Category: Childhood

Am I creative because I’m Depressed? Or Depressed because I’m creative? Or is the answer neither? Creativity is something that many people describe as ‘being talented’, ‘naturally gifted’, something special, something innate that cannot be learned, only developed from what we have naturally. We’ve all been in situations where people ‘try’ to act but cannot, mainly because they can’t connect with the feelings of the imaginary situation. Does having a ‘mental illness’ mean that the heightened emotions that we feel enable us to empathise so much more intensely? Is it then a coincidence that the most eminent actors and actresses have been known to have mental illnesses?

We talk about people having a ‘scientific’ mind, thinking in a certain way – it’s happily accepted that logic and science and engineering and being able to think that way is admirable, even though again, those eminent scientists often have mental issues, i.e. Autism, Depression (again) and many others, but it’s never stigmatised to the same level of so called ‘artistic’ pursuits.

I’ve always prided myself on being able to tackle anything – i’ve completed an undergraduate Artistic degree, then re-trained in a postgraduate Scientific degree. Suffice to say I struggled with the Scientific mindset – I find it difficult to see in black and white, believing in only that which is proven… I see all the wonderful greys in between, and it’s not just the colours either, it’s the texture of those greys too… There’s always more than one way to look at a situation.

So as i’ve mentioned before, feeling emotions more intensely is no bad thing, it makes us who we are, and enables us to do things many others can’t. Finding what your creative niche is is the difficult task, perhaps music is my forte, or composition, or writing, or making up stories, or who knows? Maybe I haven’t even found my forte yet… This is why I say you have to try different experiences in life, don’t just sit back and let life pass you by. How do you know what makes you happy until you find it? And even then it may be more than one activity you love. There’s a good chance it will be.

Drug free and thinking clearly for the first time since I started my medication, i’m feeling rather calm and focussed today. My projects have taken a little bit of a back seat whilst i’ve been weaning off the tablets, but now the withdrawal effects have gone, it’s time to take control back of my direction in life…

Hey B – hope you don’t mind, but your comment on ‘Forgotten’ really troubled me. I’m no Doctor, i’m not qualified in anything psychological, but I can only speak from my own thoughts, my own experiences, that which I’ve gathered from others. I want to help others if I can – the point of my blog, so B – this is for you.

Depression is a toughie. It’s hard. Every day is a struggle when bed is so warm and snuggly, and the world can just stay where it is. It isn’t going to stop turning if I don’t get out there and contribute to it. BUT – what good is life if you don’t contribute to it? How can you find the good things, the exciting things, the positive things, the wonderful things if you don’t seek them? Life will never hand you things on a plate. Even if you look at so called rich people, or those who appear to have no troubles, they will have issues they consider insurmountable themselves. It’s all about perception.

So if you’re perceiving things badly why are you doing that? Even if there is no reason (which often there isn’t with Depression) it is how you think that alters your perception. What do you do? The answer is a simple one with a very difficult approach. Change how you think. And even if you can’t change how you think, work to recognise how you think, and then control it. Stop or slow a downward spiral before it happens. This is what meds do for me. Help me to slow my thought processes enough so I can identify my thoughts and deal with them. Now i’m attempting to come off the meds so I can manage my thought processes without them. Who knows if this will be successful? Unless I try how will I know?

I’ve said many times before i’m stubborn, I never take no for an answer, and perhaps this helps me with my condition – but let me tell you, get some fight – how dare my thoughts think they can control my life, i’m in control, and I will not be beaten. So what if it’s a long process? Life is long these days, more time for fun in my book, what’s your creative process? Find something that releases those emotions, allows an outpouring – I promise you B, you find that and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

When you can’t sleep (i’d say because of the thoughts whizzing around your head top speed?) keep a notebook with you, write down what you’re thinking, re-read them, rationalise them, then when you’re ready just put your head down and sleep. Do you paint? Sketch? Listen to music? Create music? Write? Find what it is that you do creatively – nurture it, embrace it, there is nothing wrong with who you are, nothing wrong with what you do.

We have to persevere with this – it does not go away. But it can be controlled, these deep emotions can be flipped, used positively, highs as strong as the lows can be attained – maintained – life REALLY is worth living. Never accept defeat.

Nerves. I’m nervous. Definitely a little more than usual. I’ve always been a nervous performer, hence why I never really did go into performance. I mean I sing well – but I’m nothing special. So, I have a BIG concert tonight. I’m only in the chorus, but the soloist is BIG TIME. I now have this huge fear of forgetting the words to a really crucial bit and the full house and famous soloist is going to notice and I’ll look like a big pillock rank amateur. Well yes, I am an amateur anyway, but that’s not the point.

I know it’s irrational because most people won’t know me anyway, and so what if I get something wrong? True, the concert is going out on Radio broadcast in a few weeks, but it’s not a live broadcast so if it was that horrendous it’d get tweaked or cut i’m sure… Thanks Douglas Adams for this but DON’T PANIC. I keep repeating it to myself. I’ll do my best, hopefully i’ll enjoy it, and more than anything I hope to do myself proud.

