Thursday, May 19, 2016

Lately

Lately I've had the desire to blog, and the time to blog, and a bunch of products to review (ask me about that eyeshadow palette I bought in August), but that combination hasn't quite translated into actual blogging. The main culprit is what I like to call "depression brain," which tells me a lot of things, none of them grounded in reality. It tells me that my posts aren't worth writing if they're not absolutely perfect, and that no one will care about them if they're brief, straightforward product reviews. It tells me that staring vacantly at the internet for two hours while putting off academic work is better than spending those two hours doing something I actively want to do. It tells me that my makeup technique sucks and I'd better not post anything until I can achieve an Instagram-level halo eye with ten different shadows, never mind that I prefer simple, undone-looking makeup. It tells me that my interest in makeup is grounded in shallow materialism, not creativity or self-expression. Worst of all, it tells me that if I mention these difficulties in a post, I'd better give up any hope of an academic job because All the Search Committees will magically find my obscure, anonymous blog on which I've never even mentioned where I live or go to school. One of the worst parts of depression is the feeling that everything will fall to pieces if you make one wrong move, coupled with the suspicion that you've made that move already.

This is not exactly my first bout of depression, though, so I know what I can do to help myself while I wait for life to start feeling less shitty. And one thing that always seems to help me is making concrete plans. In this post, I want to work out a tentative blogging schedule for the next little while. I leave for the UK in two weeks, and there are seven (!) products that I'd like to review before then. All of them are lip products, because I have a problem:

Clockwise from top: NYX Butter Gloss in Tiramisu, Bite Amuse Bouche in Radish, Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss in 765, Bite Amuse Bouche in Lavender Jam, Urban Decay Revolution Lipgloss in Scandal, Too Cool for School Milk Tint in Milky Lavender, OCC Stained Gloss in Dune.

I keep putting off discussing these products, convinced that I can't make my reviews "good enough"  (whatever that means) right now, and that I need to wait indefinitely for some thunderbolt of inspiration. But you know what? It's just makeup. It's just fucking makeup. I don't have to live up to my makeup or do it justice; it's a bunch of tinted goo, and it's mine to do with as I please. So, in the next two weeks, I'm going to write a series of short, direct, low-pressure reviews. Four posts in total, because I can group together the two nude glosses and the three pink deluxe samples (why are deluxe lip samples always pink?). If I'm inspired to write more, that's great, but I won't expect anything from myself beyond description and discussion. I don't mind reading no-frills reviews from bloggers I like, so why should I be so reluctant to write them? I'm hopeful that once I reestablish a regular posting schedule, I'll start feeling like I deserve to devote time to my blog and other things I love. Because I do, right? Right.

26 comments:

  1. Hi, I'm a long time reader of your blog and a fellow academic with depression. During bad bouts, I've blown exams, put off essays, and destroyed relationships with friends and loved ones. I've had depression since I was a child and it cycles in and out of my life, and every time it comes back I try to make sure that it leaves with most of me intact. Your blog posts always cheer me up. During my depressive periods, I feel too uncomfortable to wear makeup or do anything that involves presenting myself to the outside world. However, I can always appreciate your sense of humour and your taste in things that I find interesting (history, literature, and makeup) I hope that things look up for you soon :)

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    1. Academia and depression go together like gin and tonic, don't they? (First combination that came to mind, since I had a g&t last night.) I've had many discussions with friends about the chicken-and-egg dynamic at work here: does the academy attract people who are prone to depression, or does it exacerbate depressive tendencies? (Probably both, is the conclusion we usually reach.) I'm so happy to hear that my posts can cheer you up; sometimes I ask myself why I blog, and what I keep coming back to is my desire to provide diversion for others and myself, because diversion is good and valuable. One of the ways in which academia exacerbates depression, at least here in the US, is by sending the message that if you're not thinking about your work ALL THE TIME you're doing something wrong. And no one can live like that! It's just not possible.

      Anyway, thanks for the support. It means a lot. Best wishes to you as well. <3

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  2. Like the last commenter said, your posts always make me happy. I love your long posts (which clearly have had a lot of effort and planning put into them) but your excellent taste in makeup and writing style are still present in shorter posts and that's great too :)

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    1. That's good to hear! I put a lot of pressure on myself to write long posts because I think there's no point in maintaining yet another swatch-and-review blog, but I'm glad my short posts keep your interest as well. I suspect I'll have more mental space for long posts once the semester is well and truly over (I have to spend hours in a basement grading final exams today...).

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  3. I look forward to your posts, always -- long ones, short ones, all of it! I hope things will eventually get better! :)

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    1. Thank you! I have no doubt they will. :)

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  4. I completely understand, depression is an evil devil. I always look forward to your posts though, they're just fun to read whether they're really long or super short.

    Also, I've been eying Dune for a looooooooong time and am looking forward to see what you think of it.

