When was the last time you created something?
Planted a garden bed, physically wrote a letter, cooked a meal from scratch or built something from your imagination?
If you can't remember then you are in the majority and that is not because you are not creative. All humans are innately curious and creative but this is educated out of us.
“You are not a creative Type…” is a lie told to us very young because most adults don’t make time or lack the awareness to foster someone through a process of creative development, especially if they too had their curiosity crushed as a young, developing human.
“ Creation is a better means of self expression and possession; it is through creating, not possessing that life is revealed.”
- Vida Dutton Scudder
The process of bringing ideas to life, no matter how small, is one of the best ways to treat depression. This process focuses our attention intensely, which is a form of mindfulness coupled with self expression. There is a glaring deficit of creative outlet in our day to day 'just-getting-by' existence, despite there being so many channels and tools with which to create. Rates of depression and mental illness are not considered nearly enough through a person's access, means and knowledge to express themselves.
So much of what we learn, and are immersed in everyday, is about fitting the mould, when we should be building our own frame through which we view ourselves and the world.
BUT hang on a damn minute!
There are many artists and creatives who suffer depression and, in extreme cases, end their lives. Though this is true, this is not a true reflection of what creative process does for us as humans. How it serves us. Maybe for career creatives, the shadow of expectation, performance and success is what drains the joy of our experience.
In the moment of creation the creator is free, in flow.
It is when they are not making, building and expressing that the shadow creeps in.
Stress and uncertainty will always be part of our lives but how we deal with it is the key to our long term happiness. Having a creative outlet is a path to tap into our internal want to demonstrate that we matter. It gives us agency in our own lives and acts as an antidote to the chaos. Made by our own hands, art is one of the strongest tools we have to stoke our internal fire of self belief. A stronger sense of self improves the world and also strengthens our ability to overcome the shadow.