The Spoon Theory and My Blog

ErinThe Big Picture2 Comments

I don't look like a sick person, but I blog on days I have lots of spoons or lots of energy

I even smudged my nail polish.

Have you heard about the Spoon Theory? Ever since my friend Inali linked me to it about a year ago, I talk about spoons all the time. I really recommend reading that post, so please check it out! Go read it.

In short, spoons are a metaphor for units of energy. When you have depression or another illness or disability, units of energy can be few and far between. We have our good days and bad days.

I wanted to share the Spoon Theory with you today because I’m aware that the person I appear to be on my blog doesn’t “look sick.” My blog makes me look pretty polished at times. I have make-up on, I talk about all this art I’m making, and I post here frequently. In most ways, I appear to be a really high-functioning person.

On days where I have lots of spoons, I blog and make art. On days where I don’t have a lot of spoons, I pretty much get nothing done.

I am not the high-functioning person I appear to be on this blog 24/7. I am not perfect, not even close. I sleep in most days, and I’m usually not able to even go out until close to 1pm. My bedroom is freaking covered with clothes. There is dog hair everywhere in my apartment. I am human!

This blog may look good, but being an artist is a profession you can show off. I can say, “Look at all this evidence that I get so much work done! Look at all the pretty colours!”

Reality check: I don’t have a “real” job. I’m not in school. I don’t have a family to take care of. And I’ve been living with depression for most of my life, so I’ve had a lot of practice in coping. I devote my life to making this blog look good.

Chances are, your strengths aren’t pretty on paper, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have any. Most people have talents that you can’t link to. Like, if you are in high school and you have depression, there’s probably no fucking way you could run a blog on top of all your other responsibilities.

So be sure to give yourself credit for all the things you do. Maybe you don’t have someone flying up from New York in a week to film your life, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t a superhero for just making it this far.

I hope you can read this blog and not compare yourself to me in negative ways. Each of us has a ton of struggles that the rest of the world doesn’t know about. I am not perfect, not even close. You don’t have to be either. You fucking rock for doing everything you do. Don’t forget it!

ErinThe Spoon Theory and My Blog

Great News for My Winter Survival

ErinLife Events, Local Events, The Big Picture7 Comments

I was worried about surviving this winter but now I'm doing a video on depression for a US health site and I'm making lots of crafts for my Etsy shopOh my goodness, I am so excited! I want to tell you everything all at once, but no, I need to tell you the whole story for you to feel its impact and its overall awesomeness.

Two weeks ago I was in complete turmoil. Someone in London’s mental health community had sent me information about a job they thought I should apply for. It wasn’t in my element at all, but I actually had a shot in landing the position. It meant paid work in trying to fix our broken mental health care system.

It intrigued me, but I knew I would burn out fast since there was nothing in the description involving any kind of creativity. No art, just input based on my many visits to the hospital over my lifetime. A pay cheque earned from my pain. I knew there was nothing in it for me but the money.

But do I ever need the money! Last winter was so cold, I was so sick, and I had no money at all. I couldn’t craft – I could barely move from the couch – and my mind wouldn’t focus enough to even let me read for very long. My life stopped in all ways though my body was still alive. Like a frog freezing along with the pond it calls home, I lost all energy to do anything but let my heart beat.

With the sun beginning to set earlier and earlier, my hope for the oncoming months dwindled. I worried that this winter would be as dark as last winter. I keep thinking, “What the fuck am I doing with my life? Is this a life at all?”

After much delay, I decided that I should apply for this job, as much as I cringed at working anywhere with no creative outlets involved. This job was going to be sterile, but would produce a pay cheque.

My heart screamed, “No!”

But my mind insisted, “Yes, Erin you need this. You need this money to get you through the winter.”

Even though my mind had decided on applying, I could not get myself to work on updating my resume to make me sound like a good candidate for the position. It was on my mind so much that I had nightmares every night for a week straight, waking up cold and cramped and gasping for air. My childhood abuse tormented me; I even had a grizzly bear dream, which has always been my biggest nightmare, ever since I was really young. I was miserable.

