When My Creativity and Depression Collide

It has been an interesting week for me both as a writer and a human being. I have been able to write and be effective this week, but not at the level I would like to be at some days. In the past, my creativity has always taken a backseat to my depression in past years especially at this time of the year.

November will always be the hardest month of the seasonal element of my Bipolar One diagnosis. My history in this month has been nothing but bad over the last ten years. Ten years of bad experiences have to lead me to dread this month and it is no wonder that my mind wonders the “what if” scenarios dance in my head.

I have tried my best this year to be proactive and not let my depression keep me from my goals. This month started out good, or at least okay, but to be honest, my depression has started to control my effectiveness in all aspects of my life. Even today I had trouble finding the creative spirit to write this piece or do any work on my memoir. I considered just taking a break and trying again tomorrow, but I desperately want to change the narrative that I can’t be effective during the month of November.

I have struggled the first two weeks of my winter semester. I have gotten my school work done, I always make sure to get that my school work gets done especially since I am so close to finishing my degree. It doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle to stay focused. It only gets harder from here with pending projects coming almost weekly for school, and I worry about my effectiveness of completing tasks, and if I will have to choose between school work and writing (my blog and my memoir.)

It is in my nature to be the kind of person that worries about every aspect of my life. My creativity and my writing have really taken a turn over the last few months in a positive way. I have found my place in my writing for the first time ever. Even writing my first screenplay and the novel version of Memory of Shane, my creativity was never consistent. I started the screenplay last year around this time and my depression often kept me from finishing it until the New Year.

I think one thing that is affecting me so much is my feelings about my ten-year anniversary that is less than ten days away. So much can happen between now and then, it scares me sometimes to even think about that I have really made this far. I never thought I would get here ten years ago or even five years ago. I have had to struggle every step of the way, and more than once I have taken major steps back.

At the same time, I am in a great place in where my creativity in my written work is the best it’s been. I always feel better after a long writing session at my favorite coffee shop. I haven’t felt this good about writing in so long.

The best thing for me is to is work through my depression. Even writing this post, when I honestly felt like not writing at all, has helped me. Maybe I can finish editing my screenplay tonight as I get it ready for some fall screenplay competitions.

I am curious to hear from my followers, what do you find effective when depression and creativity collide.

J.E. Skye

Photo Credit: Aleks Dorohovich

34 Replies to “When My Creativity and Depression Collide”

  1. When I’m going through a depressive episode, I can’t write at all. I couldn’t write at all for about a year at one point because the depression was so bad. I only started writing again earlier this year.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is piece is very relatable to me. If not for a few dear friends giving me the gentle push (or shove) I sometimes need to start writing, I wouldn’t have started my own blog. Keep writing & I hope it continues to help you as it has helped me.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Diagnosis/disease anniversaries are torturous. I have had 3 so far. And i hated new years as i felt …’so i more year passed and i am still living with a disease’

    It takes time to come to terms with reality. When depression and creativity collides i force myself more towards creativity.
    I draw more write more even if its a terrible mess. It helps me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have been using my writing to get through it as well. Thank you for sharing. I think the key is not to stray too far from what makes me happy.

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  4. You’re a brother from another mother. November strokes and it’s all downhill for me as well. Once November hits, all the holidays are soon to follow. This just depresses the crap out of me. I really have to force myself to get through this time of year. I don’t know about you, but… does it bother you when they the stores, commercials etc… start breaking ou Christmas in late September?
    Great piece my friend. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you. It’s tough to get through, especially since most people are happy about this time of year. It always makes me laugh that stores start breaking out Christmas stuff so early in the year. Thank you sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The scary thing is about the cycle of depression is that we start recognizing it, and that can be ever scarier because then we start psyching ourselves out. Fighting against depression, especially when you know it’s coming, is one of the hardest things to do, but if we don’t learn to overcome it, it will take control of us faster then we could ever imagine.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This post really speaks to me. November is my worst month too. Kudos for pushing through!

