This journal post has a lot to deal with mental health and I touch a little bit of some religious stuff. Not too much, but a bit. So if you don't wanna read those sections, then that's fine. Just skip until you see this. **** At the beginning and end of certain sections. Also, note: I'm not a doctor. A lot of things in this post are things that I've felt/experienced, or learned from talking to people about the subject and also from what I researched on google. I am currently seeking therapy, and I am not diagnosed yet. Please don't spam me or hate me.
****So... I just wanted to let anyone know who is currently watching me why I'm not very active on dA anymore.
I've been doing artwork, don't get me wrong, but I've been very busy, unmotivated, and several personal things have happened.
For the most part I'd like to keep my personal life private, but to give any of you a hint of why I was gone is not only because I've been on tumblr a lot or wanting to improve, but also because my personal life is a little vexing and trying at this time. Improving my artwork, at least for me, meant that I had to stay away from other people's works for a little bit and work on my own time studying books, occasionally looking at a reference on google images, etc, etc. I've only really looked at other people's works on Youtube or tumblr for inspiration and/or studying anatomy, techniques, how clothes fall and fold over, texture, learning how to use various photoshop tools, etc.
I have some pieces that I didn't post here that are on my tumblr. (same username, same way it's spelled here)
I've also been very sad lately. To the point where I will get sad randomly or start crying for no reason. I've also been very stressed out. I haven't been taking proper care of myself. There were days where I would have panic attacks and other times I'd be so stressed to the point where I almost threw up. I don't really want to get into the main factor that causes me to feel like this. Because, like I said, I'd like to keep my real life private.****
For those who don't know what it feels to have a panic attack, it basically turns your body into fight or flight mode. Your mind begins to go insanely wild with thoughts rushing in one after another, sometimes all at once. You feel like you can't breathe, like you're ready to die at any moment. You're terrified and stuck in a dark corner. Your heart pounds faster, you feel like your lungs are collapsing, your head begins to hurt. You can't move, just sit there and shake. You begin to hyperventilate, which prevents oxygen from getting to your brain and lungs properly. Doing this can also make you feel dizzy. Your anxiety gnaws at your brain, you feel like you're helpless. You feel like there's no hope for you or anyone else trying to help you. You can't relax. Most times, at least for me, you start to cry because you want someone to help you and tell you that everything is okay, that nothing can hurt you; That this will pass, and they're there for you. And help you remember to take deeper, longer breaths.
(Also as a side-tangent, if you notice someone having a panic attack don't ever ask, "Are you okay?" Because that will just make things worse since... you know, because they're panicking. Of course they're not okay.)
This usually happens when a person is feeling nervous and anxious, or they are very, VERY stressed out.
--But MD04!! Can't you just... y'know, stop them?
It's not that easy. For some people, panic attacks are very brief and can get back up fairly easily. But other people's attacks can last pretty long. In some severe cases, maybe even hours. The only way to really stop a panic attack, is to breathe deeply and slowly, because this tells your body to slow down. Even when the worst of it is over, parts of what triggered the attack in the first place can still come back later. People who have anxiety disorders aren't the only ones who suffer from panic attacks. People who have severe low self-esteem or suffer from PTSD can have these attacks too. A normal person who's too stressed out due to family situations, professional situations (ie: Too much work being put onto you.), relationship issues, or unfortunate circumstances can have a panic attack too. For some people, this is unlikely to happen, but the chance of experiencing one is still there.
For me, the chance of a panic attack happening is when I feel like I've made too many mistakes in a row.
--But MD04!! Everyone makes mistakes! Nobody's perfect!!
Even so, that doesn't matter. I'm a perfectionist. I've always been pretty hard on myself when it came to pretty much everything I do. I would try my damndest to make sure I didn't let anyone down or try hard to reach a goal that I set for myself. My expectations of myself are brutal. Most likely, a normal person would say that my expectations for myself are impossible. But that's not an excuse for me. I can't handle making a lot of mistakes, especially in front of people. I can forgive myself when I'm alone pretty easily. Some days, I can forgive myself even in front of people, but 99% of the time, I end up making myself feel so stupid and inadequate. Like I'm a failure. I can take critique. But if I keep making obvious mistakes or keep being clumsy, I can get down on myself real fast. And if someone is really picking at me for every mistake I make, even if it's accidental, then it just makes things worse.
--Okay but... MD04!! Didn't you say you're religious or something?
Yes I am a Christian. A born-again Christian to be exact. And no I'm not one of those a crazy people who will shove my beliefs down anyone else's throats or tell you super absurd things (ie: Gay people shouldn't be alive because they're sinners. <--- BTW that's hate speech. Pretty sure the bible has a few verses about, y'know, not hating people because they're different. But I digress...). You can believe whatever you want to. I'm not the boss of you. And I'm not gonna judge you if you believe in different things than me. What I'm trying to get at here is that sometimes you'd like to hear advice from a spiritual POV. And because of that I've had other people from my faith tell me in the past that mental illness doesn't exist because it's just the devil attacking you with your thoughts. I've also heard from other people in my faith that the medication doctors give out is just drugging people up to make them feel even worse and make their bodies weaker. I've also heard that said people who say they have a mental illness is just using it to get attention, or get out of doing something they don't want to do.
