During a conversation with a friend yesterday, she talked about how happy, stable, and productive I seem. Of course that’s how I would like to be and may appear to be online, but the reality of my daily life is very different. I thought that it would be helpful if I went into detail about myself, because so many people, myself included, fall prey to the illusion of other peoples lives being perfect.
As I’m writing this, I’m lying in bed with a cat in my lap. It’s lovely, what most people would dream of being able to do on a weekday afternoon. I, however, feel as though it’s the only thing I can do even though I know that paintings and people are waiting for me. I am so lethargic that typing this and answering emails are about the only things I will accomplish today. This is a very regular, predictable occurrence for me. Fortunately, my life is structured to allow for this.
I’m quite certain I have PMDD, though I’ve never been diagnosed because I’ve found ways to cope with my issues without needing professional help. There are certain times of the month where I can get a ton of painting done and my creativity and energy feel limitless, while other times of the month I have to sleep for days and even standing upright is difficult. My moods follow my level of energy, and during my best months I get a week of optimistic happiness, while the rest of the time I’m functioning at “charmingly morose” (as my partner describes me), with a few days of utter darkness. It’s a fairly predictable cycle. What often gets me through is creating, or at the darkest days, simply knowing that “this too shall pass”. The closest I’ve come to any kind of medication is coffee, which makes me feel infinitely more stable and functional. When I’m at wits end I turn to writing and walking in the forest. At the risk of being too honest, I’ve become very good friends with death. I reflect on it often as a way to gain perspective, and it reminds me that life is best served doing the things that are important. It’s taken me years to recognize my cyclical nature and it’s signposts; finding ways to work with it and accepting that the trajectory of my life is a result of what I am capable of handling.
I do think I’ve accomplished a lot in my life so far and I think it’s because I recognized early on that I couldn’t survive in a 9-5 world. More than anything, being self-employed allows me the freedom of flexibility. I can pay my bills, make the art that needs making, and fulfill my few other obligations, all because I have the freedom to do it in my own time. And I feel like I need an inordinate amount of time to accomplish things. Perhaps that is why I try very hard to use all of my time and energy to it’s fullest. If painting isn’t an option (I typically only have the energy to paint every few days), then perhaps drawing or writing or answering emails is - anything to keep some semblance of a flow happening, which is important for keeping my stress in check. Scheduling is another stress-reliever, and I allow a lot of space for things to be completed. I always plan to finish things at least a month before they are due so that I have wiggle room. Once that becomes the routine then it’s easy to stay ahead of upcoming projects.
Not to babble on too much, I realize that all of this comes from a very privileged perspective and I don’t want people to take this as advice. I simply want to be honest about myself because the more people I talk to, the more I realize how important it is to share our experiences with one another.