Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Hi All!

We’ve had some scheduling changes over at The Great Noveling Adventure and I’ll now be posting over there more often – every other Sunday. Here’s my latest post where I discuss the relationship between artists and depression in The Creative Soul – Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Libba Bray’s recent blog post Miles and Miles of No-Man’s Land inspired this post. Stop by and share your thoughts. tgnalogorevamp

This is the second in my Inspiring Stories segment. Read the first one here.

This story comes from the Moth Radio Hour and it involves two very unlikely music genres, rap and soft rock, or more personally Darryl “DMC” McDaniels (of Run DMC fame) and Sarah McLachlan.

(How strange that I had mentioned Run DMC on my blog last week and then I hear this story about one of its members a few days later. Sometimes subjects gravitate towards me like that – totally not in my consciousness radar at all, then I see references for the subject everywhere. That’s when I know I should pay attention; usually it’s the universe trying to tell me something important. Other times, it just means Tom Cruise has a new movie coming out.)

So back to the Moth Radio Hour. If you’re not familiar with the format of this particular show, here’s a description:

The Moth Radio Hour features true stories told live on stage without scripts, notes, props or accompaniment.  Moth storytellers stand alone, under a spotlight, with only a microphone and a roomful of strangers.  Each hour mixes humorous, heartbreaking, and poignant tales that captivate, surprise, and delight with their honesty, bravery, and humor. (description from website.)

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Darryl McDaniels telling his story on The Moth Radio Hour

For this episode, Darryl McDaniels steps up to the mike on the empty stage and his voice fills the space with an unexpected story about his struggle with depression in the midst of a successful tour and his yearning to find meaning, to figure out what he’s living for. I listened to him speak while driving in my car. I was mesmerized. When I arrived at my destination, I sat there in awe, still listening to his story. At the end of it, I cried. So beautiful and moving and all about how art can save you. I found it very inspiring and it made me want to write after I heard it.

I recommend you listen for yourself here.

The abbreviated version is that during a very successful overseas tour, McDaniels began feeling suicidal and tried to find reasons not to end his life. He decided that he couldn’t do it right then because it would upset his bandmates. He’d wait till the tour was over. On the drive home after the end of the tour, a song came on the radio that changed his life. It was Angel by Sarah McLachlan. He thought that if something this amazing existed, life was beautiful. He spent the next year listening to every album she ever wrote. Her music saved him. One day, He got the chance to tell her in person. And she said that’s what music’s supposed to do. (Ah! That killed me. What a perfect response. I feel the same way about all different kinds of artistic expression.) He continued to struggle with a feeling emptiness inside, but he kept listening to McLachlan’s music, with a little more hope.

Then, at the age of thirty-five, he found out he was adopted. The void inside made sense. The missing piece was all about where he came from and wondering about whether or not he still had value if his birth parents gave him away?

I’m gonna write a record that’s gonna help that little kid in the foster home or that little adopted kid or the grown up adopted man. Adoption is just my situation. Whatever situation you’re in on this earth, you have a reason.

And with Sarah McLachlan’s help and harmonies he did just that. He worked on a new solo album and one of the tracks was a re-envisioning of Harry Chapin song Cat’s in the Cradle, entitled Just Like Me.

Here’s the video. I hope you find it inspiring.

I was really surprised by the response to my last post. I really appreciated all of the responses and felt less alone in my momentary darkened slump, however, I did feel that I must have hit a nerve about the lives of writers and how we all seem prone to fits of depression. Then I read several more posts from other writers about the same topic and I thought, “what is this, some sort of dark epidemic?”

No, not really.

My fantabulous father, ever the magnanimous therapist, even in retirement, put his mind to the problem and sent me some words of wisdom that not only made a world of sense, but calmed me right down. I thought I would share them. They came from a post from Elizabeth Moon, a science fiction/fantasy writer, see full post here.

One enduring myth is that creative genius and depression go together, and thus a writer who tampers with endogenous depression is going to damage her creativity. “I don’t want to be drugged into a numb state where I can’t feel anything,” says the suffering writer.

The facts are otherwise. Yes, writers do suffer from depression at a higher rate than the rest of the population. No, it doesn’t do their writing any good. Writers suffer from depression for all the usual reasons (innate biochemical susceptibility, early life experiences, etc.) but they also live lives full of contributing factors. Isolation, introspection, lack of physical exercise, irregular hours, less than perfect diet, and lack of exposure to sunlight–all may cause a depression, or worsen one. So also do financial and professional uncertainty–the lack of control of events which writers experience in every aspect of their work. To these, some writers add alcohol or drug addiction (yup, these do contribute to depression); others are taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs which enhance any tendency to depression.

In fact, if you wanted to make a cheery person with no predisposition to depression depressed, you could stick him in front of a typewriter or computer for hours a day–feed him a typical writer’s diet–forbid him to exercise, isolate him from friends, and convince him that his personal worth depended on his “numbers.” Make him live the writer’s life, in other words, and watch him sag.

Sound familiar?

She goes on the recommend a book on cognitive therapy by David Burn called Feeling Good, which my dad said he used all the time and he highly endorses as well – can’t beat that. Since so many of you shared your feelings with me, I thought i should share this with you. Let’s all make an effort to get away from the isolation this week, maybe get out into the sunlight a bit.

