Creativity and depression

39 replies
Ever have those days when you don't feel like doing much? Those days when all you want to do is stay home, lay in bed, stare at the wall... maybe cry a bit?

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.

Breaking free

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.
#creativity #depression
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  • Profile picture of the author Odahh
    well...i usually avoid giving any advice on how to deal with depression.. as i find that depending on the kind of depression ...how to manage it and tread water to get through it.. changes ..if you are hungry you do nt eat the same thing every time..unless you do .and some people have no choice .

    I generally have periods of the day where i am more depressed than others and an hour later have far more energy ..I also can't stand being in a cold climate anymore ..so currently i am in Arizona.. and have had the best 9 months managing my depression i have had in 15 years ..maybe 20 .

    some people can benefit from prescribed medication .. for me even the small amounts i was on 10 years ago sucked out any will to live and helped me put on 80 pounds in 3 years ..which then just made the depression and chronic pain issues worse ..i started taking that weight off 4 years ago.. and have 20 or so left to lose and 90 percent of my chronic pain is gone ..

    at this point depression is another emotion like being hungry , tier, frustrated, bored , and for me one of the best ways to reduce some of my depression is to spend less time on the computer.. at the low point ten years ago i did the opposite ..

    so i will tell you this from my experience what you have found may help now.. but it may not help next week next month next year so it is a constant search .. the reason i say it like that is when you think you have it unders control .. then what you are doing stops working.. then it get dangerous ..well or could..

    so always try a new way to perk up from the depression and sometime go with the hot shower and the hour long nap ..

    or design you life so you can take a break when you need to
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    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
      Absolutely. Now that I can walk to work in the sun it's made a huge difference.
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    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
      Can't watch right now, but will later today.
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  • Profile picture of the author Master Blake
    Depression comes from unmet needs and wants.

    This contradicts with your happiness because you feel defied as a person.

    Burning the midnight oil won't lead you to epiphanies.

    Counting your blesses helps. "Edifying" yourself. Also putting yourself on a higher pedestal, also helps. But don't stop. Push it to the limit.

    When you go against the flow and keep walking, the odds stack by yourside.

    Sometimes opportunities hide under your nose. Only when you face reality
    with a new pair of eyes, will you be accepted by the supreme self.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kay King
    If walking to work in the sun makes a difference - maybe the problem is Vit D deficiency....a physical reason for depression.
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    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
      Almost certainly part of it for many people.
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    • Profile picture of the author Odahh
      Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

      If walking to work in the sun makes a difference - maybe the problem is Vit D deficiency....a physical reason for depression.
      well good you pointed that out.. he other post did mention he has had a social media job or job marketing online..and been trying to build an online business in his spare time..for ten years .. so maybe the timeline with depression and job home business..


      are why things tha get him up out and away from the computer help get him out of the depression..

      Nathan zad.. how much time do you spend looking at a screen all day and for how long
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      • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
        It's a lot, which is why I'm happy to be out in the sun walking and getting good sleep every night.
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        • Profile picture of the author Odahh
          Originally Posted by NathanZad View Post

          It's a lot, which is why I'm happy to be out in the sun walking and getting good sleep every night.
          the stance i also take dealing with depression .. is it is like being hungry or tired or sore after doing to much of one physical activity .. so it is fine to feel depressed on occasion ..

          now the reason it becomes such a problem for creatives ..and a gift .. is because there is such a wider ranger of stuff you can create from the pit of depression..the resonates with people ..that a person can use being creative as a reason not to get out of the darkness..and be consumed.. or force them self out with some drug or long term potentially self destructive behavior ..


          also there is a danger in assuming the going into depression on a regular basis is proof you are creative or the cause or a requirement of your creativity ..


          well if you got a bunch of problems that need to be solved and your mind is pushing ideas out to solve them ..and you are doing nothing .. the problems you have are the cause of both the creativity and depression and depression is made worse by boredom and frustration ..

          so ..blah ..when you are depressed bored and frustrated .. time to use your own creativity like when you where a child .. as opposed to what you where trained was creativity as you got older and trying to force your creativity into that ..
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  • Profile picture of the author sana11
    NathanZad, you spoke 2/3rds out of my heart in your post!!! I started rubbing my shoulders with IM a couple of years ago, at first I thought I had to learn everything, always something new came up and I needed to catch up and soon found myself completely worn out, thinking I just don't have the mind to get it because I was "wasting" my time reading every report that landed in my inbox... Thanks to having a great "teacher" I had experienced success and now only recently after a long break I am getting back into IM..... Even now, when I consider to already have some good insights and understand the process of IM, I still have days like I am not even going to look at my laptop.... it's just that feeling of "I can't now....". If I find myself in such a situation I just do what I enjoy and soon I find I am sitting back at my laptop with some new fresh ideas and willingness to learn, move forward... Never thought though I might have dealt with depression when I felt like that... Thank you for your post and having me realized that I actually have overcome those tough days with a kind of self-help....
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    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
      So happy you're feeling more like yourself these days.
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  • Yes, We feel depression at some point in our life. Because in today world there are too many problems, stress. We get depressed due to the problem and getting out of bed become so difficult for a person. We don't have to lose hope even after facing so many failures. Remember Jack Ma advice today is harder, tomorrow will be worst but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine
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    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
      Cheers, and thanks very much for your comment.
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  • Profile picture of the author Odahh
    if you are really a creative person and want to avoid or escape depression.. do 40 different creative things that do not require you to find a way to make money doing it .. restricting your creativity to stricktly thing that might make money will kill you ..
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    • Profile picture of the author kimberly91
      Agreed! Having your creativity depend on your income or have any kind of monetary value is dangerous. Not only is creativity something that can come and go (so it cannot be depended on) it has a big value to YOU but perhaps not to others. So if others are not so impressed by your creative products/services then that can be a kick in the teeth.

