Acknowledging grief

I've been depressed for about a month. I kept saying that it started after the last Lisa's Hotcakes show, and that has something to do with it. For various and sundry reasons, I haven't had enough music in my life during that month. No band shows, no open mic. I managed to write one song during this blue period, and curiously it's a hippie song about hope (but with a noisy guitar). Must be my underlying optimism.

That is my basic temperament, which has made this extended depression all the more puzzling. Usually I snap out of these things in about two or three days. Not this time. I have even booked an appointment to see a therapist. I'm not ashamed to say so. When I need to talk with someone, then I do, and there's no shame in it. I have purposely chosen someone who uses a cognitive-behavioural approach. I don't need to hash out my childhood. I need to figure out techniques to help break out of the cycle. Depression causes inaction, and inaction leads to further depression. And there are ways to increase action.

Depression alone is very bad for an artist. It saps energy, It saps creativity. Truly I do not wish for bipolar disorder, but from an artistic standpoint it's actually better to deal with bipolar disorder than depression. I veer into positive territory, even to the point of elation sometimes, but never with the kind of energy that would be really helpful for writing. The bipolar cycle for artists is well known: create, sometimes wildly, during mania; edit during depression. I have only half of that.

My song-a-day idea is pretty well shot. But it was overly ambitious. I need to sit down and work on songs every day, but I should not expect necessarily to complete them. I saw someone posting about "52 in 52"—a song a week. I probably can't hold myself to that either, but it's certainly a more sensible number. The point is to keep working. But it's very difficult to walk through molasses.

I think I had a breakthrough during my ritual last night. You might recall that we had to let our beloved kitty go on January 10. Sweetie and I both went through an intense period of grief. Our kitty was such a huge part of our lives, and she had the most wonderful personality. So I expected to grieve. But I didn't expect it to last so long.

When I would tell Sweetie that I was depressed, she would remind me that it had not been all that long since we had lost our fur baby. And I acknowledged that I would still get reminders of her and feel sad. But I guess I didn't realize until last night just how strong the grief still was. I had figured it was taking its normal course and becoming less intense over time. And that has been the case for the most part.

But I think I was also denying that the underlying pain could still be so intense, even more than a month later. Be strong. It's not "decent." I must have got over it. She was "just a cat." Nobody said these things to me. They were all in my head.

When I cast a circle, sit quietly before my candles, and express gratitude for all the good and bad in my day, I sometimes discover hidden truths. Last night, it hit me hard. And I didn't deny it. I'm still grieving. And that's just the way it is. There is no "decent" time, not even when you're grieving over the loss of a pet.

This house is just so empty. I work at home, all day. I no longer have my little constant companion, the one that slept on my lap and kept me warm, and one that demanded my attention at different times of the day, the one that purred and cuddled. She was an indoor cat. She was more a part of this house that we are. And she was so much a part of my life. There's still a gaping hole where she used to be.

Am I overly sensitive? Maybe. But that's me. I might not have usefully manic periods in which to create, but my emotions and I are very much in touch with each other. That's my creative well. People like me have to learn to set boundaries and find inner strength and not always be on the verge of a breakdown, but I would much rather pull back a little from being too sensitive than to be a rock and an island and try to move in the other direction.

I know I will have plenty to talk about when I see the therapist. I hope she does grief counselling as well.


Coline said...

No sunshine, no vitamin D, a very sad time of year...

Véronique said...

We've been having some sunshine, and I take 1000 IU of Vitamin D every day. Got to in this climate!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. You're right- we desperately undervalue how important our pets are to us. We say that they're 'only' an animal, but at the same time we let them into our lives in ways that we sometimes don't even do with other humans. They're our constant companions, they're there for us no matter what we do. Especially when dealing with depression.

Of course you miss your cat! And grief.. grief always last longer than you think it should, and gets to you in ways that don't even feel like you think it should. So all my condolences, and wishing you the best in accepting your feelings.

Véronique said...

Thank you so much for your kind words! It's still surprising how long this hangs on. I will be glad to see the therapist tomorrow.