When Your Brain Takes a Break…

“Just do it.”

“Start where you are.”

“One step at a time.”

And so it goes. I’ve been in this place before, heard all the wise quotes, and done the therapy. Still, I get stuck in my head, and the world turns gray while I am not paying attention. Sure, it is different this time given my Cancer, and the 4 or 5 drugs I take, and it is also the same. What happened?

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Don’t I know it! Look where I’ve got myself. I have so many great ideas, wonderful ways to do meaningful work, everything I need to do it. Still I sit in my chair most days, doing no more than slowly knit a hat to cover my soon to be bald head.

What am I so afraid of?

The truth is I am very afraid. Afraid of chemo, afraid of feeling like crap, afraid it won’t work. I’m afraid of many things concerning my health, my treatment, and my life, but I am not afraid of my art. Again, what happened?

It hit me like a freight train the way it always does. When Steve and I were having a sad conversation about when, and if one should give up on trying staying alive. I realized that a big part of me did not want to try any more.

That’s when it hit me, I’m depressed.

I have been on anti-depressant/anxiety drugs for about 20 years. I started just before they were prescribing Prozac like vitamins.  Based on my experience my life is far better when I take these drugs, however  they  seem to stop working after about 4 or 5 years. I get into a funk and then about two weeks later the freight train, holy crap I remember this!

So, here I am 9 days away from starting chemo and a trial drug, and starting new brain meds. That means getting off the old one which can be another thing to fear. Like I said though, just knowing what I am dealing with makes me feel a whole lot better. Better enough to draw a cat!

Seriously, I needed something like the cat to ease me back into my artist groove (thanks Emma). As I already said I believe drugs help my brain work, however that is not the only thing I’ve been lacking. I need to do. I need to be creative, and active, and productive on a regular basis to keep my mojo going, as much as I need a pill to keep me in balance. I have been told many times, “don’t be hard on yourself”, “you need rest”, “take it easy”.  All well intended, but not what I need.

The thing is I have felt quite well the past few weeks aside from my funk. I am not by any means unable to sit here and type, or draw a cat, etc. So please, encourage me as I move back into myself. As I start doing what I intended when I began this blog. What was that anyhow? In the coming months I will need that encouragement.

75 Responses to When Your Brain Takes a Break…
  1. Christine Martell
    October 12, 2012 | 8:33 pm

    I love your cat. Always glad to see you show up in whatever form.

  2. Vickie
    October 12, 2012 | 8:47 pm

    I have been struggling with the same things you write about. Everyday I know I need to do to help me in healing and being but I struggle to even start. I like your cat. Maybe we could encourage each other.

  3. sandy reeb
    October 12, 2012 | 9:43 pm

    aww, Gwyn…hugs! Didn’t some of the most prolific, talented artists battle depression?? Michelangelo, Van Gogh,….. Just know you are not alone. You have so many friends and family that love you and are keeping you in thoughts and prayers! Also, not to “preach”, but the Bible has much to say about fear and anxiety …might be worth a look. AND I love your cat! :)

  4. Emma
    October 12, 2012 | 10:49 pm

    I love this cat! Perfect. I’m so glad you were inspired to pick up the pen and draw.

  5. Lindy Ratcliffe
    October 13, 2012 | 12:21 am

    Gwyn…I’ve been sitting here looking at your cat for quite a while and thinking about what you’ve written. Just want you to know that you are always in my prayers, along with two other friends who have cancer. Stupid cancer. Love and healing to you and Steve—


  6. Mary Lee
    October 13, 2012 | 3:47 am

    Hmmmm,Gwyn, how to move forward with the work? How to move out of the funk? Here are some things that I’m working with that sometimes help me:

    I look at inspiring images such as a friend’s artwork, magazines of photographs (National Geographic is a favorite of mine),Pinterest, artist’s blogs, or art books.

    I’m working on a visual journal that I write in, draw in, and keep interesting things that I may use in the future such as quotes, or scraps of paper, or fabric, or a napkin.

    Sometimes, I make a plan to just go and sit in my studio, and pull out whatever may be interesting–and build from there. When I begin, it helps, and I feel better just to be working, to be creating again.

    I wish you godspeed in your creating–in whatever form that takes. And I will appreciate whatever you share with us.

    Thank you,
    Mary Lee

  7. debe
    October 13, 2012 | 9:30 am

    Dearest Gwen,

    Knowing you are not alone is often not enough.

    I was happy to see the email this morning showing me that you are still alive and blogging, and then see you are in that dark hole of depression.

    I am not able to put myself in your shoes, and the folks that tell you to rest more, blah blah blah… they mean well but haven’t been there either.

    Praying that the spirit lifts you up a bit, to show you that it isn’t the new normal.

    Being scared is just natural for most folks in your situation. Drugs are pretty scary because they change your brain chemistry so much, and we would like to think we are in control… and often we are slapped into the reality that we are never in control.

    Every time I personally go through this “crap I am off this NOW” feeling it takes months to pinpoint that I am better on the damn drugs.

    Huge hugs and best wishes on this journey to wellness.

    Please keep blogging even a little bit every day, and know that we are out here in cyber space with you.

    xxx ooo


  8. Kathryn
    October 14, 2012 | 3:55 pm

    Create please :)

  9. Phil
    October 17, 2012 | 2:37 pm

    Many of us are afraid of outcomes we don’t yet know, and the pills only carry us so far. It takes courage to face the future and sometimes it’s too damn hard to summon it. And then, it takes just one little thing to pick us up a bit to be brave. I hope you have many of those moments coming your way.

    At any given moment, try to do what feels right to you, what encourages you, and what makes you happy. In my mind, I always see you smiling and happy and that is what I wish for you…and Steve.

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