Battling the Great ‘D’!

The Great ‘D’ – depression.

I’ve battled with this nasty bottom dweller since I was a teen, not just the usual teenage angst but something fundamentally more serious and frightening. Well, it’s true to say that I have been struggling again these last few months.

The problem with depression isn’t merely the ‘being down’, the negative thoughts, the brain paralysing fears and paranoia’s and the black pit of despair, it is also the straight jacket, the feeling of having your hands and feet tied whilst being asked to continue with ‘normal’ daily life. A total impossibility. Depression is a paralyser of creativity, ideas, ‘normal’ cognitive function, it skews and sours everything.

There’s that awful word again – ‘normal’, as when you’re in the grip of depression you feel anything but normal, you imagine your head enlarged, a sign scrawled across your forehead, a big pointy neon sign following you around. Did I mention paranoia? You feel out of control, scrutinised, attacked, beaten, bruised, defeated all at once. It’s the sensation of speeding in an open top car at 110mph with no seat belt while the driver wears a blindfold, yet at the same time feeling as if you’re stuck neck deep in treacle – unable to move, to progress, to do anything. It’s debilitating.

It’s such an insidious condition. I’ve known it’s been creeping up on me for the last few months, that sinking feeling as life’s little or big crisis’s become increasingly more difficult to deal with. None of us can stop life being damn hard, from bad things happening. But when you have depression, you are completely incapable of dealing with them. You become instantly overwhelmed by the smallest thing, and completely smothered by anything larger.

It’s for this reason that I’ve neglected my own lovely blog for so long. I’ve found it virtually impossible to get the energy to blog anything this year and have been utterly incapable of following any of my friend’s wonderful blogs. Every time I saw one of their blog posts pop up on my emails, it just stayed there, accumulating with all the others along with hundreds of emails, probably thousands now. 😦

So, a huge apology to any and all of my friends if I’ve been a bit weird of late. I’m usually a great one for doing a ‘swan impression’, appearing in control, the effortless gliding swan, while in truth the legs are peddling manically beneath. That’s me to a T – so busy trying to convince others and myself that everything is okay, that I’m my usual social, bubbly, happy self, when the reality is anything but that. It’s exhausting and a dreadful ‘Catch-22’ cycle, one I find almost impossible to break. Perhaps it’s a confidence issue, but I’m just so used to putting up a front, the happy exterior that I don’t seem to be able to let that slip and allow people to see me down. Reality bites.

I think the only time in my life that I’ve really ever broken down and cried in public was at my friend’s funeral. So, to anyone who suffers from depression, whether you put on a brave face like me or are able to be open and honest about it, you have my heartfelt sympathies. It sucks. And to anyone who knows someone who is struggling, please be patient with them and if they appear okay, look a little closer. No-one builds a wall better than someone battling depression, we’re experts at hiding from the world, our friends, ourselves.

At the moment, I admit I am drowning slightly. Life worries are weighing heavily and those worst dark impulses are louder than ever. So, trying to be positive and drag myself out of this cycle, I have promised myself to try and list 5 things every day that are positive or make me happy, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant.

So here goes:

  1. A notable and prestigious writer has approached me to do a fantasy map commission for her amazing books. I am both thrilled and honoured.
  2. I have a lovely meeting of my gorgeous fellow Grimbold authors and friends at my place this Sunday for a big BBQ. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to this and what a light in a dark tunnel it’s been.
  3. I am perpetually thankful for the family that I do have. I love them all dearly.
  4. My four gorgeous doggies bring me laughter and light every day.
  5. Despite my job being terribly low paid, I do absolutely love it and love the people I work with.

There, 5 things to be thankful for. If you are struggling with any kind of depression, mental illness or anything else, then please take the time to breathe, look around you and find 5 things that make your life better/easier/happier. It’s so so easy to be swamped in a negative mire and forget to look up and really see what you have.

I will also try to blog again and when I can (without beating myself up anymore), read and support my lovely friend’s blogs…it may just take me a little time.

Take care and remember to be kind to yourself as well – you can’t help others if you’ve fallen yourself. ❤ xxxx

SAM_8746

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The Artist

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She squeezed the cadmium in a bright yellow streak across the palette.

She had painted in every medium, every material possible, but she still loved the richness of oils – that wonderful buttery smear of vivid colour, the smell of the linseed, the texture of the paint as it glided across the canvas.

