When I was depressed, I didn't want to create art, and I felt really disappointed as an adult when I felt that way. As a moody teen and in my early twenties at home, my mother would say: 'When you feel like that, you should paint.' I appreciated her sentiment now, but I just didn't want to paint, or do anything artistic.
She couldn't possibly understand because she wasn't made that way, and she never would. At least she tried, bless her. But, as an adult,when depressed, I didn't have the inner spark ton want to create art. I was happy to write though. That was easy. I even had light hearted anecdotal articles published too. And I could write exactly how I felt, particularly if I felt embarrassed and couldn't verbalise what I was thinking, especially if the thought concerned Husband.
I felt sad about my hobby, the wild west. What? You may well ask. ( See what I mean about embarrassment? ) I wanted to be a cowgirl, a rough, tough, smokin', cursin', drinkin', sharp shootin' frontierswoman. Not stuck at home, looking after a family. I couldn't indulge my hobby that much because I didn't have the energy and also I felt out of it because of my anxiety. I was anxious that some of the more intense living history re-enactors might judge my portrayal of an unconventional female character (some did).
Husband, insightfully, had said long ago when I began to head into depression, that he could see my hobby rearing its head and being the subject of my depression. I'd be obsessed with something (I was good at being obsessed with things) and the wild west was it.
I was writing my novel ( about a cowgirl, naturally...) and that did help, although, of course, I wanted my book to be perfect. So, yes - that was a subject I had write about to make sense of it.
I had considered art therapy. To paint, draw or collage how I felt. That didn't work, I didn't want to do any of that. In order to express how I felt, I wrote. If I did do anything artistic, the subject would be anything I would normally do, nothing to do with depression or anxiety.
That was what writing did for me. I did, so much, want to be artistic. I wanted to be happy working in my 'creative space' (I was too embarrassed – that word again –to call it an art studio) in our conservatory.I wasn't, for a long time, happy working there. I'd be okay for a short time, then depression would gradually swallow me up .So I wrote a lot, however not in my creative space. It wasn't until recently that I began to feel good about being there and being creative. It's taken this long.
I'm delving into dark, dusty corners and discovering artwork that I'd done in the dark and distant past and forgotten about. 'Wow! That's good!' No time for modesty, thank you. Anyway, shoving modesty aside, I'm uploading them onto Facebook and my blog and getting lovely responses to them. I'm also on the verge of recreating and organising my art area, I'm beginning to get quite excited about it. A plant or flowers here, a water feature there, paints here, pencils there, sketchbooks here, boxed canvases there...
Yay! Artistic me is coming back!
Jo Clutton describes herself ashas recently started a blog 'Creating My Odyssey', about her complete recovery from my depression and the rebuilding of her creative lifestyle. She hopes to inspire and encourage other creative people with mental health issues, and, hopefully, give some enjoyment too. a writer, artist and renaissance soul. At 63 she has been writing for many years. Offering light-hearted anecdotal articles, and now with a year's worth of her works published in local newspapers and a smattering in various magazines she continues her creative journey as a novelist. A novel titled Alias Jeannie Delaney – a western with a rough n' tough, sharp shootin' female protagonist.
Jo has said that she's been writing for thirty years, as long as she's been suffering depression/anxiety, which is since the birth of her daughter. In Jo's own words "I think it's kept me sane! I've been very embarrassed and self-conscious about it – the plot of my novel covers sex, bisexuality and violence (shock, horror!). I've written the beginning, a middle and the end, now I need to finish it. It's been hidden for so long, with only selected friends reading it. Now I'm putting it onto Facebook writing groups and receiving very positive responses, which has boosted my self confidence enormously."
You can hear more about Jo's novel and her creative journey here