    November two years ago, I put my camera down for what I thought would be the last time. I quit. Just quit. A polaroid camera, given to me by a very dear friend, kept me from making a terrible mistake and giving up photography (aka my career). Since then, I do what you’re doing…when the depression gets going, so do I. I push through.

    Rooting for you!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for sharing your own experience. I have thought so many times to quit writing because I let depression get the better of me. I am glad to hear that you are working toward pushing through your own depression. Again thank you sharing.

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  7. When depression starts to affect my creativity, I fake it til I make it – I go through the motions with whatever I’m doing (knitting, art stuff, writing) until it starts to make me feel good again. Sometimes I only have to fake it long enough to get started & engrossed in something, other times it takes a few days or tries. This time around with SAD, I’ve let my blog slip but am keeping up with other things. January is my worst month – anniversaries and knowing I have to slog through the rest of the winter. Thank for writing & posting; reading your posts has helped me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think that is how I got through today. I faked it a little bit and then started writing. It’s a great way to look s things. I am a little worried about letting my blog slip and not write for a few days. I have done it and gotten back to writing usually the next day. But what if the depression gets too much. Thank your for sharing your experience with this subject. It’s great to see another perspective outside my own. I hope in January you find the strength to get through it, as I hope I do mine. Actually I am going to get through it because I have my writing. Thanks again.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I know what depression is like, how it affects your mind and everyone telling you to just get over it, but no matter how hard you try, it doesn’t work. I had suffered from depression since I was 13/14 years old and, but last September I found my feet and feel that I am getting better, even though I can still have my down days.

    As I’m studying Journalism at uni, I like to just focus on my work, even though I may sometimes sit staring at my phone wondering when I will get a reply from the last text I sent to them.

    All the little distractions are keeping you from expressing yourself, that’s what was holding me back up until last year.

    You should feel proud that you’ve come this far and it’s nearly half way through November, it’s so close to being Christmas and 2018, that you have to keep going and never give up!x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing a piece of your own journey with myself and my blog. I am really glad you have found your feet. You me point is valid and I am halfway through this month, and there is so much to look forward to, I do plan on not giving up! Good luck on your journey and with your schooling. I hope to hear more from you.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. For me, it felt like my creativity was buried. I had to coax it out. I’m in graduate school myself, so I found that extensive outlining of the arguments I wanted to make in my papers helped a lot. I could be creative, but I had to be much more methodical about it. Maybe those are opposites haha but it seemed to help!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I find when I’m upset, whether it be stuck in memories, in a depressive episode, or triggered, I am able to write to actually get myself back to the moment. I wrote a couple of blogs while I was in a perfectly content state, and still they turned out so dark. It surprised friends to know those had been written when I was “happy.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s good to kind of force yourself to motivate and write. Even if you don’t feel the want or need to. It’s an outlet, and important to you.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Maybe, sometimes, when depression and creativity collide, you should just, stop writing for a while, take a break, do something else that came lift your moods a bit, and when you feel a little better, than, get back to writing, because when you’re experiencing your lows, and felt compelled to be more productive, it’s usually, counterproductive, and you’ll end up, losing more time, to doing things less effectively…so, allow yourself to take a break, go otuside, enjoy the weather, have a cup of coffee alone, or with some company…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is great advice, it really is, but writing is what I use to lift my mood most days. I do have to get better at taking breaks when my depression gets too much. The only thing that I fear is taking too much of a break where I am not writing at all. Thank you for sharing.

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  13. I am so crap at writing/creating when I’m depressed. My relationship with my ex broke down while I was in the middle of editing my last short film, and I ended up needing to move out of our place while I was trying to finish the edit and reshoots for it. I was so lucky to have two amazing co-creators who took over the reins and saw the film to completion for me. Both of them mean the world to me for doing that, and I still don’t think I can fully express how grateful I am.

