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The Creative Process

Depression: The Repressed Voice of Creativity

What happens when one does not pay attention to the instinct to freely convey their creativity?

By Lisa Agaran | Posted June 1, 2009 | Updated May 28, 2019

To be creative is to be human. We were born with the innate drive to pursue creative inclinations. Creative energy has motivated us to build shelter in challenging climates, find food when resources were scarce or develop weapons to protect against predators. Our built in innovativeness has also motivated men and women towards advancements in medicine and technology, driving artists to create masterpieces on ceilings or philosophers find meaning in life's complexities. It has helped us to survive as a species.

"The distinctive characteristic of human beings is namely, to influence our own evolution through our own awareness." —Rollo May, The Courage to Create

But what happens when one does not pay attention to this instinct to freely convey their creativity? When one buries such needs under the fear of disappointing others or under the expectations of society or family, it finds a way to express it self and in ways that are unhealthy. Creative energy turned inward and suppressed can manifest into depression.

In The Woman's Book of Creativity, C. Diane Ealy, Ph.D. mentions that, "Repressed creativity can express itself in unhealthy relationships, overwhelming stress, severe neurotic or even psychotic behavior, and addictive behaviors such as alcoholism. But perhaps the most insidious and common manifestation of repressed creativity in women (and men) is depression."

Depression is most commonly known as a quiet suffering, however perhaps it is a silently screaming of the soul to express its authentic and creative self. In addition to the sadness and hopelessness that is commonly experienced with depression, we feel disempowered, invaluable and non-existent.

"If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself."— Rollo May, The Courage to Create

I have found when my clients begin to honor their creative voice and give it the nurturing attention it deserves they feel more alive, more themselves. They become empowered by the discovery and appreciation for their own sense of uniqueness. Found in the act of art making there might be a renewed meaning and purpose in their lives. Rather it is through a visual image, a poem or a piece of music, they reconnect with those authentic parts of who they truly are. These qualities can counteract some of the aspects of depression and maybe serve as an antidote to a loss of self. In turn, as one's genuine voice becomes louder the voice of depression perhaps grows fainter.

Next time feelings of discontentment or depression come knocking on your mental door, maybe it might be helpful to pause and listen to what your true inner voice is asking. Perhaps it is creative time and self-expression is what the soul is starving for. Honor that voice by providing an avenue to thrive and exist. To censor one's creative voice is suppressing one's need to be truly human.

©2009 Lisa Agaran. All Rights Reserved.

Next: How to Re-enter the Creative Process

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Lisa AgaranLisa Agaran is a professional Mixed Media Artist and Instructor. Her work has been shown in both solo and group exhibits throughout Los Angeles and New Mexico. ...

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