More Adventures With Depression, Anxiety, OCD, And Creativity

Dream Bird In Flight

Dream Bird In Flight

For those of you who don’t know, I started taking depression medication last September. I’m very happy to tell you that after seven months we finally found the right kind and got the dose adjusted to what I need. This took such a long time because when the medications took care of one problem another one popped up. I cycled through depression, severe anxiety, and even OCD a few times before my moods finally smoothed out. (It was a lot like playing Whac-A-Mole, only I was both the whacker and the whack-ee. Ouch.)

I tried these kinds of medications several years ago too, and it was lousy experience. I was working at a factory and had decided to take a quality control position that required me to be very vocal and deal with people all day long. In other words, the job required me to be someone I am not. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I do remember the extra money sounded awfully good at the time. Anyway, I thought my shyness and social anxiety were the only things standing between me and that good paying job, so I decided to try taking anxiety medication.

One after another, each drug I tried caused side effects that I couldn’t live with or else didn’t work at all. My doctor finally prescribed one, out of exasperation I suspect, that made me extremely sleepy all the time. After a few months on that drug, it seemed like the stuff was suppressing my creativity and even though I was willing to do a lot to be successful at that new job, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my joy of creating art.

I quit that job, stopped taking the drug, my creativity woke up again, and my life went along pretty well as long as I didn’t have to do a lot of talking, or be around too many people, or deal with too many new situations. Until last summer. In the middle of that lovely warm season, a huge wave of depression rolled over me and would not leave. I was not that familiar with depression, but I found out that it’s a crushing soul numbing monster to live with.

Eventually I was too depressed to even pick up a pencil and it became apparent that my creativity was at risk again. I had to think long and hard about if it was riskier to try medication again or to wait and see if the depression would lift. Either way it seemed like I was gambling with something very precious. I compromised and tried St. John’s Wort. It didn’t work. I was out of options.

This time around, thank the Powers That Be, we found a medication that works well and the seven months of effort to get here was worth it. Looking back, I think the sleepiness caused by the last drug was the creativity killer and not the drug itself, because this time my creativity has enthusiastically and joyfully increased. Constantly dealing with depression or anxiety takes a huge amount of energy – it’s a lot like trying to run a race while carrying a bag of bricks – and now that I don’t have to deal with them all the time, my creativity has all the energy it needs. My shyness and OCD have improved too, because all these things are related. My load truly has been lightened, and I feel a lightness of spirit that I haven’t felt in a very long time.

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About Carol

I'm an artist, an accidental author, and lover of life. I grew up in Yorktown, Indiana, and I've been writing this website since 1999.
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5 Responses to More Adventures With Depression, Anxiety, OCD, And Creativity

  1. josh says:

    Hey Carol, would you mine naming the medication you are taking? I m in a creative field as well and thinking of going on these type of medications.
    Thanks!

  2. Ahna says:

    Carol,

    Your website has inspired my so much. I too, like you, am an artist but with raising a family and fighting a nasty divorce in 1992 and deaths in the family that started my long trip of depression and almost a nervous breakdown in 2010, I finally went back to antidepressants. I tried Prozac before and it did great but supressed my so bad. I then took myself off of it and suffered for years again with depression that had turned into compulisve disorders of one extreme to another then anxiety. I am now back on medication this time and seem to be having luck with Zoloft.

    To get to what I’m telling you, is that I still struggle with motivation. Of course it does not help being pregnant again at 42 when you thought you were done and the oldest is 20, 12, and 7. I am now home and not working and can’t seem to find a good job or at least one in the field I studied for. So now my husband is on me about getting my art going and making money. Tell me that is not pressure. I consider myself as a Hinz 57 or a Jack of all trades. I do pretty well when I get started but I don’t have a zoned area for myself. I have currently tried photography and like it alot but limited because of the seasons.

    I have done water color and sketching and like you I like the black and white and shading so much more. I love water color but it scares me a little and is very intimidating. Maybe it is the complusive problem I seem to have and I get to critical of my work and then fed up with it.

    I guess I wanted to let you know that it is nice to read your bio and know that I can make a difference in the way I do things since I have been studying your technique and getting more information than I ever have had. Thank you for sharing your personal life it is greatly appreciated.

  3. Carol says:

    Hi Ahna,

    I can certainly identify with cycling from depression to anxiety to OCD and then back again! Egads – what a horrific thing to go through! Thank goodness you found a drug that works. Finding the correct kind can take months and months, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

    Something has popped into my mind after reading about the kind of art you enjoy making. Have you ever tried sculpture? Drawing is very close to sculpting because it deals directly with form and texture, and indirectly with line and value. Small sculptures seem to sell pretty well from online shops like Etsy.

    I think you would benefit if you found a medium or subject that excites you, and then allowing that energy to be your guide. This kind of excitement adds fuel to the creative fire where more possibilities are generated, and they in turn keep the fire fed. It’s a self-generating process if you can just get it started.

    Finding that spark of creativity is tough sometimes though, and it sounds like that’s where you’re at. Here are somethings to keep in mind:

    1. Look for the medium or subject that gives you the most pleasure to work with.
    2. Let the energy created by that pleasure inspire your next step.
    3. All artists have to go through this, or at least I know I did, so try to keep it in perspective. It’s another step of the journey and not a brick wall you can’t get around.
    4. Persevere. Keep going. Don’t stop moving. That energy is out there somewhere and you’ll find it eventually if you keep looking.

    All my best wishes to you,
    c

  4. April says:

    Wow, I am bipolar and prefer to stay unmedicated. I find I prefer feeling strong emotions to the numbness of antypsychotics and mood stabilizers. At least I know I am me and not being someone I am not on medication. I may need it again eventually, but I am enjoying not having to take anything right now. Congrats Carol on finding one that helps your symptoms and still lets you live life.

    • Carol says:

      Hi April,

      My mother was bipolar and I inherited a capability for huge mood swings from her. In fact, the idea-phoria I used to have lasted for a couple of days and the energy generated during it was so intense that it was painful. With the drug I’m taking now though, the idea-phoria state only lasts for an hour or two, but t’s still very intense and I usually have a headache afterwards.

      Here’s the thing about my very ‘up’ states that I’ve come to realize – the ideas I have during them are extremely creative but they are nearly always not doable! So, I’ve learned to not act on any of them until I’m calmer, especially if the idea is about altering a drawing I’ve been working on for a while! That ALWAYS leads to disaster!

      So, I send you soothing waves of energy because I know a little about how difficult being bipolar is from my own partial version of it, and from watching my mother’s moods swing from ultra high to deep low over and over again during her lifetime. If ever you find that you can’t balance yourself, please don’t hesitate to try new drugs. The medication I take now doesn’t change my feelings or effect my creativity, it just shortens the intense mood swings and makes them more tolerable. I wish these new drugs were available when my mother was alive. They would have changed her life.

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