Monday, April 1, 2019

Achievements & Depression

Two years ago today, I was recognized as a Peer in the SCA, and elevated to the Order of the Laurel. It was a goal I had been working toward for around 10 years. The vigil and elevation were amazing experiences. The scroll, gifts, and regalia that were crafted by my friends & my lady are dear treasures that have hundreds of hours of labor and love poured into them. I'm still overwhelmed by the generosity that exists within the SCA, and proud to be a part of it.

Despite achieving this recognition, I wasn't truly happy. I of course had happy moments. But overall, the last couple of years have been a struggle. I hit the bottom of a pretty deep depression about a year ago. With the help of therapy, medication, and a very understanding wife, I've slowly been creeping my way out of that hole.

Somewhere in my brain, the formula "accomplishments = happiness" exists, or at least existed. I don't know if it was actually being recognized as a Laurel that broke that equation, or more likely, such a large accomplishment without a lasting commensurate level of happiness showed me how that equation was already broken.

I do still get some happiness from completing projects, but it has become fleeting. Which has totally destroyed my motivation. When I do get off my butt to try to get something done, any mistakes or flaws or challenges during the process really make me question myself and why I'm bothering spending my limited energy on this project. This doesn't just apply to SCA projects, but also to getting even routine things done at home, and sometimes even work!

Add in all the other aspects of modern life - our current political climate, stress at work, all of the tasks one needs to accomplish as an adult in society, being out of shape and sore, etc. - and I understand why my motivation is lacking. What I don't yet know is how to get it back.

I have a suspicion that new motivation might come from the feeling of helping others, but I'm not sure. The thought came from a couple recent situations, and it's one I'll surely explore further in my therapy sessions.

I'm not sure exactly what my goals are in sharing this. I know I want other successful people in the SCA who struggle with depression to know that they are not alone. I know I want other people with depression and other mental health issues that I'm an ally and they are safe sharing their own struggles with me. I'd love to hear about others working through similar struggles, and what has worked for them.

Thanks for reading. -Alexandre


  1. I completely feel you on this. I could have easily written this entire post. I was elevated and fell apart. I've been getting help for a bit over a year but the struggle is real. I placed too much emphasis on completing projects hoping that would bring joy. I'm still a maker of things but far less these days. The SCA is a great outlet for that need to create but a struggle as well. I still hoe to find a balance some day and maybe rejoin lost friends in the society.

    1. Best of luck on finding your balance as well. I'm not happy others find themselves in the same place, but it does sort of help to know that I'm not unique in my struggles.

  2. Wonderful words. I still re-read my Pelican book to reassure myself that I was worthy enough to be elevated.

  3. In addition to therapy and medication, I've found being gentle with yourself is really important. If all you do some days is take a nap, that's ok. Having a good self-care routine can be really helpful too, whatever that looks like to you. For me, bubble baths, hot tea, walks, petting my cats, and cleaning the house make me feel a lot better.

    In regards to peerage, I am not a peer, but have watched peers burn out after elevation. I think elevation forces a big jolt to your motivation. You work towards an external goal for so long, that after you get there, it can feel like "what's left?". I think getting back in touch with the original reasons you enjoyed the hobby can be helpful, by doing things just for fun. Do whatever makes you feel excited, even if that's not SCA things right now. Working towards a peerage can be hugely draining, and you have to re-fill the well of enthusiasm and energy. A peer once told me her favorite PLQ is balance, and that stuck with me.

    Also, long time admirer, first time commenter :) Your blog has been a huge source of inspiration for me, and I refer new calligraphers to it all the time. Thank you for putting this out there!

    1. Thank you. I'm working on the self-care. I'm working on being able to accept that not "accomplishing" anything of "substance" during a day, and instead relaxing, napping, playing a game, etc. is good. I'm trying to change that mindset around needing to accomplish things, and/or think of self-care as an accomplishment in its own right.

      Thank you for commenting. I'm really glad to hear my posts have been helpful for you.

      Your reply has been helpful to me as well.

    2. I'm glad it was helpful. It can be so challenging to learn to value your own needs and wants, especially in a society that values achievement so highly, and even more especially in a volunteer organization where there is always more to be done. But you can't continually give to others if you don't take time to recharge and nurture yourself. Really self-care can be a generous act, by making sure you have something to give. I've found yoga actually very helpful in teaching patience and acceptance of yourself.

      Good luck to you in your journey! I hope you find your joy again.

      (And sorry! Responded to the wrong comment at first.)

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