Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Picking back up

I am, at this moment, working through the end of a collapse.

These things happen to me occasionally. It's a part of a pattern, which is, in turn, part of who I am: I take on things, and take on things, and assure everyone I'm fine, and take on things, and joke about my workload, and take on things - and maybe I begin to incur a sleep debt I can't seem to pay off, and maybe I start finding my social life a burden - and I take on things, and begin to feel hunted and oppressed by the stress, and maybe I start to consider that I have possibly made a bad choice at some point, but usually before that can happen some small thing occurs and I hit critical mass, and I drop everything with a fury.

Ignoring my own limits has, at times, helped me achieve things: I left school with a reputation as one of the most driven students in my class, for one, and during my senior year I soared. But the crash always comes, and it always sucks.

It's often tied to depression, though not always, and I'm not really clear on what the specific cause/effect relationship is. I do know that multi-directional stress, especially when related to planning things, is a huge danger zone; I also know that I can stave off the crash to greater or lesser degrees of effectiveness by paring down my load, but by the time I start doing that it is generally too late and all I'm doing is making the angle of descent a little less steep.

This crash followed the pattern. Multi-directional stress, a large chunk of which had to do with taking point on finding and renting an apartment, and a sleep debt that felt like a black hole, and a whole load of minutiae that by themselves wouldn't have been stressful but which added up to be a monster - yeah.

I'm just angry that this one came when it did. The actual day of the collapse was the day that the Illustration Masterclass assignment email hit my inbox, and I just can't work through the lingering emotional exhaustion to get excited over them. I'm having to approach it using logic, since my actual artistic impulse is currently in the toilet: I'm doing A Midsummer Night's Dream, and within that I am going to paint Titania, because of course I am. I know my palette is going to be cool, and that her hair is going to be dark, and there are elements that have occurred to me as being lovely --

-- but I am thumbnailing from a dead place right now, and it's frustrating when I remember how incredible the rush of inspiration was for Tristan and Isolde last year.

I know with certainty that the spark is there waiting for me to dig it out, but the process is hard.


  1. I know exactly what you mean about this, although for me it translates to mind-wrenching frustration and anger at myself. I take on entirely too many things because I have trouble saying no to people, then I go into what I call "Everybody Go To Hell Mode." This is when I just start telling people flat out no, I don't want to go to your cousin's wedding, no I don't want to go shopping in Des Moines, no I will not design your band's logo for a case of beer, or your tattoo, or your running team's shirt, etc. Then I realize that this mode should be my default state. That I should only be doing the type of work I want to do professionally. For you, I don't know if it's a case of too many paid freelance gigs; if so, I wish I had that problem. :-) I think after I sell my house and unburden myself with spending Sundays doing yard work instead of drawing, that will help a lot. Either way, I think I know this feeling.

    1. Ohh yeah, I used to do the self-loathing thing in spades - I know how that feels. I do effectively tell people to go to hell, though it mostly tends to manifest in me just not answering calls, texts, or emails at all.

      I wish it was a case of too many gigs, but this crash was all over non-art thins coming from a bunch of different directions. I wish both of us luck in picking up and getting ourselves back to a good place!

  2. Hey Jenna, I've been following your blogs and art for about 2 years now (give or take a few months), and you are always a big inspiration for me. I started teaching myself to draw and paint around the same time I started following you, and every time I felt like giving up I would check your blog. For me, The Crash is currently in motion (currently moving to a different state), but I just wanted to let you know that you are an inspiration and that this post kind of made me feel a little bit better about my own "freak outs" over art.
    I'm looking forward to the new painting! I'm sure it will be lovely.

    1. I am speechless with how much this touches me.

      I just... yeah. Thank you.