Why Releasing Creativity Can Cure An Introvert’s Depression
A few years ago, there was a guy who told his roommate that he felt like killing himself and his response was, “You’ll be alright dude. Just go outside and do stuff.”
Personally, I feel like a response like that should result with a throat punch. But then my sane self would have to remind myself that not everyone knows the struggles of dealing with depression.
Loneliness. Crying. Feeling helpless. Doing nothing. Contemplating suicide. These are the basics when dealing with depression.
But as much as I’d like to throat punch everyone who ever gave a half-baked solution to someone, there is some truth to it. Not in the way that sounds as easy as turning a light switch on and off. But in a way that relates to introverts and those alike.
Depression, like other mental illnesses, is not something you obtain, but rather something you experience. Depression doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old. Rich or poor. Beautiful or ugly. It affects many diverse groups of people. But there’s a particular type that are usually affected the most.
The ones who tend to muse on their thoughts.
It’s the type of people who contemplate their thoughts and actions. Who think more than they talk and hold a lot of questions in their head.
An example is an early artist from the early 19th century who often expressed despair and depression. He struggled with his inner darkness and dealt with the frequent tortures of paralyzing anxiety and bipolar disorders. His name was Van Gogh.
Chances are you already know about the high profile artist who cut his ear off. Throughout his life, what frustrated him the most was that he couldn’t determine what he wanted to do. Despite what he did that moment, he felt he would only be lying to himself because he knew there was something else in his mind waiting to be unleashed.
The Dangers of Distractions
When we distract ourselves with mindless activities, although it might be fun at the moment, we can already tell it’s not the source to relieve our worries and anxieties. A depressed person might have fun on a roller coaster, but as soon as the ride ends and his adrenaline rush returns back to normal, the same sense of depression returns back to him.
When someone wins a lottery, they receive a high rush of dopamine with the new lifestyle they’re living. But as soon as that rush diminishes, that same depressed feeling returns back to them.
Throughout Vincent Van Gogh early life, he constantly searched for love from many woman. As many would reject him, some would return his affection for a short time. And when those relationships would shortly end, his depression would return.
But despite being in his greatest misery, he still felt a calm, pure harmony in his soul whenever he turned to art. In his quiet moments, he would envision drawings and pictures in his head. And with those compelling images, his mind would be drawn to them until they were released. It was his art that allowed him to stay emotionally balanced.
Like Van Gogh, I noticed a very similar characteristic to introverts who suffer from depression. They first search to end that sense of emptiness and depression by resulting to alcohol, pointless sex, or drugs. They normally have a burning desire to create something that can connect the small dots filling their heads.
For me, it’s untangling the words and thoughts that’s trapped in my mind that lets me make sense of the world. It’s the words bubbling in my subconscious that begs to free.
For Van Gogh, it was creating the art pieces he constantly saw in his head. When he wasn’t sure how to create such an art piece, he would study with other artists to see if he could use their style to release his creativity. He didn’t study under other artists to make art that would captivate millions. His greatest aspiration for studying art was to determine ways he could release what he saw in his mind. It was the bits and pieces that he felt that drove him mad until he painted those pictures.
A Look at Ourselves
Part of the reason we suffer from depression is because our brains attract us to things that’s related to our pain and suffering. We think about the time we were rejected. We think about our insecurities. We think about the time we embarrassed ourselves in front of a crowd. It’s painful experiences like those that loop through our minds.
As thinkers, we naturally replay stressful events repeatedly in our heads, thinking about what happened, what we could have done differently, and so on. We think about it over and over again to get a better understanding of it. This type of focus then give us a feeling of hopelessness.
Obviously, everyone deals with insecurities that make them question what they could have done right to prevent a mistake. But for people who have a higher sense of creativity, they’re more likely to enter a state of depression because of it.
Creativity mainly consist of thinking, and the longer someone thinks about something, the bigger it becomes. When you’re sitting alone with a cloud of dangerous thoughts roaming in your head, you’re not in a controlled state of your emotions.
You’re not thinking, “Oh, I’m depressed. Time to stop that.” No, you’re often wondering how to strip yourself away from that feeling. You’re trapped in a maze inside your mind, searching corner after corner to escape that prison. You question what the puzzle to your depression is.
For less creative people, they’re quick to respond to situations based on what they’ve been told by people in authority such as their parents, teachers, or priests. It’s easier for them to escape their depression when they have an outside source of permission to do so.
Unfortunately for most creative thinkers, simply listening to someone give them permission to be happy doesn’t work. They can’t be satisfied by blindly following orders because they experience the world with a different viewpoint. They constantly analyze every viewpoint and solution, which can lead to them feelings of isolations because they can’t relate to anyone.
Don’t Fight It
This leads us to the importance of unleashing your creativity. It’s pouring out the raw bits of emotions you’re currently experiencing piece by piece until what you’re questioning is finally out in the open. Imagine what you’re feeling is a tangled bunch of Christmas lights. Although it looks nasty, the longer you untangle them the easier it gets to make normal again.
