True Colorful Passion :: by Alisa Steady
The power of art helped save my life. My story isn't about a struggle with alcohol, or drug addiction – but another kind of soul sucking addiction - depression. It sounds so cliché for an artist to suffer with depression, but it's a very real, debilitating condition that can affect anyone anywhere. I think of depression as an addiction because as the negative thought processes infiltrate daily life, it is extremely difficult to get back to "normal." It’s like being sucked into a tar pit up to your chin. So you succumb to the patterns that come with depression like not eating, and sleeping all the time.
I've always been creative ever since I was a kid, spending vast amounts of time drawing, painting, doodling, making 'pictures' on construction paper to sell to cars at the neighborhood stop sign. As I grew into my teen years, depression hit hard. My family thought it was me being surly and rebellious but, looking back, it was more than that. Black moods were something I couldn’t control. As I grew older, I found ways of coping. In art school I focused on deadlines, and a full time job which supported my schooling. Ironically, as busy as I was, depression manifested itself into a year long eating disorder. During that strange time, I also met and fell in love with another artist. The relationship didn't last very long, but the outcome of a painful break-up heightened depression to new and dangerous levels. I suffered through twelve years of dark, foggy days, and hours upon hours of feeling heavy inside and out. Inspiration and desire to paint took the back seat kicking and screaming because I didn't have the energy to create. Miraculously, during those dark days, I met and married my incredible husband.
But even happily married and starting a new life in a new town, depression was still a huge daily battle. It manifested itself in tremendous migraines, and days at a time spent hiding in our bedroom. I don't know how my husband handled it, but he supported me through it. Finally, after being convinced I needed medication, I went to the doctor. Medication helped and took the edge off, but it wasn't a soul saving cure. During those years, my beloved art supplies, books, and desire to make things were boxed away in our basement.
When I turned thirty-eight, something happened. I think it was FORTY looming on the horizon. I decided the time had come to go back to my artistic roots. Four years later, which brings me to today – I am no longer depressed! In fact, I am a new woman! Creating art, getting paint smeared all over my hands and forearms, and staying up late to play on canvas was a life saver. A true colorful passion restored and renewed my life. I have found my wings and have not stopped flying since I put pigment to paper in 2010. Do I still battle depression? Sometimes – but it feels different now. Lighter. Manageable. Controlled. I can power through it just by showing up to my studio and starting the process of creating.
The power of art has made miraculous changes in my life. I am happier. My marriage is healthier. And although I keep a close check on my depression, I can honestly say I have never been happier in life then I am today.
Learn more about Alisa on her blog at alisasteadyart.blogspot.com. Alisa welcomes email at alisasteadyart.blogspot.com.