Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What It's Like To Be In The Pink

Humor. A clear sign that I am in the pink.

You know what? Depression isn't always such a total flea-infested dog house. Now, this is just me being honest about how I see it. It's dangerous, but so is a gun. A gun is deadly if I point and pull the trigger. If I'm stronger than that old wall-eyed, sneaky, back-jumping, low down creep of an emotion, I get to lasso it into being my muse. I can let it loose like a bullet from a Glock, and I am the bulls eye. If things get out of hand, depression is as deadly as a gun with a hair trigger, and my finger gives way to spasms.

It's risky business for sure, but everything has a silver lining. It's like lemons. If life hands me a peck or three, I can sit in the dark all puckered and listless, or I can make gallons of lemonade and invite friends to share my luck. All it takes is a little sugar to equalize the puckerishness, some water, crushed ice, and, oh boy! 

Used to be, it was more of the same that Bobby Blue Bland sings about in that song "Members Only." He throws a party for the broken hearted, and it's members only on those nights. I think poor Bobby should have invited walk-ins, too. People who suffer from depression tend to shut themselves off. And they pretend that all is well when they're sinking fast. Eventually, even the most loyal rats slink away from a listing ship. That's not to say I don't understand not wanting to be around another soul wrapped in darkness. Depression will suck in energy the way I imagine a black hole sucks in light. But a good captain thinks he has to go down with his ship. I say jump, swim, make it to shore and build a better ship. And if you've got friends who wish you well, you'll soon have a new ship with stronger sails. Shoop-shoop-shooby doop. 

Thank you, everyone, for your continued good hope, good will, good thoughts, and good wishes. I appreciate you not running away like I was a leper wanting a French kiss. Or even a hug. My ship no longer lists. I've trimmed the sails, and am steering away from the coastline of Hell. This comes from a woman who cannot swim, so I have had to learn how to steer my ship, The Good Ship Limner, on the fly--learning as I sailed. I had to run up the flag that signaled SOS. No shame, no fear.  Depression should not be cloaked in shame. 

Did you watch the show Grace? Holly Hunter starred. Watching her act out took a lot out of me, and I was just a viewer. I was fascinated by the strength of those in her corner, including that angel. I didn't watch every episode. It was too much, but I was glad when Grace died. I wish I'd watched every episode now.

Have you ever seen The Death of a Salesman? The one with Lee J Cobb? Well, I saw it in class when I was in college. Lee J Cobb was so good as Willy Lowman. Depression overtook me in the seat I sat cemented in as I felt the performance of a life time. It took two or three classes to watch that movie for English Lit class, and I had to fight my way through each day that came with the first viewing. Cobb was so amazingly into the character. No. He was the character. Years later I learned that he never quite overcame the depression he fell into while performing on broadway performance after performance, then for the filming. That, my good friends, is how seductive depression can be, if you are not stronger than . . . What? Try to imagine having to force yourself to be depressed day in and day out. 

I remember when my dad was in Vietnam and my mom was raising five children with the help of friends and relatives--but pretty much on her own. Looking back I recognize her depression for what it was. Now, I believe my poor mother was depressed a lot. The days she couldn't get out of bed were dark ones for us. Her sadness and pain affected the entire house. We were "good little children" under that dark shadow. We were sad when she was sad, too. We didn't make too much noise. We used to stand at the foot of the bed and plead, "Mama, tell us what's wrong. Is it something we did?" I became my younger siblings' surrogate mother. I did almost everything she did for them when she was well. I baked cookies. I learned how from My First Cookbook--the one I got for proofs of purchase for the Imperial Sugar Company, that used to be in Sugarland. Or near it. I forget now. I helped them do homework. I learned how to cook the little birds m brother shot and brought home. Ugh! He had a new BB gun and imagined himself a great hunger. I was there the day he fell from a tree outside the kitchen window . . .

Okay. Enough. I just want to say that depression has been my muse, too. One thing that brings light into the dark is creativity. Art. Colors. Thinking of other people. I believe our inherent instinct is to survive. We fight to stay afloat until help comes or the storm passes. Thanks for helping me float 'cause like I said, I cannot swim.

This is some of what kept me from sinking:

"A limner's life is powerful and painfully honest."

This became an affirmation of sorts, since for me, it's true. I made this for someone who makes me work harder than I think I should. Pink, pink, life don't stink!