As introverts, we often walk a thin line between extreme talent and internal torment. Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear after an argument with friend Paul Gauguin, and later killed himself. Beethoven and Edgar Allen Poe both suffered from the disease of a dual personality. Isaac Newton suffered from psychotic tendencies, nervous breakdowns, and psychotic depression. Charles Dickens and Eugene O-Neill suffered from clinical depression. Many of Tchaikovsky’s notes highlight his battle with melancholy. He wrote:
“There are days, hours, weeks, aye, and months, in which everything looks black, when I am tormented by the thought that I am forsaken, that no one cares for me.”
But he also saw the joy and beauty in the world, saying:
“I assert that life is beautiful in spite of everything!”
You can even view studies that find people in creative fields such as photographers, authors and dancers were 8% more likely to live with bipolar disorder. It’s not that introverts can’t see the beauty of this world. Rather, it is our ability to contrast the 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows that goes into our creativity. It’s expressing ourselves in a way that words cannot.
The way an artist make sense of what they’re feeling is to release themselves upon their art. The way an author relieves their burden is to write away until every thought and question is out of their head for the moment.
We may not know what idea or project we need to release from our minds. But sitting down and doing nothing about it is like trapping a lion in a cage when it should be out in the wild.
If you trap a lion in a cage, it’s going to feel that lust for freedom. Its legs and muscles are going to weaken because it’s not as active as it should be. That lion roars with the hopes of being released into the wilderness.
The lion may not know what it’s going to do when it gets released. But at least it’ll be in the environment that it was meant to be its true self in. And like lions, you too need to free yourself by turning to a form of art that lets you become one with the moment.
Choose an activity that doesn’t feel like thinking. An activity that feels like you’re releasing a heavy burden from your heart.
At first, it’s hard to do anything when we’re depressed. I hate the idea of writing because there’s nothing in my head and I just want to lay on my couch defenseless. Even as I begin typing, I’m not sure what I’m going to end up with.
But as I take those baby steps with a few words, I begin dwelling on what’s really ticking in my head. As of now, I’m thinking about my insecurities, my relationships, and about the future. I’m scared, and this has triggered a part of my depression that’s causing me to push people away from me.
Lately, it’s been difficult to sit down and release my thoughts onto a piece of paper. I procrastinate writing by doing other activities to keep me temporarily distracted. But nothing I really do relax me.
Originally it was hard to determine what the source to get rid of my emotional suffering. But as I write this article, I realized it’s the act of finally admitting to yourself how you truly feel. Where the simple minded need other people to tell them how to feel, the creative mind needs to admit to themselves that they’re feeling depressed or anxious.
For an artist, they use dark colors to represent their thoughts. For musicians, they compose heavy and deeper notes. For photographers, they take pictures at night and create shadowy backgrounds.
There’s no doubt that there’s a link between mental illnesses and creativity. Especially for introverts. We suffer from feelings of depression because we haven’t found a way to channel that energy into something else. It’s feeling that sense of hopelessness because we want to release those negative thoughts in a way that makes sense of the world, but can’t determine the solution.
For people who don’t know where their creativity dwells
A concern that often catch people are those who know they’re creative in nature, but don’t know what their release channel is. Are they a writer? An artist? Or something else? They have a burning desire to release something in them, but don’t know how yet.
And for those people, the best advice I can give now is to start off with a coloring book. Coloring books may be associated for only children because it’s one of the first distractions we give them when they barely learn how to hold a pencil.
But so is communicating with other people, writing, drawing, and such more. It’s the people who assume you’re too old to do something that ruin the joy of life. But escape the judgment of others by coloring your emotions into a crafted picture. As you see below, there are no rules for what color or design something should be.
Don’t focus on what makes sense in the picture you’re coloring in. Focus on how you see the world in the picture. If you want to color people with blue or purple skin, then do it. Color coordination doesn’t have to make sense in your picture because it’s an representation of your mind that moment.
If you’re ever in a position where someone, especially an introverted friend, is revealing depressing thoughts, don’t be the friend who gives them a half-baked answer. They might sucker punch you. Instead, invite them to do a creative activity you know they enjoy.
For me, Ashley usually gets me in the mood to write when she’s asking questions and inviting ideas to write about. For your friend, they might need someone to paint with them. Or perhaps you can play the piano with them. Or take pictures at night. In some cases perhaps you two can even build something together.
The channel you decide is up to you and your friend so long as it’s something that your friend can connect their mind with. Just don’t leave them alone, and be there to temporarily encourage them to be active their with creativity.
As introverts, most of the time we don’t really care about talking to you about what’s going on in our heads. Not because we don’t want to hear or respect your opinion. It just makes us feel comfortable to know someone is willing to sit next to us in silence as we think to ourselves.
You might think your introvert friend wants you to talk to you about their problem, but what we really want is for you to be near us when we’re down so we could solve whatever issue we’re dealing with in our heads. It sounds strange. I know. But that’s how us introverts behave.
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