I have been very absent from writing up my reflection and my feeling very recently. It may have been because my depression has been much more stable after the change in the dosage of my medication. It may also be because of the change in my daily life over the summer as well.
Overall, the summer has been very therapeutic for me on many fronts. I have returned to solo travel in new places. I have not done that ever since my plunge into this mental illness – out of fear, scare, and also the attachment to my last string of hope and personal pillar. I have also picked up new hobbies and skills over the period. However, I have also been very distant from my old hobbies – which is also my current worry right now.
Renewing my solo journeys
After Azores and Porto, to which I traveled with a group of friends, I went on my first solo in a while in Malta, Poland, Hungary, and Mykonos. These journeys allowed me to really be with myself – not in a reflective way, but rather just to not think so much, do so much, and really just do it…
These solos are very different from my old and usual style of travel – normally packed and well planned to allow me to hit all the places. Most of my days in all these places just have one or two destinations. I ended up walking around places here and there with no specific idea of where I wanted to go. Not so surprisingly, I also didn’t go clubbing at all. Rather, I spent time looking at photos, drawing, painting or just sleeping. I think it was also a lethargic side effect of my medication that caused me this.
While very different from my usual journeys, the new style is probably what I needed. A change from the usual well-planned life to a new and free way turned out to be very therapeutic and restful. I plunged into “the bad place” less, and I have found some calms in my life at last.
If anyone were to tell me that one day I will love painting and sketching, I would have laughed so hard. “I can’t draw” and “I can’t paint” would be what I keep telling myself and those who were to say that to me. However, a good friend of mine told me during the Azores and Porto trip, “Sea, I think you need to find a new hobby and ways to release your emotion. I can teach you how to paint and sketch.” Although protesting in my head, I accepted his offer, and that’s where my artistic journey began.
I started off with sketching using a very basic mechanical pencil. As with most amateur, my first sketch was just a disaster. However, it was also a learning process that I somehow ended up with some sketches that I like. Sketching and writing poems became my new obsession for a while. However, I still found that the lack of color and optionality is what is missing in this medium for me.
I ended up asking him to teach me painting. The first suggestion he gave was watercolor, which for some reason, I felt scared, but also excited at the same time. I have tried watercolor painting before in some art classes back in middle school time, and it was disastrous to that point that I ended up having my talented friend fixing my work before submitting to the teacher in order for me to pass the class. During the shopping, however, my “art teacher” suggested that I would be better off starting with acrylic or gauche because they are easier medium to control as a painter. I pushed for watercolor, however. While I know that acrylic is easier for me to paint, based on my past, but also similarly disastrous, experience, I still see the challenge in watercolor as something that I should do to prove myself – perhaps to no one.
After that, I ended up painting nearly every day. Everywhere I went, I would spend an hour or so to paint from some of my photographs. I could clearly see the improvement from my first painting, and somehow, I think I started to realize my own “style” of painting. At the same time, I’m also investing in learning painting through courses and books – on top of hands-on experience by painting on my own.
My friend was right. I could communicate my feeling, fear, hope, and fantasy through painting. Sometimes, without reference photos, I painted and the color choices, the layers, and the brush strokes would really reflect my feeling. One painting that was spot-on was one of my sunset painting, in which I made a minor mistake on the color of the clouds. I ended up layering the clouds so dark that I really reflected my small plunge as I was painting.
On a positive note, I was also able to communicate my reflection of my thoughts, wishes, and feelings toward a situation or a person through painting. I painted “thank you” and “well wishes” cards and paintings to my friends. I do hope and believe that those are well perceived.
Overall, it is still a struggle. However, I managed to find some new companions – painting and soloing. Still, I also need to win back my old companions – yoga and exercise.
The journey continues…