I pushed off working on my resume, telling myself I still had a few days to apply. Then almost exactly a week ago, a miracle arrived in my inbox.

“I’m writing because we’d like to feature you in a series of videos on Depression.  The videos would be part of our “True Champions” series, which highlights people advocating for specific health conditions.
 
We think you’d be a great fit for our series because of the work you are doing on your blog, Twitter, with mindyourmind, and through your public speaking.  Your strong voice of hope and fighting spirit are sharing such an important message that “you are worth it” and we’d like to amplify that.  You ARE a True Champion for people suffering with depression, and we’d love to highlight your work.
 
The completed videos would live on [our site], and will be seen by millions of viewers.  Ideally, we would be able to spend a day with you to shoot an interview, you writing, creating art, walking your dog and even giving a speech or talk (if possible). What we’d like to show is how you are living every day, fighting for yourself and for others, and advocating for awareness along the way.”

I’ll share more details about who these people are after the video is shot, because I’m scared that by naming it this miracle will disappear. But they’re a mental health site from the US. They’re fucking flying people from New York all the way to little London, Ontario to film ME!

It’s going to be wonderful and surreal. They want to film me doing all the things I do, and I just can’t wait to see the looks on other people’s faces. If anyone recognizes me in this city, they know me as someone who is pretty much always alone. Suddenly I’m going to look like a movie star! They’re going to have a freaking hair and makeup person there. Ha!

So on November 24th, I have a full day booked to be interviewed and filmed and everything. It’s kind of surreal.

After the excitement died down a little, I realized that all of this exposure for my blog and my art will be great, but I still haven’t solved the problem of surviving this winter financially.

Then, yesterday morning, I got an email from my friends at mindyourmind. They wanted me to know that they’re going to be ordering one thousand buttons from me for an upcoming project. One thousand! Do you know what that means?

Enough money to get me through this winter. I’ll have enough to eat, enough to stay warm and focus on my blog. Hell, I’m even going to have enough to pay off some of my debt I’ve accumulated since buying this laptop.

The moral of the story? Things can work out. They really really can! As much as can I resent my stubborn mind, my unwillingness to compromise and take any old job just to survive, well, not settling has allowed something incredible to happen. Something real, fulfilling, it’s exactly what my heart and my mind want. I didn’t think such a thing was possible!

And now I’m super inspired. This video shoot is going to give me and my blog the most exposure I’ve ever gotten. Ever! Three years of writing Daisies and Bruises: The Art of Living With Depression for free, just because I know it’s what I need to do, is finally paying off. Maybe with enough exposure, I can make money at this, make it my living and my full-blown life.

I’m crafting a ton before the film crew arrives. I’m leaving them a surprise, however, I will reveal them to you as they’re produced! They’ll be in my Etsy shop in the next few weeks. Here’s a hint: they’re all about mental health. I’m making handmade goodies that will inspire you, help keep you safe, help keep you grounded. They’re going to help me and help you.

They’re going to embody to Art of Living With Depression!

Are you excited? Hell fucking yes! You’re on this ride with me. You are the reason I am here doing any of this. I am so happy for us! This is going to be so cool.

Start thinking about how you’re going to survive this winter. What nurtures you? What makes you feel good?

Start there. Whether it’s crafting or writing or standing on your head trying to balance a spoon in your mouth. Do what you need, what your heart needs. Keep doing it! It’s the right thing to do.

See you back here soon, with more posts and love and probably more exclamation points. Yeah!

Love Erin

ErinGreat News for My Winter Survival

You Matter and There is hope

ErinThe Big Picture, Uncategorized9 Comments

I leave my blog business card and buttons with strangers who I connect with and see their painSometimes I cross paths with another person when I’m out in the world, and they make an impression on me. For a fleeting instant, I see something in their eyes or their actions that tells me that they are in pain. It often happens on the days that I’m feeling a lot of pain.

I never know the stranger’s circumstance, or if I’m merely projecting my pain onto them, so I don’t say very much. Their struggles are none of my business.

Yet I have to do something, anything, because the act of trying to help others gives me hope for this planet. It eases the grand sense of hopelessness I feel around me.

