I’ve wandered about for quite some time in search of the right words to say. It’s been months since I put a pause on my last project. The moment my mental health started spiraling, I put a pause on a lot of things.
It’s funny because writing is the one thing that helps in such cases, but if you have ever been in a depressive state, everything seems to be taking all of your energy. Getting out of bed, showering, waking up, walking – all of it becomes arduous. Being human suddenly just feels like a weight on your chest. How do people do it? How did I ever do it?
So I stopped writing. I’d let myself have little doses of it in moments where I could bare to pick up the damn pen, but more often than not, I just stared at the notebook that sat on my desk and haunted me. I got out of the writing mode so much that I fell into an even scarier head space: the one that told me that maybe I was no longer a writer.
Queue in the melodramatic thoughts that followed:
Maybe that’s it. Maybe I won’t be motivated anymore. Maybe words will never flow in the way they once did. Maybe I need to learn how to continue forward without a pen and paper by my side. Oh how doeseth one surviveth with such sorrow?
I think I can speak for many creatives who have felt this loss of the flow for a set period of time. This is the thing that keeps us going. The self expression that gives the hardships substance, meaning, and value. Our stories are what shape us. How we tell them is our empowerment, whichever medium we decide to do that with.
Every time it happens feels as real as the last. A lot of people will tell you to power through it. To do it even when you don’t want to. And if you’ve come here to listen to my point of view, I’ll have to admit I don’t know if I agree with that at all times – but hear me out first!
I think for a lot of people (not all), creativity comes in seasons. At least that’s the way I’ve begun to understand my experience with it. Some months, I’m feeling more energetic, social, and filled with life. My calendar will be filled with dinner plans and get-together’s. I’ll prioritize a coffee date with a friend over most things. Surprisingly enough, during these times, work is typically slower and I have more time to make for these social endeavors.
Then there are months where I want to just stay in and focus on myself. I’ll usually start shifting my schedule to have more “me time”. I’ll start cooking more at home, adding more yoga and pilates into my schedule. I’ll still make time for friends, but I’ll spread it out more.
There are work heavy times where I feel most of my energy directed towards my career. During this time, I won’t have much energy for a whole lot more so I dwindle down what my priorities are so that I can manage this time well. Maybe that could look like spending time at work and then having more lazy days with my partner afterwards which is the greatest extent of socialization I can do in this period. Maybe it’s seeing my friends once a week or once every two weeks so that I can stay connected whilst also not overspending the energy I have.
I have depressive periods, I have periods where I need more support and I have periods where I want to give more of my own support. And my favourite of all is the creative period. This one is my favourite because it looks different each day. It doesn’t necessarily mean I am motivated every day throughout this time – it just means it’s time to write. Some days it flows, other days it doesn’t. But creativity isn’t necessarily a consistent partner, though it is reliable so long as you also put in the time.
This periods don’t always come in chunks of time. Sometimes they blend together seamlessly or all chalked up. Some last longer, others don’t.
What I intend to convey out of this is that it is important to intuitively understand what we need in every given moment, each day. For instance I know the difference between me being lazy/stubborn when I should be getting off my butt to write and I know when it’s just not time to yet so I should stop beating myself up for it.
There are seasons in our lives, so it’s important to first know what those look like. And if you don’t, now isn’t a bad time to start noticing your patterns. Our bodies know more of what we need so if you are beating yourself up for not making art because you are feeling more connected to people, then I advise you to listen to the latter. You’re probably feeling the need for connection because that is exactly what you need.
That doesn’t mean we can’t b.s. ourselves. Know when you’re being lazy and know when you’re being too hard on yourself. Know your seasons and just flow with them the best you can because they’ll change sooner than you think.