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Submitted on
January 27, 2007


4,121 (7 today)
  • Mood: Worried
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On why I don't comment to every submission

Due to notes of support and interest, the chatroom BlockBusters is now open.  If you are interested in moderating and have a calm, patient moderator personality, note me.  I'll be there from time to time but definitely would love to have someone with experience and understanding of creative block, burnout, depression and so on who will be there more often.  Note me!

It's been suggested by many researchers that creativity and depression are often coexistant in many individuals.  Some say there is a biochemical factor, while others point to the fact that the areas of the brain that are most active during creative processes are also the areas most active during depressive episodes.  Whether the emotional instability spurs the creativity or vice-versa is not certain, but what is certain is that there are many, many of you artists who suffer from manic-depression, schizophrenia, crippling depression and paralyzing burnout.  

Someone very near and dear to me is suffering greatly from the inability to draw, which is how this person earns a living.  What used to be a joy is now terrifying and where once they could spend 16 hours a day happily creating art, they find themself shaking and in tears at the very thought of picking up a pencil.  It's surely the stress of having to please art editors and the critical public, but what I want to ask you all is this: are there any of you who also experience this?  If so, what do you do?  How do you get past the self-doubt and anxiety attacks to become prolific again?  When all inspiration is gone, how do you push yourself through?

I hope some of you will post some of your own wisdom of experience.  And I hope that any of you suffering this right now will find some comfort and guidance.  I hope this can open a discourse on burnout, depression, and work-related problems.  And finally, if anyone wants to open a chatroom (or join one if I open it) focusing on support for the seriously depressed (not just emo.  I'm talking clinically depressed) then post a note here.  I can't fix my friend.  I don't have the experience to fully understand.  So please help.

F102 - Burnout by markus71

Articles of interest:
Brain Regions May Sap or Spur Creativity
Eccentric Artists and Mad Scientists
Defining Mental Illness
Creativity and Burnout
Anxiety Disorder

Save The World - One Click At A Time!

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Size Acceptance Stamp by BountifulPimp the Cobweb by lindowyn-stockExperimental Gif by lindowyn-stock
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lindseycarr Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2007   Traditional Artist
I would suggest giving 'The Artists Way' by Julia Cameron a read - but really the person needs to do the excercises. Cameron is a writer and initially started out helping other writers get over creative blocks, but it works just as well for any other kind of artist.

I couldn't recommend it enough, it sent me back to childhood where picking up a pen and drawing had no attachments beyond having fun.
AdokenaiHitomi13 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2007   Traditional Artist
I'm so sorry about your friend. The only thing I can suggest is taking a break if he/she can. I had to do that, take a break from my job (I'm only 17, so it's just a grocery store job, but it really helped all my problems).
I'm young, but I've had experience in severe depression; I'm on 15 miligrams of Celexa now and it's finally helping, not much else has.
From what it sounds like, your friend really needs a break. He/she needs to relax, remember that they ARE good, obviously if they're getting so many jobs (I assume so, because that would create stress) and that he or she should consider talk therapy along with changing their medications, trying another one. Tell your friend that from one crazy, depressed artist to another, I hope he/she finds peace and security.
RetroZombie Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2007
My goodness! I hate it when I can't get onto dA (at any great length) for a while... I missed this whole thing! I'll try to find time to get onto your new forum, though, if only to offer sage advise and seem with-it and together! (:giggle: yeah, right!)

I hope things are looking up for your friend - being blocked is a real drag! I haven't had it artistically (since I've only been back into it for a short time this time around) but I have had major "slumps" professionally (in software development - which has a large creative component that most people don't appreciate ;)) I've found that the only way to get past those is to get myself onto a completely different project so that I can flush all the baggage that has built up with the one that gave me the slump. That's not always easy, though... but somehow I've managed it several times!

Don't know if that's even a speck of help, but there you have it. ^^;

(On to the next journal! Away! *swoop*)
Hotdamnman Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2007
Your friends over at are having a discusion about this in the creativity forum.
btw, I found you through them.
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2007
Thanks for the notice!
thepurplemonster Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2007
Mmm. Burn outs+ depression suck.. I've not gotten to the point of actual anxiety attacks, but I can still sympathize. Its what everybody else has said, I suppose.. proffessional help, family and friends support, etc. I honestly can't think of anything else that helps, because I can't even control it over myself.. it can get really bad, I know. :hug:s to your friend.
arabianne Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2007
Wow... so glad to finally see this topic discussed somewhere. For as long as I can remember, I can remember periods of depression. At other times, I went through mad wild periods of seething creativity that seemed to pour out of nowhere.