So I do what I can. I hand them my blog business card as we pass each other; I leave a Daisies and Bruises button on a countertop where I know they’ll see it. And then I leave.

I never know what becomes of these people, if my small gesture was received well or tossed in the garbage. I hope that it makes a small difference, enough for them to ask themselves, “What’s daisiesandbruises.com?”

They may only see my site for a moment and then click away. Or they just might read this blog post.

And if you are reading this blog post because of our chance encounter together, thank you for coming this far. I noticed your pain and wanted to just tell you that you matter. That even though this world is cold and cruel, I promise you that there are people out there who notice you with kindness in their hearts.

I pass no judgement. You are where you are at this point in time for a reason. For a million reasons.

Just know that you aren’t alone. I know pain and I live with it. I’ve also lived through it. The ground I walk gets firmer every day I walk this path. I’m healing, slowly and surely. There is hope. Keep going. ♥

ErinYou Matter and There is hope

Making Art Makes Me Feel Alive, Despite My Depression

ErinMy Art3 Comments

Here are my collages I promised you in my last post! I have no definite date on them, but based on other drawings I remember doing in the same sketchbook, my best guess is that these two collages are from when I was sixteen, the year I was first diagnosed with depression, hospitalized, and started therapy.

Seeing these collages makes me really happy, though the subject matter is sad. I know that when I was a teen, I felt the same way as I do when I make art now: I feel alive. I feel like it’s okay to feel whatever I’m feeling.

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ErinMaking Art Makes Me Feel Alive, Despite My Depression

Migraines and Depression

ErinMy Art, Video9 Comments

Migraines are affecting my depression this month but life is still full of surprises.I really haven’t felt like myself lately. I cope with headaches pretty much every day, but this month they’ve been steamrolling my life. My doctor has officially upgraded their name to “migraines” after I called an ambulance a few weeks ago in the middle of the night. I even moved back to my parents’ for a week and it made me feel like I’ve been sliding backwards in my depression recovery.

This winter coming on is scaring me because last winter was so harsh. I’m panicking about my life, my goals, money, everything under the sun as the last two months of my twenties count down at a rapid pace.

Life, however, no matter how much I’m sure I have it figured out, is full of surprises. I made some amazing discoveries at my parents’ house and filmed my reaction to show you.

It’s taken me a few days to feel brave enough to share this video. Why? Well, I feel like I look awful in it due to sleepy puffiness, messy hair, and dark circles under my eyes.

But seriously, since when have I tried to be perfect on this blog? This blog is all about imperfection! It’s about being real. This is how I look when I’ve just gotten out of bed and made an inspirational discovery.

I want to be a real person to you, daisies and bruises, light and dark, hope and hopelessness. So hello, I’m here.

Artwork close-ups to come!

(While I appreciate your suggestions for migraine relief, I want to keep this blog focused on mental well-being and therefore won’t be replying to further migraine questions/discussion.)

ErinMigraines and Depression

30 Things About Me That Have Nothing to do With my Depression

ErinDay-to-Day Life44 Comments

Sometimes I feel like depression is all that I am but it's not trueAfter writing my last post a few days ago, I cried a bit, fixed my hair, had a nap and then some dinner. Then I felt a lot better.

That post was all bruises. I need to write some daisies! Here are 30 things about me that have nothing to do with my depression, because as much as it feels like depression consumes my entire life, it isn’t all that I am.

1. I have four tattoos: a typewriter with flowers coming out of it; a birdcage with light bursting out of it like the bird just disappeared; an embroidered heart that says “found” in it; and Little Red Riding Hood with a wolf mask on top of her head. I want to eventually cover all my self-injury scars with tattoos.

2. I love lip balm. I probably put it on 50 times per day.

3. I sometimes wave at dogs and then realize that they don’t really know what I’m doing.

4. My favourite scent is the smell of campfire.

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Erin30 Things About Me That Have Nothing to do With my Depression

The Full Weight of Depression

ErinThe Big Picture23 Comments

Full Weight of DepressionTo someone who doesn’t know what depression is like, I think of those heavy vests they put on you when you get an x-ray. It’s a weight that blankets your whole body that you have to wear everywhere you go, all the time.

