Monday, January 21, 2013

Depression, Creativity and the "Depressionist"

A "Depressionist" accepts the depressions that occur in the creative process. These happen because of self criticism, rejection, boredom, loss of self worth, because you are not immediately creating, inability to solve a creative problem, excessive moment circling about your complicated personality and so on.

Artist, inventors, discoverers and creators all suffer from depression; it is a natural part of the Genio process. No one can avoid it.

Learn to be a depressionist. Split yourself into two parts, do not identify with your depression; create an objective self that watches the depressed self. Manage your thoughts and moods. Build up that inner faith and confidence that knows no matter what, that you will emerge from the depression stronger and more creative. Accept some pain and suffering as part of life and in fact as a prelude to a leap of self growth.

For fun we can put a twist on Nietzsche’s idea: What doesn’t kill you; makes you more creative.

Negative periods are part of being creative. These set the stage for leaps and higher production. And the negative also helps you, propels you to create. When you become tired of a certain style or idea, when you can’t solve a certain problem and so on, the negative can drive you to be more creative.

Minor depressions can appear daily, you may be up and down several times in day as you working on a creative project. Euphoric when you have made a leap, declining when you hit a problem. Larger depressions can run for days and weeks as you try to figure out a seemingly hopeless issue or sink into the mire of doldrums. These periods are thus "objective" and not "subjective", they have their source in the creative process, not in personal flaws or dysfunctions or curses. You may indeed have personal issues but these must dealt with as a separate project.

Also, please understand that the mind is not static or consistent. It is mobile in its very nature, negative will follow positive, just as positive will follow negative. The mind is changeable and complex and self contradictory. You cannot hold a positive thought eternally, it is impossible. Striving for this leads to a kind of addictive behavior we can call “positivism”. Accept that joy and suffering are an inevitable duality in life.

Emotions are very important for an artist and innovative personality. The emotions associated with a depression though negative are not “bad”, they simply “are”. If you lived in a world of no emotions, you would have no positive or negative feelings at all. Existence would be flat, dull, boring, motionless. It is important to understand that emotions are a parallel to ideas that provide us value, tone, attachment, detachment, direction, energy, drive and response. Emotions are the fuel of your mental system while ideas are the guides or steering. Without emotion you have no orientation, you have no attachment to anything, thus you have no passion.

A depression shuts you down, that is its purpose, to stop you from chasing goals, responding to stimuli, having desires. Mother Nature gave you depression to stop your mental system so that you might rest, rethink and reorient yourself. Once done you could then seek goals, have feelings and ideals, escaping from the depression. So depression is a necessary stage in the whole process, do not look at depression as something to avoid at all costs, or something that precedes a horrible disaster. We live in a “positivist” culture that is terrified by negative thoughts, we run to all sorts of antidotes to make ourselves positive again. We do not grasp that depression can be a tool to restart your emotions and your plans. Don’t take it too seriously, just as you should not take your positive states too seriously for they too will pass.

If however you are someone who has a physiological cause for depression or has some issue of dysfunction or unusual circumstances, then you will need to see a doctor and get treatment. For those who have “normal” or transitory depressions we may learn to manage them and live normal lives. For the artist and creative person depression is an old friend, he comes and goes. We are not ecstatic when he drops by, but we know how to handle him and how to get him out the door. And we can even appreciate this friend for he comes when it is time for us to make a leap out of paralysis or a dead end we have met. He can be a harbinger of freedom to come. And when he does not show up for a long period of time, we may wonder have we become fat and pompous, has our creative edge gone dull? Are we complacent, are we now repeating ourselves and not creating anymore? So goes the complicated relationship of you and your depression.

You may even try to escape creative depression by exiting your creative mind. Some may retreat to logic, reason, deduction, copying models, repetitive operations, systematizing and so on, finding some comfort there. And, yes, you will avoid the pain of a creative depression, and perhaps feel calmer and more grounded. But if you are a creative personality, this kind of serenity will be short lived because the desire to create will soon return, and you will then be tortured by the desire to innovate, to associate with the new, to fill the inner blankness. And you will have exchanged one depression for another in the commodity trading of the mind.

More on depression techniques:
The first technique is to accept depressions, expect depressions and to know what they are. The second technique is to objectify the state, that is, to disconnect as best you can. One cannot fully do so, but we can get enough distance to examine our depression and make observations about its trigger, conditions, issues and so on. When we identify or coincide or merge with the emotions, we become paralyzed, and we begin to fall into deeper states of depression each more paralyzing, more negative, and self destructive. We can never fully detach from the emotions and pain, but we can detach enough to manage and then triumph over the situation.

When we do not coincide objective and subjective, then we can have some clarity and a plan. We can objectify in various ways by telling ourselves that others have gone through this before me, we begin to analyze the problem, we can begin to write a story about the issue, we can tell ourselves that the process will make me stronger and wiser etc.