Of late, I hadn’t actually been getting that nervous, whether that’s from confidence or whether it was the medication dulling the sensation, I have no idea, but it seems i’m nervous enough today to pierce both confidence and medication. Don’t get me wrong, nerves can be a good thing, make you more alert, pay attention to the details, heightens your senses. But as will all of my emotions, it’s being able to stop them at a decent level before it gets destructive. Being overly happy and overly sad is a bad thing, but also being overly nervous can just turn me into gibbering wreck. A bit like my flying phobia used to. Thing is, in a Concert, if things fall apart people always look to me to sort it out. So I really have to pull it together.

Saying that, i’ve now acknowledged what the dread was that I was feeling in the pit of my stomach – so it’s time to tackle it head on. I think I’ll feel better when I’ve left work and I can slip into pre-performance mode. Get my makeup on, concert gear and flick through my music one last time. It’ll be ok – if others can do it there’s no reason why I can’t either.

Struggling to understand, what is it they’re thinking?

Why do they look at me like that – is something wrong?

Quickly catching my reflection whilst passing a window, as usual not a hair out of place…

What exactly is the problem? Surely it’s not me?

I find myself reminiscing a lot since the realisation of my Depression. When I think about my past I start analysing situations I’d previously overlooked as ‘normal behaviours’. Very much like my previous post noting that others dont equate an extreme of happiness as a consequence of depression as much as they may equate severe sadness. It’s not just others, it’s me as well. The hardest struggle of this disorder is the recognition and tempering of fears and thoughts when they happen. You’re not fighting anyone else, you’re continually fighting yourself…

A close friend of mine was discussing this issue with me this morning, explaining that when she searches for comfort in the present – she looks to the past to try and avoid what she’s done before, analysing and over-analysing. But that’s not what we should be doing. We should be looking ahead, thinking about new accomplishments and new possibilities instead of trying to analyse our old decisions, we shouldn’t encourage troubling thoughts to appear – optimism is the key. Sounds silly really – an Optimistic Depressive? But as i’ve said so many times before, I AM essentially optimistic, I DO look towards the future – and I don’t have to be the only one.

Luckily for me, my Depression is just a part of my personality, nothing horrific has happened in my life to make me this way, so not overanalysing the past is a little easier for me. I tend to obsess over silly things in the present day, then worry how they will affect the future. So remeniscence of late has been an unusual thing for me. I see it as part of my healing, opening my mind – widening my focus and another way to cope.

It’s a funny thing control. Are you in control or out of control? Have you got a grip, or have you lost it entirely? People talk about control a lot, controlling others, controlling yourself, control your mind, your feelings, your urges – it seems everything is about control at some point or another. I’ve found throughout my life however, i’m very good at controlling things about myself – and that way, my control of myself can change the world around me. Or at least that’s what I tell myself in order to make sense of things. Perhaps there’s elements of mild OCD in there somewhere – or maybe that’s just how people actually do deal with things? I suspect not considering the looks I get when trying to explain myself now and then…

Due to various occurrences through my life (yes… I WILL get round to the University years when I get the courage, it was a TOUGH TIME, so it’ll take me a while to face up to reliving some of those memories…) there have been times when controlling myself was the only way to keep me sane – flicking onto ‘autopilot’ almost – i’m sure everyone’s had a moment like that? Whether it’s stepping foot on a scary themepark ride, or waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect in an operation, and all you want to do is run as fast as you can? But you don’t – your subconscious takes over and you do it anyway?

It is a strange thing really because I am rather scared/worried of many things, the usual accepted phobias such as creepy crawlies, clowns etc, and also some much stranger fears such as a fear of furry plants (they might sting), or ‘must wash hands’ after stroking animals, or simply closing my eyes in the shower if i’m on my own in the house… Irrational, strange, ridiculous. I know all of these things, but still… They’re there. That was one relief that my first medication attempt managed… I may not have felt anything except for sadness, however this also had the effect of wiping away my fears too. So despite not being able to feel emotions, I did at least have a period where I wasn’t actively scared by anything.

So how do I control these and stop them taking over my life? With difficulty really. It’s hard not to become overwhelmed by a fear, each time it cycles around your head it gets larger and more fearsome, until the point you do end up having a panic attack. i.e how am I going to cope today? What happens if my other half dies at work today? (Yes – I DO think silly things like that!) Why did that person blank me on the street? Why have I not heard from my Sister in a while? So many little thoughts which get blown out of all proportion. But – there is hope. I used to be terrified of flying. I used to have to go through a ritual – I had CONVINCED myself that if I wasn’t terrified my plane would crash. I had to check my seatbelt three times, ensure I knew how many rows I was from the exits, and read the safety leaflet twice before takeoff, and then panic quietly the whole time I was in the air. Pleasant flying companion I was not. However earlier this year I grabbed it by the horns and re-convinced myself that if I wasn’t relaxed the plane would crash. So now, turbulence is enjoyable, and I love the experience. Control re-gained, however tenuous my reasoning behind it.