All of it seemed more real to her than anything else. A life of its own, raw, visceral.

She dipped the sable brush in her own concoction of white spirit and linseed, to thin the paint whilst keeping the gloss. Too much white spirit would dull the verdant hues, too little would make them too sticky, too slick.

Her movements were erratic, not the usual smooth motions of wandering mind and sparkling imagination. She’d often complete a commission in a daze, almost unaware of where she was or what she was doing. Her conscious self, the side of her that was always acutely cautious, would be suppressed, allowing her hands to take over, her fingers to find the form she wanted.

That was where the magic lay…not in the end result, but in its creation.

Today was different.

Today, she was painting for her life.

The music swelled to a crescendo, pushing her adrenaline forward, hurrying her hand. The mottled texture of the canvas swirled before her eyes, a flamenco dance of colours.

Titanium white, a flash of cerulean, a dab of burnt umber and then the thinning haze of vermillion, red as flesh, peering out at her, reminding her of her slowing heart, the constrictions of her arteries, the pulsating electricity through her veins, which told her she was running out of time.

She worked fast now, pounding the canvas until the wooden stretcher creaked beneath the pressure.

The outside noises had faded away. No traffic, no loud Saturday night voices and wailing sirens. It was silent everywhere but inside her head.

Mixing now, hurried new hues emerging from the clogged up mess. Phaltho blue enriching the green she had created, a hint of lemon, a sparkle of ultra-marine.

Throat dry now. Hands shaking, fingers slipping on the brush shaft.

She HAD to finish this.

Shadows clouded her vision. The music soared as eyes emerged from the canvas, eyes she knew so well, eyes staring into her soul, accusing her, condemning her, gloating at her demise.

“I won’t give in, I won’t!” she muttered feverishly.

Mars black, thick and glossy, impenetrable, unfathomable…she was losing the fight.

“Why did you leave me?”

Amber liquid pooled in the crevices, little streaks finding a route through the strokes, dripping in splashes at her feet.

She was always fighting gravity, as most women do. Always fighting, yes, her whole life she had been fighting.

Through the gloom, the full image stared back at her.

“So, you finally painted me? Finally… It only took you fifty years,” it sneered.

“I…I couldn’t do it before. I couldn’t see you,” she stuttered.

The painting smiled at her. “Are you pleased with yourself?”

“No…no…I, just had to see you. I had to say sorry.”

“But it’s too late for that now, isn’t it?”

She dropped to her knees. Her chest compressing in on itself, pain shooting through her shoulder, her arm, down her right side. She knew what this was.

“I need you to…forgive me.” She panted, fighting to breathe, her jeans soaking up the puddles of paint on the floor, seeping slowly through the fibres to her bruised knees beneath.

PLEASE!

The painting watched as she slumped forward, struggling to keep conscious, fighting as she had done her whole existence, fighting to try and hold onto something…love.

“Please…” her voice was raspy, desperate, forcing itself through closing valves, through density of flesh, through spasms of life.

The painting stared down at her as the music floundered.

Thump, thump, thump…

“You don’t deserve forgiveness,” it whispered to her coolly. “You know what you deserve.”

Thump, thump…

“Pleaseeee!”

“You let her die, didn’t you? What did you do to save her?”

“I tried…I…”

The painting took pity on the thing before it, crumpled like an old newspaper, suddenly a child itself, curling up as an infant, as her infant had been curled up when she found it, smashed by the roadside, barely recognisable. Her baby, her life, gone, snuffed out in a moment of stupidity and violence.

It had been her fault, she was late. She should have been there as she had promised. Instead her daughter had taken a ride with a friend, a drunken friend. What was left behind didn’t even resemble a car anymore.

It had been her fault.

“Pleaseeee…” she drooled, words slurred, barely audible.

The painting sighed, better to quicken her misery than give her hope. “No.”

Thump…….thump…………

Thump.

*

*

Sophie E Tallis © 2013

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Breath

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The meerest breeze upon brushed cheek,

The silence between moments, lingering in the air,

The sound of breathing, the murmur of breath,

The stillness of life within,

The rush of blood to the head.

The likeness of being…

alive.

Sophie E Tallis © 2012

Post-weekend Poetry 047: Insincere by Sophie E Tallis

Post-weekend Poetry 047: Insincere by Sophie E Tallis.

