bliss, where I talk about the Mythic Arts in general, and more specifically how to express a love for myth and fairy tale in one's personal abode and daily environment. 

I haven't blogged at either of the latter webpages since early November 2013.  And before then, it had been months between posts on either blog as well.

Please, reader, I beg you not to think I'm abandoning these blogs.  I'm not...I hold them close with a sense of ownership and pride and community.  But I have to admit something to you: life has been challenging.

By Brooke Shaden

In early 2011, I discovered the absolutely phenomenal blog, Hyperbole and a Half.  The genius behind the entries, Allie Brosh, was one of the most hilarious comedians in any medium I had ever seen.  I spent half of my time reading her entries wiping away tears of laughter and trying to breathe. 

In October of 2011, Allie wrote a blog post about how she had gotten a book contract.  Her readers were all very excited, but then there was nothing but silence; months and months and then over a year of absolutely nothing.  Even though I adored the blog, and followed her page on Facebook in case there were any new posts ever, I gradually stopped checking back to the blog itself.

In May of 2013, Allie returned with an absolutely epic post about depression, and what it's like to go through depression.  I mean, the brilliance with which she described what it's like, with both wit and total truthfulness and minute was nothing short of a blow-out comeback phenomenon.

Allie's experience is a perfect example of how life and all its imperfections and struggles can get in the way of something we really love.  Mental illness is truly a destroyer of all joy, sapping any bit of happiness you have and twisting it into knots.  I don't struggle with depression, but what I've started to admit to myself, and what I've had an especially hard time with since October 2013, is a suspected generalized anxiety disorder. 

In late September, I went to my rheumatologist for a routine visit, and his assistant thought she heard something of concern.  An appointment was set up with a cardiologist to have him check it out in late October.  And to make a long story short, I eventually had to come to grips with the fact that some doctors will always want to run more and more tests and will never be willing just to tell you that everything will be okay, even if the problem is minor.  I ramped up such an overabundance of anxiety by the time my appointment was scheduled, my heart was already racing a million miles a minute, chest tight, panic attacks waking me up at 3am.

By Brooke Shaden

Finally I decided to let the fear go, and I focused on having a great Christmas.  And it was a great holiday, but soon thereafter, I switched the focus of my anxiety from physical wellness to fear for our house, its safety, the weather and its affects on it.  My mind would create a thousand completely unlikely scenarios for how everything could fall apart: the loud pops and cracks old houses make in cold weather meant the roof was caving in, or the floor would give way.  An unknown smell in the air was undoubtedly carbon monoxide poisoning and we'd die in our sleep (despite the fact that we have detectors on every floor with fresh new batteries).  And lately?  Our furnace will go out in the negative degree weather, leaving our pipes to freeze and burst in the walls and collapse the ceiling and floor.  You get the idea, maybe. 

And the stressful thing about having an anxiety disorder is that sometimes...well, often...the things you're worried about are things that could legitimately happen.  It's just that they are rather unlikely, and you blow the ramifications of what if they every happened way out of proportion, as if your whole life will end if they occur.  But because these fears really are theoretically possible, it's hard to just ignore your anxiety.

By Brooke Shaden

Everyone has worries sometimes, but usually we can tuck them to the back of our minds, telling ourselves we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.  But lately I seem to lack that filter, that ability to let it go.  (Let it go, I am one with the wind and sky...)  And the worse the anxiety gets, the more it feeds on itself, until I can no longer even focus or concentrate on anything other than my fears.  I haven't worked on a single creative project since Christmas, and as a creative person who needs that almost as much as I need food, I'm feeling the loss of it.  But in my mind, the idea of focusing on anything but the fear seems absolutely impossible.

So...Um, yeah.  I suppose there you have it.  There's my rambling and somewhat paltry explanation for why even though I love blogging, you haven't seen much of anything from me lately.  I'm working on my anxiety issues...trying to find workable coping mechanisms and relaxation techniques.  And hopefully soon spring will come, both nature's reawakening and the reawakening of my creative spirit.  But for now, I am in deep hibernation, just trying to survive my own personal winter.