How Art Freed Me From Depression

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Art by Kate Melendez

by Kate Melendez

About a year ago, I found myself being consumed and destroyed by a disease I did not understand. I felt hollow and dark as my world sank deeper into this void called depression. The doctors tried to listen but they couldn’t get the full picture; see, communication is a difficult thing when you have no idea what to say. And, I honestly did not want to participate in this mess. I did not know what was happening to me and how I felt about it since I was uneducated on my own disease. The doctors can try to label a patient, place them in a category, and prescribe medication after medication; but this will not solve the problem.

I needed help. I did not sleep or eat and began to self-mutilate. I had to leave school, I could not see my friends, and I could not function on my own. I felt like a child stuck in a thick, black cloud with nothing but her thoughts. I could not turn my mind off, they call this ruminating, as I played and re-played the same negative thoughts over again in my head. I mostly came to the conclusion that I did not belong in this world. So, I knew that there were two options: kill myself in order to escape or get better.

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Art by Kate Melendez

I come from a high school that was tragically affected by suicide. During my sophomore year, a junior boy who was deeply admired took his own life. I thought maybe this was a copycat from the almost identical suicide that happened six years prior. Then, no more than a week later, a freshman boy also decided to kill himself. Forever engrained in our brains is the images of these boys who we grew up with and thought we knew, but I guess we didn’t. Countless others attempted and failed, but not the father of the freshman boy who succeeded in taking his life too. I was an art major who knew of many kids who were self-mutilating already and I worried that I might lose them. Suicide was becoming contagious and an epidemic of my own reality. Time passed and sure enough, another one bites the dust: a beautiful, blonde haired and creative girl. The community I once knew to be a safe-haven was suddenly losing its Light.

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Kate Melendez

Every time I contemplated committing this act, I thought about the living. I thought about the hurt and emptiness on the faces of the parents left on this Earth without their children. What were they to do? Rise above? I could not and would not do that to my Mother and Father. I still had a lot of Love inside me waiting to explode and my Light was dim, but it was not out. I made my decision: I was going to get better.

Kate Melendez

I struggled but I made it out alive. I attended an outpatient program for about a month, found an amazing therapist, and actually returned to school. However, I did not stay long because my life took a turn. See, I wanted to get better and beat my depression but I did not stop there. I began to create and follow a new Life Path towards wellness, love, happiness, and spirituality. As I healed, using the skills I learned through DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) and the conversations I had with loved ones, I started to discover who I was.

I began to discover my talents in a new way. I always could draw and paint and I even knew that art should always have a message, but things started to change in me. I had the art, I had the messages, but I was closed off to a whole world that I never knew existed. Trust me, I was always a believer but I was not aware of all that was around me. I began to get more in touch with my spirit side and started to follow signs and symbols, which definitely scared those around me. I went from being a depressed slug to an over energetic, spiritual butterfly. So, I ended up having what I believe to be my Spiritual Awakening, which unfortunately led to my permanent leave from school.

I felt like I was broken again. Still a butterfly, but with broken wings. Is it possible that my metamorphosis was not complete? I’d say so. It is in this time that I came across the film: Time Is Art. I remember watching it for the first time and feeling so much emotion and excitement and joy because FINALLY I had found my people. Finally, I had found a community of individuals who knew exactly what I was experiencing. This film opened my eyes to the information that I had been craving to learn. It opened my mind to endless possibilities and hope. And most importantly, this film was done well! I knew that whoever was behind this film was thinking, was conscious, was aware, and most importantly, they were talented. This film is full of ART! Art in the way that I’ve been waiting to see it and it transformed my whole Being.

jose arguelles, time is art

I created these illustrations for my book inspired by the film, ‘Time is Art’, to show how Time really is Art, which is an idea that stems from author and visionary philosopher, Jose Arguelles. My art represents “My Time” and “My Time” is measured by my experiences and lessons learned. “My Time” is not a compilation of seconds, minutes, hours, classes taken, degrees obtained, money saved… no, “My Time” can only be valued or observed through the art that I make each day. My Art is a direct reflection of my progress and how I have changed and continue to change. As I grow, I will continue to make art each day in order to capture each moment because “My Time” is Right Now.