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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Art and Depression

Anyways, the other thing I am going to try to do (on Dr. X's advice) is actually two things: keep painting even if my creativity seems to have disappeared. He says to keep doing the things that make me feel good when well, even if they are hard to do, or I don't feel like it. Secondly, give myself permission to slow down and ride out the low cycle. He expressed that he knows these are both easier said than done. I appreciate that he gets that.

This quote from Vicarious Therapy inspired me on this subject. I have read some articles online about art and depression a while ago. It is about fighting depression and still be creative. Can depression enhance creativity despite depressed mood, loss of interest not to mention a lack of concentration and all other symptoms?
Depression, for me, has a paradoxical upside (one I would gladly trade away for being rid of the disease). It can be, and has been my greatest source of creative motivation. I find an odd sort of comfort by being able to produce images that reflect my sense of mood or the way my depressed mind sees the world. For me then, photography becomes almost therapeutic. It doesn't make it better, but rather gives me a way to step outside of my depression and look back in at it and better understand how it is affecting me.

This quote is from a photographer. She has written a post on art and depression along with some interesting photos

"Art is my recovery. It's my form of medication now and it's what sustains me."

This quote is from another photographer and how it helped her during her depression.
I am glad we have art therapy on out Depression Unit besides running therapy and cognitive therapy. Sometimes we get questions about how evidence based this form of therapy really is. I remain silent mostly and change the subject.

"When I came out of hospital I wasn't working for about six months but the artwork was always something I could get on with. When I was in such a state that I couldn't communicate with people, the one thing that I could talk about was my artwork. I think it was the only time I became coherent really!

From Tamar Whyte, she is a painter

It can be helpful in Schizophrenia as well. More evidence on that
studies have reported patients more likely to complete therapy regimens if art classes played a part. Just as crayons and construction paper allow kindergarteners to further explore what makes them unique, the act of creation, minor as it may seem, can help those with mental illness understand and cope with their conditions.

Thanks Dr Confabula for the video and Aqua.


Aqua said...

4 years ago I began taking Art classes at an Art Clubhouse for people with severe and persistant mental illnesses. In my first class I was so depressed and full of anxiety I could hardly do anything. I persisted because I found a calmness sweep over me as I began to draw, or create. All the obssessive suicidal thoughts disappeared and I was in the moment, creating.

I took more classes there, then began particpating in the running of the clubhouse (it's member run with OT's for support). I then began co-teaching a couple classes there and now I am teaching a drawing class on my own and volunteering as a mentor for new members.

I realized last Friday that for the first time in my life I KNOW what I LIKE to do, what I NEED to do in my life. I need to create, teach and help others.

While my depression may remain treatment resistant, and I may not be able to return to a paid job in the forseeable future, learning, creating, teaching art, and helping other people do the same, adds so much meaning and purpose to my life even when I am extremely depressed. Having set hours that I volunteer to teach and mentor adds much needed structure, and others expectations that I get out of the house and show up for my classes and volunteering has helped to.

The creative process, helping others learn that process and teaching art is the best thing I have ever discovered in my life's journey.

Dr. Shock said...

Silly me thinking: art therapy keeps you from thinking from negative thoughts, distraction as helpful.
Regards Dr Shock