I guess most any artist can claim to have wrestled with depression in their life. It would be a little naive to think I’m somehow unique for having had the experience. I guess what I’m driving at is that depression has always been a point of interest for me. I can remember having feelings of frustration, futility and anger as early as grade school when I would fly into angry crying fits when my mother discovered I had once again not done my homework. Sheets and sheets of repetitive arithmetic homework assignments. Concepts I had mastered in the classroom and didn’t need to practice at home. It drove me crazy.
From that beginning I was well on my way to having a lifelong dance with depression. I was eventually tested it was determined I was “gifted”, whatever that means. Gifted students are supposed to be frustrated with the standard curriculum and all they supposedly need is something more to challenge them and make them feel satisfied with their education and not bored out of their minds. I didn’t want more, I wanted less. More specifically, I wanted to be left alone, left to my own devices. Later, this feeling became so strong I took a whole year off from high school, barely showing up half the time. In the end, it took me five full years to graduate (and just barely) with the aid of an extra correspondence course to complete the required amount of course credits.
The only reason I even attempted college was due to my interest in being an artist and the temporary optimism I had gained from pulling myself together enough to graduate high school. I lasted about two semesters before my old habits started to kick in. I quickly tired of doing assignments where I had to draw this or sculpt that. I was learning techniques but my heart wasn’t in it. I did have some sincere enthusiasm for the ceramics classes I took but the professor I kind of connected with soon retired. The other professor was much more interested in his own career and didn’t give a damn about you unless you kissed his ass or were popular enough to be in his little clique of friends at the local coffee shop. All in all, a very discouraging experience for a young man who desperately needed encouragement.
Nowadays, the depression has simply become a part of me. There was a time when I thought I was fighting it but now I simply keep company with it. I use it as a shield against the unforgiving reality we all share. Some say that I might be mentally ill and should seek help but I personally think that anger and depression are appropriate responses to a corrupt and uncompassionate society.