Depression and creativity

I can be quite a creative person, I write songs, poems and I occasionally write stories and short stories. And of course I run RPG’s which can involve a lot of creativity.

However I also get long patches where it’s gone. I just can’t write anything. If I try it dries up so quickly, and frankly it’s poor. All my descriptive abilities are gone, I overuse words and actually can’t think of new ideas. This can also impact on my gaming, I play a lot of narrative heavy games, where you frame your own scenes, or scenes for others and description is good. If I’m running games the fight scenes become – ‘they hit you, you hit them’ – hardly inspiring stuff.

It took me a while but I finally figured it was tied into my depression. When I’m at my lowest points, other than short bursts of inspiration, there’s nothing, although I think part of this may be the lethargy and lack of drive and energy I suffer from as well. When I’m fine, running on what is as close as to what some people would consider ‘normal’ as I get, it’s the same thing. I may get the odd flash, and to be fair my game running is okay, but I can’t write as well as I sometimes do.

It’s when I’m on my way down or on my way back up that my creativity really kicks in. I’m on an upswing (I think) at the moment and was getting ready for work, and suddenly wrote a chorus for a song, not even a song I was already working on, but a brand new chorus, for a brand new song which just came to me. Over the past few days this has happened quite a bit. I now have an 8-9 track album plotted out. One old song from a few years back (downswing), a couple I wrote about 6-8 months ago (which again was a downswing now I think about it). I’ve also been re-inspired by a couple of old ideas from about 4 years ago (downswing) and one from a couple of years ago (upswing). So just by being where I am mentally my creativity is firing on all cylinders – which is brilliant, but also a little worrying. I like the creative stuff I do, but don’t really like being on downswings, and while upswings are ok, it means I’ve been down before them.

As I think about it, and track back over the peaks and troughs of my writing (be it songs, poems or stories), this seems to run true all the way back to before I was diagnosed (by quite some time). I’ve written things I’m really proud of along the way, but then gone long old periods without writing a word worth reading. Until I linked this into my depression I found really frustrating, it probably still will be but at least now I have something to link it to.

I’d never really sat down and thought about it before and it was quite a revelation to me – and one I’m not sure how to deal with. Being creative is important to me, it’s a part of me that I don’t want to lose – how do I balance that with not wanting to suffer due to my depression? I don’t know if it’s something I can wave a wand at and fix, but I do know that just as my creativity is a part of me so is my depression. The fact that they currently appear to be inextricably intertwined is something I’m going to have to live with and deal with. Hopefully I can tap into that creativity when I’m floating along at ‘normal’, in the meantime I’ll take any silver lining I can from my depression.

Watch this space and I’ll dig up some of my stuff and use it with some thoughts as blogs as we go along.

Next up will be the next part of our gaming weekend.

Thanks for reading and stay safe all.

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Author: wraithben

I'm Ben, early 40's and work as a Real Time Analyst in a call centre in the South West of England. In my spare time amongst other things I like to game - computer games, board games and most of all RPG's and Theatre Style LARPS. I also suffer from Chronic Depression.

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