I feel extremely fortunate to have the friends I have. Their generous sharing of wisdom has – especially over the past year – helped me find a way forward, through the treacherous mires of depression, heartache and creative disconnection.
There were times when a comment or message would have such a profound impact on me, I’d find myself reaching for my journal to get it down before it went adrift in the ether. Over time, it dawned on me that I needed to share some of the wisdom being shared with me.
I’m putting up this post with the hope it’ll enable someone else who has found themselves weighted down with ill mental health, an aching heart or creative detachment to find some clarity and comfort.
Note: Nafre, Arctic dweller and the man behind Hurlements Sur La Toundra said ‘Shamans were often lonely too,’ and inspired the title of this post.
On Artistic Frustration
“…perhaps it’s just time for a wee rest under the Cold Moon until the muse comes whispering.” – Kirsten.
“Do what you need. Words can be patient like trees and snow.” – Ian.
“So many ways available to us to express don’t feel blocked because one won’t flow.” – Susie.
“All creativity is creativity. You have never once stopped being an artist, even though words feel far away – perhaps they are just the wrong tools for what you need to express right now.” – Kirsten.
On Not Being Able To Talk
I’d posted a status update about being a wreak and that ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ and ‘I don’t know’ was pretty much all I could say.
“Yes, no and don’t know are highly under-rated. They say what they mean and are to the point. So long as you’re saying yes to yourself and looking after yourself.” – Ian.
On Art & Mental Health
“….we need art for the sake of our mental health. I work in secondary mental health and I think art therapy is so key but art psychotherapists are few and far better. Keep your head up, your eyes open and your camera snapping.” – Brittany.
“….transmute pain into art.” – Jon.
“We are all makers of magic, and masters of resurrection.” – Anne.
On Writing, Depression & The Inability To Be Inspired
“Periods of depression block your ability to absorb from the outside world, and to work out your internal world – basically the sources of your inspiration. So it’s not just the act of writing that’s dried up, but the ability to be inspired and find inspiration.” – Ian.
“Write anything, even if it’s crap. Just get the words on the page. It seems to help push through.” – Hayley.
On Starting From Scratch
I’d written a post about having to start from scratch as a writer and how I felt as though the very essence of my being- my creativity – had been stolen away by depression, but how I wanted, desperately, to make something.
“Try giving yourself some good reading. Find some good poetry that you haven’t read before. Feast on it. Your soul might need to rest now and nourish itself.” – Janet.
“I have felt like this for a while now and never knew if anyone could totally understand what I was feeling… I’ve told my fiancé many times that I feel like someone just suddenly stole my essence. I was always filling notebooks with words and now I struggle to finish one paper. I am not sure what happened. Did my muse die? I’m expressing this because I just want you to know someone can relate. I wish I had words of comfort but I know nothing said can fill this odd hole. Hang in there. It is still in you. I am sure you will find it again. You’re meant to.” – Melissa.
“I know how this can feel… as if time is ticking by and you’re losing the precious time that you would otherwise be creatively using if your head wasn’t so quiet and you can’t quite figure out why it is so quiet, as it wasn’t before. At least that is what goes through my own mind. But we also must remember that this happens to the best of the creative beings at times. We must try not to beat ourselves up over it. Perhaps these dark moments are being built as their own sort of muse to harness later.” – Melissa.
“A spark creates a fire. A fire that you know you have in you already from before. You are a magic being slowly emerging from your chrysalis. There’s no rush.” – Melissa.
“I’ve gone from writing a 100,000 word novel and then a 25k one and a short film script to not being able to make coherent sentences. I should probably acknowledge that it comes and goes like the tides. But I can’t escape the terror and dismay when the tide goes out and I’m left high and dry. Being without words coming out is frankly terrifying, weirdly. Maybe you get that, too. I mean, I wish it could average out but nah why would life be that straightforward? try and read and get out – woods n stuff you like. Refill the tank. Sounds so simple doesn’t it? Would that it were!” – Ian
“…as I’ve got older I’ve found that creativity is a cyclic thing. It doesn’t stay at the same level throughout one’s life – I don’t think it’s SUPPOSED to – but it ebbs and flows in response to our circumstances and (I suspect) to our mental and physiological changes as we get older. When mental health needs are caught up within the experience, I suspect the ebbs and flows are that bit more dramatic.It’s easy to say “this too shall pass”, but at the risk of sounding glib, it will. The fact that you WANT to create, that you’re at a point where you can engage with the struggle, is a sign of how far you’ve come along the road. And when the struggle feels too much, as it sometimes will, keep in mind that these present thoughts and feelings and experiences are part of the incubation process that will – eventually – give birth to creative output. What you’re going through now will become part of what you create in the future.” – Andy.
“Do you work with tarot? I haven’t written anything for 9 months and counting and have gone through a lot of different feelings about this, and reasons for it, and what my identity is if I can’t or don’t write during that time. About the only thing I’ve found to help when it’s making me despair is working with the hanged one, just being present in that state of liminality without thinking about how it may evolve, trying not to resist the discomfort or seek resolution, trying to be ok with non-action.” – Kitty.
“Some years ago I went through a long deep darkness and lost my will for words. I turned to a different medium instead and let that do its work while it served me. Words will return to you, but until then you need to let things take a new form (including your heart). And read. Read, read, read so other words can carry you while yours are weak.” – Vali.
On Planning A Creative Day
“I would say, don’t plan a ‘perfect, creative day’. Plan a ‘creative day’, and allow for anything to happen… Plan to be creative and just see what comes of it. If you create something wonderful, then perfect! That’s a bonus! If you don’t create something, well, it’s OK – it was always a case of ‘let’s see what happens’, and when being creative, sometimes you are just experimenting to find out what doesn’t work just as much as you are finding out what does.” – Phil.
“Shamans were often lonely, too. This gave them power.” – Nafre.
“I refuse to be undignified by anything; and I encourage my dear friends, who are themselves prophets of higher, deeper, darker and brighter things, to wander, wander, wander with their heads high into that very same sky which will crush us. We have been strong in our wildernesses, as we are and will be!” – Nafre.
On Suffering & Overcoming
“I do think in this world we are all truly alone; however, our suffering is like a language, isn’t it? I wish you all your strength, all your fight, all your hunger, and all your dreaming. I believe you will overcome. May you strike the void with your heart and make it resonate with your will!” – Nafre.
On Moving Forward
“There was nothing necessarily wrong with the old you, but why does the ‘new’ or next chapter of you have to go back to being like you were before? What if you’re just putting expectations on yourself that you don’t need to in order to progress?” – Mark.
On Writerly Struggles
“Wordsmithing is very much like hunting. So, when one catches not the prey, it is perhaps more so because the animals are playing us. As with the hunter in the tundra… patience. Go still, and hunt!” – Nafre.
On Not Giving Up
“Please do pick up your camera, magic happens when you do.” – Kev.
“Take care with your one precious life.” – Susie.
What I Was Listening To When I Was Putting This Post Together
The Shrouded Republic by Project Lono (This has been created by some very good friends of mine. It’s truly excellent and I really recommend you dropping by BandCamp to give it a listen!)