Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Depression is really quite depressing

Depression is really quite depressing.

That may seem tautologous, but let me expand a bit on my thesis with jolly tales of Stupid Brain Chemicals, and how they've made life less enjoyable (in parts) than necessary, and how I've tried to live with the importunate pricks.

Episodes of depression have been a recurring part of my life ever since adolescence. The first notable example was in my first year at university, in Palmerston North, in 1981, and it was notable for its intensity — in retrospect, I now recognise much of my earlier adolescent feelings as depressive, but they were more inchoate, and generally subsumed in the usual melange of hormonal chaos common to that age group — and also because it was the first time that I recognised what was actually happening to me.

I had a bunch of emotional complications going on at the time, which seemed terribly important then, so when the world became gloomy and pointless and everything seemed utterly futile, I assumed that these were objective, not subjective feelings, that this bleak sadness was in the world itself, and not just in my brain's interpretation of it. I didn't have any intellectual separation between my mental state, and the state of my life at the time (which was, admittedly, pretty parlous).

As well as making me feel generally sad, hopeless, and helpless, it frankly terrified me. I could see no light at the end of this tunnel, no worthwhile future of any kind, and I couldn't understand why or how the world had suddenly changed so much for the worse. I could see no way out. I drank a lot, and I took a lot of drugs.

I don't remember how or why, but one day I had an epiphany. "Aha!" I said to myself, "I am depressed! This is depression!"

That realisation didn't, of course, immediately make me feel all right, but it did profoundly change my mental process around my state. It meant that the world itself had not suddenly become so bleak and threatening as I had thought, and most importantly it meant that I could see my depression as a perceptual filter that would not be permanent, I just had to wait the fucker out.

I did not, of course, become a Secret Master of Depression at that time. Or at any time soon. But ever since that epiphany, when the grey fog closed in, I could at least — eventually — recognise what was going on, and grit my teeth until it went away again. I still made some stupid life choices when depressed, but maybe not as many as I might have if I hadn't known what was going on.

Over the years, those episodes became less frequent, and less intense, and less long-lasting, and I've come to recognise likely triggers — illness or injury will often spark a bout. Part of that reduction in severity is, I think, to do with the hormonal changes that aging brings. Another part is to do with my attitude to depression — I treat it like that old acquaintance, who I never really liked that much anyway, who turns up to stay, unannounced. I start consciously doing things that I know my Depressive Houseguest will hate, so that he will just FUCK. RIGHT. OFF. I try to do things that I will (or should) enjoy, and I consciously try to enjoy them. I treat myself. I get more exercise, and try to enjoy that. The enjoyment may be strained, and to begin with at least, fake. But over time, I basically fool myself into thinking that I'm happy, and one day I find that I'm not having to pretend any more, until next time at least.

It's not as simple as just "trying not to be depressed", which is, by the way, the most amazingly fatuous advice it's possible to receive. Maybe second most fatuous, after crystals.

I guess, if I were to boil down my technique for dealing with depression now, it is that will no longer pander to it. If you submit to depression, encourage its advances, it will just settle in and make itself comfortable. If that happens, there's the danger that you just get used to it being around, and when you do that, life just gets generally worse.

Depression is real, but it's not true.

Fuck depression.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A Neck of Great Power

I often use my sketchbooks as a kind of journal, an aide-memoire to remind me of what I was doing and thinking at the time.

This one, however, gives me no clues whatsoever. I have no memory of what I was thinking at all.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Pintle Hinged Box

I'm in the process of making yet another box to keep stuff in. Here it is being made all shiny and black.

It's just MDF, so nothing special there, but I thought I would try a thing: I cut a regular hinge in half to make a pair of pintle hinges (I used an old flush hinge, though a butt hinge would work as well or better). The idea with the pintle hinges is that I can then remove the box lid entirely, or leave it hinged to the body as need be.