      Creativity used in a hobby like way, now that's refreshing, stress-free and you can pick it up and drop it whenever you feel like it.

      I always stick by, your job/business/career/income should ALWAYS be something you don't mind doing that is based on knowledge/being smart NOT creativity. Something you neither love or hate.
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      • Profile picture of the author Odahh
        Originally Posted by kimberly91 View Post

        Agreed! Having your creativity depend on your income or have any kind of monetary value is dangerous. Not only is creativity something that can come and go (so it cannot be depended on) it has a big value to YOU but perhaps not to others. So if others are not so impressed by your creative products/services then that can be a kick in the teeth.

        Creativity used in a hobby like way, now that's refreshing, stress-free and you can pick it up and drop it whenever you feel like it.

        I always stick by, your job/business/career/income should ALWAYS be something you don't mind doing that is based on knowledge/being smart NOT creativity. Something you neither love or hate.
        i understand what you are saying .. but that is not what i meant .. you can get on carreer paths or build businesses that put your creativity to use.. what i was meaning to say.. is not to restrict your creativity to thing that make money ..

        i love to cook and get very creative with my recipes ..it turn out tastsy most of the time and ok a good chunk.. and it is an outlet for my creativity.. but i would not be a chef or a restaurant cook ..and when i have my own kitchen again..usually stuff i cook can cheer me up ..haha

        My creativity is more synthetic or synthesis based and i prefer creating things that are functional..and can be replicated .. so or organizing piece into a very productive system ..so i can make money from my creativity eventually.. and i go crazy in jobs that are overly repetitive and don't leave me the option to be creative in how i get things done ..but at the same time those jobs end up being stressful and overly demanding and drive me crazy also..


        being good at solving problem and getting things going again gets you put where problems happen and thing go wrong you have to fix ..untill it is not just the machine breaking down
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  • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
    Thanks for your comments, Odahh.
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  • Profile picture of the author crackhouse
    good look with your mental health, we've all had the mean reds and black dogs from time to time.

    However, i do my most creative work when i'm happy and energized and i don't think the two are linked in any considerable way.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jhon sweed
    bro you can get rid of depression if you get new friends, get up and go out breathe fresh air, finally you must trust in God!
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  • Profile picture of the author mattlaclear
    Yeah, I deal with issue myself. To get past it I journal, practice mindfulness, walk, and practice the CBT my therapist taught me. It works but it's not perfect. Some days I just have to carry on until the bad turns good again. Which they always do.
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  • Profile picture of the author dilipcybex
    It is the life that we live online. It is very competitive. You run starts with getting likes on Facebook to performing well on yearly appraisals. Nothing is going to comfort you in between.

    There is no choice, for now. If we can go the spiritual way, I think it might help. But, there is no time for anything these days. We work 16 hours a day, in front a PC.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jonathan 2.0
    Thanks for the post Nathan: There's some great advice there.

    Yeah I've had depression as well ... A difficult condition to overcome sometimes. However, looking back, I think it helps me appreciate my Life (and everything) as it is now. : ) As I often like to say: "You can learn something from everything."

    Cheers.
    : )
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    "Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity."―Joseph Sugarman
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  • Depression comes from pressure on your mind. And activity comes from your happiness. When you are in relax then creativity automatically comes.
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  • Profile picture of the author affmarketer101
    Pretty helpful tips. Thanks for sharing.
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  • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
    Thanks to everyone who's commented on this post. It's great to hear your stories about creativity and depression too, I think there's a strong correlation between the two in many personality types.

    Cheers!
    Nathan
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    • Profile picture of the author chellie
      Thank you Nathan! I suffer from Depression. It can really stink and kill my creativity. I take meds and I am very spiritual. I will definately take your advice to get my butt movin along a little faster. Thanks again:-)
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      • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
        Originally Posted by chellie View Post

        Thank you Nathan! I suffer from Depression. It can really stink and kill my creativity. I take meds and I am very spiritual. I will definately take your advice to get my butt movin along a little faster. Thanks again:-)
        Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
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  • Profile picture of the author kimberly91
    Yup, you just explained me down to a T. Firstly though, thank you for sharing this. It's not such as easy subject to open up about and it is nice to hear that some of us are not alone in those very frustrating feelings.

    I have recognised this in myself for some time now and I found that my negative thoughts, depression feelings we're impacting my work life/business. I would destroy parts of my business, make bad decisions in the moment of a bad depressional state.