Depression can feel like it should be there. Like you deserve the weight you carry. It lets you see the reality of how cruel and heartless the whole world is. It’s like gravity or an undertow. It is a powerful force that can feel impossible to fight because it is so strong.

I’ve lived with depression for almost fifteen years, and although I know a lot about the disease, I still feel like it’s my fault that I have it. I think this is because recovery from depression often rests on the individual. For example, we know that exercise, eating the right foods, taking medication, and going to therapy can help you feel better from depression.

Other people, therapists and doctors and supportive friends, can help you with these things, but they can’t do them for you. No one can make you eat your vegetables, make you go jogging, force the words out of your mouth in therapy.

Most people don’t understand how hard it is to live with depression. Even the people who know me best get offended or frustrated or confused when I struggle, because I’m not as engaged with their life as the average person. I can’t hang out, I can’t “just get a job” or enjoy myself at the movies.

Sometimes people are surprised when I talk about having depression because they see me as capable and confident. They just can’t imagine why I’d feel so bad. It’s stupid, isn’t it, to feel sorry for yourself all the time? How counterproductive!

On top of it all I feel guilty for being such a buzz kill when I’m depressed. Writing a blog about depression is not what I want to do with my life. I never wanted this. No one ever wants this.

Depression is so complicated. It infiltrates every moment and everything in your life. I can’t explain it better than that. I wish I could, but depression is holding me back from even my writing.

Sometimes I think it’s the very worst disease anyone can live with. Even cancer is recognized by others. Doctors can see it, target it, fight it for you. There are treatments, charities, whole entire stores you can visit to buy a wig or a special bra or wheelchair.

Depression kills people just like cancer does. Lots and lots of us. And the newspapers won’t even talk about someone’s death by suicide unless it’s a celebrity.

I’m just so frustrated and tired and just fucking done with depression. Someone take it from me please. Someone fight this for me.

The only thing I can do is try to describe it so other people will understand depression a little better. Please share this post. It’s not perfect, it’s fucking depressing, but it’s real. It’s a part of life, a giant part of it for so many of us. At least let us name it and talk about it. It might not be your problem, but I guarantee that it’s affecting someone you know, every minute of every day. It’s a vest we can’t take off, ever, and we’re drowning from it.

ErinThe Full Weight of Depression

Surviving This Ocean of Grief

ErinReader Questions9 Comments

We aren't alone in surviving the feelings of grief we struggle withLast week I told my therapist that I feel like I’m just treading water, constantly. It’s so much work to keep my head above the dark ocean beneath me. I see no sandbars I can swim to; I see no ships on the horizon that might come to save me. I just keep moving my arms and legs, and focus on breathing, surviving one more day.

Today a friend phrased a question that fit well with that metaphor. She mentioned doing what she could to stay out of the “ocean of grief.” I told her I would give her water wings for her birthday. Comfortable ones!

I also told her that I’d write her a blog post. Yet now that I’m in front of my computer screen, I don’t know what to say. Do I even have water wings?

Maybe I should have said a life jacket, so she could truly rest from the struggle to keep her head above water. I don’t even have a life jacket to keep myself afloat.

What words can I conjure to make life less of a struggle for any of us, when even I don’t know why I try so hard to keep my head above water?

All I have is my own struggle, my own journey to survival. I too tread water in a vast ocean of grief. It’s all I know.

Sometimes I start to give up. If I lose hope in my heart, I lose my strength to tread water any longer. My arms and legs relax and for a moment I slip under the surface. It feels good to let go and rest. I exhale and let myself sink.

But then, just before darkness comes, my mind wakes up, one with my body, both screaming for air. I kick and flail until I reach the surface again, taking deep gulps of the salty sea air. Oh, oh, AIR!

Without me thinking about it, my arms and legs get back into the rhythm of treading, cycling around me. My body fights to stay alive. My heart keeps beating. I keep sucking in air.

Dear Marnie, our lungs are our water wings. They fight for air even when our minds give up. They fight and fight and fight. When it gets too hard to be so alone in that ocean of grief, focus on breathing. Just breathing.

