Eight months after my dad passed away suddenly, and six months after my father-in-law died from cancer, I was diagnosed with clinical depression.
My doctor told me that if I wanted to start working on my recovery, talk therapy and medication was a must. So I decided to leave my job and start treatment while watching my kids grow. I took a sabbath year.
Painting was a hobby that allowed me to keep my mind off of things that made me sad during my grieving process. It allows me to be creative in the comfort of my home, where I can still watch my children, prepare meals, clean my house and create wonderful art at the same time.
I used to work in IT project management. By the time I was diagnosed with clinical depression, I was leading over 17 projects, including 3 major projects (eCommerce website, including other software pieces of the same website) — which meant that I was very stressed.
I also have a eighteen-month-old and a four-year-old, both in different daycare facilities, where I would pick them up after work every day. At that time, my husband was still the breadwinner of the household; my salary was very good, but we knew we could survive with his salary, accounting for the fact that I could watch my kids instead of placing them in daycare.
Major changes came for the whole family when my daughter was diagnosed with autism. We have adjusted our lives to meet her needs. Our social circle has narrowed significantly, because my daughter’s sensorial processing and social-emotional development makes it difficult for her to communicate with other children and adults.
She does not like to go to restaurants or loud places at all. Nor does she enjoy birthday parties or celebrations where there is music, laughter and clapping. She is also taking ABA therapy 7 days a week, so I have to be available every afternoon to drop her off and pick her up from the autism center.
She rides the school bus, so I have to pick up my son from another school and rush home to wait for her, then take her to therapy shortly afterward.
After this, I come home and help my son to do his homework. He does have ADHD, so it’s another challenge, since I have to spend at least a couple of hours working on his math and reading, then prepare dinner and go pick up my daughter.
Some would rather have the stress of two working parents for more financial security; but the truth is, the more you make, the more you spend. Money has been very tight at times, but I do not regret leaving my job for my children, at all.
I used to buy expensive shoes and purses (to be honest, I don’t miss them). I used to color my hair every 2 months. I used to have to dress business casual and be ready for meetings every morning, to wear good makeup and have nice, very neat nails. It’s not that I don’t enjoy getting pampered — it’s that now I have some freedom.
I still think I will go back to IT sooner than later; this phase will pass. My daughter will be able to communicate and adjust to the world, and when that day comes I would be able to start doing project management again. But right now I’m focusing on my shop and my art, as well as being available to meet my daughter’s special needs.
I created a Facebook Page to share my pieces, and was surprised at how much positive feedback it received! Family and friends have kept praising my work, so for harvest season 2017, I decided to create my first commercial collection as gifts for friends and family to display at their homes or offices.
Painting has allowed me to relax, and to spend the time my kids are in school doing something positive and fulfilling. It lets me take advantage of the solitude and quietness of the house. It also helps me grow creatively, since I can research and combine colors to come up with new collections for my shop every holiday season. Painting is more than a hobby to me: right now it’s my inspiration to give the world something unique through my original centerpieces, and to add beauty to homes, offices, and events.
You can support Carla’s small business here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/artndecorbycarla