For the third time this year, I had to take a little hiatus from my blogging. It was necessary so I could focus on my professional and personal growth. I had to concentrate solely on getting my studio open, in order to move onto another exciting chapter of life. I’m very happy to announce that my new studio, Sassmouth Ink is officially open and thriving. It took me twice as long and cost me twice as much, but I write this victoriously despite my obstacles.
I very much appreciate all the emails asking about my blog and if I planned to continue (of course I plan to continue). The kind words and positive reinforcement were needed and appreciated. Let’s face it, we all need encouragement sometimes. For everyone who took the time to send out those friendly little emails, thank you very much! It really meant a lot to me.
I return to my blogging with a deep heartfelt confession. I can’t count how many times I’ve begun to write and rewrite this entry because it’s an extremely difficult thing not only to share, but to articulate. So, my confession is until recently I’ve been actively living with, dealing with and fighting some pretty fierce depression. In fact, I’ve been fighting this abysmal, hopeless beast for the last eight years. The last three years have been the worst, most relentless, unsolvable and damaging of all. In fact, I would venture to say, anyone who’s got to know me in recent years has barely met the real me; rather only bits and pieces of who I really am. My battle against depression isn’t over, but after eight long years I can say with complete confidence that I’m finally winning. “I’m winning” is an important statement because there’s been a great many days where I felt like I would never be able to climb out of this hole I watched myself sink into.
I feel it’s important to write about this because most people I’ve met have at some point, dealt with depression in some form or another in their life. One thing I think is important of mention is that depression is a natural, basic, human response for many different situations. When we lose a loved one, depression is part of the grieving process. When we’re in a bad situation where life’s obstacles seem too complicated for resolve, we get depressed. There are as many reasons to be depressed as there are people. Each person has their own unique situation that triggers depression and as such it manifests itself in entirely individual ways. There’s nothing wrong with experiencing depression, but doctors, pharmaceutical companies, the media and most people in our modern society will tell you that being depressed is a “problem”, a “condition”; something that needs to be “fixed”.
So, I ask this simple question. Why? Why are we being told something’s wrong if we’re depressed? Why is there a stigma attached to depression? Why do so many sources make it seem like depression is an unnatural emotion?
Depression is the Pandemic of a modern society spiraling out of control destine for certain disaster. But, don’t worry help is on this way in the form of a pill, self help book, therapy, hypnotism, acupuncture, herbs and more. There are tons of cures and solutions for different forms of depression. The inevitable depressive state of the cumbersome burden involved in navigating modern society is a profitable endeavor for many. Like so many things these days, very little interest lies in prevention. The only similarities I see between “prevention” and “profit” is that they both start with a P. Beyond that one rarely leads to the other in the eyes of a capitalist society.
Though, I still work every day to conquer this beast that looms in the preverbal shadows; I feel fortunate to be the kind of person with the ability to find even the most microscopic bits of positive in any situation. So, I would like to share this little bit of sparkly fairy dust for thought with you. Depression isn’t always a bad thing. Depression can be a useful thing.
As artists, we are inevitably prone to depression in one form or another. Typically creative minds see life from an entirely different view from main stream society which often leads to depression. Creative types are not meant to casually exist within the status quos. Some of the most profound songs I’ve ever heard are born from the womb of sweet, creative depression. Nirvana would never have existed without one of its poster boys of 1990’s depression, Kurt Cobain. Some of the most beautiful pieces of art that have left me staring breathless were conceptualized in despair and celebrated as paint to canvas. For the photographer that caught that priceless moment of misery in perfection on film, depression was that necessary assistance for its creation. There is a beauty that often coexists within depression, but most people have a hard time seeing or understanding that. It’s only common sense to run away from something that sucks.
It’s our reaction to being depressed that makes the difference. It can turn a short term problem into an all consuming monster. It’s often out of desolation that serious contemplation and introspection occur. This is usually when changes are made, but how positive or negative those changes may be are entirely up to the individual. It’s a sign that something in our lives needs to change. Rather than avoidance, denial or an urgency to fix the problem; try to explore and understand why the problem exists in the first place. If you have an understanding for the reason why the depression exists then, you can work on a plan to make changes that will help overcome that crappy, asshole, depression.
I’ve been working very hard since January this year to do everything I could to overpower my depression. I decided my biggest obstacle in life was me. Rather, the way I thought. So, I spent almost a year working on retraining my brain to think more positively. Now, interestingly enough I still see that glimmer of the positive side in everything as I mentioned before, but in the past it often wasn’t enough to get me out of my nearly decade long melancholy. I was once convinced that there was this invisible dark cloud that followed me everywhere. I got tired of that dark cloud and I replaced it with a big fluffy white one, with rainbows and gay unicorns jumping over it. I just had to retrain my way of thinking.
Everyone has a different brain and special triggers for their happiness and sadness; it’s up to each person to explore what there are. I will share with you what worked for me. First, I decided that I was DONE. I was DONE being depressed and it had to STOP!!! I committed myself to never rest until I’ve made enough changes not to feel miserable any longer. The next step for me was to figure out what was bumming me out so badly. Some of it was as obvious as the nose on my face, some of it revealed itself later on in my journey of eliminating my depression. So, I adapted a three part strategy.
Step one: I decided to give myself a positivity over load. Every single day I searched for positive quotes. I sought out inspirational videos with people who overcame impossible obstacles. I followed closely other people related to my career and interests that I found inspiring. For instance, one of my long time favorite artists, Damon Conklin (https://www.facebook.com/pautog24343?fref=ts). He’s an awesome artist with a great personality and I love his page. Damon Conklin has been recovering from some addiction problems, is very upfront about it and is sharing his journey on Facebook. I love watching him succeed. It makes me feel like I can succeed in conquering my depression issues.
Also, Tim Pangburn (https://www.facebook.com/timpangburnart ) is gracious enough to share his journey as he triumphantly wins at the sobriety game. He’s very honest and forthcoming about where he once was and how it led him to now.
I found that when I earnestly searched for inspirational things on the internet, there seemed no end in sight to the amount of inspirational people beating the odds, advocating, overcoming and succeeding. I found several different inspirational sights on Instagram. My personal favorite is Joshua Coburn. (https://instagram.com/joshuacoburn/)
Step two: Once I identified the main contributors to my depression; I had to make a plan to change what was bothering me and change how I approached the problem. It was easy to sum up in one simple sentence, but this was the hardest part for me. It takes a lot of work, soul searching and concentrating to change your behavior. I had to work hard on changing the way I thought. (please refer to step one).
Step Three: My diet. People really don’t realize how much what we eat can affect our psyche. Some people are more sensitive to food than others. It’s scientifically proven that different foods affect the chemicals in our brains in different ways. I had let my diet slip over the last couple of years; changing my diet back to eating relatively clean and vegetarian just works for me. Here’s a pretty good guide of foods to avoid that will help with your mood: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/11/7-foods-that-may-contribute-to-your-depression/ Also an interesting read: http://www.naturalnews.com/037021_foods_depression_mental_health.html Disregard the militant vegetarian overtones, there’s some good information in there.
I’m taking it one day at a time and things are going great. I’m back to blogging and writing again. I love my beautiful little tattoo boutique and find it the perfect place to write in my off hours. Coming up soon: All of the changes I mentioned previously between January and May this year! Time to roll up my sleeves and get to catching up!
The purpose of Under The Gloves is to help and inform the tattoo community on matters of the mind, body and spirit in pursuit of a healthier and happier lifestyle. I want to give back to the amazing, inked society I’m part of. I’m here to offer help and advice to those who want it and need it. Though my blog is intended for tattoo artists; I feel the information provided can be helpful for a lot of people. So, if you know someone who can benefit from my blog, please share. I pretty much love most humans; tattooists or not. It is my wish that that this entry in particular be shared with as many people as possible, because I think it’s something that’s very important to discuss and share with others.
Thanks, Cee Jay “inky” Jones