Depression and Creativity
The Depression Part
I’ve felt depressed lately.
Sad. Lethargic. Numb. Angry. Frustrated. Disinterested. Dark view of life. No hope. Blech.
I’ve blogged about depression before. And I’ve blogged about one of the main triggers of depression for me: not exercising my creativity.
When I realized that I was depressed, I said to several people who love me, “Hey, I’m depressed.” NOTE: Telling loving people that you’re depressed is helpful in starting the process of getting out of the depression.
Those several people who love me replied, “Hey, we’re not thrilled about this. Do you know why you’re depressed and/or how we can help?”
This was an excellent response for two reasons.
One, it let me know I’m not alone in this.
Two, it helped me figure out how to handle this.
You see, I had to answer them as follows: “There’s nothing that you can do, really. I have a baby whom I love dearly and deeply. I don’t resent her or begrudge her the time I spend with her. But the fact remains that when I’m taking care of her, I’m not writing. And when I do have time to write, I’m so exhausted that I fall asleep at the computer. There’s nothing anyone can do, really, to ‘fix’ this situation (which isn’t actually broken).
“However, having this conversation with you makes me focus on ways I can exercise my creativity in writing without sacrificing my daughter’s needs. So thank you for talking with me about this. That helped.”
The Creative Part, Pt. 1
And then I went and wrote a blog post, and I felt better. And then I invented a recipe for almond chicken, and while cooking doesn’t do a lot for me, it’s still a creative task, so I felt better after completing that, too. And then I reorganized two rooms and a closet, and the exercise in creativity required for that gargantuan task was a humdinger of a creative exercise, lemme tell ya. And then I made up a song about giraffes for my daughter and videoed myself singing it. After that, I was practically glowing.
So. I’ve felt depressed lately. But I’m on my way back up.
I still feel a ton of frustration that I nod off every time I sit down to continue my WIP (Elevator People). But at least I’m doing little creative things here and there. I think I just needed a reminder not to neglect that part of myself — and not to let exhaustion fool me into thinking I don’t have time for that part of myself.
After all…crippled, demented, or crushed: still, I will create.
The Creative Part, Pt. 2
And then, my friend J.T. posted the following on his Facebook status, and I thought it was utterly brilliant:
“Art is not about talent or skill. Art is about you. Spending time with you, getting to know you. Seeing parts of yourself that you love, some that you hate, but mostly parts that scare the very breath from your lungs. Art is not about technique or style. Art is learning who you are, and being brave enough to show the world. You can’t be bad at art, unless you are simply afraid to try. Art is a terrifying pursuit, because there is nothing more frightening than our own selves.”
~J.T. Hackett, artist
I’ll be blogging about J.T.’s ideas more in the near future. But for now, here’s how I’m relating his words to my depression:
I need to know who I am.
When I don’t know who I am, I get depressed.
When I am not creating, I am not spending time with me, not getting to know me.
When I am not creating, I am not seeing myself fully.
When I am not creating, I forget who I am.
When I forget who I am, I get depressed.
I could flesh this out a bit more, but I think it suffices for my current purposes. More than ever, I see the truth in my belief that I am created to create. To dig more deeply: I am created to get to know exactly who I am. If I am not doing art, I am not getting to know who I am.
If I am not doing art, I am neglecting a main purpose for which I was created.
No wonder that sets me adrift.
I am finding my anchor again.
You are not alone.
You are loved.
You are an inspiration.
Thank you, Laurie. That means a lot to me — more than I can put into words. And your timing was perfect. : )
Love and hugs,
thanks for sharing. as usual, you put the feelings after the arrival of a child well into words. keep creating however you can.
I will, Amanda — and thank you for the encouragement, even as you’re in the throes of your own new challenges! Kiss that sweet, tiny face for me. : )
Perfect timing! I’ve realized this about myself but you and your fellow friend put my thinking into eloquent writing!
I think creating brings us closer to our Creator. Painting for me has a meditative calming effect just like my devotional time.
I wish I had known this about myself when I had my daughter – That and oatstraw tincture (yeah us herbalists like our herbs!).
Okay, what is oakstraw tincture, and what does it do? I’m not an herbalist, but part of me is very crunchy and interested. ; )
Mary, what you’re saying really resonates with me. I recently read a quote from artist Hugh MacLeod, who said, “When you create, you experience the divinity.” (There’s another whole blog post I’m pondering around that quote!)
Hugh leaves it up to the individual to define “divinity” — but for me, it certainly means that creating strengthens my bond with the Creator. Again and again, I find my “motto” reaffirmed: that I’m created to create.
I’m glad this was perfect timing for you! Thank you so much for dropping by to visit. : )