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Meet Courtney Marcilliat

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney Marcilliat.

Courtney, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
About a decade ago I finished film school and moved out to LA with my closest friends. I’m a Southern transplant from Florida, which, I am happy to report, is actually as weird as everyone says it is. I jumped right into chasing my goal of being a film editor. I was making strides in my field, exploring a new city, and surrounded by people that loved me — but I couldn’t feel any of it.

For all of my adult life, I have struggled with depression and a grab bag of other mental and physical illnesses that all feed into each other. It was a real chicken and the egg situation. I half-heartedly tried different medications from my general physician and searched for other ways to help my depression. Exercise, therapy, staying organized, going out, staying in, getting sunshine — nothing made a dent. I spent years on end being numb or sad and forgetting what it felt like to be normal. I had accepted that this was just how it was going to be forever.

Two long-term relationships later and working full time as an editor, I was having to live with myself, on my own, for the first time. I didn’t have to keep up appearances for anyone else, so I went deeper into my depression. I hadn’t found my rock bottom yet, but I was close and ready to make another effort. I went to an actual psychologist for the first time (always go to an actual psych) who worked with me to find the medications that helped to lift a little of the darkness. I was still depressed, but I was able to breathe a bit more, to be productive, to make an effort, and to care about myself again. This is when I found woodworking.

I had zero carpentry skills, but my father is a builder, and I’ve watched and helped him throughout my childhood. Armed with too few tools, little actual woodworking knowledge, and a tiny studio apartment and balcony, I started building. They were small things at first, like keepsake boxes, and I then quickly moved on to replacing all my cheap Ikea furniture with builds of my own. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was having a blast. Woodworking provided creativity outside of work, critical thinking, and tangible results that I could hold and show off. It gave my mind something else to do and care about other than being depressed. I felt happy. My weekends quickly became filled with sawdust, and everything I built was wildly imperfect. Still, I would look around my apartment and see the pieces I made and would be filled with the joy of accomplishment. This was a very foreign feeling for me, and I was shocked. Shocked to be feeling anything at all.

Woodworking ended up being the perfect metaphor for how to deal with my depression. With building you can’t rush it, can’t cut corners. It’s all a process that has to be broken down into one step at a time. I’ve branched out into making furniture for my friends, which brought another level of happiness. Today, I’ve built side tables, shelves, pet beds, human beds, bars, and bookends. I stretch my studio apartment to its limits, and I’m amazed I haven’t been kicked out of my place for power tools on my third-floor balcony. But the best part is I’m just getting started.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
In my career as an editor, I’m most proud of watching a film I cut premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. As a woodworker, I’m most proud of my bed and headboard. They truly came out the way I envisioned them, and building a full-size bed in a studio apartment was a feat.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Autumn Eakin, Courtney Coles

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