Mar 15, 2010
Art from the Heart Depression and Artists
By Sharon Teal-Coray
It has been shown that artists have a increased chance of suffering from depression and anxiety. I can attest to this as I have had to deal with both of these most of my life. What is very interesting is that we have this strong desire to create. However, sometimes we are unable to do just that. We may have to work, take care of our kids or our parents. We have health problems or we just simply don’t make the time.
We were born with the innate drive to pursue creative inclinations, just think of all the wonderful inventions in this world that has come from the creative mind. It is part of being human and we have survived because we are creative. I don’t personally think that this was mere accidental, I believe in a loving God that blessed us with this desire. If we didn’t have it we would have nothing. Everything that man has made has at one time been a creative “idea” in someone’s mind before it came into existence.
With this instinct so strong, what happens if we just ignore these feelings? Also why would we do this?
There are many reasons someone ignores their desire to be creative, maybe they are afraid they won’t be good enough, maybe someone has told them that they are not creative, and can’t draw or their ideas are stupid. This is enough to stop even the most secure person in their tracks, but ignoring these inherent feelings can have consequences.
This creative energy is so strong that if we ignore it and internalize it can turn into depression. C. Diane Ealy Ph D wrote in her book, “The Woman’s Book of Creativity” that “Repressed creativity can express itself in unhealthy relationships, overwhelming stress, severe neurotic or even psychotic behavior and addictive behavior such as alcoholism. But perhaps the most insidious and common manifestation of repressed creativity in women (and men) is depression.”
I have found that if I listen to my inner desires and follow through with getting into my studio and get about creating I feel much better. I instantly feel more alive because I am honoring my creative side and taking care of myself. Painting give me a real purpose which helps me to relax and offers a time for my body to recharge, relax an counteract some of the aspects of depression. In the old days depression was known as melancholy, today it can be described as “silent suffering” By being creative we give ourselves the opportunity to find an inner peace, and get rid of the despair and sorrow that goes along with depression. It empowers us to express our inner soul and find that unique person we truly are.
Being creative can also help us through some tough times, maybe you have suffered a loss, it can be a job, the death of a loved one, a child leaves home or a relationship. As we grow into middle age we all will face these things. Grief can overwhelm us and other losses can interrupt our lives and paralyze us so we are unable to tap into our creative mindset. We will often just shut down during the grief period with the same energy that we had to create now being used to recover. At times like this we will often feel our creativity has left us for good, it is gone.
However, sometimes we can use this time to heal by expressing what we are feeling through our art. We often become more introspective when we are going thought trials and emotional pain actually making it easier to tap into our creative side.
We need to take heed of our inner voices, your soul may be hungry for creativity. If you suppress this over and over chances are you may experience depression. Never smother your creative voice.