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Depression and the Artist's Mind

Discussion in 'Mental Health Disorders' started by DrNick1010, Dec 17, 2011.

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  1. DrNick1010

    DrNick1010 Well-Known Member

    I'm a creative writer (actually what I'm going to school for right now) and I was curious if anyone else on here dabbles in the arts as well. Like painting, sculpting, music, writing, etc. I guess the reason why I'm curious is because I feel like as much as depression is a burden, it allows me to embrace escapism, which is one of the main reasons why I write. I know that anti-depressants work differently for everyone, but I'm just afraid that my creativity will be hindered by taking drugs. As weird as it is to say, sometimes I feel like I thrive off of my depression because its so much of who I am. A lot of great artists and writers have struggled with depression and I wonder exactly why that is. Can anyone who is creative or artistic comment on their experiences with meds?
  2. Sais

    Sais Well-Known Member

    I know I worried a lot about this too, but I guess you can always try it and see how it works for your organism.
    In my case my body can adapt fast to any substance and after a few days I couldn't tell the difference, with creativity, I mean.
    It was not affected, but I think it can be different according to what drugs you take, how strong is your artistic side, how much confidence you have in it, and you can always give up taking the meds if you notice different and unwanted effects.
    I sometimes write better when I take a bit more pills :D It's just another circumstance like all the others that influence us, you can learn to adapt. You can even find with this occasion some other maybe stronger motivation than escapism.
    Think positive.
  3. Mr Stewart

    Mr Stewart Well-Known Member

    Hi Dr. Nick. :smile:

    This was a concern, one of many, that prevented me from trying medication for years. I'm a professional illustrator by trade (part time). Have written a couple comic books and recently have started trying to do short stories. I thought for a long time that depression/anxiety/paranoia was part and parcel with imagination, that fixing one would extinguish the other. Last month I finally made the trip to the doctor's for help. The problems were not going away on their own. Old homebrew coping mechanisms were becoming less and less effective. Something had to be done, regardless of my concerns.

    So. I have been taking sertraline for 14 days now. No decrease in creativity. In fact, that stuff actually makes me even more spacey than I was before. It's seems to be easier to hold on to a line of thought without losing it and becoming irritated because something distracted me.
  4. sevendust

    sevendust Active Member

    I'm an artist, musician & writer. I enjoy doing all 3. Helps me calm the storm.
  5. pancake111

    pancake111 Well-Known Member

    I know what you mean. I was hesitant first to start antidepressants because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to write songs anymore or like metal music anymore. If you really enjoy writing, then the antidepressant won't hinder your creativity.You should also consider medication because you don't want the depression to become overwhelming. I did that, and it's not good.
  6. red ribbons

    red ribbons Well-Known Member

    I am an artist, writer, and musician. I think as artists we can clearly see both sides of life, we walk a tightrope between light and dark and give light to others. The light of life is within us where others without the gift seem pale in comparison. We are able to utilize both the light and the dark in our work. We were born with this gift. A lot of people who are not creative do not understand and see this as pathological. It is not. It is who we are and we have to embrace the full self and ignore critics. With the gift comes deep sensitivity so we are more prone to go against the grain and norm of society. It's their loss. Not ours.:smile: They do not understand that in order to create we have to isolate. All of our energy is spent creating so we don't always have the social skills that are expected of us in acculturation. We are very deep feeling people with passions and love few people understand. It can take it's toll on us.
  7. twofeet

    twofeet Well-Known Member

    I am on a bunch of meds. They are incredibly expensive and incredibly sedating. But, I could never
    settle down to work without them. The meds are not the problem in my writing, but the disease
    of Bipolar II.

    The problem with depression is that it is an old sidekick with a mask and a nickname.
    - It keeps coming back at you
    (after you have found the universal solution for it, two weeks ago),
    - Everybody has the definitive answer for you
    (so you have 860 books about the Cure and only one works for you: which one?)
    - It's rather an expensive pasttime
    (how many jobs have you lost in the past five years, how much are your meds, have
    you been in ER lately, what got broken last night, where do you go to scream?)