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    1. I'm planning to post the review of the nude glosses first, actually! Spoiler: Dune isn't the layering gloss I thought it would be (too viscous for that), but it's so pretty on its own. For $5, you kind of can't go wrong.

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  5. Hang in there! I also love your posts whatever length they may be. This bout of depression will pass soon, hopefully. Keep wearing make-up! Self-care is my way of fighting back when the evil D hits. Eileen

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    1. I've actually been feeling much better in the last couple of days. I think writing out my thoughts in this post helped! And yes, doing my makeup is something that makes me look forward to getting out of bed on particularly bad mornings.

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  6. Be kind to yourself. I like whatever posts you want to put up - this is, after all, your space to play.

    Deluxe lip samples are always pink because someone probably got it into their head that pinks are the least offensive colour family.

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    1. It's at times like this when I'm glad I've insisted on keeping my blog a hobby and haven't taken steps to monetize it or turn it into a career. No disrespect to people who choose to do that, but it's so important for me to have, as you say, a space to play with writing.

      I wish deluxe samples were purple as a rule. When I become Supreme Dictatrix of Sephora...

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  7. From another academic - I read your blog regularly, and not just for diversion. I think make-up is a valuable form of self expression, even when it's simple and *undone*. It is really thinking about make-up -colour, material, texture, the endless permutations of pairing and application, let alone context and signification- that makes it an expressive labour, and not just the actual paint on the face itself. I tend to have bouts of guilt about looking at a lot of makeup blog posts or spending time at Sephora when I'm depressed - but then I discovered part of it was lacking the confidence in my studio work from time to time (I'm an artist and art academic... yeah we exist) and avoiding it, yet really feeling the pull of doing some kind of sensory labour.

    You're awesome. And if I was in a hiring committee, discovering this blog would only make you more hireable. I know not everybody will think like that, but then everybody has a different opinion all the time anyway.

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    1. "Expressive labour" is such a great way to put it. When I'm depressed, it's harder for me to put in the work of experimentation, but today I did a monochrome lavender eye based on a Jill Stuart look I'd seen, and it made me so happy to rediscover that sense of play. I like buying new stuff, of course, but what really gives me a sense of fulfillment is figuring out new ways to use products I've had for a while.

      And thank you! There's a lot of talk in academia about mental illness in the abstract (disability studies and all that), yet it's usually from a neurotypical perspective. Surprisingly few people are willing to admit to HAVING a mental illness. I hope that changes with time.

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  8. Oof, friend, I know this feeling all too well. Living at home, working at home, and preparing to start a doctorate in a field I never formally studied has got me with some bad imposter syndrome. Since I started applications in August I've been looking forward to the magical time in the future when my anxieties will go on break.. but that just won't happen. I'm trying to realize that I can read a lot of books between now and when classes start, and I will still have to learn a fuckload at once, but that's okay, and I shouldn't try to funnel my entire energies into "being prepared" because it utterly backfires. Depression brain gives us such a warped sense of what is valuable and forces doubts on how we value ourselves.

    Yours is my favorite blog and I always look forward to new AB posts. I'm can't wait to read your thoughts on Lavender Jam. Also, just as a mention, I'll be passing through the Northeast on a semi-East Coast farewell tour/roadtrip to a wedding in mid-late June, so if you're around..

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    1. Nooo, I'm going to be in the UK until July 2! D: I would have loved to meet you in person. One day!

      Working from home every day is rough. Some people are able to do it with no problem (my roommate, for instance), but I'm definitely not one of those people, so I can understand how you're feeling right now. And don't worry about cramming in a bunch of reading before your program starts! Unless you've received concrete reading assignments, it's hard to know which books will benefit YOU and YOUR work until you're actually doing the work, you know?

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  9. Fellow depressive here. Love your blog, I always look forward to reading it. You have a great "voice" and I really enjoy it. Be kind to yourself as much as you can, and know that you are not alone. Put up whatever damn posts you feel like writing. I guarantee I will read them with appreciation and as much enthusiasm as a mopey, sweatpants-clad, hiding under the covers beauty lover can manage right now! Keep the faith, this too shall pass.

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    1. Thanks so much! I don't know why it's so hard to convince myself to do what makes me happy, but sometimes it just is. Best wishes to you too! Nothing wrong with sweatpants, though I prefer extra-stretchy leggings myself...

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  10. Dear AB, your first paragraph struck me deep for several reasons. The first because that is exactly how I feel whenever depression clangs back into my life. I ignore everything beautiful and pleasurable in my life. I refuse to read books, my most favorite thing to do in life, because I am too stupid to understand literature. I refuse to put on makeup and make myself presentable even though I know it will cheer me up. I mean, why? My makeup skills suck. Last month, depression came back for a couple of days. I missed a deadline on something minor at work and my depression brain tells me exactly what you wrote: "everything will fall to pieces if you make one wrong move, coupled with the suspicion that you've made that move already." I panicked and the catastrophic thinking began: I missed this deadline, what should I do? What should I do? I ended up doing nothing but stare at my computer the whole day incapable of doing anything productive and making myself physically sick.

