This picture is of one of my artworks, hanging in the Pride art exhibition at The Stove in Dumfries last week.
It's something to celebrate: my first art show; the first Pride event in Dumfries in a decade; a successful Bi+ Space stall.
But my heart is heavy.
This artwork, called What is important, is a triptych, reflecting on and expressing my experience of depression, and how deep connection with land, plants, and nature supports me with it.
On the left is the impotent rage that simmers deep in my heart and gut. The plant there is oakmoss, which soothes and calms. On the right is the dead despair that weighs on me and feels inescapable. The plant there is St. John's Wort, which lifts and brightens. In the centre is balance, me, embodied, both stretched beyond and deeply embedded within the material. The plant there is wild angelica, which blesses and protects.
I need this reminder today, the autumn equinox, when the sun enters the sign of Libra, and the daylight recedes into the darkness of winter. This annual shift is always hard for me. More than 35 years of experience tells me that I will now begin the descent into winter depression, and that nothing I or anyone else can do can stop it.
I do not want this to be true. I want this year (as I do every year) to be different. I have already made my 'What Do I Need?' list, with fine grained specificity, and detailed instructions for how to get out of bed to get what I need, once I've identified it -- because yes, on some winter days, I do not have even that ability.
I have been using my lightbox already for a month and a half. I have knitting and crochet projects in progress. I bathe in salts and essential oils at least once a week. Energising and restorative yoga are part of my morning and evening routine (as much as I have such things). I have online and offline friends with whom I meet regularly. I have so many rituals and practices that I know for definite will help.
But the fundamental despair that, regardless of anything I do, this will happen, this is happening again; the resentment and rage at the people and events that have contributed to, exacerbated, or even caused it: they rise and grow.
Balance feels so, so far away.
Even under the light of the sun; even under the glow of the moon and the stars.
Even walking among the green and brown and blue of the land.
Even in the arms of my partner; even cuddling our dog.
Even sitting with my ancestors.
This is what is, this rage, this despair. And being with what is, with myself, however difficult, and uncomfortable, and scary: that is what is important.
Today, I commit to creating space for what is important; to ritualising and embodying what that experience is, what these feelings are, where those memories live in me, here and now; to opening to the grief which I try to cover over with rage and despair.
It may not change anything, but I will be more whole for it, and more myself.
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