Thursday, February 26, 2009


I'm drinking coffee and trying to get the energy up to change out of my pajamas into clothing. I have three prescriptions for medications that I need to take to the drug store down the street. I have a rent check that I need to mail at the post office. I haven't painted and I don't have any desire to go on the treadmill. I don't think I'm lazy, I think I'm depressed.

Stopped my anti-depressant four days ago. I was trying to sleep and the patch on my arm that delivers the medication through skin contact was itching. It felt like it was on fire. Gradually, over a several month period, I have become allergic to the patch. That night I ripped the patch off my arm and haven't put another on one since. Don't know where I would put a new one anyway, my arms are covered in red splotches of tender skin. Some spots are over a week old.

The anti-depressant that the patch delivered is available in pill form. It is a very old form of anti-depressant. There may be some dietary restrictions. My nurse checked and said things are o.k., I want to double check with the pharmacist. The anti-depressant is an m.a.o inhibitor, a family of drug known for a deadly blood pressure spike if certain foods are eaten. I am taking this drug with open eyes, if it means I can't eat chocolate or cheese or Chinese food ever again I am prepared to make the sacrifice. My limited experience with the patch form of delivery of the drug told me that this drug works on depression - and there are no side effects.

It is ironic. When I last stopped painting for a period of time it was because I was taking Lamictal and I was so happy that I decided to take a vacation. I had no guilt and no fire in my belly prodding me. On Lamictal there was a world view, and in it God was very nice and generous. He didn't particularly care whether or not I was an artist, I didn't have to earn my place in his world or in his esteem. I was, on Lamictal, feeling like I was cut from the choicest piece of cloth, perhaps silk threaded with gold, and I earned my right to live by simply living. I suppose that is a picture of blooming health. And I realized while I was on Lamical, easily resting in a groove of contentment, that if I stayed on the drug I may never create again.

While I was not painting I realized that I do paint in order to escape feelings of depression and sadness and worthlessness. If I were a parent, or a secretary, or a teacher, if I had a typical job, then taking Lamictal would have been worthwhile. But I can't work the hours of a typical job and I'm not a parent. I'm trying to be productive in the vacuum of physical and emotional isolation, I have no co-workers, no one and nothing is dependent upon me except the love of my grown family, I am self motivated, moving through the freest of spaces, completely self employed. I have to have reasons in order to paint. There were, on Lamictal, no reasons, and so, I did not paint. I think that my reasons are not kind and gentle. I think that my reasons for painting are savage.

About ten years ago I was in the basement of my mother's home, looking through old, saved things. I found a painting I had done when I was very young, maybe kindergarten, maybe first or second grade. I had written my name and then had drawn several flowers. There was nothing prodigious about those flowers, no one would have ever looked at the flowers and said, "this girl has talent". I must have drawn what I thought was pretty. I know that at that young age I drew for fun. When I drew those flowers drawing was natural and easy. It was a time of innocence, and through the years things have gotten darker and more complicated.

It is ironic that I did not paint on Lamictal because I had given up all my burdens, and now I do not paint because I am over burdened by depression. The depression is really in its earliest stages, it doesn't hurt, there is no crying and there are no thoughts of suicide. But I'm living in a place that is beyond caring, I'm numb and frozen like a deer that looks into the the blinding light of an oncoming car. On Lamical I didn't worry, I wasn't numb, but I didn't hold on to care either. Right now I have no confidence in myself, I can't work up a passion, I've let dedication slip through my fingers.

Depression doesn't just sap you of energy. It makes life bland and unappetizing. I don't want to partake in living. So I drift through the days. A little reading. A shower. Hours spent in bed with my eyes shut, not sleeping, just thinking.

Since I began this essay I've been out and returned. I saved a draft, shut off my computer, and left the house. I went to the pharmacy, went to the bank and post office, and visited the gallery where my artwork is hanging. I talked to the gallery owner and she said that many people talk about my art, they say it is the best thing they have seen in the store. When the show comes down next week she wants to keep several pieces. The sale that the gallery has been advertising has helped sell things, they have not made any great profit, only regained money that they invested in buying art. They are hold steady for the moment. I read into what she is saying. The sale saved the gallery from folding. In summer Brattleboro does some modest tourism. I hope sales pick up with the warm weather. For my husband and I, I know that we will not be going on vacation this year. I wonder how many other families have made such a decision. My husband says that we are not in a recession, we are in a depression.

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