    I don't know. I'm still looking. But the point is, I'm stlll looking. Because I swear, somewhere,
    there is going to be this tiny little stone worth 80 bajillion bucks that's going to make the pain
    and the vacuum brain and the dirt and ugliness so worth it. Because I can't have gone through
    all those nights and fights forever and got through to a morning that was bright as blood,
    still kicking, still begging why?, found the universal solution, the definitive answer, only to rage
    through another early morning choking three months later. And, too, I haven't seen the the Grand
    Tetons in early spring and felt the lurch of surprise at those shards of gray granite bathed in light
    pink rain, without coming to exult that if I am unlucky to have this goddam disease, I am lucky
    to have been forged a poet.
  8. Growing Pains

    Growing Pains Well-Known Member

    My depression both hurts and helps my writing. By that I mean, that sometimes it inspires me. I'll write for days, fill up a five subject notebook in just two days (I love writing free hand, makes you a lot closer to the characters than when you type it out). But other times, I'll hit a very low point where I can't write at all. All my creativity feels like it just drains itself out of me. Still, I draw a lot of inspiration from what I feel. It's how I create my characters and my stories. Each of the characters I work with the most have large chunks of myself in them. Mix them together, and you have me. I truly am one of those that writes what I know. One of my greatest fears is that medication would hurt my creativity. Writing is all I know. I love doing many other things, but other than working with dogs, writing is all I have.

    I used to draw, too. Sketches mostly. But my depression has actually hurt that. I haven't had the energy to draw in years. I can only do it when I'm in what I call my "up" moods. Otherwise, I try and I'm never happy with what I draw, so I throw it away.
  9. DrNick1010

    DrNick1010 Well-Known Member

    I really like what you said about how characters are little bits of yourself. I feel the exact same way. Its no wonder why writers often talk about them like they're the artist's children. What does get to me though is when a character becomes a little too much like me and I have to deal with some emotional or personal stuff. It gives me pause and I have to set it down awhile before I'm ready to work on it again. I just recently rewatched the movie Amadeus and the emotional investment that Mozart puts into his Requiem Mass, which I've read is actually a truth to the film, is something I can really relate to. No wonder it killed him! The same thing also happened to Eugene O'Neil when he wrote Long Day's Journey into Night. I wonder how these artists' lives would have been different if they'd had access to antidepressants.
  10. Chargette

    Chargette Well-Known Member

    I draw, paint, make jewelry, knit and crochet. I do best when I'm not disturbed. I'm starting to get more private time and I hope to get back to drawing and painting. The jewelry and yarn work have a different dynamics and I can do those with others around.

    Meds have not had a negative impact on art. I became a mom again with a step child with special needs so that knocked out my drawing and painting.

    I've always had a hard time writing. I just can't get descriptive of the different elements of life. I'm better at writing document stuff.
  11. Growing Pains

    Growing Pains Well-Known Member

    They definitely do start to feel like children, don't they? I know what you mean, though, about a character becoming too much like the writer. I have one that developed as such, and for about two weeks, I had to stop writing because it hit a little too close to home. It's strange how that works sometimes. But I think that if I didn't create him and characters like him, everything I think and feel would just build up inside me unable to get out... and that probably wouldn't be much good, either. I've never watched Amadeus, though. I'm going to have to make a note to watch it when I get the chance.

    I often wonder how different their lives would have been with antidepressants, too. I've heard mixed opinions on antidepressants affecting creativity. I've heard it doesn't with some people, but I've had people tell me it did for them. It's strange how the latter has had more influence on my decision.
  12. Soldier83

    Soldier83 Well-Known Member

    I truly enjoy sketching, painting, working with clay, and I really like pastels. When I can really dive into what I'm working on it REALLY helps. I also like coming up with new characters designs for video games that I have floating in my head, but that's probably kinda weird.
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