Restorative Time

Since I have started doing my watercolors again, I have had such a sublime sense of peace. Several years ago I was diagnosed with OCD. It manifested itself in my not being able to focus on anything for very long, huge bouts of free-floating guilt and in forgetting things because of being distracted easily. I've taken medication since the diagnosis, but in the past few years, have grown more uncomfortable with the idea of being dependent on it.

Please understand that when I began taking the medication (10 years ago?) my whole life changed. I GOT my life. It was wonderful to be able to concentrate on one thing at a time. Guilt levels dropped (don't ask me why, but I always felt guilty). I got more stuff done. I progressed.

Recently - maybe the past year? - I've noticed a growing sense of return to the "old days" before the medication. I've been scattered and unfocused. I worried a lot. My house has become ... scary. My doctor upped the dosage a while back, but I noticed some disturbing side effects - mostly that I was sleepy all the time. It could have been related to the other stuff going on (sleep is a way of escaping) or it could have been growing tolerance to the medication itself.

Through a long a convoluted process of searching for answers to Life, The Universe and Everything, my studies led me to meditation. I'd always rolled my eyes at the idea of sitting in lotus position, chanting away. The stuff I looked into was more okay (see my gooder grammar?) and less weird for me. I tried it. Amazingly, I was focused. Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.

I continued with my self-study and thought a lot about being mindful, focusing on the present (rather than dwelling on the future or the past), taking care of myself (so I could function) and not putting off doing things that make me happy (so I can function happily!). I love art. I put it off all the time for what I perceive as The Greater Good.

Unfortunately, the Greater Good is actually leading me to the insane asylum. So I started letting myself do art. I've been watercoloring. It's rather like meditating. I even involve Kenneth with me (he has his own paints). He talks incessantly, but I don't mind. 

And I love what I'm coming up with. I found my watercolors from college - ones that received GREAT acclaim from my professors, but I love what I'm doing now so much more! I see now how I've developed from those early paintings (I'll try to post some another time) and have GROWN.  I judge a painting of mine as 'good' if I still like it a substantial amount of time later. While I still like the older/first ones, I like these so much more... I imagine that in 20 years, I'll like these just fine, too, but will (hopefully) have continued growing and like the ones I'm doing then so much MORE, too.

A few things have happened in the last week that have troubled me. I have been touched by death in close friends' lives. I've also had a worry about my tutorials. It's funny how you can get 100 people who love your work and are so grateful for it. They might notice an error in your work and give you a heads up with no criticism - a "Hey Girl! Just wanted to let you know!" thing. Then you can get another person who notices the same error, gives you a list of other things they think you should change about your work and  then demands restitution. All of this is labeled as "Constructive Criticism". And they hope I know they don't mean to offend but they want to help me succeed. Do I remember the 100 positives when that happens?

Regardless of how people choose to act towards me, I want to choose correctly in acting towards them. I have been relying on the meditation - either the quiet breathing kind or the art kind to be restorative for my heart, soul, spirit, whatever. While there is still pain, the bitter stings haven't lasted as long. The desire to lash out retreats more quickly. For that, and many other things, I have been grateful. At the end of the day, I'd rather have peace than revenge.

I've been off my OCD medication for more than 3 weeks now and I feel the same as when I was first on the meds - except better. I'm not reliant on something and I LOVE it. Perhaps I will use the medication again someday (I'm still getting the prescription filled just in case), but that day is not today and it feels good.

Now, to just get off of my chocolate habit. :)


Unknown said…
What a wonderful story of self preservation. I suffered a nervous breakdown 10 yrs ago & went onto medication which I hated it left me feeling lifeless with no emotion at all just when I needed it being a mum of a 2 1/2 & 8mnth old. I would stand over my daughters cot watching her sleep saying to myself I know I love u but I can't feel it this in itself broke my heaRt. So I also weened myself off my meds and got some counselling help they gave me the tools to deal with my debilitating panic attacks this also included meditation and as I said taking each day at a time and not looking to much to the future. I can say that 10yrs on I still have relapses from time to time and I don't think that my personality will ever be what it was as my doctor said mental illness is the chemicals in the brain not functioning as they should but have learned to read the signs and act accordingly. One thing I have learned over the years is that I can't please everyone and stress over fixing them this is one of the good things to come from my situation also to be more relaxed & to look at the whole picture on both sides befire i let myself wallow in panic and stress. I love what you have done to help you through this time you are a very talented lady and don't let anyone tell you different. I've learned to have the mindset that if someone has a problem with me then it's just that their problem not mine. I love all your projects especially the folded books I purchased your first tutorial and am looking forward to your lower case tutorial I have our first grandchild on the way and want to put her name in a book (please please no pressure). Please keep sharing your awesome projects they brighten my day everyone you post. Good luck renee
rObfOs said…
Hi Rhymes with Magic, I've popped over to your blog a few times as I too fold books, make books, love books, work in libraries, paint, draw etc.etc.etc. Whilst I was reading your post I just kept thinking how familiar it all sounded to me. The guilt, the angst, the escape to sleep, the forgetfulness - I just figure it's the way my brain has learned to cope with life. I love that you are working out for yourself how to best train your brain and soul and not having to rely solely on medication. Kudos to you! I truly don't think there is a "normal" state of being, just people who are better at dealing with it or not! I hope your new course of action keeps on working for you, sounds like you've got it pretty much sorted for now. Congratulations for being quietly and confidently proactive.
Anonymous said…
It's always a privilege to read about somebody's real life. It sounds like you've has a lot to work through and it's great that you've chosen to take the decision to be in control. Your paintings are absolutely stunning, you're so incredibly talented!
Nikki Joy x
Catherine said…
Love your true words. Love your work.

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