Mental illness does exist. Yes it's true that God made us in his image and we shouldn't be afraid of anything (and remember, this is just me saying my beliefs here, you don't have to listen to me if you don't want to). Yes, the devil can get to you through your thoughts, but it's only a demonic attack if he catches you alone. You gotta remember, the devil wants to hurt, kill, and destroy, and the best way he knows how is through your thought process. And if you're alone, it makes it easier. But you also have to remember that God knows your thought process too. And it takes courage to ask for help sometimes, be it spiritual help or just calling someone and asking for help that way. It's a really big step to not only acknowledge that you need help, but to also ask for it when you need it. We were made to be emotional, spiritual, and organic beings. Of course there are going to things that make us scared, be it irrational or not. Yes, we're made up of a lot of minerals and flesh, and bones, and what have you. What some people forget to realize is that we are also made with a lot of chemicals, especially in our brains.
Now it's argued a LOT that mental illnesses are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. As of now, there's no conclusive scientific proof or facts that this is actually the case. Whether or not this is true, however, it doesn't change the fact that your emotions or mental state isn't something you can just control super easily, despite what some people will tell you. (ie: Just snap out of it! Stop being sad. Stop acting like a psycho! Get over it. Why are you so angry/sad/anxious all the time? etc.)
It's also argued that the term, "chemical imbalance in the brain" is used to ensure the patient's illness isn't stigmatized. More often than not, the actual illness is more complex than that.
People with ADD or ADHD have a chemical imbalance in their brains that prevents them from trying to focus on things that they need to focus on or remember certain things that they need to have done. (for example, trying to focus on homework but getting distracted by someone else's music, trying to come up with ideas for a group project but everyone else's ideas interfere with the ideas in your head, going to grab something you need and then coming back with everyone else except the one thing you needed, changing location so that you focus better, there are other examples in many other places.) Sometimes in cases like people with ADD/ADHD, Depression, etc... They are prescribed medication to help cope with the illness. Because of the whole chemical imbalance thing, the way to combat this imbalance is to use other chemicals (ie: medicine) to counteract this imbalance.
Do I think those people are being attacked by the devil? No! The disorders they have are just something they have to live with. You can't just decide one day that you're not ADD/ADHD or that you're not depressed. It doesn't work that way. Some mental illnesses are genetic like bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and depression. Just because you are suffering from something going on in your head, does not mean that you are broken. Just because you've thought of hurting yourself, doesn't mean you're instantly a severe case that needs to go to a mental ward. Don't give in to self-harm or attempting suicide. It's tempting, believe me it is, to think that things would be easier if you weren't around anymore. But it's not worth putting other people who love and care about you through that kind of pain. It might be scary to ask for help when you know you need it, and it might be scary to talk to people about the skeletons in your brain-closet because they might not understand, but people go to school for these things. They are professionally trained to help people. That's what psychiatrists, therapists, and toll-free hotlines are for. It's better to talk to someone who does not have an agenda for your life, image, reputation, professional life, whatever.
Your illness does not define who you are. You are not alone. A lot of people have a mental illness of some sort, sometimes multiple. Everyone has the right to be who they want to be, and rock at it without feeling like they're flaws, shortcomings, or anything else should stop them from being happy. Be careful on who you decide to share your struggles with, because we're still in an age where most people don't understand what mental illness is about and will resort to the stigma that only really "crazy" people need therapy.
If you think you may have a mental illness, please go see a doctor right away. The tunnel will be dark and bumpy, it will get difficult to keep yourself together. There will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. Always, always, always. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise.
****In conclusion, a lot of things are happening in my life that I can't control, and there are many factors that contribute to my stress and depression (I'm not diagnosed btw, I'm not a doctor, but I am showing a lot of signs and symptoms of depression). I don't want all of you to worry about me. I'm doing okay, for the most part. I'm seeking therapy and I have more than enough people in my life that love me and support me. I'm just sorry that I didn't provide any new content for you all.
I'm trying to get better at my art skills, trying to live my life out, trying to be responsible, trying to be more of an adult, and trying to help myself. I've played the patient and the doctor for myself for too long now. I'm tired and posting art isn't always a priority. I just wanted to let you guys know that I'm still alive, but I'm just not around on dA. I'm much more active on my tumblr. I don't post a lot, but I do reblog a lot of stuff. So if any of you are interested in following me, then go right on ahead.
Anyway, I've said my piece. I hope you're all doing okay and I truly appreciate the fact that you watched me or gave me llama badges or even favourited my artwork. Thanks for understanding.