Faith becomes an emotional tool here, if we develop a faith that we will get through this depression no matter what and things will turn out fine, we have a powerful force working for us. Hope and faith help us look at the problem objectively because in fact we will get through our despondence. So the emotional and subjective now become objective, it objectifies the process for us.

We can visualize ourselves triumphing, we can refuse to let go of our pure ideals and go up into our minds. We are composing a self mythology to pull us through any situation that will contain elements of patience, courage, will, the drive to survive and more.

After repeated bouts with depression, your faith gets stronger, other techniques to boost your ego come into play automatically.

When you begin to analyze your problem, you identify issues and failures. You then develop a plan to fix things. In the course of this you will develop techniques and methods. All of this focus keeps you objective and in a state of faith. Energy is released by the plan itself because when we set a target in the future, the future sends energy to the present, it unblocks the flow for you. Energy flows from the future not from the past. Those who live in the future are active, those who live in the past are indolent.

Optimism returns as your plan begins to work. The big problem which completely stopped you is dissipating. It was never a "big" problem. The multiplication of the problem was a kind of feedback loop that you needed to break out of.

You have a new approach or focus or identity or set of skills. The depression is gone, you are positive again and racing toward new ends. The depression has served its purpose.

You have in the course of this process disconnected, gained faith, had realizations, made reversals of perception, grasped new truths, reorganized and re-planned. Confidence and optimism have reappeared. Life energy has returned.

One more thing: In the course of your challenging depression, you will flounder about. The more difficult the issue, then the more confusion and experimentation. Expect this and faith will get you through. Patience and a long view of time are required. While you wander about just be concerned that the general direction is forward.

And also relax and accept that you are a “fool”, just a Human being who is imperfect and bumbling along. When you become humble and somewhat imbecilic, you can laugh at yourself. It helps. Mistakes and falls are part of our finite existence. We are not perfect and this is how we learn. And even the best have foibles, idiosyncrasies and flaws. A Human being has a very complex brain, we tend to meander all about into a great range of behaviors, some good, some bad. We have a great mental universe much of which is out of our control, and believing that you can control this universe is foolish, one form of foolishness you should not accept.

Please note that joy and suffering, depression and optimism are dualities of life, you cannot escape them. In modern society are two errors. One error is to identity or coincide or merge with the depression and this makes it much, much worse. The second error is to seek a constant state of euphoria, the evasion of depression and the negative. This type of behavior has many forms, an absurd stress on the positive, chasing after states and moods that give a euphoric response. This mindset leads to addictions and frantic behavior that avoids negative states. Unfortunately, our culture promotes this “positivism” through consumerism, entertainment, chemicals in food, alcohol, illegal and prescribed drugs, sex obsessions and so on. We are encouraged to repeat these moments of euphoria over and over, hence the malady of “momentia” arises – the fixation with a moment and its repetition. This force in our current culture increases depression and makes it worse.

Positivism arises from a background of "negativism". The givens of our modern world include alienation, disconnection and loneliness. This is the fundamental structure or "anti-structure" of our culture. Add to this that we offer no training to the young in their emotions and psychology, nor to adults for that matter. This results in a nation of individuals who are generally ignorant of their inner world and how to manage its ups and downs. Consumerism, marketing, entertainment, media and politics then come along to manipulate the innocent and naïve, offering false solutions, distractions, misdirection.

About Positive and Negative Mind
Generally speaking a creative person will have positive feelings about herself or himself, about their works. Successful creativity creates a grounding and increased self worth. But negative feelings are also part of the creative personality; these are necessary and must be accepted and used.

A related idea: The mind is device that is mobile and inconsistent. Emotions and ideas wander all over. We cannot hold the mind into any fixed position for long. If you want to stick to some idea, the mind will argue with it and examine other ideas. If you want to just be positive, the mind will go negative on you. If you want to stick with one emotion, the mind will bring in other emotions. The brain is a mobile device; the mind is an inner Diverse of change, duality and complexity. Why is it this way? Because this is the way of the cosmos, everything has a diverse nature, why should you be different? Learn about this, accept it, and then use it. The transitory and inconsistent nature of your mind is a great asset that gives you a vast inner realm with many powers. A changeable mind is hardly a sign of being weak willed. The only issue is to manage this complex affair. And you will certainly never get bored, and you will have an endless appreciation of your inner riches.

Depression is not fun but it is part of life, especially creative life. It is one of those negatives that if properly handled yields a positive. A depression is painful but then again there are many things that we do in life that are painful to one degree or another: we exercise, we study, we work hard. We do these things because we know they are necessary and that they will yield something positive. The same goes for depression.

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