Morgen Bailey has very kindly showcased one of my peotry pieces, ‘Insincere’, on her hugely successful website/blog http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/! Yay!!!

A MASSIVE shout out and thank you to the erudite and simply astonishing Morgen Bailey, writer, interviewer and inspiration! 😀

Insincere

People thought I was being ‘Stevie Smith’, very angst and prone to drama.

If you’re old you’re ‘clinically depressed’…understandable really…all those wrinkles staring back, more years behind than in front, a slow decay of time and body.

If you’re ‘middle-aged’ you’re simply in a rut. “Snap out of it!” they say, you’re not the self-obsessed youth you used to be, no time for such indulgences.

If you’re young you just can’t win. The loudest voice in the room but nobody’s listening.

Insincerity drips off the young who have a predisposition for blue…My youth has flown away now, my student days a haze – melancholic writings to paraphrase.

But then as now, my blue is simply a part of me, not showy, not angst…quite healthy now actually.

No longer just wearing black, colour creeps and leaves its residue, a hue to match my mood.

So no, I’m not waving or drowning, not making a statement, not needing help, quite happy, contented, as much as I can be, not full of old rage and hated resentments. Moving on, moved on… nasty neighbours but nice place, like the view…not insincere, not pretentious…simply blue.

Sophie E Tallis © 2003

Insincere

People thought I was being ‘Stevie Smith’, very angst and prone to drama.

If you’re old you’re ‘clinically depressed’…understandable really…all those wrinkles staring back, more years behind than in front, a slow decay of time and body.

If you’re ‘middle-aged’ you’re simply in a rut. “Snap out of it!” they say, you’re not the self-obsessed youth you used to be, no time for such indulgences.

If you’re young you just can’t win. The loudest voice in the room but nobody’s listening.

Insincerity drips off the young who have a predisposition for blue…My youth has flown away now, my student days a haze – melancholic writings to paraphrase.

But then as now, my blue is simply a part of me, not showy, not angst…quite healthy now actually.

No longer just wearing black, colour creeps and leaves its residue, a hue to match my mood.

So no, I’m not waving or drowning, not making a statement, not needing help, quite happy, contented, as much as I can be, not full of old rage and hated resentments. Moving on, moved on… nasty neighbours but nice place, like the view…not insincere, not pretentious…simply blue.

Sophie E Tallis © 2003

Writing in a temper – creativity versus rage!

Now, on the whole I’m a very even-tempered person. By all accounts my mates describe me as very laid back, often too much so. However, I am also a perfectionist who worries a lot and gets incredibly passionate and fired up about people and things who are important to me.

The one thing that gets my goat, is injustice. People being treated badly and situations which are completely unfair, really jar with me, as I’m sure they do with you. Now, trying to be diplomatic about things and biting your tongue gets you so far…but when you witness someone behaving badly and with total impunity, the urge to set things right can become overwhelming. So, what do you do when you absolutely HAVE to vent but know you can’t?

Well…I write, furiously and in a fury! Often frenzied, words spilling out and crashing about the place like truculent teenagers. BUT, apart from the cathartic release you get from venting on paper or on screen, does writing in a temper actually enhance or detract from your creativity?

Tricky question!

Certainly writing in a temper will inject your prose with passion and fire, and of course, while you are in that raging vein, you are not self-conscious (the killer of creativity!). But does the content of what you are writing become better with a proverbial axe to grind, or merely more ‘in your face’?

Re-reading passages of White Mountain that I knew I wrote in a rage, made me chuckle, as I remembered not only the cause of my anger but still took ENORMOUS pleasure in seeing the literary results! Bad, I know…but why not immortalise those who have irked you or caused you pain, into caricatures of themselves?

Poetry I find is particularly best when ‘written in rage’…it’s fresh, powerful and uninhibited…just how I like it! BUT, the flip side of course, is that you are incapable of reflection and introspection in moments like that. Any scene which requires subtlety and ‘stillness’ simply cannot be achieved if you’re in a personal lather.

So…my recommendation to all writers, particularly those that have action in their books…is don’t write a battle scene, fight, murder etc in a calm mood, wait until you’re juiced up on rage and injustice! But ensure your calmer literary scenes are written with peace of mind and a clear narrative of thought…time to breathe! 😀