So, sometimes I get this feeling that is really heavy, where even super basic things feel like they take massive amounts of effort to do, but it only lasts an hour or two. To myself I’ve always called this a moment of depression, but part of me always felt like this wasn’t really depression, because “real depression” isn’t something that only lasts for an hour or two. Therefore I decided that my moments of depression must be that feeling which not-depressed people feel and identify as being down, maybe they even call it feeling depressed, but it isn’t “real depression.”
However, if I really think about it I realize that sometimes I do struggle with these depression-like-feelings for several days, maybe even as long as a week. But this always happens at times when I’m drained or burnt-out from some big event, so I’ve always told myself that this is simply what burn-out feels like. Burn-out can make it harder to function, so the fact that I’m struggling with super basic things is to be expected. After all, it is triggered by obvious causes and I recover in a relatively short amount of time, so it isn’t “real depression,” it just that burn-out feels really heavy, drains my energy, and makes it take a lot of effort to ordinary daily activities.
Then there is the fact that I have to do art. HAVE TO. Because if I don’t, these depressed feelings come back. For me, art is an amazing flow of energy, excitement, and drive. And if I don’t do art for even a few days I am frustrated and unhappy because this amazing energy doesn’t have an outlet. If this continues and I’m not able to do art for more than a week, then the energy stops flowing and everything is heavy and hard and takes so much more effort to accomplish. And if there isn’t any art to look forward to in the near future, then I feel hopeless.
This is the biggest reason I can’t have kids. Yes, children bore me, and that is definitely part of it. And another part if it is that art means so much more to me and I want to devote my life to doing art. But the biggest reason is that being with children doesn’t make creative energy flow through me. And if my creative energy isn’t flowing, then everything collapses. I need creative energy to function. And that energy, that flow, takes a lot of time to maintain. A lot of time. I’m talking an hour or more a day plus longer sessions on weekends.
When I am doing creative things regularly and I’m doing lots of art, I’m fine. I have really even moods and I get a lot done and things are going well. Most of the time it’s not quite that good, but close enough. I’m still doing a lot of art, I have creative projects to look forward to, and I’m getting a lot of other stuff done. I don’t feel depressed. But depression is there, lurking. And its presence has shaped my life as much as my anxiety, my back problem, and my unstable blood sugar.
So, maybe I can say that I have struggles with depression. Maybe it is time to stop worrying about whether it is real enough to be called depression and just call it depression, a struggle that takes a unique form in my life. Something doesn’t have to be the most extreme it could possibly be in order to be real.
[Image description: Against a sunny blue sky with wispy clouds is a weathered wooden sign post with a large sign pointing to the right reading “Hope” and a smaller sign underneath it pointing to the left reading “Despair.”]
Image from: geralt on pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/directory-signposts-hope-466935/