My husband and I have been together for ten years. In the last few years, with his insight, I've been able to see that all of these things may be interconnected. I've never really understood before why sometimes I want to write like there's no tomorrow, or at other times, it's impossible to even make a mark on the paper. And the same thing with my artwork. Sometimes I'm filled with ideas, other times, I can't face another blank page. It was he who first suggested that I might be bipolar.

After facing the possibility, I was able to see where this might be benefitting me greatly in the creative world. I did a lot of research, and came to the conclusion that if this is indeed the case, I've experienced hypomania, which gives me soaring heights of creativity and insight where I'm incredibly productive, and probably only one episode of actual mania in my lifetime (which, to the contrary, is so intense that there's no way to string two thoughts together, much less create something coherent). It would also be a good explanation why antidepressants that I was prescribed while in the depressive phase tipped me over into awful and uncomfortable periods of anxiety.

I know that the option is always out there to go in to the doctor and get an actual diagnosis, but we've discussed it at length, and come to the conclusion that the risks aren't worth it. I can't risk losing my creativity altogether, and I feel that that's what medication would do to me. At this time, if it's indeed bipolar disorder, it's relatively mild. And with both of us aware of my 'patterns' and what they mean, it makes the ground much more stable beneath our feet. I've come to recognize the signals of each mood, and most of the time can utilize the 'up' times to the best advantage, and my family understands and can deal with the 'down' times more easily when they know the 'why'.

I feel like flying when I'm up. When I write, and I'm up, it's as if I'm just a conduit for the muse, as if things just flow through the keys without my input at all. And I find that that's when I do my best, most natural, work. Does anyone else?
Jenevah13 Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2007
Alright, this journal came at a very good time. I have a recommendation for Three GREAT books to get on the subject of art and creative blocks etc. :
1. Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland
2. Fearless Creating by Eric Maisel, Phd.
3. Organizing for the Creative Person by Dorothy Lehmkuhl & Dolores Cotter Lamping.

Funny, I started re-reading these myself recently as I'm still trying to start my new years resolution! (Starting the first of Feb instead) Of trying to get back into my art again.
it's been hard with a 2 year old hanging all over me all day every day, since when I do create I have to be able to really have some time to myself since they're so detailed, I really get into it, so it's been a real struggle the last 6 months or so.
These books are really good for inspiring as well as giving some insight as to why making art can be such a struggle and some of the mental processes behind it all. My copies are very underlined and dogeared! But it seems to be a help to refresh how you think about what it is you want to be doing!
AngelaSasser Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2007  Professional General Artist
I may not be in your friend's shoes exactly, but I know constantly working to please teachers and get good grades in my art class has sometimes left me frustrated to tears. Most times, it's a battle between what they want of me and what I want to do.

Most of the time, it takes stepping away from art and reorganizing my thoughts by reading something new (there's nothing like a good story to get me inspired again), discussing my ideas with others for some reassurance, or putting a canvas in front of me and just painting without any idea in my head at all...that's how I managed one of my best images, Dream Regent, during a bout of frustration. [link]

But if your friend is clinically depressed because of a chemical imbalance, my best advice would be to seek medication which can help to solve that imbalance. Many are afraid of medication, but they have some new ones out now that aren't so harsh on your system. If it's a way you can work and exist from day to day, it is worth it.

I hope your friend gets through it soon. Having a concerned buddy like you is definitely a great help.

mayahs Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2007
I am glad you wrote about that, not too long ago I had experienced something similiar, so often I feel unable to draw and my hands shake, I even can't use my wacom, my finger trembles and the lines goes up and down like am a 1 year old kid trying to draw , but this is not permenant ( I believe), it happens occasionaly .. if you can monitor the stress factor, someone prescribed 5 HTP and valerian 9 natural ingredients) for me and it has improved my depression and stress which is coming from my current situation, what s/he needs is to ask a doctor ( to make sure it is not related to physical problem) if it is not then perhaps soem therapy such as yoga, mediation , and /or message to the wrist and arm.( bath salts can help improve their mental state), I know how stressful it can be to work with a demanding editor/manager, wish them all the luck.
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