    After that my creativity took a big downturn as I recovered and dealt with the fallout from what was ultimately a very toxic relationship that frequently pressed many of my triggers. My ex was very negative about the idea of medication, so I stayed off it while we were together, even though all the signs were there that I should have been back on it (prior to us dating I had been off meds for a year, thank you CBT). During our relationship, I developed a phobia to my meds, and was very reluctant to go back on them. I also, for the first time in my life since I started, stopped writing completely. I tried to go back a couple of times in the next eighteen months or so, but every time I did it felt like wading through molasses. Just too heavy and tough.

    Ultimately I listened to a creator that I really loved talking about his own struggles with mental illness, life and burnout and it helped me to embrace the fact that writing was simply something I couldn’t do at that time. It helped me give myself the space to get my head back in a better place and to get myself back on meds. Once I’d been back in a healthy place for a while ideas slowly started to come again. I gave myself time to let them go away as others had before, but this time they didn’t. As life started to get chaotic again, one idea, in particular, stayed with me, the idea for my blog, Fistful of Glitter. I would start writing again about the stuff I love, the stuff I wanted to share with others.

    Throwing myself into blogging has helped so much. It’s something I really love, and I feel like I’ve found a really good place for myself as a writer. I’d like to expand it again in the future, but for right now it’s good enough.

    Thank you for sharing your story, James. They are always so helpful and have a knack of always arriving at the perfect time. You’ll beat November. Congratulations on almost ten years, that’s incredible!

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  14. I find depression and other intense emotions often completely block my creativity and ability to communicate. It affects my writing and other creative activities too. For instance, I enjoy drawing and colouring, and making greetings cards, and photography, but my ability to do any of these vanishes when I’m in depression, distress etc. Trying to do them actually becomes very painful.
    You do a very brave thing when you write through the depression, I think. It takes so much of you. Wow. I’m really glad you find doing so helps.
    I would love to link to your post in a piece on my own blog. Would that be okay?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course. I don’t mind you linking my piece into your own. And thank you for sharing piece of your own experience. I have certainly let my depression get the better of be and completely diminish my creativity. I can understand how painful that it. Here’s to better days for both of us.

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  15. I go with my feelings. I shut down and agree with myself that should I spiral out of control that I will reach out for help but mostly I pull the duvet up and sleep. It is not an answer for anything however I find that my creativity gains momentum and after a few hours it overcomes everything and I get up and am more productive than before – weirdly I usually start to clean my room and somehow I know I’m through it ?? Hope you are feeling creative

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cleaning your room makes a lot sense. It feels good to be once again organized. I have found once I gain momentum, forcing myself to pick a topic to write about, I can usually find my creative wind so to speak. Thank you for sharing with me.

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  16. I️ love when I️ come across a post that I️ can relate so closely to. I️ really love writing and I’d like to say I’m a pretty creative person. (I️ remember the therapist I️ was assigned to in the hospital when I️ was diagnosed with bipolar 2 disorder, saying that people with bipolar are typically very creative.) I️ can lay in bed and come up with a million ideas, and sometimes I️m so excited and I️ get up and get started, or go to get started, and then all of a suddden my eyes are feeling tired, and I️ start second guessing my ideas or feeling too overwhelmed and not being able to decide which idea to run with. Other times I️ know that I️ WANT to write something but I’m not feeling good or passionate about anything. What I️ do when my creativity and depression collide (with writing) is get on and start looking through new posts to find something that jumps out to me to read. Sometimes I️ don’t even feel like doing that much, but if I️ make myself do it , I️ usually find some good stuff, and I️ like to leave comments, which sometimes lead to conversations, which then may lead to my writing something new of my own. Doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does, and sometimes is better than never!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a really helpful strategy and one that so much sense. Reading can often lead to better writing, and reading inspiring blog posts can make you feel great. Connecting with other writers through comments is also a great way to get your creative mind working. Thank you for sharing this, I will do this the next I am struggling.

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