For my part, I’ll  be out in the sun plenty today, slathered in SPF 1000, with a whole team of people walking for my son to raise money and

Our Team Last Year Ready to Race

awareness for autism in the 6th annual Ready, Set, Run Event – GO COMPANIONS OF TREVOR! Let me know how you plan on combating your writer’s depression.

I am a newbie blogger, just closing in on my first month, so it’s hard for me to tell how this experiment is going. I’m enjoying it and the feedback I’m getting is positive, but let’s get real, no one’s going to say “you suck! quit now and spare us all your constant moaning and endless babbling drivel!” right to your face. So I was run-around-the-house-screaming-like-an-insane-teeanger happy to receive my first peer blog award.

THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! to Lissa Clouser for nominating me for the Kreativ Blogger Award! That was so thoughtful. I am new to this sensation so if I mess this up at all (or forget to thank any little people I’ve trampled on my way to the top) please forgive me.  Here’s what I’ve been instructed to do as part of my duties for receiving this award:

1. Thank the blogger who gave you the award and provide a link.

2. List 7 interesting things about yourself that your readers might find interesting

3. Nominate 7 other bloggers, provide links, and let them know!

So Lissa, thank you again. (Wiping tears out of my eyes.) On to the seven interesting things about me…

  1. I once was runner-up in a beauty pageant when I was three years-old. (There were two of us in my category.) My only memory from this glorious event was being onstage and making the people laugh. When I asked my dad about it, he said that I had almost walked off the end of the stage. I think my mom realized that I was not meant to be a beauty queen as that ended my brief stint on the pageant circuit.
  2. I once worked as a nanny in Albany, New York, for a little over a year. I took care of a sweet young boy who belonged to two eye surgeons. He would now be over twenty years old, which makes me feel ancient. It was a fascinating experience in so many ways.
  3. I have some talent for drawing, although I’ve only taken one art class in my life – while in Albany, interestingly enough. My drawings and my writing ability actually helped me gain admittance to a college I really wanted to go to when my grades wouldn’t quite get me there. That’s when I realized that maybe I had a talent for both writing and drawing. Although drawing takes a LOT more time and effort for me to get right.
  4. I was NOT the best student in high school (ergo, the reason my grades needed help getting me into that college). I skipped school. A LOT. (Sorry if you’re reading this , Dad.) I was very creative about how to get around the limit of days you could miss. Once they realized I was forging my dad’s signature, I started getting notes from my doctor’s office. I’d drop by early in the morning after missing THREE DAYS IN A ROW! (I know, I was awful!) I would tell the secretary that the doctor said I could pick up a note for whatever illness I could think of at the time and she’d just write me one without question. So, most of my absences were EXCUSED. I wasn’t out doing anything naughty, I was really just depressed and couldn’t handle being there.  Most of the time, I’d stay home and read or watch TV. Boring. Too bad I didn’t put my evil powers to good use back then.
  5. I have a child with autism. This affects every facet of my life and my son definitely keeps life interesting. A simple trip to the grocery store or to the movies can become an adventure. One thing living with a child with autism has done is make me fearless. When his anxiety is high and the stimuli around him is overwhelming causing him to freak out or he does something odd, I honestly do not care what others think of me or my son. When I notice someone gawking, I realize that they truly do not understand him or what is happening and it does not matter. My son and his needs are more important than anything a stranger may think of me or my parenting abilities.
  6. My best friend in the whole world is the most amazing person (and he’s not my husband – I put husbands in a separate category). David and I have been friends since about the first grade. We’ve had many adventures together including night-time photography experiments where we got eaten alive by mosquitoes and our short-lived band, Johnny Sheet and the Pillowheads, that I hope one day will have a revival and maybe headline with the Geek-o-ramas. Our friendship has been tested a few times including a rather thoughtless midnight serenade by me and a bunch of my friends when David had to get up the next day at the crack of dawn. David is the most dynamic person I know and has always influenced me to be a better person. He accepts me with all of my faults. As an example, whenever we went out somewhere, knowing that I was always, ALWAYS late, he never bitched at me or complained about my lateness, he would just tell me I needed to be somewhere thirty minutes earlier than I had to, so I’d show up on time. Brilliant, eh? I never knew until a few years ago (after I stopped being chronically late – I swear!).   Everybody needs at least one person in their life who has their back no matter what. Besides Tim, David is mine.
  7. Finally, although I am very liberal, I have many friends who are not – staunch republicans, in fact. The hell you say! How is that possible? Maybe it is the writer in me, but I find people of every kind infinitely fascinating. I love listening to each person’s life story. Every person has a unique story and I am surprised by at least one thing I hear when they tell me about their lives. What I’ve found most interesting when I take the time to listen, is that I can find a way to relate to each person on some level – something we have in common. We may not always agree on politics or on religious issues and many may think I am extremely weird for something as simple as not taking my husband’s last name, but humanity in as universal concept, no? Besides, if I expect to ever be heard by anyone else, shouldn’t I be willing to listen?

And those are hopefully seven interesting facts about me. Now on to the next seven victims, er…lucky nominees. Here are seven blogs that I find intriguing and/or supportive of writers in general and hope you do as well. Stop by and check them out.

  1. Laura Stanfill
  2. Michelle Pierce
  3. Rebekah Loper
  4. Jamie Dement 
  5. Becca Weston
  6. Ashley Nixon
  7. K.T. Hanna

Congratulations, fellow bloggers! I pass on to you this Kreativ Blogger Award!