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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

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:iconrachastock:
Rachastock Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2007
A lot of my problems were from my childhood as well, particularly my controlling father and the domestic abuse he inflicted on my mother and then many years down the track when I had learnt to respect him again, he started hurting my step-mother. It's hard seeing someone you admire hurting someone else, particularly when everyone else in the family is happy to ignore it.

But despite saying that, I know what you mean about banishing your own self-defeating thoughts and I know that we have to take our own responsibility for making our own lives what we want them to be. I found writing to be a great form of release as well. Writing is what I'm most passionate about, it comes naturally to me... though I haven't done it for awhile. I'm not sure why. Alas, I'm really happy to hear that life is going well for you. It is certainly a wonderful thing to be surrounded by loving family members and also to be able to find something that you love to do.
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:icononnagata-stock:
Onnagata-stock Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2007
I was another one of those kids who were told that I had no talent. My band director even declared this to my parents, in front of me -- as well as all of the other band students and their parents. :blush:

I still feel a vengeful twinge of happiness each time I finish a song. :D

I'm sorry that it took you so long to claw your way out of your depression, but I'm very glad that you did -- even moreso that what you needed for it was something you already loved to do.
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:iconrealityhelix:
realityhelix Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I do not have such a personality, I fear.
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:iconlyricalsiren:
LyricalSiren Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
I've been suffering with depression for about 6 months but there was alot of circumstances that contributed to bring it on. I've been to the doctor, and they of course want to run and write a script. Although I have heard meds help, I've also hear how they have screwed people up and really affected those who are creative in a negative way artistically. So I opted to not take meds and try a natural approach. The only thing I can say is the only release I find is when I'm painting. So much of my work represents my life and things I have went through, etc.
I just feel better after completing a piece, as if I purged the emotion that was bottled up inside. That and B vitamins seem to take the edge off.
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:icongiligadi:
Giligadi Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
An interesting question, or set of questions, i guess...
I've been repeatedly diagnosed as bi-polar, anti-social, etc, and i find that my creativity is certainly linked to depression, but the linkage has unpredictable and erratic effects. Luckily for me, i don't depend on any of my various artistic pursuits for income, because if i did, i would often be completely fucked.
perhaps if your friend delved briefly into another of their creative outlets, they might find themselves more inclined to draw.
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:iconmewtwofan:
Mewtwofan Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
I'm not really one to talk, as I've never been diagnosed with depression... although I'm almost certain I did have it back in my middle-school years... Suicidal thoughts don't come JUST from hormones. *shiver* Though I'm glad to say I've been past that nasty part of life for quite awhile now.

Although, I don't put much stock in this trend of "you must be cured of every little thing!" that's going on right now. All the really awesome and intelligent people in history had something "wrong" with them. Try to get rid of all those "wrongs" and you'll wind up with a race of brainless pencil-pushers. I'm not saying that all illnesses like depression should be treated in such a way... in some it most certainly does require help and medication, and there's nothing wrong with that... but it just seems like society wants to fly to the extremes all the time. Either it's "all in your head" or it's "zomg it's a disease, cure it!!!1" Some people need to realize that life REQUIRES adversity on some level. And those that can overcome greater adversity often become greater people. ;P

As for myself, right now it's not so much depression as it is creative boredom. I haven't had inspiration to draw anything for quite awhile now. Or when I do draw something I get tired of drawing before I can ever finish it. Bleh.
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Sounds like you've got a low battery so to speak and maybe some time and other pursuits will help recharge your creativity!
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:iconmewtwofan:
Mewtwofan Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2007
I think I need a new battery, it doesn't want to recharge! :XD:
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:iconjobobarikan:
JobobArikan Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
one must distinguish between ego meloncholy and the level of consciousness known as disallusionment.

Ideally the spirit Haephestos would automatically come to your friend and lift his veil, however a cat with white is preventing it-
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:iconkaremelancholia:
karemelancholia Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007

You got the point.
I'm bipolar (manic-depressive, this expression is no more used).
It's strange because it depends. When my crisis are high i sometimes can't create, i really don't have the envy, and on the opposite sometimes i can't stop myself creating. Of course darker and darker things.
When i'm quite in a normal mood well i have the envy to create but less darker.
Creating helps a lot, in avoiding crisis and anguishness.
It's terrible to be anguished, to have panic attacks, when you can't control nothing, your body... You need to have something else that occupies your mind, your brain...
That's my life, but by periods, by cycle...
That's the definition of bipolarity...

