Friday, May 15, 2009

N.A.D.A. means Not Another Depressed Artist

Alright, I just made that up, but it seems to be true. There is a preponderance of depressed artists out there, and I tend to be one of them despite the bright colors of my artwork!

More accurately, I should say I'm a dysthymic artist. Dysthymia, or Dysthymic Disorder, is a longstanding, mellow, personal party pooper kind of depression. Think goths, German Romantics, and basset hounds.

The German Romantics (according to a class I took ages ago) had this idea known as weldschmerz which is often translated as a "sadness about the world." I doubt this only affects humanities majors, but there you have it, codified into philosophy (danke and double danke for schadenfreude, German brethren!) and making me wonder again if it's normal, after all, to have an outlook on life tinged with sadness.

It certainly fits in with Chinese culture, where fatalism reigns, but I think I do take it a step further being the sensitive soul that I am.

Anyway, I don't have typical Dysthymia. In fact, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision or DSM-IV-TR (it's kind of the Satanic Verses of the psychology world, politically formed and culturally limited, but required because managed care only sees discrete diagnoses; still, it can be helpful for conceptualizing problems, which in turn helps with treatment), I have it With Atypical Features.

What that means is, I can still get happy when something I like happens.

It's nice when this pervasive sadness lifts for a moment, and my moments have gotten longer and longer with hard work on changing my perspective and doing things that improve my mood. It's basic Cognitive (thinking) Behavioral (doing) Therapy, one of the most research-supported forms of therapy.

I'm sure seeing a therapist is helping me, too, and I'm grateful this is a requirement of my program, not only for my own issues (which I want to work through so they don't affect my future clients), but also for the experience of being a client. I can't say men OB-GYNs get this kind of opportunity!

Medication is also an option. It's something worth trying because the results have been startling (on the good side). I know I've wanted to "do it without chemicals" but seriously? Everything's chemicals when you don't artificially separate the mind from the body. You ever been around someone who gets grumpy when he's hungry? (Guilty.) So why not meds if there's a chemical imbalance or something going on giving me the blues all the time?

Okay, I'd better get back to the two papers I'm writing.

And hey, cheer me up by doing more than
watching artwork of mine in my shop. Support a living artist (me) and make me a YAHA--Yet Another Happy Artist!

Invite Beauty,

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