Yup, me too.
It took me a long time to admit I live with depression. Up until last year I could convince myself it was moodiness, or just having a bad day.
Even if you don't live with depression, being a creative person is a roller-coaster. You have awesome days, when the Muse sits on your shoulder and whispers masterpieces onto your retina screen. You have pretty good days, where with a bit of struggle you make something worth keeping. And you have shit days, where you feel completely worn down and useless by lunch.
That may not be exactly what it's like for you, but you get the vibe.
In my case, I get depressed when I'm not seeing results as quickly as I'd like to.
When that happens, it's easy to question the validity of my path, my purpose. I get the desire to burn it down and start over. I flay wildly, looking for the 'right thing'.
Looking back now, I've struggled with it for a while.
Same thoughts, different day
Tell me if this happens to you:
You start on a new project or venture. It's exciting - you're stoked about it. It feels like the 'right thing' for you to be doing. FINALLY!
Then you hit your first major roadblock, and.... well.... you give up.
Or maybe you don't even hit a roadblock. You just lose interest. Or you see someone doing it better than you.
So you quit. And then you beat yourself up for quitting, or for starting in the first place.
"Why do I even bother? I can't do it! I can't - do - ANYTHING."
Or you start thinking ahead of yourself, thinking about all the stuff you're going to have to do down the road (or all the options you have), and before you know it you're completely overwhelmed.
Or maybe you're never truly satisfied with what you're doing. Always thinking that whatever you're doing, it's not quite 'good enough'.
When I'm feeling depressed, I'll often deal with those situations all at once.
And those feelings, those thoughts, have continuously lead me astray since I started marketing 10 years ago.
It's been extremely difficult.
But some things are starting to change.
Now, I accept that I'm going to have bad mornings, bad days even. And I'm no longer searching for the 'right thing' to do.
Because in truth, there is no 'right thing'. There's only YOUR thing. There's only the things that give you joy... those are the Right Things.
And if you're doing Your Thing, the Right Thing, then all you have to do is cope with the momentary negative thoughts and feelings. Put all judgements about your work and your worth on hold, and deal with the problem at hand.
The problem isn't you, or your work. The problem is persistent negative thoughts.
And if there's a good thing about negative thoughts, it's that they CAN be dealt with.
Because no matter where your negative thoughts come from, they are no more than that - thoughts.
And while thoughts can be powerful, and feel like a freight train when they gather steam, they don't have to hold power over you.
Now, I'm not a doctor, and I don't play one on TV, so don't take any of this as medical advice, OK?
But here's what I've learned about my own depression, and maybe it can help you with your creative and personal process... when you're feeling low or off your game.
What works for me
First, stop lying around: Get out of your head, and into your body. I know, it's the last thing you want to do right now, but it's the quickest way to change your mental state. Take a walk, jump around your room, do some yoga or breakdancing - doesn't matter really. Get back into the present moment, through connecting with your physicality.
Next, connect with someone: Reach out to a friend or family member and tell them where you're at. Phone, text, FB message... don't matter. Just knowing that you're not alone in that moment can be huge. Don't be afraid of telling them; if they care about you they'll want to support you.
Then, do what you love: Even if it's hard, even if you're not feeling inspired. Even if what you end up with isn't amazing. The whole point of creation is to feel alive, and what you need more than anything right now is life-force. So make something! Forget about the outcome, focus on the process. Make stuff just because it's what you love to do.
Lastly, consider therapy: If you feel sad or helpless on a regular basis, talking to a professional can really help. It's helped me. Most cities have many options in someone to talk to, and lots feature sliding fee scales to accommodate all financial situations.
I don't want to come off as pretending to be an expert on mental health - I'm not. And I'm not so arrogant as to think I know exactly what you need.
I do know that a lot of creative people suffer from negative thinking. And for me, one of the first things to vanish when I'm feeling depressed - the desire to create - is what I need most to STOP feeling depressed.
After 10 years of this, I've finally got a plan to cope. And it's working.
If you're living with these kinds of thoughts and feelings, don't push them down or deny them anymore. Your creativity depends on it.