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Creativity, freedom, awareness... Vs. Happiness?(5 Posts)
Apologies in advance for a long self-indulgent essay.
If you had to choose, which one would it be?
Back story: I've had depression in varying degrees for 10 years, since I was 14 - although I've probably been a 'depressive type personality' since very young. My uncle sexually abused me, and while it doesn't really affect me now, the aftermath of telling everyone when I was 13 (I'd repressed it until then) and my parents' attitude to it started a very traumatic few years. I self-harmed and ended up in a psychiatric unit for several months.
The unit itself was pretty useless (the boss was pretty open about the fact he detested self harmers... attention seekers, apparently) but the school was incredible. I'd been a creative person anyway, especially with art and poetry, but the teachers nurtured it. All the shit I was feeling could be worked out through art and writing. But I was made to leave before I felt truly ready, and that was it - I couldn't be creative at all anymore.
So since then I've had pretty much a permanent block on anything - a lack of creativity coupled with extreme perfectionism (very academic parents) and fear of judgement meant I just couldn't get anything on paper. Also... I am, for the most part, happy. Depression is pretty much a part of me, it's been worst after our DCs, and I've accepted it, but overall I'm happy, great marriage and family, a nice job and volunteer work etc. So I've nothing depressing to write about anymore!
Anyway, enough back story. Due mostly to PND I've been on mild ADs on and off for years, the GP lets me manage it myself. Working for the first time since DCs has been great, my confidence has rocketed, and I'm drug free now. The creativity is back and it's amazing. I feel real again, I can design something and not feel vulnerable, be it drawing, writing random paragraphs or just messing about with DD and some paints (yes, I was previously so blocked I couldn't even do that). The more I do, the better I feel, I feel like I'm becoming a whole person again. I can do all the things I enjoy without feeling suffocated by guilt.
I'm more aware too - I'm not so detached. I can cry at a sad movie, I can play piano with so much more feeling, I can read books and actually remember what they are about, I don't just sit paralysed in lethargy, I can enjoy things where before there was only indifference, and I am in the moment instead of always being mentally elsewhere. Even my relationship is better. I've come off ADs before and none of this has happened, I would just slide within weeks and feel silly about stopping them. This time I just made myself start drawing and it all went from there, but it has definitely come at a price. I feel... wobbly. Not sad, just a bit unstable.
Winter will be here before I know it. I'm nervous, clocks changing is a big trigger for me, but I'm hoping having a job/other commitments/school run etc to go to (and a SADlight) will see me through. I can't stand the thought of being medicated again and losing what I've finally found. Because the creative block was ironically fuelling the depression - I resented the fact that I couldn't be free like I am now.
It all sounds really lame, I know. I am not so naive as to think I'll never be depressed again, but I feel like maybe I'm ready to learn to cope with it without ADs and channel any bad feelings into something positive. I know for certain if I went back on them now, I'd lose that.
But of course I could be wrong. I don't know. Enough waffling. WWYD?
You sound like you are in such a good place now Ponty, perhaps you could write a letter to yourself in a few months time just in case you need some help to getthrough possible setbacks... I would have thought you should be able to recognise the very first signs of danger after the experiences you have had so you should make sure you are alert, but without expecting to fall back into depression, it sounds to me like you have every chance of not doing that. Do you know the book "The Artist's Way"? It's great, and she talks about having "creative dates" with yourself, a space once a week to do something creative, be it seeing an exhibition or being creative yourself. Perhaps that could help you as a booster when you're feeling wobbly? I wish you all the best, and most of all, don't be hard on yourself, we all have ups and downs, especially imaginative, creative people like yourself...
Congratulations Ponty, it sounds like you've done a lot of work and something has finally clicked. I really like your description of where you are now.
Do you mind talking a bit more about why you think going back on ADs would make you stop being creative? I'm questionning some of the same things (& have some of the same backstory) so would be very interested.
Thanks for your replies
oneortwoorthree it's funny you mention the Artists Way book (Julia Cameron I think?) as I have that in my attic. It was actually the first thing I ever bought off amazon as my psychologist, an amazing man who helped me so much over 4 years under CAMHS, recommended it. But I was too scared of failing to even try following the advice in the book
butterflybee my problem with ADs is that they suppress everything. It's hard to access any feelings when the pills block them off. Obviously that can be a good thing, as it certainly has for me in the past, and sometimes I couldn't have coped without them. But they (IME) block off all feelings, not just the bad ones. I wasn't sad but I couldn't be happy either.
It's ironic really because repression is a major outcome of childhood trauma - when you're trapped under your abuser you have to get away mentally because it's terrifying. But that becomes a habit for life - I feel like I've not been 'there' (as in, in the present) for years. Therapy did help, he described it as taking a tiny piece out of a box each time and dealing with it before taking out the next bit. We did pretty well, the abuse itself doesn't bother me, but we didn't get through everything else as I got too old for CAMHS. I didn't want to start over with adult services so I've just got on with it since then. But ADs were just brushing everything under the carpet, so I'm hoping now I can deal with it creatively in my own way. I feel ready, I think
Always happiness. I've decided that NOTHING is more important than my happiness, and that it's the thing I'll prioritise and the choice I'll make every time. And I believe that's good for everyone I know, not just me.
I know what you mean about the numbness. It helped me to realise I was doing it to anaesthetise myself, and as such I was doing it to take care of myself the best way I could until I found a better way
Once I stopped judging myself for doing it, I stopped being afraid of feeling things, the highs and the lows.
I don't think of happiness as being the same thing as lack of unhappiness, though. I had to go towards my fears before I could stop being afraid of them, and start really living and loving myself, all of myself.
What are you most afraid of, if you had to describe it? For me it was becoming so unhappy that I wouldn't be able to function any more, that I might just lie on the floor and never get up. It was actually helpful to follow my fear to it's conclusion and look at it (and say 'so what?'!)
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