This is what a limner often looks like. Doesn't the word "limner" conjure up images of a rare bird? A unique bird, like this one? Check out all that pink.

Q: How do you catch a unique bird?
A: You 'neak up on it.

A map of the world. Lovely fruit that goes deep pink if you squint. Part of a postcard I made for someone. Do you recognize the image?

A clear sign that I had come in out of the dark. I love music. I love to dance. I have never like The Wizard of Oz. Can you see the pen nibs on the upper left? Still in the pink.

This is one of my favorites. 

Sometimes I need all the help I can get.
Sometimes my monsters aren't as bad as imagined.
Sometimes I am a lot stronger than I realize.
Sometimes my daughter is right. She told me a long time ago that I need to learn to accept as well as give. 

When I look back at some of the postcards and mail art I put together, I see myself reflected. I tell my story on the sly. Do you? All that pink.


  1. Wondered where you disappeared to :)
    Depression sucks, had it when I had an infection in my shoulder few years ago, that felt like someone was stabbing you in the shoulder, does make you find out who your true friends are...

  2. I am glad to see that there is a crack in the darkness and that light is streaming in! Isn't it wonderful what just a little light can do to stave off the fearful things that lurk in the dark....? I admire your courage. Keep treading water and soon you will learn to swim!

  3. Can I say that pink is my signature color and I love it ? Can I say that I have a deep pink color cell phone ? I even have a pair of light pink heels in my closet and a pink suit for those special occasions when one might need a suit ? Yes I love pink .

  4. Hey Henderica, I've been holed up in my little mail bunker, catching up on answering all my great mail. I fell behind, but can almost see daylight again. Instead of posting (cause I haven't had time) I have been catching up on reading blogs like yours. :)

    Sorry to hear you had a shoulder infection. How did it become infected?

    Well, sometimes friends are more loyal than family, since family have first hand experience of another family member's dark hole days. I give the majority of them for trying. I am heartened by everyone's kindness during my slip. Life is better when it is pain free. But you know this. :) I appreciate your empathy.

    Any new cards started yet? I am curious about those three spools of pink thread. La! More pink! :) Halleluja, it's raining pink! LOL.

  5. elle.mental, hey you! Thank you-thank you-thank you. Hope is a flashlight in the dark. :) So are the good people also known as letter writers. When I couldn't write back I crawled into bed and pulled the covers over my head, but you can believe me there was mail on the comforter next to my letter box, my pens, and all those panes of stamps I rolled over on and crushed. :)

    Oh, my room is filled with light again. The curtains are wide open. It's been gradual, but I am all the way back. Thanks for the good words. I am so treadin', floatin' and hopin', thrivin' and copin'! :D

  6. My phonelady61, hope you are on the mend? Get out! You're a pink-pink-I don't stink lady too? :) Reminds me of LEgally Blonde. Some people underestimate the power of pink. Good for you. We all have our power colors. Pink is the color of health. Or is it red?

  7. Ah good to hear you got some mail done ;)

    The infection was a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bursitis under my shoulder blade (and according to a later orthopedic surgeon combined with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tendinitis on the front of my shoulder) it just was there some day, on my mothers side of the family it is rather common but doctors told me it is not in my genes. After a few yeas of being in pain my dad (& sisters) acupuncturist told my dad I could try acupuncture if I wanted and I did and that has worked for me. Do feel shoulder sometimes but this is even the first year I haven't even gone to the acupuncturist, and my allergies are better behaved also :)

    My parents are the best, might be the fact my mother also has had the infection in her shoulder and my mothers sister has suffered from depressions her whole life.

    I did finish a card, and am busy on another one, done nothing with the pink spools yet, do have some ideas :)

  8. Ouch-ouch-and ouch! Glad you're able to find relief via acupuncture. My sister tried it for her back and she declares she hasn't had pain since. I have always believed in acupuncture and acupressure but my insurance never covered it. Am willing to pay for it myself if therapy doesn't work for good. I spend $75 a week in co-pays for physical therapy, and acupuncture is less expensive now, and it lasts longer. Thanks for the info.

    I feel for your aunt. Great parents are gifts.

    Looking forward to your latest and future creations. :) Such lovely work.

  9. Our insurance does cover it but think they are going to stop it, do find that stupid, I now don't have to take pain, allergy or asthma medication see what money I save my health insurance company LOL but if I have to go twice a year I'm cheaper to pay it myself than pay for the insurance all year.