Monday, May 25, 2015

Dementors and Grindylows

 J.K. Rowling has said that when she wrote the dementors in the Harry Potter series, she meant for them to describe what depression feels like: the despair, the hopelessness, the replaying of bad memories. That all sounds about right, but when I visualize depression, I think of another dark inhabitant of Rowling's fictional world: Grindylows.
For those unfamiliar, Grindyows are water demons that grab the ankles of unsuspecting swimmers and drag them to the bottom. This, to me, is depression: you know you are going down, and you fight, and maybe you break free; but the longer you have to fight, the less able you are.
Here's another rendition
If you haven't guessed, I've been kicking at my own personal grindylow for some months now. It was a loooooong winter, and a cold one - those things matter - and once the spiral starts, any disappointment seems to contribute. It can be difficult to tease out what is a symptom and what a cause. It got bad, this time: I was able to rally for my classes, and to organize the pottery tour, but outside of those obligations,  I pretty much just went to bed. And then, in that cause-symptom spiral, felt even worse, because I must be a lazy piece of shit, right?

And so on.

Most of the time I felt no desire to make things. I feared, as those of us in the creative professions sometimes do, that I had lost it: lost the mojo that made me who I am, because that drive was as gone. Terrifying and depressing, awesome.Not to mention the economic consequences: one more anxiety, one piece of evidence that I am not a competent adult, blah-blah-blah, did I mention Grindylows are chatty? They have opinions about me: hateful opinions, all of them.

I've been managing this illness (more or less) with exercise and relaxation techniques for 15 years, but I finally - finally - decided after being unable to kick free for months that it was time to go back on meds. I've contacted my doctor's office but haven't been able to even set an appointment yet (long boring story) I wait. I've been waiting over a month, just to set an appointment. (No wonder people go to the emergency room for stupid things! They probably just give up waiting for their own doctors.)

In the meantime, I've started to feel its grip weakening. Remission, too, is a spiral: if you can feel a little better, you can be a little more active, which makes you feel a little better. If you can address even a small thing that seemed overwhelming, you can feel empowered to address another. And so on! Like this:

(There's a great post at Captain Awkward about breaking the low mood cycle, where I got that "chart.")

My remission is still fragile but it does seem to have some momentum: I spent a few hours at the wheel yesterday, in the summer studio, and a few more decorating.

 tl;dr: I've been feeling low for a while but starting to feel better, and look! I made some pots yesterday!


Linda Starr said...

the medical field is a farce, what about a drop in clinic ? at least those are less expensive; those plates are really nice, thinking of you.

Barbara Rogers said...

So glad you told us about how you're coping with your depression. Your plates are fabulous (and always are!) I have friends who deal with their depression with meds, and it's so hard to get them changed or updated. Once upon a time a person could just ask their regular doc for something for feeling depressed. Having any antidepressant monitored is a good idea, as well as talk therapy. Don't be alone!

Marian Williams said...

I love reading your blog and following your work. I've never had depression but have been laid up with surgery for fixing unhealed broken ribs that happened over 18 months ago- so I do understand the frustrating feeling of feeling worthless and unproductive. I guess I just wanted to say that I believe that I'll get better- and I believe you will too. I believe your work is great, worthwhile and will help you beat this. Best wishes and I'm send you good vibes - all the way from australia! Luv

Lori Watts said...

Thank you all, for kind words. Getting better, every day.

Chantay said...


Sorry to hear about your struggles. I recently went back on meds for depression. Has been an 18 year struggle for me. Hope you get some relief soon. Dealing with the doctors office probably isn't helping either.

Unknown said...

The new plates are beautiful so far. I look forward to seeing them glazed!
So glad the low is beginning to rise.
I've been seeing your work via your blog, and very much enjoying the process you write about. I blog, too, and it's a responsibility and a chore sometimes to keep that going! But it connects us to the world and each other, and that's so important, isn't it?
Keep on rockin', Lori!

Lori Watts said...

Still making, and STILL waiting for the doc to get back to me....

Unknown said...

We don't know each other but I just wanted to pop in and say I hope things are still improving. I realized I hadn't seen your blog in my feed for a while and wanted to check in and let you know that you and your beautiful work are missed.