I am Deborah Stevenson, and I am a painter and I teach art. I was first diagnosed with depression in 1982.
So, it first came about that I was experiencing depression and I didn't realize that I was really unhappy and my mood was very erratic.
I would get upset easily and I felt pretty helpless about things.
And, finally went to see somebody for therapy and my therapist thought I was having depression that could be treated.
She connected me up with somebody who said, we can treat this with medication, and that was in 1982.
When I went to a doctor and the doctor said, you have depression and we can treat this, something in me just felt so relieved and so right that this was true.
But it was still not sort of on the public radar and people wouldn't want to really accept it. And I felt inhibited about talking about it.
Well, when it got into the media, then people were starting to accept it. I don't have a shame about it, but that's because of the changes in me, not so much the changes in other people.
One of the things, when I think about things in the past that have disrupted things for me, they often have to do with fear and anger and things that get me really scared or angry or on the defensive.
I can know that I'll get irritated in traffic for example. . .So I can literally do things like put on music. It's really a way that can counter at against triggers that have to do with irritability and anger.
And if I can remember to do that it can really help me. But sometimes the trick is remembering.
So on a day-to-day basis the ways that I can do things to help myself are very, very simple.
Getting up at a regular time, taking a shower first thing in the morning, taking the dog outside for a walk. . . Getting outside is a huge thing–being around other people.
Even if I am only interacting with them just to say hello or whatever, it's just enough to . . .sort of crack the egg and have me out there.
I was living in Baltimore for several years --- I was feeling more-and-more frustrated with my art and with teaching.
I lived in a house and I had my studio and it was possible for me to go days without seeing another person. That felt like I was in a box that was getting smaller-and-smaller around me.
My daughter lives up here and I had reason to come up because I wanted to see things in New York. And every time I would come up here, I would feel enlivened and connected to the world again.
And the thing about being in New York when every time I would come up here, there were people everywhere coming from every direction,
and it was incredibly reassuring to be around that many of my own species.
I see my daughter a couple of times a week. She works here and I see her, I can go into the city and see her.
We can stay in touch with texting or just sort of closer, and without being in each other's hair. And I have a friend in Seattle and we get on the computers with each other
and it's early morning for him and it's mid-morning for me and we just sort of routinely check-in with each other through seeing each other on the computer on Skype.
How are you?
I'm good, I'm good.
Well, in talking about art, -- it's something that is sort of an organic thing for me.
And really has to do with just sort of giving myself a sense of productive pleasure that I can see. I really like using my hands, I really like making things.
It just completely stops the part of my head that is going to be like a grinding, grinding, grinding like a pepper mill.
It's always been true. So the activity of it, the sound of it, the mechanics of it for me– I paint in oil there is a lot of stuff to do and pay attention to and it's like cooking.
You are moving this, you are opening this, you are closing this, you are checking this. I feel very settled, I feel settled when I finish. There's something that is very calming about doing it.