Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Art and Depression

"Artistic temperament sometimes seems a battleground, a dark angel of destruction and a bright angel of creativity wrestling," said Madeleine L'Engle. "Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one," said Stella Adler. "The urge to destroy is also a creative urge," said Pablo Picasso. “Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity,” said T.S. Eliot. “One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star,” said Friedrich Nietzsche.

Rain over the Pelly Mountains
Original 24"x36" Acrylic on Canvas

It has been said that artists experience mood disorders, depression and anxiety and it is part of the reason why they are inspired to create.  I, for one,  am not thrilled about this.  For as long as I can remember I have suffered from bouts of depression.  I have been in one for about 5 weeks now.  I have made peace with this part of myself and know there are things that I must do when I am in this state, but it is hard.  
I feel flat, uninspired, negative, irritable, anxious and sad.  Physical Symptoms include poor sleep, poor concentration, lack of energy, and appetite changes. There is so much information out there on the subject of depression and anxiety but what I have discovered is that I have to do what works for me, self-knowledge is the key.  My depressions are usually triggered by the change of the seasons: spring and fall. So it is very powerful to know that it is not something I have done wrong when the black cloud descends on my life but... oh yes it is March and this is usually the time.  As a young woman I suffered terribly not knowing that what I suffered from, it really eroded my self-worth.

 Self-care is essential, being mindful... exercising, walking, eating right, reading positive and spiritual literature and talking with a trusted person in a constructive manner about what is happening usually help me to get through. It takes self-discipline.  Sometimes it leaves quickly, other times not. I have learned to accept it and do what I can, it is hard when you don't feel like doing anything.   I choose to take some St. John's Wort as well to help me along with the whole process.  

Then one day I wake up and I realize that the depression has passed.  This usually signals a great surge of creative energy. Maybe this is nature's way of balancing the energies.

"In his book Van Gogh Blues  Eric Maisel proclaims that virtually one hundred percent of creative people suffer from bouts of depression. What might explain this intimate connection between depression and artistic expression? Several reasons have been reported anecdotally. Some say that—like many therapists—artists and writers engage in their special line of work as a kind of self-therapy for depression. Others claim that the experience of depression provides a valuable subject matter for artistic creations, as witnessed by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” and Emily Dickinson’s poem “There’s a Certain Slant of Light." Finally some claim that artists cannot truly understand and artistically express the human condition unless they have experienced "the lowest of emotional lows."
Quotes taken from:
Positives of Art and Creativity

Poor memory and deep sadness, yet superhuman creativity.

1 comment:

  1. I have read a book about the same subject matter which I think was called called "The Artistic Temperament". It is interesting that the rapid change in photperiod (sping and fall) is really hard on some people.

    I do know someone who slows down in the fall to a flat depressive mood.