DEPRESSION & ANXIETY VS CREATIVITY
October 23, 2023 | Author Friend Promo
from Linda Lee Greene
“The poet Rilke was afraid that if he got rid of his demons, he would lose his angels as well. Of course the danger of clinging to our demons to save our angels is that our demons may well take over.”
Boy, do I relate to that statement. I bet a gang of you do, too. My demons began to take over when I was the tender age of sixteen and developed a hyperactive thyroid, wrongly diagnosed at the time, and under-treated for many years thereafter. During those most important years of marriage and childbearing, when, if one can possibly arrange it, it’s a good idea to be at ones best and on top of ones game, too much of the time, I seesawed between depression and anxiety, in my case, depression manifesting as feelings of dissatisfaction, and anxiety as restlessness and a sense of uninterrupted urgency. Believe me, I get the angst of victims of mental disorders.
My children grown and on their own, I ventured into New Age Practices, gave Buddhism a look, tried Yoga, joined a church, read enough spiritual tomes to fill the library of Congress, hunted for a better me in the eyes of lovers who hadn’t a clue (I was divorced by then), all in an effort to just feel better. I finally got diagnosed, the lights came on in my brain, and the mood swings began to level out (but not completely). As a result, I have a life-long dependency on Synthroid, a thyroid replacement hormone, which, most of the time, keeps me just level enough that I don’t tip over into insanity. Now and then, though, the mood swings get out of control, which requires an adjustment in the dosage of the Synthroid.
During my famine years, and before I knew there was a bona fide thyroid disorder responsible for my troubles, I gave various antidepressants a whirl—or more precisely, I contemplated giving them a whirl. The truth is, I got prescriptions for them filled, took them for a few days, and then never touched them again. I was afraid of them! Like Rilke, I was afraid they would kill my creativity, my spark. I was afraid I’d descend, if not into the blackness of full-blown depression/anxiety, but into the gray gloom of a medicated zombie state. I bet a slew of you have also experienced that same fear.
“Blake, Byron, Tennyson, Woolf, Poe, Plath, Kierkegaard, Pound, Hemingway, Van Gogh, Tennessee Williams, Stephen King, Robin Williams, to name a few in an endless accounting of artist-sufferers of depression/anxiety, some of whom are among the eighteen percent of creative people who have committed, or are more prone to commit, suicide than depressed people in the general population. Other mental disorders among artistic people present similar terrifying statistics.
In tandem with my faulty thyroid messing with my moods, the fact that I’m primarily a right-brained individual—an author of fiction, an artist, and an interior designer, also presents tremendous “real-world” challenges for me. When a fire is burning in my right brain, and its light-filled, stress-free, happy, and packed with understanding people hovering steadfastly in the periphery of my existence, encouraging me, supporting my efforts, giving me space and time and freedom to do my thing, life is good for me. But once the project is finished—the book is published, the artwork is hanging on the gallery walls, the rooms are arranged and decorated down to the last knickknack, my Muse retires to her cave. She then pulls its blackout curtain across its door, and wants only solitude and nothing to do with the other side of all her efforts, namely the business associated with them.
How about you? Where do you stand on this subject of depression and/or anxiety vs creativity? If you are a seamstress, scrapbooker, photographer, furniture refinisher, cook, gardener, artist, musician, writer, composer, singer…whatever your creative outlet, do your creative efforts get waylaid by depression or anxiety? This is your forum to talk about it. Talking helps!
The following is an excerpt of GUARDIANS AND OTHER ANGELS, my book of historical fiction blended with my family’s actual story. The selection depicts an amusing, true incident involving apples and my mother Roma before she was my mother. A delicious recipe for fried apples and peaches rounds out this posting. Enjoy!
One of the most enchanting features of the farm was its peach and apple orchard. Disregarding the fact that green apples gave Roma the “runs,” and convincing herself that she would get away with it that time, in a fit of gluttony, she set about one hot summer morning to stuff her belly full of the sweet green teasers. Predictably, later in the day, she found herself in dire need of visiting the “path” as this family called their outhouse, whereupon she sat, for long intervals of time, for several visits in a row.
This was back in the day before fluffy white “Charmin” or any other machine-perforated-roll-perfectly-into-your-hand toilet paper came on the scene; these were the days when pages from magazines, newspapers, and the Sears & Roebuck catalog were special favorites for cleaning the backside. And when paper products ran out, corncobs would do.
This day, Sears & Roebuck were on duty, and Roma, having gone through a good portion of the catalog, pulled up her underpants, and confident her ordeal was finally behind her, pun intended, proceeded to walk to the back door of the house, the door opening onto the kitchen. She lighted into her piled-up kitchen chores, working away uninterrupted for an hour or more, enjoying that peculiar euphoria that comes to one with the release of all the toxins in one’s body, when she realized that the house was unusually quiet, a phenomenon never occurring in that filled-to-human-capacity household. Taking a mere glancing note of it, she continued to sweep away, when out of the distance she thought she heard what sounded like a snicker. She hesitated for a moment, listened, but when all was quiet again, she fell back into the rhythm of her swishing broom. But suddenly, there it was again – a snicker, then two, then three. She realized she had company in the room. She turned to look, and there they all were, all nine members of her family, snickering and pointing at her backside. Horrified, she realized what was the matter, and twisting her head to get a gander at her backside.
Like a dog chasing its own tail, Roma took off spinning around and around in the middle of the kitchen, howling like a dog, and flapping her hand at the offending article protruding from her underpants. In her haste to vacate the outhouse, the tail of her dress had caught in the waistband of her bloomers, and with it, a page from the Sears & Roebuck catalog also had fastened itself there, the page waving like a flag flapping in the breeze and ironically hailing its vivid advertisement of women underpanties.
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Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.
Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger. It was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a hold of her.
She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.
 The Sun, March 2010, “Tim Farrington On Creativity, Depression, And The Dark Night Of The Soul,” by D. Patrick Miller, p 8
 Ibid, p 5