October 13th... Post 2 of 2

Things are moving along at a pretty good pace here… I’d say my mental and emotional state have returned to what is “normal” for me… a little weepy… a little anxious… a lot of overthinking… and along with that, the laughter and brightness has returned as well! A welcome change to where I was at a month ago. I’ve spoken with some support people, and feel armed with resources if that dismal place starts creeping up on me again.

In other news, I’ll be going to my 10th chiropractic visit tomorrow. He has a very holistic view, and is helping me nutritionally and homeopathically as well as with small adjustments and muscle stim. I’m still coping with the disk issue, whatever that may be (bulging?) but I can usually sneeze without yelling, and can almost ALMOST reach my feet to tie my shoes. With my knees bent. And something to lean on nearby. Sigh.

Winter prep is in full swing. My landlord found a new woodstove for my apartment, and it’s lovely! I’ve had 2 small fires to season it, and am looking forward to maybe using it tomorrow night when it’s supposed to be in the upper 30s at night. The porcupine has some work going on at his place that I’ve been offering moral support during (and food!). Purchasing new winter tires is hanging over my head. This fall has been amazing so far though, beautiful colors and near perfect temperatures.

In blog news, I received some emails saying that there were problems with new folks subscribing to the blog… I’m going to try and wrestle with that tonight… it requires a hot beverage and unlimited patience to read all the forums and fine print, so I will try and rally.

What else is there? Art wise, I’m pondering some new holiday cards and starting to think about how to pull the Advent calendar off this year… stay tuned…

October 13th... Post 1 of 2

This post is all about Inktober 2019 — which I have managed to keep up with but haven’t shared anything here! It has some challenging prompts this year, but I kept it simple again… small, and panels that I can lump together into a tidy grid. If you are interested, I have been posting them all on Instagram (@abrahgriggs) along with any witty comments I happen to have come up while drawing 🙃

So, what's up?

Every day presents a challenge, or an opportunity, depending on how you look at it. I feel like I am making good progress, but there are still so many moments where either back pain or depression roars up and the only way I am coping is by reminding myself that I had a Good Moment only a few minutes ago… and this will pass.

I’m seeing an amazing chiropractor (I had my neck adjusted for the first time yesterday. Yes, it was scary. No, it didn’t hurt. Yes, it makes a horrible sound) and we decided based on whole body symptoms to try some adrenal support. This is based on my general exhaustion, and how I feel like I hit a point in my day where my body just stops functioning — and that’s also when I seem to burst into tears for no apparent reason. Most of my body is feeling better, but the pinched nerve pain and general inflexible spine are still in play. There’s definitely the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just a matter of how much damage the train is going to sustain along the way.

I think being me is more draining than being around me, but I still feel like I am a complete bummer to be around. My friends and family are really hanging in there, hearing me carry on about basically the same thing over and over (also, blog readers, thank you for reading all this!) — I think it’s because I am living with this constant miserable dialogue in my head all day, and I just assume everyone else can hear it. I’m not quite sure how the Porcupine is managing to be basically on call for whether I want company or not, or how he manages to interpret my incohorent sobbing ramblings, but he is. Ditto for my best friend, who I lean on heavily in these times, for deciphering my written chats complete with typos, and providing free therapy techniques.

No art today, but lots of sketches bouncing around in my brain. Also, Inkotober starts soon! I’m psyched to see if I can finish the whole month again ☺️

The Good Moments

The days are getting better and better. I’m still not entirely sure what brought me down so low this time. After 2 visits to the chiropractor (and a third later this week!) I will say that I hadn’t realized how much physical pain I had been carrying this summer. I guess this is true of mental and emotional pain as well — you don’t realize how bad it is until you suddenly have some relief. We are hoping a total of 6 sessions will pull me back into some sort of functionality without pain… and then perhaps another 6 to actually get my body into a daily groove.

I also think I’ve been low level depressed since winter of 2017-18, but have had so many distractions that I hadn’t actually paid any attention to it. And then there are brain chemicals and hormones as well… so yeah, a perfect storm.

But, I am accepting more of the Good Stuff that happens in my days, and I am starting to process a few of the thoughts that have just been banging around chaotically in my brain for the last few months… sorting out thoughts that are relevant and actually need to be addressed versus thoughts that were just Bad Thoughts that now can be thrown away. Throwing away the Bad Thoughts seems critical at this point, because I have noticed that Depression wrecks havoc with my memory. I need all the extra focus and space that I can get!

Onwards, and thanks again to everyone who reached out while I’ve been sharing this, I hope you all have people checking on you as well. ❤️

Interactions

During all of this I am observing how exhausted I am after being around people, even if I am laughing and having a good time. It’s not filling me up. And whether it’s strangers or loved ones, it feels stressful navigating social interactions… I’m not really sure how I should be acting. Carrying on…

Oh, and this week I’ll be heading to a chiropractor to get a second opinion on the back situation… eeeeek…

Balance

Even as I am feeling more and more “like myself” I am hanging on to and examing everything I just went through in head and heart. Being prone to feeling sad, or then going on to feel depressed, its part of who I am. But it’s something that I need to look at more closely and cope with better… finding a better balance.

