Getting back your mojo after loss

“Creativity is not always meant to express something happy or good.”

On the 25th of March, my son and I found my brother (who had just turned 50 in January) passed away in my mom’s home. We’d gone to check on him because he hadn’t been returning my mom or his girl friend’s phone calls, which was not the norm. Our family has been devastated by this.

A bit of back story… when my father (daddy) was 31 and my mom 28, my daddy died in an automobile accident (he was run off the road)–I was 7 and my brother was 4. Fast forward a bit, my mom remarries… my (step) dad, an absolutely wonderful person(he’s who died a few years ago of cancer). A week before my high school graduation I lost my paternal grandfather, but during high school I lost my great aunt, who I was named after, as well as a cousin and one of my great grandmother’s. Over the past few decades, I’ve lost other grandparents, aunt’s, uncle’s, cousins, friends. And then a little over three years ago, my (step) dad died of cancer.

My brother has two sons, they are 22 and 19. The oldest is in college and the youngest just joined the Navy and is “sea” school. My heart breaks for them, and for my mom, for all of us. As I type this, we’re preparing for my brother’s memorial service at the end of next week. So, as you can imagine, things are a bit rough around here.

I took some much needed time off over the past two weeks. I know that I need to get back into the swing of things. I’ve tried 3-5 times now to film a simple coffee chat and as of right now none of what I have filmed is coherent enough to create an actual video out of, though I’ve been struggling to adequately express myself it’s hard. In order to get back into the swing of things, I need to find my mojo–it has somehow gotten misplaced.

Sometimes we need to stay creative in spite of what’s going on around us, and other times we need to be creative because of what is going on around us. I need to be creative, in spite of and because of. We all go through times when we’re struggling, when we hit a rough patch. Whether it’s due to a physical or mental illness, a pandemic, a job loss, the loss of a loved one…during times when we experience loss, stress, anxiety, grief, depression, pain, whether it’s long term or short term. And those negative feelings can be even harder to deal with when society and/or online culture infers that we should be productive no matter what, that we need to hustle and smash it, that we shouldn’t dwell on those negative emotions. Hell, that we shouldn’t even really talk about them–for the longest time mental illnesses have been a taboo subject.

However, negative and positive emotions are part of life–the yin and yang of life. Studies have should that both positive and negative emotions are crucial for not only our happiness but also our well-being. The links between mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety and creativity are well documented. For example, depression and anxiety can stimulate areas of the brain that control attention and analytical thinking, as well as abstract ideas and thoughts. What isn’t as well known is that studies have also shown that frustration and anger can fuel creative tendencies and ideas; that’s our brain’s way of dealing with those emotions.

A few years ago when my dad died of cancer and my mom almost died of Sepsis, I put on a brave face…in the long run that hurt me. Grief over the loss of my dad was postponed while I was dealing with my mom being in ICU. Once my mom was out of the hospital I got “busy.” Grief is a natural response to loss, whether loss is the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, the loss of freedom and independence due to a physical and/or mental illness, or various other kinds of loss. One of the things I’ve had to do over the past two weeks is take time off. I’ve struggled with this. I want and need to do something, to be doing something, it’s how I cope with anxiety–the doing. But in a video by Jessica of Pretty Prints and Paper, she said, “we’re more than just a human doing, we’re a human being.” I am working on just being, but it’s hard. It’s also hard to find my mojo while struggling with grief, anxiety, stress…

I don’t want to put on the brave face and avoid things, but I do feel like I need to be brave and get back into the “being” and living of life. Thus the quote at the very beginning:

Creativity is not always meant to express something happy and good.

When I was seven years old, I coped with my daddy’s death by reading. I became an avid reader. I read Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web, and the Trumpet and the Swan. I also read and re-read the Chronicles of Narnia, the Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boy stories, as well as many other books. And then when I was ten years old, I found Stephen King thanks to Mrs. Whittet my fifth grade teacher, and I fell in love. I was also an avid diary/journal writer. I’ve been writing in a notebook avidly since I was seven. Why does any of this matter? I am working on better coping mechanisms, but some of the best coping mechanisms out there is to find things that help you relax and unwind. Things like art, music, writing, knitting, quilting, singing, playing an instrument, painting, journaling–creative things.

I’m not a professional therapist or anything, but from my own experience, finding a creative outlet helps.

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