Therapy and Identity

Hi there, it’s been a while!

This is a pretty rambly blog entry where I recount my 11 days (so far) on meds and therapy and the internal struggle I have with myself right now.

First off, the new meds are… full of side effects.

I was like flipping a switch the first 3 days and woah, I was working like never before, cleaned my home, felt a lot of energy and there was absolutely nothing between my thoughts about doing something and actually doing it! It was great! And didn’t have any negative thoughts or anything! (in hindsight, that was probably mania… side effect #1)
The downside was a bit of insomnia… I’d wake up at night and fail to go back to sleep for a couple hours. No big deal, though. (side effect #2)
On the 4th day, I drank coffee with milk instead of tea for breakfast on a whim. I started shivering and was anxious and distracted all day, though I was still full of energy. I drank some more coffee and milk in the evening and ended up sleeping a total of 2 hours that night… or that morning, to be more precise: from 5 am to 7 am.  It was awful. (side effect #3 – this thing reacts badly with caffeine)
On the 5th day was useless because of lack of sleep; my body was tired but my brain just…. kept working non stop, so I couldn’t even nap. I didn’t manage to work at all, but did a lot of small house chores.
6th day was ‘my body is acting up’ day… My period was going to start and my body knew it. Discomfort all over that wouldn’t let me focus on anything, 7th day was the same plus being a weepy mess, and I finally got my period by the 8th day. Awful again. (side effect #4 maybe?)
I’m on day 11 now and by now the meds are mostly a bit of a kick of extra energy. And that’s it. I’m back to having a hard time doing things (not house chores, though, I somehow got used to getting them done while the meds were doing more). Anxiety is also back, particularly regarding things I *really* have to do, and its friend self-sabotage is also back. Weeping is not uncommon.
Husband thinks it may just be my period, but I never got this useless before for more than a couple of days… (oh, the meds just kicked in, I suddenly feel very awake xD)

Now, as for therapy itself… I went last week during my super productive couple of days (doc warned me about mania and anxiety, tho), and everything was awesome. She was concerned about my emotional lows and what exactly had been triggering them, and we dug up some old emotional highschool-age stuff that still bugs me to this day; we may fight those with EMDR.
But she said something that resonated a lot with me: I am in the middle of an identity crisis right now. (My shrink says I’m in the middle of a mega art slump too. I think both are true.)
And by middle I mean I’ve been in one for the past 2 years or so.

I am gonna be 35 in about a month.
I feel aimless.
I feel like I don’t belong anywhere.
I’m lost and I don’t know who I am or what to do.
(The one thing I have going for me is that I have a sweet home. I’m extremely grateful for that.)

You see, I’m the kind of person that is absolutely terrible at keeping friendships; I just… don’t keep in touch.
The people I socialize with are either because I unavoidably have to interact with them due to the places me and them share in common (like school, or a job, or family reunions) or because of my art.
Since I’m a work-from-home person, I barely interact with anybody besides my husband. To be honest, the person I most talk out loud to is myself :/
Most of my interactions are online… and they’re mostly because of my art (more on that later). But, again I suck at keeping friendships and I’m awkward, so I end up just creating bigger and bigger distances with everybody.

For a while I had places online I felt belonged to, people I talked to often in a particular long-lasting setting, and that was enough to sate my social needs even when I didn’t have a place in the ‘real’ world. (for a short while I had part-time jobs too, teaching or doing art assets at an office, those were nice days…) Now… I don’t really have either.

As for the second thing, art.
I am… tired of it. That’s it.
I’m burned out to the max and can barely stand even doodling.
I even lost the ability to look at art and think “Wow, I want to do that one day!”.
My driving force for drawing was always seeing things other people drew and be moved, be captivated, feel things! And wanting to replicate those. Can I make myself feel those things if I draw something? Can I make other feel those things with what I draw?
For a years it worked: I loved what I did, people I shared it with loved what I did.
Now I don’t love what I do enough (it’s never good enough) and somehow the love I get from other people is not enough to compensate ( I could also make an argument about social media and it’s nasty effect on artists focusing too much on numbers).
I lost my drive.
All I can think when it comes to art is… frustration. And pressure, so much pressure.
Frustration I never seemed to reach the places I wanted to reach (not that I tried too much, though).
Pressure to meet expectations, pressure to not disappoint, pressure to fulfill my role, pressure to make ends meet.
Apparently this is the bane of every single person that makes their creative work their day job…

The problem is, drawing is all I’ve ever done. All I’ve ever been.
The one thing I thought that gave me meaning and that I could define myself with: “Hi, I’m Deji and I draw.”. That was my opening line whenever, and when people ask me about what’s up with my life, I say “Same old, just drawing, nothing else” (which is pretty sad…).
I’ve never had hobbies besides drawing (“I draw for work and when I’m done with work, I draw for myself”), and if I ever picked up something else, it was short lived (like my on/off affair with coding).
I’m a person that draws and that is good at studying when on an academic setting, That’s all I am.
So… if I have no art… who am I? How do I define myself?
“I’m married and I have a dog. I spend my days holed up at home, struggling to draw, feeling guilty about it and wasting the rest of the time randomly.”
That’s all there is to it.
There’s nothing else.
I just… exist, aimlessly.

So yeah, I’m in the middle of a big identity crisis right now.
I want to scream every time time I use my tablet for more than 25 minutes and that’s why I haven’t opened commission and why I’m so damn slow at finishing my pendings (and why I’m so far in the red from failing to work enough each month).

And that’s why I’m in therapy and on meds, because I can’t get myself out of this gigantic slump that is my life right now.

I’ll go shower and try to get even if just a bit of work done now.