--

Mourning for L'Abbé Pierre. (learn more about him by clicking this link... he STILL deserving it! Humanity needs such human being).
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:iconpendlestock:
pendlestock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007   Photographer
I'm like that at the moment. I've had a couple of huge opportunities to push my art career forward and both times I've balked. I go through phases, usually when I have a lot of work on, when I just *can't* draw. It scares me.

I do have depression though, it's a side effect of Fibromyalgia which I have suffered from my entire life. It's horrible, paralysing... so I do sympathise. But I can't offer any solutions - there simply aren't any. Not that I've discovered yet anyway.
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
I hope you'll keep looking for solutions. When you're feeling depressed, it's hard to imagine that ANYTHING could help. I hope you're also reading all the other ideas here. Maybe something could work for you.
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:iconpendlestock:
pendlestock Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2007   Photographer
I do look for solutions - I've been on medication for the last three years and do other things to try and build up my creativity but it's so difficult.
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:iconinfinitiveevil101:
InfinitiveEvil101 Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
My advice to your friend would to remember why he started drawing in the first place. Was it for fun, because he's talented in the field, or is it an outlet that he can use to escape reality. Also think about his place among other artists. Does he stand out and bring something new to the table, or does he need improvement and is he depressed because of it.
He may just have to get away from the site a little while. I know all of these talented artists may make him feel small and he's probably trying to compare his work to theirs. This is how I've been feeling and I haven't drawn in a while either. Or I could be wrong, I don't know. Just something to try.
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Thank you so much. It seems to be the way of artists: to constantly compare themselves with others. I appreciate your insight to this.
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:iconinfinitiveevil101:
InfinitiveEvil101 Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2007
Your welcome, and whatever the problem I hope your friend gets through it. :heart:
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:iconinfinitiveevil101:
InfinitiveEvil101 Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
My advice to your friend would to remember why he started drawing in the first place. Was it for fun, because he's talented in the field, or is it an outlet that he can use to escape reality. Also think about his place among other artists. Does he stand out and bring something new to the table, or does he need improvement and is he depressed because of it.
He may just have to get away from the site a little while. I know all of these talented artists may make him feel small and he's probably trying to compare his work to theirs. This is how I've been feeling and I haven't drawn in a while either. Or I could be wrong, I don't know. Just something to try.
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:iconmelyannam:
MelyannaM Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
I can't do art when I have personal problems but I don't let it get me down. Your friend needs to vent asap and talk openly about the problem. If he/she's nervous because of the deadline or that he/she will not be able to fulfill the expectations of the boss... Then, think like this: She/he got the job because they liked her/his work at first palce, no? And your friend wouldn't be there if that wasn't the case. And if the deadline is the problem, that has to be discussed with the boss. (I was guessing because after the source of the problem is solved, blockade goes) And about the blokade...Well, your friend is a HUMAN BEING and not a machine that can produce art like it was something simple. If it was, his/her boss could do it by himself and he wouldn't need all those people who work for him. So, I can only say that your friend should not panick and remember how talented she/he is and embrace it as an experience from which something new can be learned. Blockade will pass and I'm almost sure that blockades don't happen only once in a life time. They are always there to make us learn something new and, after we learn , make us feel better about ourselves because we grew stronger.

I hope I could help even if it was just a little. :)

:kiss:es and :hug:s
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
You've got lots of great points here. I wish people who hire creative folks would get a clue on how the creative mind works, because most of them think it's a constant flow and something really easy to just crank out. And also they need to trust their artists to know what works and what doesn't. If my friend had some actual creative control over the projects, it would be so much easier. Right now the bosses really do seem to want a drawing machine.
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:iconmelyannam:
MelyannaM Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2007
Uggggh that is ...UGHHHH I usually have the same problem when doing comissions. They hire you for your art and your creativity but they just can't stop braging with the things they'd do if they were me. Let the artist to the work for Christ's sake. But people are self-centered sometimes (or most of the time). So, I feel much more relaxed when they say: I trust you and I love your work, just do what you usually do when create. That makes me wanna do the work 5000 times better. A talk with the bosses would be good but I know that your friend might be afraid of it. Don't let the slave drivers bring him/her down! :hug:
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:iconmelyannam:
MelyannaM Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
could have helped* pardon my english :D
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:iconunknownsingularity:
UnknownSingularity Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
I practically live depressed, and I paint pretty things to keep be distracted :shrug:

But sometimes I can go months withour doing anything and then out of nowhere the spark comes again.

I have a question for you, how do you make a living making art?

