Here we go... it's been 4 years since I shared with you my thoughts about creativity, depression, and how I manage them both.
I have been amazed (and sometimes quite overwhelmed) by the response to that article. You have been 100% supportive of me and have also shared heart wrenching experiences.
I want to keep this dialogue open so we can continue to talk about creativity, depression, anxiety, and how we manage it all.
Four years ago I was able to get along reasonably well with frequent exercise (walking, mostly) and a healthy diet. For a lot of people those two things can go a long way toward mental and emotional health.
But then life happened. Things got more complicated. A couple more balls were tossed at me to juggle along with the 10 I was already juggling.
And Anxiety (the 'A' word) struck me like a ton of bricks.
I've always felt awkward at social events and tried to find a friend to stick to. Dinner parties, school fairs, church events - they were all the same kind of uncomfortableness. But I put on a good face, smiled a lot, and pretended that making small talk was the most fun thing ever (even though for me it's NOT!!!).
That's the way I used to manage. Until I couldn't anymore. I'd find myself heading to the restroom at events like that. Even when I didn't need to use the toilet. So I'd fix my makeup, check my phone, and basically hang out in the restroom as long as I could. Until I had to go back because people would probably be looking for me. :(
When my anxiety got even worse, I avoided certain situations completely. Why put myself through that torture?, I thought. I'm a grown woman. I shouldn't have to go to dinner parties if I don't want to.
Then my husband and I seriously quarreled over going to an event that he wanted me to attend with him. That made me depressed - and I finally decided to talk to my doctor.
Now the cat's out of the bag.
I totally expect certain family members to contact me and tell me how _______ (insert: dangerous, useless, wrought with side-effects, or just plain unneeded) medical treatment is for anxiety and depression.
But I'm going to share my experience with you anyway because of the stream of emails and comments that I have received from people who struggle with the same things. I believe creativity and anxiety and depression are all inter-related and many of us suffer.
We may find different ways of coping, but the first step is talking about it.
If you struggle with anxiety or depression and have found a way to cope and find happiness - bravo!
I don't care if you exercise, eat right, talk to a therapist, take medication, create things 12 hours a day, pray, meditate, keep a journal, or do all of those - yay for being okay!
Anyway, I decided to talk to my doctor... he referred me to a therapist and prescribed medication that I can take.
Let me tell you: now I can walk down the hall at church and feel happy to see every person I meet instead of fear that propels me to hide in the restroom. Could a medication make me feel love for others? I doubt it. It can only be that I really do love those people, but my anxiety was getting in the way.
I'm not saying that all my problems are solved. I still need to eat right and exercise. I need to remember that who I really am is more important than who others think I am. And I think that sewing 12 hours a day would really help too. :)
I have also come to realize that some situations will be difficult for me no matter what I take. But with medication I am more the person I want to be. Will I always need it? I don't know. And I don't have to decide that now.
Thank you so much for all your messages of love and support. A sweet reader recently told me, 'after all, God made all the boys and girls who grow up to be doctors, too.' Yes!!! I totally agree. And I'm so grateful.
Let's all seek help when we need it - and be that listening ear or supportive friend too.
For more information, I suggest this article about why attitudes to mental heath matter.