The current brought us together in an ocean larger than we can see or comprehend. Rest your head on my arm. We’ll take turns.

ErinSurviving This Ocean of Grief

I’m Struggling With My Depression

ErinDay-to-Day Life8 Comments

I'm Struggling With My Depression

Me and Oscar, my pug pal who just moved away

I’m struggling. I need to tell you what’s going on because I think writing about it will help. I’ll follow-up in the next few posts with some of the simple yet effective ways I’m self-nurturing to get through my days, things that might work for you, too.

The first (and honestly most upsetting) recent trigger for my worsened depression is that my downstairs neighbours moved out of my building. I’ll miss my friend Chelsea and her two pets, Oscar the pug and Dublin the cat. I’m someone who really values a stable home, a safe place, and some furry friends.

Chelsea paid me $100 a month to pet sit for her critters and without that extra income I’m in a complete panic. I simply can’t live on $100 less a month since I barely make ends meet as it is.

So I’ve been applying for jobs, which is awkward and discouraging for most people but utterly terrifying for me. I feel so vulnerable and the disappointments of never hearing back from places that I envisioned working for just sends my depression in a downward spiral. My self-esteem is in the toilet.

Three of my most cared about, amazing, close friends are really struggling too. One I’m losing to self-harm and drugs, one is pushing all her friends away, and the other is on the brink of suicide from intolerable emotional and physical pain. Two of those friends live in other cities and I can’t afford to go visit them. If I could, I doubt it would even help. They need more help than I can give. The other friend won’t speak to me for now.

Having close friends suffer when you too are struggling with depression, is nothing short of hell. I am doing all that I can to support them regardless, but I know it’s not enough.

Lastly, in the past week and a half, I swear, my anemia symptoms are taking over my life again. I have no energy at all, can’t stop sleeping, feel weak and cold and grouchy. It turns my depression several shades darker.

Right now, my income relies on my creativity. I need to make more zines and buttons so that I can sell them in my Etsy shop and in the real world. I have to push my work, market it, share it, and keep creating more. So those are my short-term goals to survive the oncoming cold weather and the other stressors I’m dealing with.

Art is one of my main tools in coping with my depression, but on the flip-side, depression makes it hard to create art. Lack of inspiration, energy, and drive has a real cost. When my art is completed, I have to sell it, and sometimes there are no buyers. And then, without necessities, I don’t perform well.

Writing this blog helps me a lot, so I’m determined to keep writing to help me and in turn, help you. It would be ridiculous to stop writing about depression when I’m in the thick of it.

Here’s to never giving up! And to being real about what you’re dealing with. If we aren’t honest about our struggles and what we need, our friends don’t know that we need help.

You can support me through reading my writing, sharing it with your friends, and shopping in my Etsy shop! Or simply hit the donate button on my blog sidebar.

Comments on my posts really help me too! Let’s get through this together. :)

ErinI’m Struggling With My Depression

I Survived High School With Depression

ErinThe Big Picture5 Comments

High school is hard when you have depression but you can survive it because I didI’m sure I don’t need to remind you that school is starting soon for a lot of you. Surviving depression is almost as hard as surviving high school, and doing both at once requires what can feel like superhuman strength.

With your upcoming school days in mind,  I went through a box of photos at my parents’ house last week, as promised. Holy crap, though.

As I flipped through embarrassing photo after embarrassing photo, I thought to myself, “Why on Earth did I say I’d post these pictures on the Internet!?”

Fear ripped at my insides and I suddenly had the urge to burn the pictures I’d found in my parents’ backyard fire pit. I could delete that post where I’d made my promise…right?

Then I realized that DUH, this is why I wanted to post these pictures. Because everyone’s teen years are awkward. No one likes how they look. My teen years were real and they sucked but I survived them. I need to honour my past by giving it the respect it deserves.

So, in addition to honouring my past self, I’m posting these pictures to also emphasize that

a) I was once a teenager and

b) I wasn’t perfect.

Also, one of you commented asking to see some of my art from then, too. So, here goes.

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ErinI Survived High School With Depression