Trying to create in a bout of depression is different for everyone. Sometimes you can let your emotions fuel you. Sometimes you can write what you swear to god is the Moby Dick of your time. But all artists suffering from mental illness know the cruel sting of being caught in the cross hairs of depression and a complete lack of motivation. How do you overcome that? How do you find cathartic release when every stroke of the brush feels like bullshit?
You’ve been there. Every attempt at creating something ends in you hating it and telling yourself that you should just quit altogether because you fucking suck so much. And even though you know you’ll just end up hating yourself and drinking a six pack alone, you still try to start a new piece because it’s all you know how to do to deal with your own inadequacy. Like a lemming into the sea, you dive into that project that you swear will take your mind off of existing and it ends up throwing a brick through your window.
Know this: IT’S OKAY. The best part about art, which as our own worst critic we often forget, is that it doesn’t matter if it’s good. It just matters that it’s yours. No one said that because you’ve got 8 years of painting experience that everything you do has to be gallery material. No where is it written that if you’ve got a degree in writing that everything you put on paper should go up for a Pulitzer.
The honest to god best thing for you to do when you feel that way, just to have something to build, is to get silly. Grab your expensive sketch pencils and draw a stick figure family. Finger paint a house and a dog for them. Hot glue sequins where light bulbs would go.
Record a doo wop song on your shitty phone recording app, written entirely about corn flakes. Drag it into Logic and add a beat made of sleigh bells. Make the cover art in Microsoft Paint; don’t forget to create your own custom color swatches in shades of puke green.
Draw smiling spiders all over your legs with Crayola markers. When they start to make your skin crawl, give them top hats so they seem non-threatening again. Take a bath when you get tired of the spiders and watch the colors swirl around in the water. Take pictures of the water and keep an album of the photos on your high school photo bucket account.
Lay on your back in the dining room and read a book of poems. When you feel bored of your chosen wordsmith, take a red ink pen and start making revisions. Sing loudly to whatever music you’ve decided soothes you while you make reckless cuts and additions.
Even if you don’t “feel like it,” you need to step back and laugh at yourself. We are such tiny creatures in this vast, shit show of a universe. Who cares that on Tuesday when you sat down to make a grandiose and haughty piece of art, you decided to get silly and love yourself like a child instead? I’ll tell you who cares. You. Nobody else. Take your time when things don’t happen naturally. Take time to massage your creative muscles instead of flexing them 24/7. You are a creative. You are not a stone.