    Since then whenever I feel depressed I step away from my business altogether. I go and do some cleaning, gardening, pampering etc. It just simply stops me from messing things up for myself when I feel more positive.

    I also come to recognise that no matter what I do or what industry I plant myself in or how much money I make, there will ALWAYS be someone earning more than me or doing better than me in one way or another. But I can also recognise that I am that person for someone else also, others may look towards me and see me doing/earning better.

    Goal setting comes along with that, I found myself setting insane goals that we're not based on my wants/need/desires but based on what others we're doing and earning. Now I have my goals set based on what I NEED not based on what anyone else does. I now break my goals down into bite sized pieces, rather than look at one huge goal. I find this helps to not feel overwhelmed and quit when things do not go my way.

    I kind of come to the conclusion for myself some time ago, quiting a venture due to things going slightly wrong, others doing better, not reaching goals as soon as expected. I realised I will then fail ALL ventures. I got to a stage where I would force myself to stay in it and use my logic rather than my emotions. Worked through the issues, pushed at it and found myself feeling rather proud of myself.
    Sometimes and as hard as this is (if you have awareness you may find it easier) but using your logic rather than your emotions to run the show. If your emotions or ego are running the show or your business then you're in some trouble.

    Us creative people are usually a great big pain in the a** to ourselves.
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    • Profile picture of the author NathanZad
      Originally Posted by kimberly91 View Post

      Yup, you just explained me down to a T. Firstly though, thank you for sharing this. It's not such as easy subject to open up about and it is nice to hear that some of us are not alone in those very frustrating feelings.

      I have recognised this in myself for some time now and I found that my negative thoughts, depression feelings we're impacting my work life/business. I would destroy parts of my business, make bad decisions in the moment of a bad depressional state.

      Since then whenever I feel depressed I step away from my business altogether. I go and do some cleaning, gardening, pampering etc. It just simply stops me from messing things up for myself when I feel more positive.

      I also come to recognise that no matter what I do or what industry I plant myself in or how much money I make, there will ALWAYS be someone earning more than me or doing better than me in one way or another. But I can also recognise that I am that person for someone else also, others may look towards me and see me doing/earning better.

      Goal setting comes along with that, I found myself setting insane goals that we're not based on my wants/need/desires but based on what others we're doing and earning. Now I have my goals set based on what I NEED not based on what anyone else does. I now break my goals down into bite sized pieces, rather than look at one huge goal. I find this helps to not feel overwhelmed and quit when things do not go my way.

      I kind of come to the conclusion for myself some time ago, quiting a venture due to things going slightly wrong, others doing better, not reaching goals as soon as expected. I realised I will then fail ALL ventures. I got to a stage where I would force myself to stay in it and use my logic rather than my emotions. Worked through the issues, pushed at it and found myself feeling rather proud of myself.
      Sometimes and as hard as this is (if you have awareness you may find it easier) but using your logic rather than your emotions to run the show. If your emotions or ego are running the show or your business then you're in some trouble.

      Us creative people are usually a great big pain in the a** to ourselves.
      An amazing comment, Kimberly. Thank you for that.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Bane
    When you learn to operate with the power of the soul other than the mind,
    you'll lead a life free of gravity and the dynamics that hold you back will
    evaporate.

    These are not buttered theories but applicable information that gets
    you from point A to point B in quantum mode. Prepare yourself for the
    change and watch your status quo squirt to the stratosphere.

    In return, you'll have to help a couple of souls down the road
    but the ethical bribe will be tremendous. It won't make sense
    at first but you'll receive a wake-up call, or should I say a

    GRAND AWAKENING.
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  • Profile picture of the author imoonlight
    Originally Posted by NathanZad View Post

    Ever have those days when you don't feel like doing much? Those days when all you want to do is stay home, lay in bed, stare at the wall... maybe cry a bit?
    ...
    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.

    You DO know my life! I have seen those dark days and ironically the sun is always shining brighter with the next sunrise... for the most part.


    For me, though, I use depression as a time to explore the side of myself that's "just as real but not as brightly lit... the Dark Side". I'm a songwriter/musician, so I have the luxury of using my craft to create things that people may or may not enjoy when they listen. Oddly enough, I come up with some of my best tunes when I'm going through depression.


    Bottom line, I guess it's not so much of a thing as "suffering" but more of "working" through depression.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Being with the feelings is the quickest - albeit most uncomfortable - way to release them. Meditating and deep yin yoga expanded my awareness to help me be with these fear-filled feelings. Fab advice buddy.
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  • Profile picture of the author cearionmarie
    Surround yourself with highly positive people. Those that lift you up when you are you on the lowest. Find yourself somebody who can change you life while not being dependent on the other. In this walk we call life, you are not alone.
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  • Profile picture of the author Yogi Vipul
    Depression is actually a blessing in disguise. Depressed people have a deeper understanding of life, and existence as a whole. They are supremely compassionate and benevolent. So don't hate depression, but enjoy the solitude and connection with the divinity within yourself.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bald Avenger
    I am the hero behind the mask.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ian5
    Ohhh, the depression is only your mind condition and nobody help you to overcome it except youself.
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