    "One of the worst parts of depression is the feeling that everything will fall to pieces if you make one wrong move, coupled with the suspicion that you've made that move already" -- I've tried writing about how depression makes me feel and you've hit the nail on the head. This. This is exactly it.

    But there's a more positive reason why this post struck a chord with me. Reading your posts, I feel like we have so many things in common, which makes me feel like we could be friends in real life. I was also an English major who wore no makeup until my last years of college. But when I fell, I fell hard. I'm more of an enthusiast, rather than an expert -- just like you. Lipsticks are my main makeup obsession. We grew up academic nerds. I'm an INFJ also. Knowing you have depression also? It makes me feel ever more connected to you, despite being separated by the Pacific Ocean.

    Please accept my thoughts for your well being. I love your blog and love your writing voice. I don't care whether your posts are long or short -- your voice manifests itself in your posts anyway.

    I do hope you don't find this comment creepily invasive. Well, it definitely is rambly. I guess what I really want to say is do whatever you can to take care of yourself and that your blog brings joy and happiness to places you don't expect.

    Sending you love and care!

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    1. Creepily invasive? Hardly! Nothing makes me happier than knowing that my writing has struck a chord with someone. Maybe one day we can meet in person! And yes, the enthusiast vs. expert distinction is important to me--I've never claimed to be an expert, so I don't have to pressure myself into achieving expert-level application when I really just want to play with color. There's something really freeing about embracing one's own amateur status (which is also why I kept up ballet for so long, and why I'm doing yoga now).

      Ugh, small mistakes seem so huge when you're depressed. I'm very familiar with that feeling of EVERYTHING IS TOTALLY FUCKED AND IRREPARABLE after I've slipped up in some trivial way. I'm learning gradually that it really is okay to have the same tolerance for my own mistakes that I have for other people's. Few mistakes are truly unfixable.

      <333

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  11. You've put into words that weird feeling I experience more than I would like to admit. That weird feeling almost makes me stop blogging, but then I came to the conclusion that everyone is different and unique and even it may sound a cliché, we have to embrace that. For example, I discovered your blog tonight and this is the second comment I left you in less that 5min because I really like your blogging style: honest, fun and relatable.
    With the time I've also learned that mistakes are ok sometimes,and that we are not perfect.
    Bisous!

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you could relate to this post. I think it's important to think of your blog as a hobby and not force yourself to post a certain number of times per week (or month, or whatever) if you're not feeling it.

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  12. I've not had a depressive episode for at least a year now, but I can relate ever so much to what you've said in this post re: blogging. I think my depression was related to perfectionism and the ridiculous standards I set up for myself, and oftentimes my goals become all or nothing - if I can't do it perfectly, why do it at all? So I sit there with all of these post ideas and at least twenty things I want to actively review and write up schedules but none of it comes to fruition because I think none of my content is good enough. This kind of thinking also explains why I'm no longer an academic or scientist, because I took so much of that work on a very personal level and it was very much tied up with my ego. I was so envious of my colleagues and friends who would just get on with things and get it done without endless internal debate/self-flagellation. I had zero resilience!

    For what it's worth, I would love to read short and no-frills posts from you because even your short no-frills posts will blow the majority out the water ;) I hope you feel better soon, and hit me up if you're in London and want to check out the Nyx stand in Boots Picadilly Circus with me! Or whatever else strikes your fancy.

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    1. This episode (which started at the beginning of this year and has continued off and on since then) was my first in about a year, so it took me by surprise. Even now, I'll have a few good days and then start thinking I'm all better, and get totally thrown off when the depression returns abruptly. It's so frustrating!

      Since starting grad school, I've become a lot better at separating my ego from my academic work, but it was VERY hard until, say, two years ago. I'm certainly not free from self-flagellation now, but I've gradually found myself putting setbacks in perspective and focusing on what I'm doing right. Therapy has helped a lot with this. Oddly enough, going on the job market has helped as well: I've received so many rejections at this point that I'm (usually!) capable of deleting the newest one from my inbox and going about my day.

      I am indeed going to be in London for part of June! My boyfriend's parents and sister are coming for about a week, so we'll be spending a lot of time with them, but I'm sure I'll be able to hang out with you as well.

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  13. Like a lot of people here, I can relate all too well. Depression is no joke. I hope that you're feeling better this week. Today I'm just going to spit on that "not good enough" nag, apply to a job I don't feel qualified for, and do a pedicure for the first time in over a year. Be good to yourself! <3

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    1. I've been feeling better, yes! It helps that the nasty cold weather has finally vanished (replaced immediately with nasty hot weather, but at least it's a change). Good luck with job applications! It's so exciting to see you pursuing your publishing career.

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