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In the Beginning... by PassionIsLife In the Beginning... by PassionIsLife
This piece has a LOT of personal meaning.

It was created in June of 2007, when I was 21 years old. I was in group therapy at the time (following a hospitalization for severe depression), and the art therapy instructions that day were to draw whatever we wanted to. I usually hated instructions like that, because I never knew what to do. But for some reason, on that day, everything just flowed. I created what I thought was a pretty awesome picture.

And then, the catch: as we were finishing up, we were instructed to cut up what we had just created, and then make a collage of the pieces. WHAT?!? Here I was, having made the first piece of art that I had been proud of in nearly a decade, and I had to cut it up? I was devastated, to say the least (this may sound melodramatic, but then I refer you to the concept behind "Sensitivity" and "Hypersensitivity": I experience emotions in the extreme).

Long story short, there was insight to be had from the exercise and how we reacted to it. But that insight was nothing compared to the new light I had just gained: for the first time in my life, I had been able to just create, without being worried about getting the final product just right. I had experienced a new kind of freedom--the freedom that comes from abandoning expectations of realism and just going with the flow. Now, as I've gotten more serious about my art, I have had to exchange some of that freedom in order to improve my work. But that day, I had fallen in love with creating in the abstract.

By the way, the medium we used for that exercise? Soft pastels. It was the first time I'd ever even heard of soft pastels. In addition to my love for the abstract, that day I gained a love for soft pastels as well.

This piece holds the story to the beginnings of my soft pastel hobby. It's gotten kinda banged up over the years--I had used sticky-tack to hold down corners that came unglued, and the oil from the sticky-tack bled through the paper--but it will forever hold a special place in my heart.
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:iconirrationalrationale:
irrationalrationale Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012
Wow. I love this, and the story so much. It's incredible. I was hospitalized because of things related to depression when I was 13, as such I feel even more connected to this.
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:iconpassionislife:
PassionIsLife Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Oh **hugs** I'm really sorry you had to go through that. I truly hope it's all behind you now!! Depression is a miserable beast. But thank you for taking the time to read the story behind it!! I know it was kinda long.
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:iconirrationalrationale:
irrationalrationale Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
I don't know if I think depression ever really goes away. But I try real hard to fight it the best that I can! But of course there are some days that the battle is harder than others. How's your battle going? Have any secret weapons?
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:iconpassionislife:
PassionIsLife Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You know, I used to think that exact thing (that depression never really goes away). It wasn't until about 3-ish years ago that I found out I had dysthymia. I don't know if you've ever heard of it, but it's a low grade depression that--unlike major depressive disorder--is a constant in your life. It's like your emotional baseline is lower than that of a normal person. Oh what the heck I just re-read that and remembered you were a psych major. Just ignore me, lol. Anyway, after getting on the right meds, I actually got to experience what life is like for a normal, happy person!!! I've had one major "relapse" (basically a major depressive episode) since then, and it looks like I'm in the early to mid stages of a second relapse right now. But I finally know that the depression doesn't have to be a constant, and HOLY CRAP I love life now. Okay, I'm not exactly loving life *right now*, but at least these depressive episodes aren't making me suicidal like they used to--because I finally have hope that there can be light at the end of the tunnel (and also because I promised my fiance and my therapist that I no matter how bad things got, I wouldn't kill myself. It may sound lame, but honestly, in moments of excruciating emotional anguish, those promises are what keep me from taking or planning drastic measures).
But to answer your question, honestly, my only secret weapon is finding the right meds. And, given my history with meds, it's amazing that I'm finally at that place. See, I've been on meds off and on for over 10 years now, but it wasn't until my last relapse (about a year and a half ago) that I was finally willing to admit that perhaps I truly need them. I had some bad experiences with meds, and so I'd been very bitter toward them. But honestly...they're huge. I have an amazing therapist, but when I get into a depressive episode, there's really not much that can be done besides tweaking my meds. Like my painting "No Escape" shows, once you reach a certain point there's really no more fighting it--it just sucks you in. So that's not really a "secret" weapon, lol, but truly finding the right medication has changed my life. From a constantly angsty and depressed person to someone who is (usually) bubbly and full of life. It's really been a complete 180. Now if I could just be wise enough to avoid the triggers that get me into these damned relapses...
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:iconirrationalrationale:
irrationalrationale Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012
Dysthymia. I remember thinking maybe I had that a few years ago. And you're actually right to explain it to me, I graduated in 08 and I can't remember everything. I'm focused on ABA and Autism now, and ABA [Applied Behavioral Analysis] is actually separate from Psychology.
That's so cool that meds are helpful to you! When I was 13 and hospitalized for attempted suicide, they forced me to be on medication and I hated it, it did the opposite than help me. Ever since I've never tried medication again, although I do believe it is helpful for some people, I feel that it's useless for others. Doesn't matter now anyway, I don't have any insurance and couldn't afford that kind of stuff. I have a good enough paying job that I can't get any insurance assistance, haha.
I really hope that you aren't going to have a full blown depressive episode. I think it's so cool that you have been better. So therapy works for you too then? I hated my therapists when I was younger haha.
And those promises don't sound lame. They sound really excellent. That's what actually made me stop cutting, is something similar to that. When I started working with kids, I never ever wanted them to see cuts and then learn the behavior from me. The kids are work with are very precious to me, and I kinda think kids matter most out of all the humans in the world. The scars on my wrist are insane and I wear long sleeves every time I'm around any children, but I fear that if I started cutting again [I've cut different areas, I only enjoy the wrist] that if for an instant my sleeve went up they'd notice it, where as now they aren't likely to notice. I don't know what I'd do if they did.
Gosh your story about meds kinda makes me want to try them out again, since I can relate to your bitterness towards them. But like I said, it doesn't matter because I can't afford it. Maybe some day.
You've been able to find triggers for your depression? That's huge and I'm happy for you! Knowing triggers is a really important part of the battle. I kind of don't think I even have any. I live near the ocean in the warmth [well Virginia is warmer than NY] with my boyfriend whom I love now, and a job that I love, and I still feel like going crazy a lot of the time. I figure if I can go sit at the beach and be depressed, I don't know what the hell to do. Haha.
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:iconjodybruchon:
jodybruchon Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2012
*hugs* It's far more amazing in pieces, believe it or not. Something old falls apart, yet is replaced with something new and even more amazing from the pieces left behind. That's awesome.
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:iconpassionislife:
PassionIsLife Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks for the hugs :-) ...and you're probably right, it's probably better now--it definitely has more character now, anyway.
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:iconkiukkukissa:
kiukkukissa Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012
It's a beautiful piece with a touching story behind it.
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:iconpassionislife:
PassionIsLife Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Aw thank you. This piece means a lot to me, so I'm happy to share the story :-)
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:iconpicajosan:
Picajosan Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It moves me to read this. It's so wonderful you discovered your creative spark through a coincidence like that! And it looks like a gorgeous painting, too. Too bad they made you cut it up, though... Although sometimes, that can help. When I go through a bad episode I often draw or paint something, and then destroy it, and both the creating and destroying give me energy. But maybe I'm weird. :)
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