Nobody is interested in mine :tears:
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Well, I'm sure you know about the importance of having a professional-looking portfolio. Most art editors don't want a website address, they want either prints or slides of your work that they can keep on file. Some DO want online portfolios but it's harder to find editors willing to take those. Pick up a copy of the 2007 Artists' Market as soon as you can. It will give you guidelines of what different companies are looking for. (It's for the US, but you can certainly mail your art in from Canada.) So, say you want to submit some illustrations for a magazine. Well you just look up that magazine, read what they are looking for (i.e. traditional paintings, black and white illustrations, slides, prints, computer art) and that's really the best way to break into it all.
You can also check around the local coffee houses and bookstores and see if anyone has room to hang some of your prints. Get your name out locally and network with other artists.
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:icongalefra:
galefra Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
The best way to replenish creativity is to do something completely unrelated to art for a short period of time. ie: go for a long walk, or read a book, or visit friends ... anything at all that makes a person feel relaxed and clears the mind completely. Then, amazingly, the creative juices automatically replenish themselves. The trick is to NOT concentrate on it, otherwise the creative energy somehow becomes blocked.

It is also important to get fresh air and eat healthy food, lots of nutrients. :-)
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
That's a good idea, but it won't work in this case, since his/her job is to be creative. The deadlines and emails from work keep piling up. I've suggested just forcing out the required illustrations so that the looming pile of needed art isn't looming so high. I mean, if you can feel creative, then try to go on autopilot and just get something out.
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:icongalefra:
galefra Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2007
I hope he isn't becoming too depressed. He is only human after all and is likely has too much pressure imposed on him to continually produce.

I am having the same dilemma. I'm working on images for a childrens' book, about 24 in total. I find that I need time in between in order to replenish creative energy. But there are tight deadlines .... so I feel anxious and pressured to keep going. It's not possible to pop them out like an assembly line. It gives me some anxiety, however I know the cure is to clear my head and replenish my creative energy is to something totally unrelated for a little while and to get some fresh air. It works wonders. :-)
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:iconmelyannam:
MelyannaM Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
True. When the head is clear, the solution to the problem is closer. :)
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:icongalefra:
galefra Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2007
This is what usually works for me .... just emptying the mind, maybe going for a walk, or reading, or even cleaning, ha ha !! But afterwards the creative energy automatically returns as strong as ever. :-)
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:iconmelyannam:
MelyannaM Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2007
Yes, I know I can dust for hours venting like that XD
And yes, later you feel refreshed.
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:icongalefra:
galefra Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2007
ha ha !! :-) so true !
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:iconrealityhelix:
realityhelix Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Hm. Perhaps my sister could shed some light on it, she has the same problem sometimes. I'll go get her.
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:iconchemoelectric:
chemoelectric Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Seek professional help, that's what they do. Medication likely a good idea, but better to get it from a psychiatrist than a non-specialist. I think psychiatry is very tricky and it's hard enough for psychiatrists to do it correctly. (There's a story there from my own life in the 1970s.)

If medications are off the table for some reason, big doses of inositol may help; I don't know how big, though. It's expensive.
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Thanks. I wish I had one of those electrode caps that the neuroscientists are all playing with these days. They can actually stimulate the creative centers of the brain with them. I want one! (They can also stimulate the religious centers of the brain and simulate religious ecstacy. Woohoo!)
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:iconchemoelectric:
chemoelectric Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2007
I don't know about these electrode caps, pray tell. I wonder what they do to atheistic centers.
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:iconpopfullmail:
popfullmail Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007   Artisan Crafter
:#1:
Reply
:iconlenashore:
lenashore Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Here is what helped me. Hopefully it will help your loved one as well.

Ask yourself when your depression started. Why, when, how, etc. Identifying it can help sort it out.

Listen to your self-talk (or automatic thoughts). All depression includes cognitive disorders with things you automatically think. Learn to identify the negative thoughts and fix them and you'll actually learn to be happier. I know it sounds silly. When my therapist told me this I think I rolled my eyes at him and said "I'll try it". But, it worked. AND, if you do it, it works fast. Like a couple of weeks. It's free and it works. Pretty much all poor thinking can be summed up in to 10 types (listed below). Keep a log of negative thoughts, identify the cognitive distortion (or distortions. Most of the time, you'll have several in one thought) then rewrite the thought with a reality spin and/or a positive spin. Mostly, stop exaggerating and lying to yourself.

YOU THINK: "I can never draw anything I like".
YOU IDENTIFY IT: This falls into "all or none thinking".
YOU REWRITE IT HONESTLY: "I feel like I can't draw things I like, but I have drawn things in the past I enjoyed."
YOU WRITE A POSITIVE TAKE ON IT: "I am capable of doing something I enjoy again."

