Okay, depression is a rather serious topic. So disclaimers first- If you feel you, or someone you care about, is suffering from depression please seek actual professional help. Do not consider what is given below as a remedy for depression. I am in no way qualified. These are just some things that I have gathered from my experiences and experiences of others and it seems to have worked for us.
Now on to the blog!
It was a dark winter day, and the cold of the winter was seeping into my soul. I simply could not cheer up. Not knowing what to do, I took out my laptop and started writing. In the beginning, I didn’t have a clear idea of where my writing was heading, but a story was taking shape. I pushed on. For the first time in days, I was not thinking about my worries, just focussing on the words painting pictures before me. I felt as if a huge weight was lifting off my chest. I could breathe. I could not yet smile, but I was at a stage where tears were no longer welling up my eyes without warning.
It was on that day that I discovered the healing power of creativity. I wrote all kinds of things after that- scripts, blogs, poems, posters, stories. And as I immersed myself in the magic of creation, I was no longer sad. Yes, the world was still that big, lonely, scary place- but when I was with my words, nothing mattered. And after writing I always felt more prepared to face the world. I knew I could always turns to my art for comfort when nothing no longer made sense.
It is not just me. I have seen art work its magic on a lot of people. I had a friend who was crippled with depression and social anxiety. It got so bad that she would hardly meet people. I saw her a few months later. She was painting. She was actually humming as she painted. The colours were soothing her nerves and calming her down. Yes, creativity is magic.
And there are many such examples of art and creativity helping us cope.Do you know what Van Gogh, Walt Whitman, J.K.Rowling and Michael Jackson have in common? They are all great artists and they have all suffered through depression. In fact, the list of famous people with a major depressive disorder is long and if you notice a good lot of them are highly creative individuals. Many scholars say that artistic people are more prone to depression. But that’s just one side. I am sure that it is equally true that their creativity has helped them face their depression.
Why get creative when you are depressed? Well, here’s what I think:
It distracts us:
The world can be a cruel place for many of us. Art liberates us from the pressure of facing reality and helps us escape into the world of imagination. It helps us find solace in what we create. It adds beauty.
It helps us face our demons:
Sometimes expressing what we feel becomes tough. We are not able to speak about the fears, the anguish, the confusion we are drowning in. Sometimes depression is caused by trauma and there is no way describe it.But using a medium that we are comfortable with- like creating a sculpture, or writing an essay- gives us an outlet. We are finally able face the enemies within.
It gives us company:
Depression is a lonely place. We feel friendless, we fear being judged. We hate to talk to anyone for the fear of offending them and hurting ourselves. A myriad of emotions play into even a single communication. But art? It doesn’t judge us. It lets us be whatever we are. It gives us company without expecting anything in return. It always has time for us. It is truly the ideal companion.
It shifts the focus:
When depressed we only think about what bothers us and get into an unhealthy cycle of ruminating. But when we focus on creating something we start focusing on the details of our creation, we lose ourselves in it and thus break the unhealthy cycle.
It gives us confidence:
One of the worst gifts of depression is the feeling of worthlessness. We feel we are incapable of achieving anything. We fall in our own eyes. But once we are able to redirect our focus to creativity and actually complete something, the feeling of achievement is immeasurable. It gives us back the confidence that we too can get things done.
So if you are feeling down in the dumps but can muster at least a tiny bit of strength, rise and create something. Do it not for the world, or for praise, or for recognition, but do it for yourself. Create without expectation. Just let it come. Do cooking, knitting, gardening, carpentry work, colouring, painting, scribbling, animating, dancing, singing, acting or writing. Do anything but get started. Create.