Overall today was a good day. Trash and groceries. Early morning brownie baking. A walk with a new friend. A little work. A little art. A little CBD oil (still trying to figure out if it’s working better than Advil…). A few deep breaths when I started feeling down. Yeah. It’s all coming back together.

Still moving through it

It’s Friday, and feels like a true TGIF moment even though I’ll be doing some book work this weekend. This time a week ago I was walking home from a massage (still trying absolutely anything to get some back relief—and yes, I have an appointment with a chiropractor next week as well as seeing my PT person!)…The massage was with one of my favorite people, and I felt like the maybe the tide was turning as I left her office… but as I walked home the tears slowly came on for no apparent reason, and by the time I turned the key in my apartment I wanted nothing more than to close the curtains and crawl into bed (which I did). And I stayed there for most of the weekend.

Fast forward to today. I met a friend (who is also a client) for breakfast to get caught up on our lives, and then she and I settled in to work on her latest book. Then I worked some more for another client, and then the little doubts and gloom started bumping around in my brain. I’m trying CBD oil (see “trying absolutely anything” above) so I took a dose of that (it helps with aches and anxiety? Sure, why not.) and then reached out to a friend for a short walk. Then back to work, and a reward of spending some time making these new panels.

I still have the whole evening ahead of me, and to be honest, I feel anxious. I feel like I am just crossing into health brain activity, but given a little nudge I would be going back to bed, well, right now. I’m not going to. I’ve made a little to-do list of mindless household chores I’ve let slide, just for moments like this. I’ll see the Porcupine later, and keeping on trucking.

When you are in the moment...

Today is another day of feeling like I am coming out of this. A few days ago I was still in the middle of it, knowing I was in it, hoping to just sleep it off and wait it out… all the while knowing I had friends and family and some beautiful weather to be enjoying. I rallied and went out, but the inside of me looked a lot like the above panels. When the waves of emotion vary from almost grief-like crying to a numbing “who cares” indifference, I get exhausted. It’s too much for me to try and figure out, and I certainly can’t make any decisions when one minute I am making lists about EVERYTHING I am going to change in my life, and the next minute I am wrapped in blankets wondering exactly how much someone can cry before you become dehydrated. Or, actually, not wondering much at all.

And that’s the point I hit, in bed, staring at nothing, wondering what the point of all this was. I had been here before. But it has been a long time since I was down this hard. I am fortunate that I can see what is happening, outside of myself, and truly know that this would pass… and also fortunate enough to have resources and experience to lean on if I found myself not feeling more myself.

So here we are. Like I said, today is another, better, day. I’m checking things off the limited checklist I made for myself. I did have a good cry while talking with a friend, more cathartic than depressed tears <I think?> and the rest of the week is filled with both good and necessary tasks.

Thank you to everyone who wrote me, and I’m sorry that so many of you understand how I am feeling first hand. I truly appreciate hearing from all of you ❤️

Depression can be sneaky

I’m just pulling out of what was the lowest I have felt in years. It sort of snuck up on me. I hurt my back at some point this summer and just started PT, turns out there’s also a pinched nerve issue… it’s meant no kayaking or lifting things or sitting too long or twisting the wrong way (any way) and it was easy to blame the glum mood I felt creeping in on the lack of physical activity. I started feeling more tired — muscle fatigue I assumed, from not being able to bend my back. I started sleeping a lot.

Then I hit a wall with my work. I still am at an impasse and apologies to the few clients I am still behind schedule on. Lots of self-deprecating notions started floating around in my head. I started a new volunteer project with my local library that I am really excited about, and yet almost backed out because I felt like there was no way I could live up to their expectations.

Then the tears showed up. Which, honestly, is not unusual. I laugh easily, and cry equally easily. A blessing maybe, to have both? But these were heavy tears, and I climbed into bed to sleep off the emotional overload that was hitting me. But it didn’t help, hours of rest seemed to just fuel the sadness. So I ended up just laying there. Texting honest, but everything-is-okay messages to friends, sure that this would pass.

It’s fascinating to be able to go out in the world and smile and talk and assure everyone that “oh yes, I’m a little down but it will be fine” and even believe it yourself, and the moment you are alone again the wave of emotion hits again. I’ve decided it’s unfortunate that I am smart enough to see what is happening, but emotional enough that I can’t fully logic my way through it.

I’m going to draw more about this latest experience, which I am still riding the tail of, but wanted to talk about it to whoever is still reading this random blog — it’s so important that people are open about being unhappy, as well as happy! So go ahead, go drop a quick email or text to that friend you keep wondering about how they are doing. Do it now. And if they write back that they are doing okay, just let them know you were thinking about them… Sometimes that’s all it takes to put even a brief smile on their face, and that smile? That’s hope.

Hiding in the Flowers

I don’t know if it’s the looming end of summer, the national news, or just general synchronized stress, but there is an anxious feeling in the air. I’m checking in more regularly with some folks, to make sure they are doing okay, and checking in with myself as well. The other day I was doing a little weeding in the flower bed (let’s be honest, I neglected it this summer so it’s mostly mint and hostas and black-eyed Susans) and thought how nice it was to bury my head in plant and dirt smells, and just hear the buzzing of the bees (and mosquitoes, let’s not paint too rosy of a picture)… Was I hiding in there? Probably.

