Perhaps it is the path of every artist, be they musician, writer, or other to be susceptible to depression and anxiety, but I wonder too if we're all destined to hit rock bottom as we suffer for our right to express ourselves.
Many artists have suffered through their lives: Edgar Allen Poe was poor, Kirk Cobain killed himself, and Virginia Woolf had episodes and mood swings due to sexual abuse and the deaths of her relatives, and these are just three out of the oh-so many who have come before and after them.
Having to deal with my own issues involving depression and anxiety, I have been told that it is because we artists are all right-brained. Poets, painters, and sculptors, pianists, singers, and actors, all of us are either partially or mostly right-brained. Instead of functioning mostly on logic, we experience through feeling and have a larger degree of empathy.
I am also told that most people are left-brained, functioning on logic and the majority. It is this reason that can make it hard for a right-brained, artistic person, to make it in this world, because we are often taught that our way of thought or our way of life is "wrong." It isn't easy going day to day, living in a way that does not feel right to you or constantly trying to change the natural way you do things to please others. I feel this struggle daily and sympathize with all those poor souls that cannot live as life intended them.
It's when we break away from the daily grind of the mainstream and strike out on our own that we take the biggest risk. Most artistic jobs take years to build a reputation and business. Authors need to travel to conventions and bookstores to promote their material, artists often start out doing work for free or for friends to build portfolios, and musicians need to travel, play gig after gig at bars, working day jobs and playing at night to try to get to the next small town bar in the hopes that someone, someday will discover them.
I guess that's why I'm homeless. I took a risk. I left the full-time salary job with benefits and I started working part time jobs. When I worked full time, sure I had money, but I had no time and work always followed me home. I could not write a damn thing. I didn't draw and I couldn't feel anything but sadness. My depression was eating me alive. I had to stop or I'd have been lost to it.
So, here I am two hundred or so books sold later, two conventions, a book party, and who knows how many in store promotions, and I'm homeless. Sadly, I placed my trust in the wrong person, moved out of my apartment and into a house with a woman who decided after a month to kick me out, penniless and no where to go. On June 1, 2013 I will be putting my life into storage and spending a couple months with a good friend of mine until I can find a place to live.
Strangely, of all things, it was work that came through for me. My family wouldn't take me and my boyfriend... well, he could not help his feelings-- he sadly does not love me anymore. After almost six years, I've lost my best friend. There is a large sense of not belonging and this overwhelming heart ache that can only be felt when you realize that you people you thought you could count on, don't want you anymore. But I have many blessings too, like wonderful friends who have been making sure I have something to eat and a place to stay until I can get back on my feet. Not the sad woman who's kicking me out of her place for her own selfish reasons, but real friends. Honest and good people that show you kindness when no one else in the world will see you-- and my job.
Along with stress, often comes illness. I apparently have allergies again (I have not had this problem in years) and have had several bad sinus infections and migraines. I have been struggling to make sure that I come into work, but sadly have had many sick days, and yet, when I thought work would have let me go-- they promoted me.
I cannot say what will happen to me or how to proceed from here, but I can say that I will be all right. I may not become the next J.K. Rowling or Opera, but I will be able to keep a roof over my head and feed myself and my dog. I can only hope to keep selling and promoting my book and I will work everyday to finish my second one, because that is what makes me happy. Not the clothes I wear or the car I drive, not the approval of peers or the amount of soy lattes I drink (though that's a close second), but the feeling of being with a good friend and writing the stories I want to share with the world. The joy of my characters and the beauty of their words and art... without it, a right-brained person like myself feels hollow and that's no way to live.
We right-brainers, we take risks, we dive head first, and even if there's a rock at the bottom, at least we know we lived.