I have learned a couple of things from this exercise:
  1. that my soldering skills could do with a lot more practice because they are really shit, and
  2. that one pintle should be left longer than the other so that you can engage them one at a time, instead of having to get them both lined up at once to assemble them.

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Great School Strike of '19

When I read some nonsense from an upright pillar of the community, be it a headmaster or a politician or whatever, about how outrageous it is that school pupils should have the temerity to disrupt their schooling for one day to make their voices heard on what is a vitally important issue to all of us, in my mind's eye I always imagine them as some gouty bloated bottle-nosed English squire in an overstuffed leather chair in his Gentlemen's Club, going red-faced with apoplexy as he spills his port and brandishes his walking stick, holding forth about the worthlessness of the younger generation and how they should all be thrashed to within an inch of their lives.

It is an image of obsolete social irrelevance that comforts me; such waffling buffoons will surely end up being shunted aside, and good riddance to them. Go the kids.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Dunes — woodblock

Woodcut, approx. 340 x 110 mm, oil-based inks

I found this little woodcut I did years and years ago at Hagley, when I was doing the prep course for entry into CPIT's design degree course.

It's a simple thing, but mine own. I quite like it, though I think the colours could do with a bit of refinement.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Monday, February 4, 2019

New Commercial Venture

I've uploaded some of my artwork to RedBubble at https://www.redbubble.com/people/MojoBob as a means of hopefully selling some prints and things.

They print stuff on to all sorts of things — phone cases, pillow cases, cushions, curtains, key rings — as well as your normal paper or canvas prints and posters. I get a cut of the price they charge for the Things, but what that cut is I'm unsure right now; I think it varies between 10% and 30%, but exactly what determines that I'm not sure.

Whether this will bear fruit or not, I have no idea. I hope so.

If you have a burning desire to own a physical copy of something I've done, and it's not already available on RedBubble, just drop me a note and I'll put it up there.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Hairy Fishy Critter

Here's a hairy fishy critter. I'm not completely sure that I'm finished with it just yet, but I'm finished enough for the moment.

Mostly done in Krita, with a little bit of help from Photoshop.

I really need to see if I can create custom brush collections in Krita; There are only a few that I use all the time, and it's kind of a pain constantly scrolling back and forth through all of the brush types to get to them.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Crimes were committed, for sure

Just watched Fantastic Creatures - Crimes of Grimblebimblebumblyboo and didn't think much of it really. Terrible pacing and rather confused, directionless plotting. I get that writers like to give their characters some depth (usually), but that doesn't mean that every single character has to be emotionally wracked and distraught ALL THE GODDAM TIME.

Johnny Depp's Grindlewald was a bit of a relief in that respect — no emotional self-flagellation, just got on with the EEEEEEEvilness, like a proper villain.

Also, like a proper villain, he was always polite. That's how you can tell your proper villains. Manners.

I imagined Grindlewald's aides taking new people aside and saying, sotto voce, "Don't stare at the eye. Just don't." And then later on, sweeping up little piles of ash and muttering to themselves about stupid fucking people who just couldn't resist staring at the fucking eye when they'd been specifically told not to stare at the eye.

Also, when did Dumbledore et al. stop wearing natty tweeds and trilbies and stuff and take up wearing all those hippy velvet dressing gowns? Was it the sixties? Is that what did it?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Scrabble Box

Every household needs a box to keep their Scrabble set in, and this is now ours.

The original cardboard box finally gave up the ghost and disintegrated, so I made a new one, a bit sturdier than the old.

This is the first time I've tried a faux-finish. The top and bottom are just 6mm MDF that I've stained with a grain pattern, then shellacked and waxed. The sides are some bits of 8mm oak tongue-and-groove* I had lying around, and the inside is paint.

The most expensive part of the whole thing was the brass fittings, which cost an unreasonable amount of money. I would have liked to have had a bright brass latch as well, but I didn't have one handy, and I wasn't going to pay an exorbitant amount to get one.
* Actually some groove-and-groove. The reason I had it in my wood-pile is because somebody fucked up and then threw it in the rubbish.