For some shameless self-promotion, this illustration is also available on a mug that I put up for sale on Wednesday… You can find it here if you’d like one: https://www.zazzle.com/z/l9ld2?rf=238904129308403026

Stuck on the Porch

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It would be so simple to just stay on my porch some days. While sipping coffee I watch my neighbors leave for the day, or maybe they are just meeting friends for breakfast. I watch cars speed down the street, it bypasses the main road, and the drivers probably feel like it’s worth those extra 10 seconds that they gain in their commute. I check my Instagram feed and Facebook and marvel at everything my friends have accomplished since I last looked.

It feels cozy and safe sitting on the porch by myself. Partially hidden by flowers. The hummingbirds usually visit the feeder a few times, and the bumblebees bump around in the Hosta. This morning especially seemed like a Hiccup, a moment where I felt unsure of where I fit in Out There. I knew on the porch I could stay unnoticed, no one would ask anything of me, I wouldn’t have to worry about what was happening in other people’s brains… I wondered how long I could fly under the radar before someone wondered where I was.

Instead, I headed inside and started work. A few hours later I rallied to put on my public face and headed out to the post office and for more coffee at a new cafe in town. As usual, I survived, but it still felt good to get back home. I’m just rambling right now… time to get back to work :-)

Summertime...

Summer heat arrived over the last week or two… along with multitudes of mosquitoes and deer flies… I’ve been helping the Porcupine with some work on his property, and was swarmed with deer flies. We’ve all been there. The Porcupine said “just hold still, I can get this one” — I should have known better. They probably heard me yell next door.

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At least he got it. Or so he told me.

This week I am hopefully (finally!) getting a roof rack for my new-to-me car, which means I will be able to get the kayak loaded and hit some water! I’ve only been out once this year, and I am so ready for some paddling time. I hope you are all having a great summer so far!

Being sad in the light

I’m sure there is something that triggers it, but sometimes I just feel …. sad. It creeps up on me and then I scramble, looking around, wondering what is wrong… and usually there is nothing. It’s difficult, and I end up replaying weeks worth of conversations, thinking about all the tasks I haven’t started, and in general sinking into a minor depression. I am fully aware it’s happening, and can go through all the public motions of “coping” — going for walks, seeing friends, getting a massage, completing work projects — but inside I know I just need to wait it out. The sun is out for a few days, which is unexpected, and I am least appreciating the irony of feeling miserable in the warmth and light. Just keeping it honest around here :-)

How has your summer been?

June feels like it has been really full! These are a few of the things going on… including a new-to-me car! It was a struggle wandering around at dealerships, but I think I made a good choice… and it will be my first AWD vehicle! The Porcupine has some construction happening, so I try to be helpful. I am great at handing him stuff! Although to be fair, I am also good at measuring and cutting things on the chop saw, and relatively precise at hammering…

There has also been plenty of rain… and work… and some time chatting with friends… all in all, I’m heading into mid-summer feeling pretty content… I hope you all are as well!

What have I been up to?

I’ve had a storage unit for many years, sometimes shared, sometimes not… This summer I promised myself I would empty the current unit and let go of many of the things I’ve accumulated. Some of these items are easy: candles I don’t like the smell of, linens that are mildewy, books that I never actually read or wanted…

But at this point most of the items are sentimental. Items I’ve inherited. Stuffed animals. Journals that remind me that the bad times really happened, and letters that remind me that there were also plenty of good times. The books that I DO love. And various rocks and trinkets that are heavy both in weight and emotions.

The last week has been spent lugging boxes and bins and a large table from one town to another, and unpacking here at the apartment. I also went through all my clothes, and passed along a contractors bag full to my best friend :-) . My current living situation screams HOARDER, but I know it’s temporary. Books are heading to a library sale tomorrow. Picture frames are being emptied and cleaned and assessed for keeping or not. DVD movies have been sold.

The part that really has tripped me up are my journals (which I honestly thought I had burned years ago) and reminiscing over photo albums and letters. There is something both validating and disturbing when reading your own writing about troublesome days in your past. It’s satisfying to know that your memories are correct, but it’s sad to reflect on the choices you made (well, some, at least in my case). I’ve packed them away for now, but am trying to convince myself to be rid of them by the end of summer.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself over the last year, this is all part of it. At some point I hope to be looking ahead without feeling bogged down with all the hopes I had years and years ago, and just celebrate where I am and where I am headed. Sounds good, right?

Still pulling together a "work" page...

I swear, every day, near the top of my to-do list, is “Add work portfolio to website”… obviously it hasn’t happened yet. But here’s something fun I wrapped up this morning, a podcast logo for Jon Katz and Maria Wulf:

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And I’ll throw another logo into this post, one that I did for Elder Nourish, an amazing start-up in the DC area:

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The point being, I do logo and design work, as well as creating angsty bunny and porcupine drawings! I also design and flow books, yup, real books by real authors… so feel free to contact me if you’d like to chat about art or design!