Here is an example from my OWN Automatic thought record from a while back:
SITUATION: The mortgage will bounce. We will never get enough money. We are screwed. We will have to move. (fortune telling, over generalization, magnification)
ALTERNATIVE THOUGHTS: The very worst thing that can happen is we will bounce a mortgage check and we can resubmit. That will cost us a bounce check fee, but isn't the end of the world.

After you learn the 10 disorders below you can do this in your head as it happens. But, for a while, write it down. There is also a great book that has a chapter and work sheet to help you learn to identify them. It's by David Burns and is called "Feeling Good". [link] I highly recommend it.

_______

1. ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING: You see things in black and white categories. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

2. OVERGENERALIZATION: You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.

3. MENTAL FILTER: You pick out a single negative detail and dwell on it exclusively so that your vision of all reality become darkened, like the drop of ink that discolors the entire beaker of water.

4. DISQUALIFYING THE POSITIVE: You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count" for some reason or another. In this way you can maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.

5. JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS: You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion.

a. Mind Reading: You arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you, and you don't bother to check this out.

b. The Fortune Teller Error: You anticipate that things will turn out badly, and you feel convinced that your prediction is an already established fact.

6. MAGNIFICATION (CATASTROPHIZING) OR MINIMIZATION: You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else's achievement) or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow's imperfections). This is also called the "binocular trick."

7. EMOTIONAL REASONING: You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true."

8. SHOULD STATEMENTS: You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn'ts, as if you had to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything. "Musts" and "oughts" are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration, and resentment.

9. LABELING AND MISLABELING: This is an extreme form of overgeneralization. Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: "I'm a loser." When someone else's behavior rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him: "He's a goddam louse." Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded.

10. PERSONALIZATION: You see yourself as the cause of some negative exterrnal event which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Wow, I think we all fall into several of those behaviours when things go awry. You're the second person to mention the Burns' book. I'll certainly show it to this artist.
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:iconlenashore:
lenashore Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Oh yeah. It's great for anyone. Not just artists. The most amazing thing for myslef - was that when I started identifying all that negative talk - my brain got quiet. Before I used to joke to my husband about how he would HATE to hear all the constant chatter going on in my head 24/7. I was constantly fretting (I need to do this, I should to that, this is a mess, I don't have time to get this done, theres so much to do, etc, etc). I'm positive their local library will have copies of it too!
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:iconelandria:
Elandria Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007  Professional General Artist
lol you just completely quoted my counsellor heheh - or perhaps she was quoting the book :nod:

She keeps telling me to have one on one sessions with my negativity... >.<
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:iconpedigri:
Pedigri Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
So many great advices. I am not sure if it will help in any way, but I wrote about it here.

[link]

Hope it heps even a bit. best wishes
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Great article! Thank you so much for the link!
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:iconpedigri:
Pedigri Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
You think so? Aww, glad I could help even a bit :hug:

Best wishes. I hope Your friend fels better soon

<The Antipaladin bows and then vanishes in the dark>
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:iconkirajones:
kirajones Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007   Artisan Crafter
I find that when I'm really struggling with my creativity due to depression I have to actually stop trying as the anxiety will make me worse. Sometimes I'll completely take time out, other times I find doing something else that's slightly creative but not the work that I would normally do might help. I have to take things really easy and put as little pressure as possible on myself. I am lucky in a way though as I don't tend to have month-long dips - just a few days at a time. Help your friend to take the pressure off if you can. I hope they feel better soon.
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Thank you! You're very kind to stop by with some good advice.
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:iconmaroline:
maroline Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
i think its all about ^^satisfaction^^ ,an artist never find satisfaction..and depression comes with tears..
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Thing is, do you become motivated to do better or do you give up? I think many artists just give up.
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:iconmaroline:
maroline Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
sometimes depression takes me to motivated,for example^^ crying with my art (modelling and acting)and this gives me a different figure and i think its our vision..
what do u think about GOYA,i l like him alot but i feel his depression in his works...
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:iconnumber1fanfp:
Number1Fanfp Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
D:
im going through one of those depression periods
i can't draw anything worthwhile
its all mumble jumbled and my antonomy is all amock...
i seem to go through these depression cycles

it isn't anything serious ike your friends
i don't know any advice i can give you
but best of luck with him
:hug:
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:iconlockstock:
lockstock Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2007
Best of luck to YOU! I hope some of the advice that others have left here might benefit you too.
Reply
:iconnumber1fanfp:
Number1Fanfp Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2007
yeah
^^
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