Beth Meadows

There's nothing to be afraid of

"L'abri", "art", "children's book", "depression", "drawing"B1 Comment
I didn't sleep very well last night. I'm with my family in Colorado for the week, and I am the lucky one that has had to change beds three times since I've been here (I'm the youngest. It's OK).

Last night, I finally had to share a room, but my roommate's snores were loud enough to penetrate through my earplugs, so I dragged my sheets and blankets out to the couch.

I still couldn't fall asleep which made me think of this drawing I did a while ago.

There's nothing to be afraid of
graphite, marker, colored pencil, ink, and varnish on paper
about 3'x4'

I can't remember exactly when it started, but there was a time when I would wake up every single morning and lie awake in bed for hours before falling back asleep around 7. This was different than my experience last night where my lack of sleep was a result of being in an unfamiliar, somewhat uncomfortable place. It was anxiety that used to wake me up.

There are more details surrounding why this was going on, but it's a story too long to tell now. Looking back, I realize I was in state of increasing depression, but for many reasons, would not call it that. Instead, I thought I could will whatever was going on away, and I believed that it was my fault I couldn't sleep because of the way I was, that I was doing something wrong during daylight hours to deserve this. If I could make myself a better person, I would sleep. I know now, this only made my anxieties worse.

I remember all of this so clearly in 2007, after just graduating from college and living alone for the first time. It was agonizing, and in the early fall of that year, I named what was going on depression, and decided in October to go to L'abri in Switzerland to finally "work on it."

It's interesting to me to look at the above drawing and see how long I let myself live like that. I made the drawing about waking up at night in a state of panic (see the sillhouette of the monster in the closet) and how it was impossible to ease my thoughts at that time of the morning, and how merely waking up for the day around 8 or 9 am alleviated most of the trauma. I named it There's nothing to be afraid of because, even then, I knew my anxieties and fears were exaggerated. They weren't real, and trying to fight them off in the darkest hours of night was pointless.

Two years later in October 2007, I flew to Switzerland to stay at L'abri. Fighting off my fears there was anything but pointless. I decided to face everything that was going on and fight it to it's death, learning that fighting really meant giving up. I left there seven weeks later with the most clarity and insight I had ever had up to that point. I knew I still had a long road ahead, but I was granted a huge victory there.

A few weeks into my stay there, I went to bed one night on the top bunk in the same room as three other girls in Chalet Bellevue, and I slept through the night for the first time in years.


More on the drawing: 

The painting above the bed is from a page in Goodnight Moon, the pillow is the pattern from the bedspread in Popcorn, Wes Clanton took the photo that I used for this drawing, and it is of me in my bed from childhood that I used while I lived in Shelbourne Towers. I chose to make the bed a similar green as the pipes in Super Mario Brothers. The monster is actually from an old children's book where a dog thinks he's a lion. I can't think of the name of the book at the moment, but he is also in this screenprint I made.

He's actually very cute.