Colorful cognitive dioramas.

Looking for a job while experiencing depression illuminates how thick a slice of self-confidence gets hacked off. Just like that. I’m not talking about the run-of-the-mill insecurity, the “normal” kind that reminds us we’re human. The kind that well-meaning friends, family, lovers point to in an effort to bring you some calm, to help you feel not so alone because, “Everyone feels insecure at some point. You’re not the only one who feels this way.” But you feel so desperately alone.

  • Items on bullet-pointed lists of job postings that interest you sum up requirements that seem improbable for you to fulfill.
  • Colleagues you imagine you would work with already dislike you and wonder why you were offered the position.
  • You’ve fallen behind on your task list for a project that you’ve not yet been hired to manage.
  • Your resume is a sheet of neatly organized words spelling out accomplishments and trainings you somehow completed.

Depression is a creative jerk. It creates colorful cognitive dioramas, falsely foreboding failures and fissures. It’s fucked up fantasy. Paralyzing bullshit serum. It’s a snake with three heads. A tiger with tentacled talons. A shade of black too dark for the human eye to see.

***

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Besides feeling that way sometimes — fearful, hesitant, twittered, jittery — I also do the things I enjoy (like record silly raps for potential employers and Vanilla Ice covers) and have meaningful interactions with people. I’m not always depressed or anxious but sometimes I am. Sometimes my mind feels like a cognitive stew with a side salad. Sometimes my mood rides out pretty smooth an entire day; sometimes my body and mind course through multiple moods by noon.

Do you have days when you wake up feeling irritated? Does your mind go blank and your limbs buzz with adrenaline when you hear a loud noise? Do you remember how your stomach felt in the moments just before your first kiss when your lips met hers/theirs/his lips?

We all are affected by our environment. Some peoples’ responses are standard, expected, predictable. Behaviors are conditioned, but for people with mood disorders (e.g. Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder/rapid cycling, Schizophrenia), their internal and external experiences can be 10x as intense as yours (persons who don’t experience a mood disorder first-hand.) Can you imagine that? I know some people are more “sensitive” or empathic than I am, and their experiences can be 50x as intense. I can only imagine.

 

Mental health rap.

Literally.

I laid down my first rap the other night. Since Kevin and I started dating six months ago, I’ve been inspired to write and perform a rap song. Kevin and his friends (Jesse and Matt, to name a couple) have been rapping for years. Listening to their stuff made me realize that the way I’ve been writing my poetry, its cadence and flow, suits hip hop well.

Regardless of my profession, it’s important to me to continue to raise awareness about mental health, to dismantle the relentless stigma around it. This is my first mental health rap, yo.

 

Let it fall.

October 6, 2015

This song is part of a final assignment I wrote, performed, and submitted for my Buddhism Psychology class.

Malaise, a la mode.

It’s been a rough week. Of spending too much time with my mattress and comforter.

I’ve been working with my psychiatrist to address my lethargy, a symptom of depression that can be taken care of with medication. However, it can take some time and a few rounds of trial-and-error to determine what works.

A few weeks ago I started the process of taking one of my meds at a different time of day – with the hope that it would do the trick and get my body on a more energetic track. It didn’t. and that’s when it started – the gentle. relentless. pulling of the egyptian cotton undertow.

Then I ran out of my other medication and failed to refill it in a timely manner. I know, I know. I could rattle off excuses as to why with arduous conviction here. But I won’t. It was stupid. and irresponsible. and I know better. Otherwise, THIS. a week of malaise mummification. a dipping down and away from movement. activity. society.      me.

Feeling better can seem a mirage when a significant part of the ‘feeling better’ part comes in the form of a pill. “I’ve been great! SO much better. I don’t think I need these meds anymore.” Thing is. you must take this/these pill(s) to conjure the ‘feeling better’ part. And take the magic beans regularly to continue this oh-so-wonderful and easily-taken-for-granted state of being – the state of feeling OK. Seems simple enough. and it is. But once you allow yourself to slide into the slow ascent, the idiosyncratic task of refilling a prescription becomes a daunting and gargantuan box to check.

Dealing with the systemic repercussions of not complying to a drug prescription regimen is jumping into the maw of quicksand. it’s a slow and steady swallow. and the journey back tends to drag an anvil with it. on which shame and other modes of self-deprecation are forged. by you.

Dear lord. that is not a pretty picture I want to Mary Poppins-jump my way into. I can take better care of myself than that. And I will.

Note to self: I am never *ever* too tired nor busy to REFILL MY RX.

***

This is a song I wrote about mental illness. It seemed apropos to include here. and a shameless opportunity to share with you. one of the things I love to do. When I’m taking care of myself.

Song written, performed, and recorded by o.dawn.i Wednesday, January 9th, 2013.
Photo made by o.dawn.i Monday, May 24th, 2010.

Landfill (o.dawn.i cover).

This is a cover of “Landfill” by Daughter from their EP, His Young Heart. Daughter is one of my favorite newly discovered bands.

Performed and recorded by o.dawn.i September 6th (guitar) and September 14th (vocals) , 2013.

Photo made by o.dawn.i April, 2013.

Youth.

This is a cover of “Youth” by Daughter from their album, If You Leave. Daughter is possibly my favorite newly-discovered band of 2013.

Performed and recorded by o.dawn.i August 1st, 2013.
Photo made by o.dawn.i December 2012.

Fade.

This is a cover of “Fade into You” by Mazzy Star from their album, So Tonight That I Might See, one of my island discs.

Performed and recorded by o.dawn.i November 11th, 2011.
Photo made by o.dawn.i 2010.

Black.red.black.white.

 

I’d been wanting to write about mental illness for a while. This is my first song on the topic.

Song written, performed, and recorded by o.dawn.i Wednesday, January 9th, 2013.
Photo made by o.dawn.i Monday, May 24th, 2010.

Let go.

A short song. I remember writing this one in the middle of working on another song. It just couldn’t wait to be sung.

Song written, performed, and recorded by o.dawn.i Saturday, January 24th, 2009.
Photo made by o.dawn.i Thursday, June 10th, 2010.

I think, rain.

I wrote this around the time that I started playing piano again. It’s the first and only instrumental song I’ve written and recorded to date. I use to feel that I had to have lyrics when writing songs. I clung to words as the skeletal element; the scaffolding. At some point music-making morphed into a more fluid process. Words fell away. My instruments wanted to sing. And I wanted to listen.

Song written, performed, and recorded by o.dawn.i Thursday, February 23rd, 2012.
Photo made by o.dawn.i Tuesday, April 27th, 2010.