So… it’s been awhile since I have populated this site with any content. Two months to be exact.
Being a creative can be hard.
Being a creative while managing severe depression can feel damn near impossible.
I started this website with the goal of writing 3 articles a week and creating 1 video weekly.
The last video I made was three weeks ago and it was by far my least favorite. All that work that went into it and my feelings about what I created were lukewarm at best.
What have I been doing in the time since then? Well it really depends on the day but more than likely a mixture of napping, making sandwiches, gathering the strength to complete freelance projects because you need them to live, applying for jobs that I need but do not want, drafting ideas that I don’t have the motivation to complete, crying, feeling ugly, endlessly scrolling Instagram and feeling like I failed. Oh, and more naps!
I know it doesn’t seem like it, but that’s a busy schedule! Although it may seem as if I had been away for a while, I haven’t. I’ve been right here the whole time waiting for the day where I felt enough mental strength to create again.
Since that day is today, I figured I’d make a list of things that have helped build me to the point of being able to write this post.
A Connection To Something Greater Than Yourself
Whether it be one of the many forms of God that people choose to worship, or a nearby lake, I have found that it’s helped me immensely to find a form of spirituality to connect with. For those of us who may have issues connecting spiritually to a particular religion, I would suggest thinking of your ancestors and all the endless choices and decisions that led to this moment.
Having some form of spirituality is a reminder that you are, in fact, here for a reason.
I have a strong connection to nature and my favorite thing to do is sit by the Hudson River Docks in Harlem and watch the water. The eb and flow calms me and gives me the clarity and gratitude to see all that I do have.
Pick a Vice…& Stick With It!
There are so many temporary coping mechanisms to choose from. So many that I advise and encourage you to pick only one as your vice of choice. It’s best to pick one that makes you feel good, but is not destructive, helps you be more productive, and if possible non-habit forming.
Yeah you might gain a few pounds, but whatever gets you to the point of feeling content enough to continue creating. So pick one vice from the list on the left, and try to avoid the list on the right.
Good Vices Terrible Vices
The Self-Help Section
I love the self-help/ life coaching genre of books. I buy so many that I end up using them as resource books. They are littered with affirmations and meditation techniques.The following books have helped me navigate myself towards a path of optimism and self-reliance when it felt like I was grasping at straws.
This book is all about the art of mindfulness and how your thoughts are just that, thoughts. They are not who you actually are. When you are awake and fully present, you are operating under your true self. If this sounds like some Oprah shit, it is! The few times I’ve been able to snap out of my depression have been the times that I made a conscientious choice to be mindful. This book is a great guide to quieting the constant stream of thoughts that do absolutely nothing but stop you from truly living.
The Washington Post described The Artist’s Way as “a program designed to help readers reject the devils of self-doubt and pursue creative activity not as a profession, but as a form of therapy.”
This book quickly became a good friend to me. The kind of friend who has been where you currently stand as a frustrated artist, and figured out how to get out of your way in order to produce the art you were put here to create.
I found this book to be a great motivational coach and reminder of what I already knew. I am a Badass! I just lost myself for a minute there. Sincero suggests daily use of affirmations and the power of positive thinking to combat the influx of negative thoughts. Especially for those of us who are anxiety prone.
Be Kind To Yourself
On my darkest of days the thing that really sends me into a deep spiral is the way is my nasty inner dialogue.
“You spent all this time making this and it’s not even that good.”
“What if all this effort is a waste of time?”
“You’re a fucking mess!”
You see! I can be really mean to myself sometimes, but I’m not a mean person. I would NEVER talk to anyone else this way. So why am I so harsh on myself? I honestly have no idea. It scares me how natural it comes. But just as I learned to to be down on myself, my job as a GAW (Grown Ass Woman) is to learn to build myself up with kindness and with love.
So instead I start to say things like
“You haven’t overdrafted your checking account in 2 weeks. Get it!”
“What if all this effort actually pays off?”
“You’re a fucking star!”
Pay yourself compliments at least three times a day. Give three different people a compliment a day, even if it means posting in on a distant relative’s Facebook wall. Take every opportunity you can to pour love into yourself and if the mood strikes you, into the world around you.
Share your personal coping mechanisms in comments below!