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Depression and Creativity

Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.” ~Marcel Proust

I’ve always believed it when random historical figures remark that those who have the crazy minds are the most artistic. Well, I wouldn’t classify artists as crazy…maybe semi-crazy? Picasso, Pollock, Van Gogh, Plath, and perhaps all of the Bronte sisters. Don’t forget some actors and actresses. I found it interesting that way back when J.K. Rowlings wrote Harry Potter, she revealed she had been quite depressed when she wrote it. She did pretty well.

My book is heavy on how depression affects us, but in a fantasy sense. I am not the girl in the book. She has it worse than I did at seventeen. My husband is not the boy in the book. He didn’t come from another dimension and find me, in hopes of curing me. But–all depression is real and every person is affected differently. (While I’m at it, can I just say that people need to stop using ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ incorrectly? As long as I’m side-tracked here, how about ‘ensure’ and ‘insure’? Nevermind). When I began to write, I was unemployed (and here I am again, in the same place) and I missed working terribly. My kids were in school, and I was alone all day. I started substitute teaching to earn some money. And I wrote. And wrote. I wrote even when I did get my full time job eventually. That job I lost over the summer due to school transitions.  The job I lost that has led me to another weary mind.  But I always have my writing.

I was determined to finish this book while still going through my own bout of depression, because when you are not yourself, and your mind has wandered away for a little stroll, the best ideas arrive. I became so good at staying up all hours of the night, forgetting what time it was until I had to get my kids up for school. And I wasn’t tired! However, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and knowing I was accomplishing something I’d wanted to do my whole life kept me going. I always find, that when I am not myself, the creative juices flow the most. Actually, they don’t flow, they rush like river rapids.  I understand now how some of the famous folks who touched us in a literary or artistic sense, dealt with being off the wall (Picasso) to downright sad (Plath). The craft of making characters come to life and be people who become part of your days and nights is euphoric.

I am not owned by my depression that comes and goes at times, and I learn to cope. I have such a blessed marriage, wonderful children, and family and friends. Though depression interfered in my life, I never stopped being a good mom, good wife, good daughter, sister, etc., etc. I am so happy I can share my finished product with everyone, after eight months of hard work.  And if sporadic sadness brings the story alive in my mind, for another book someday, I will embrace it and realize there is nothing to be ashamed of.  Depression doesn’t come with warning, and it doesn’t leave with one either.

And I will never, ever, ever send anyone my ear in the mail. I promise.

~Christy

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