Weight is another of my foibles. I have only ever been reasonably ‘skinny’ at one point in my life, and it was my most unhappy time. For this reason I now associate being unhappy with being thin, so although i’m not grossly over-weight, i’m not exactly lithe. This for me is also a control thing. I have had many issues with men thinking they can ‘use me for their desires’ in my life, whether that be beatings or worse, and the worst time for these occurrences was when I was thinner. Having extra fat to make me ‘less conventionally desirable’ allows me to blend away into the background if I want to, become the faceless lump that people don’t see. Don’t get me wrong I can be very flamboyant and stand out from the crowd if the moment takes me, comments such as ‘I wish I could have your confidence and look as good as you at that size’ fly my way very often. And although I know they’re not meant to be derogatory – ‘at that size?’ can only mean one thing. But for me, it’s my protection. My control of those around me. The chubby jovial ‘eager to please’ happy girl in the corner is less prone to attracting trouble, than the overtly curvy, sexy, skinny that turned heads in entirely the wrong way.

Thing is, I know that being as heavy as I am is bad for my health, I recently lost 3 stone to become more of an acceptable size for my health. Still a big girl, but healthier, and TBH I could do with losing another 2 – 3 stone, and i’d still be ‘larger’. But for me it’s about control. Losing weight for me is a huge fear that everything i’m comfortable with, everything familiar and happy could be lost. Funny how Depression affects you – it changes us all in ways that may or may not be obvious at first, but fight each battle one by one – i’m halfway to my goal, I just need the courage to continue this one particular fight with my self-control.


So how did I get to where I am now? It’s a long story, but, I believe I’ve always lived with Depression. From an early age it’s always been there – exacerbated horrifically during my teenage years, and then just struggling on afterwards until earlier this year.

Often as a child, I would know that I was different, would view the world differently to other people… My imagination would always go that one step further than my peers – ET – the supposedly lovely family film gave me hideous nightmares -‘Oh no! ET is sick – what if he passes on the illness to us? We wouldn’t have any immunity against an alien disease?’ My parents bless them – would laugh nervously and just cuddle me, at a loss to know what to say to their terrified 5 year old… But I would eventually get over it until the next terror – Superman being absorbed into an alien machine, UFO’s descending to take over the world to the music of Jeff Wayne… After this period, I taught myself to lucid dream, banishing most of the terrors of sleep, and I also learned another lesson. How to wear a mask. I couldn’t bear seeing my parents so worried about my mental state, so I learned how to pretend everything was ok, to hide my fears, and to protect my parents.

Many times when I was younger I’d hear ‘such a helpful girl’, ‘such a sweet girl’ I always wanted to please and be liked more than anything. To be even slightly rejected or disliked was like a stab through the heart. I’d be told by others that this was normal to feel a little upset, but upset isn’t even close to the feelings that I felt. Truly deep lows, that would cycle round and round my head, ‘why do they not like me? What did I do?’ Even then I didn’t realise how different to others I was and teenage years were no different.

Being a teenager was hell on earth – holed up in my bedroom, screaming at my parents, listening to REM Everybody Hurts on repeat… and then… none of this was enough for how much I despised myself.  As a complete coward to pain, and the fear of upsetting my parents, I chose to hit myself on my cheekbones – if they swelled up it gave my face definition, and I knew I also didn’t bruise there easily at all. I carried this on for a number of years, usually at night and then crying myself to sleep. I don’t quite remember how it happened, but one evening my Mom caught me and threatened to take me to a psychiatrist. Suffice to say it scared me enough not to do it again. My parents were incredibly supportive of my teenage years – many lesser beings would have run screaming and had me sectioned i’m now sure! I never stop apologising to them even now for my irrational, and at times truly despicable behaviour… It’s a testament to my parents that they put up with this and the many other things that I threw at them over the years, even now, I wonder at their patience with me!

I continued my quest to be universally liked all through school, learning to be the comedienne, to wear the mask in order to give people what they wanted, I mean, who wants to see a sad, unhappy face? I learned the ‘stiff upper lip’ retort to ‘how are you today?’ ‘Fine thanks’ whether I actually was fine or not, and spent many hours introverted on my own. When socialising I spent time with select friends who didn’t realise what I was really like, but were just happy with the ‘mask’ persona as I presented it.  Never controversial, completely harmless, affable, funny and just there. My life at school was rather bland.

As successful as this persona was at school, I carried this with me to University – but… My first year at University? Changed me drastically from the eager-to-please, bland, harmless and affable child I was…

%d bloggers like this: