100 Days of Art Journaling for Therapy

Hello Everyone, welcome to my 100 Days of Art Journaling for Therapy. I am taking a workshop that is helping me Art Journal my thoughts and hopefully help me figure myself out.  I found the workshop at Expressive Art Workshop here is the address:

  •  https://www.expressiveartworkshops.com/

Here is the start of my journal and everything that I purchased to get myself started:

  • 11×14 mixed media spiral notebook
  • Couple sheets of Scrapbook paper and stickers
  • Water color pencils and some acrylic paint
  • Glue stick and white Elmer’s glue

That was it for my cover.  I just thought up the design and went with it.

Creative Art Therapy Journal

My Journey

First mixed art pieceMy journey has been along one and is not yet finished.  I have a long way to go and would like to tell you how it all started.

After I had my second child I was just feeling down and out, it was this empty sort of feeling.  I didn’t really notice it at first and what I did notice, I thought was normal.  I was a young mom, at 23, I was really busy.  I was working and trying to finish up a diploma program for Medical Administration.   My son was three years old and my daughter only nine months.  At the time I had no clue what depression was.  I did not have time to think back then.  My worries were about my kids, money, bills, and how we were going to put food on the table, not about my mental health.  Once I finished technical school, I started working at a Mental Health clinic.  After months of working there and learning my job as a Clerical Float, I started to think that maybe I could have depression.  Still, I did not say anything to anyone, not my husband and not my family.

Then one day I was taking my son and daughter to the park.  As I was walking over a freeway bridge the image of me throwing my children over the bridge came to mind.  That thought terrified me and will stick with me for the rest of my life.  This is when I realized that I needed to seek help and started asking some questions.

I found a Therapist and Psychiatrist, got on some medication and starting to work though my depression.  It took months of treatment, but I finally began to feel better.  It is through these early days of treatment that I was diagnosed with Dysthymic Disorder.

More than 20 years have past sense those early days and I have had many ups and downs.  My depression comes and goes like the tides of the oceans.  For many years now I have wanted to share my story and write a blog to help bring understanding to this disease. I have had a ton of different ideas, but each and every time I thought about it, I also found a reason for why I could not.  Until now!

My Journey is to be continued…



What is Depression?

Im fineWelcome to my Educational Series for getting the information out there on Depression.  There are many different types, and in this first post I will cover the two types that I struggle with the most.  Depression can be a dry topic, so bear with me while I try to put some humor in about myself

Depression is…

According to the National Institute of Mental Health[1], Depression, also called Major Depressive Disorder, is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.

I am surely a testament to this, I have seen all kinds of negativity to how I ask and feel.  In my most recent bout of a depressive episode I was super, super angry.  At myself, at my family, at my job, just at life in general.

Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.  It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

Yup, yup, and some more yup!  I thought or usually think that I am hiding it well.  But, as I just found out this last time, I wasn’t hiding it to no one except to me.  When you are seriously depressed you don’t function period.  Sure you get up and get dressed, go to work or school, come home take care of family and pets, and then rinse and repeat.  That however, is not living.  I have lived this cycle for years and I just realized that I was not living.  Now I don’t know what living is and I am scared to start living, to take that first step…there are so many unanswered questions.

Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

Trust me these are not all of the symptoms.  There are others and some that you would ever think are depression.  The one not on here for me is anger, I was and still am really, really angry!

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood – Happy, what’s Happy?
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once – What do I even enjoy anymore   
  • Changes in appetite – Weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting – Weight gain here!!
  • Trouble Sleeping or sleeping too much – Sleep anyone
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Feeling worthless or guilty – Yup guilty here!
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions – Indecisive much? That’s me!
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

This is the one thing that I can say I really have not had a whole lot in my bouts of depression.  Mostly, I think, because of the guilt that I would have if the thought even came across my confused brain.  I have had a couple, like the first time I realized I needed help many, many years ago.  But for me, it always felt selfish.  Now, I know there are those out there they will shout and scream that it is not, what about the person in pain.  I get it, I really do; but for me, I felt and still feel it is selfish.  But then, I have never really gave myself much thought it has always been about my family, so maybe that is my problem with depression anyway.  That I don’t give a rat’s tutee about me only the people I love. How about them apples!  I figured that out in therapy, yup’pers, and there is something wrong with that too, I am working to fix it but it is going to take a long time.

There are many forms of depression but I have lived with Dysthymia for years.  Now it’s called Persistent Depressive Disorder, which I guess makes more sense because when you say to someone I have Dysthymia, they are going to be like, what?  And it you say I have Persistent Depressive Disorder, they can pretty much figure it out without too many questions.

So what is Persistent Depressive Disorder?

According to the Mayo Clinic[2], Persistent depressive disorder, also called dysthymia (dis-THEI-me-uh), is a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression.  You may lose interest in normal daily activities, feel hopeless, lack productivity, and have low self-esteem and an overall feeling of inadequacy.  These feelings last for years and may significantly interfere with your relationships, school, work and daily activities.

The Mayo Clinic goes on to say that, you may be described as having a gloomy personality, constantly complaining or incapable of having any fun.

Wow, can I just say that the sentence explains me to a capital “T

The symptoms are pretty much in line with regular old Major Depression symptoms, but there are a couple more that the Mayo Clinic adds, and here they are:

  • Low self-esteem, self-criticism or feeling incapable – So me!
  • Decreased activity, effectiveness and productivity – I just want to sit and stare at walls most of the time!               
  • Irritability or excessive anger – Almost lost my job over this one!!!
  • Avoidance of social Activities – Such a home body, don’t know how to be social.

The actual causes of Persistent Depressive Disorder is unknown, but as with depression here are some things that could cause depression from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Biological differences. People with persistent depressive disorder may have a physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain.
  • Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment
  • Inherited traits. Persistent depressive disorder appears to be more common in people whose blood relatives also have the condition.
  • Life events. As with depression, traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one, financial problems, or a high level of stress can trigger persistent depressive disorder in some people

For me, I believe that all four of these possible causes affect me.  Within the last year, I have had to come to terms that I just may need to be on medication for the rest of my life to help my brain stay in happy mode.  I have been on and off medication since my depression started over 20 years ago and had a hard time wanting to stay on.  But now that I have been on for about nine months straight, I see the difference it has made in my life, at home, and at work.  The difference that I see helps me know that medication is a right thing for me. 

Usually, some type of life event or stress is what triggers my major depressive episodes.  I am still working on figuring those out – that is part of the journey. My Journey of Hope!

There are many types of depression out there and I encourage you to do some light reading.  Here are some websites that can help you learn more about this disease:

[1] https://www.nimh.nih.gov/heath/topics/depression/index.shtml
[2] http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/persistent-depressive-disorder/home/ove-20166590


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