Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Creativity and Depression

There's a strange link between creativity and depression. Lots of creative geniuses suffered from depression. And we're not talking just feeling blue, but that black hole of emotional wretchedness that grabs you and tries to pull you in.

I've suffered from depression since high school. My mom has it. My grandmother had it. And we're all creative. I take anti-depressants to help control it. Some argue against this practice, and I will say that I think doctors over-prescribe anti-depressants. They're not a cure-all and for some people, they can make things even worse. But they have made a huge difference in my life.

Speaking from past experience, when I have tried to go off my anti-depressants (when I was pregnant), I landed right back in that black hole. And there's nothing quite like it. It's scary. It's like being a pebble in a massive rock slide. You just tumble along, knowing that you're headed toward the ravine. The anti-depressants can often miraculously pluck you out of that rock slide and put you on firmer ground. They did for me.

There's tons of research and articles on creativity and depression. Some artists can't work while they are depressed. Some work their best. I'm with the former group. When I was depressed, I couldn't gather the energy or the motivation to do much else but just sit on the couch and mindlessly watch t.v.

I feel depressed right now. It's been lingering in me for the past two or three weeks. I think a lot of it is work-related. We're suffering from a heavy workload and I feel burn out edging its way in. But I'm also depressed over the writing rejections. The frustration. And even though I've wanted to work on my writing, I really have had to force myself to do it.

Maybe I just need a change of scenery. Maybe I just need a different job. Or maybe, I just need a month-long vacation!

I don't like feeling this way, and I know hubby doesn't like it, either! I want to be driven to write. I want to be driven to succeed at my job. I want to feel like my mind isn't going in a thousand different directions. I want to smile more.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel. That gives me hope. Before the anti-depressants, there was no light, only a dark shadow of nothingness. Now I just feel like I need to climb this mountain and once I do that, all will be right with the world. The trick is to discover what, exactly, this mountain is. The job? The writing? The day-do-day financial struggles? The kids? All of it rolled into one?

I told my husband last night I wanted to run away. Not for good, mind you, but just for a couple of weeks. I'm thinking Italy might do the trick. ;-)


  1. Sorry to hear you're so down. I'm like you, when I'm depressed I can't write. I can't write a darn word... not even on my blog. Notice my major absense recently? Gee... I wonder where Dana was? On that hill sliding down with all the pebbles. I got some new meds and things seem brighter.

    The rejectios hurt. No matter if they give good advice or just a form letter... they still hurt. To me, when I receive one it's like a big neon sign blinking in front of me yelling, "You will NEVER make in this industry, so give up, will you?" But that's just the depression talking. Sometimes I have to plug my hears and mumble, "La la la la, I can't hear you!"

    Not sure if this will help or not, but sometimes a person gets accommodated to a drug and needs a change. You might want to see if your doctor can switch you to something similar to what you're taking now.

    You'll be in my thoughts and prayers. You'll pull out of this slump. :)

  2. Melissa - you're right, there's a huge connection between creativity and various psychological disorders. I know several writers who suffer either from depression, anxiety or bi-polar issues.

    My own problem is anxiety/panic disorder/agoraphobia. Not as soul-wrenching as what you go through and for that I'm thankful. Hope you find something to pull you back soon - 2 weeks in Italy sounds like it just might do :)

    Take care of yourself.

    Big hugs.

  3. Melissa, how does exercise factor in for you? I know that I feel so much more positive when I'm getting those exercise related endomorphins pumping.

    At any rate, I hope you're feeling better lickety split.


  4. It sounds like you need a break!! I am close to people who suffer from clinical depression and I know what that black hole looks like on the other side. I've also been depressed, and had medicine prescribed, only to then explain what was going on in my life and have the doctor say "honey, you're depressed b/c of your situation, until it changes, the medicine won't help." And he was right.. if it is a situational issue right now, sometimes a little distance (like a vacation!) makes all the difference with being able to identify the core issue.

    Hugs to you!!!! I hope it clears up soon and you can hit the writing hard. In the meantime, indulge in something yummy!

  5. Melissa--I hope you feel better soon--but maybe you just need a holiday (and the pills :), the end of the school year is tiring for everyone.

    And remember life is a series of valleys and hills, the great lows make us appreciate the highs.

  6. Italy sounds good to me! Hope you feel better soon. I went through a 4 year depression, more situational than chemical, but man it's hard, so I feel your pain. Oddly, I did not write much during this period. But if I'm feeling melancholy or a bit blue, I can pump stuff out like nobody's business. Granted, it's usually darker stuff, but it's still stuff!

  7. Devon Ellington8:18 AM

    Yes, Italy would help.

    Also, you have the tools to change what you don't like about your life.

    You have to write your way into the life you want, no matter how hard it is or how scary it is.

    The wrong job is soul-sucking. I'd start looking for a new one, one that allows you to telecommute a few days a week, or a part-time one, so that you have complete days of uninterrupted work time for your writing.

    Feel better soon!

  8. Melissa, I can totally relate to what you're saying. I remember a few years ago, sitting on my deck with a "black cloud" over my head, weighing me down. That's what it felt like. I certainly couldn't write. I got on anti-depressants, and the black cloud lifted.

    I do think a tendency toward chronic depression is partially inherited, and it seems to strike creative people. Then life events bring on acute attacks of it. It's a physical lack of serotonin. That's when I break out the ol' Prozac and get right back on it!

    Best of wishes and hugs. Take good care of yourself--you're worth it!

  9. I am on anti depressants too, it works for me and controls the crazy days of pms. Email me sometime- email.4.chacha@sasktel.net

    If you ever need to talk

  10. email.4.chacha@sasktel.net

  11. Antidepressants like xanax are the most popular form of depression cure. However, as per recent observations and studies, probabilities are rife that the antidepressants are not that suitable to be administered to patients with low to medium depression. They work best only when they are prescribed to the patients with high depression symptoms.


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