Saturday, March 11, 2006

Depression and poetry

Some of the world's best-known authors, poets, and musicians experienced severe depression. Beethoven experienced depression. So did Martin Luther and the U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln. Sadly, a number of authors, poets, and musicians have committed suicide during depression. My psychiatrist has reminded me that 15% of people with depression commit suicide, and I have read that same statistic elsewhere.

I have also read that's writing, such as journaling or composing poetry, can be a good thing to do during depression. When we are depressed, we are often vulnerable and open to expressing our feelings. Of course, we can also be so overwhelmed by depression that we are not able to think clearly at all, let alone write.

The worst of my depression is largely gone, thanks to the help of my meds and trying to nurture healthier attitudes about myself and life. I journaled quite a bit during the worst of my depression. Those were very difficult days, but I got a lot of poison out of my soul and onto paper. It doesn't need to be read by anyone else. Some days I could compose some poetry about my feelings. Some of that can be shared with others.

I'd like to encourage others who are experiencing some depression to write. As I was told, just write. If you have writer's block or feel that the depression is keeping you from thinking very clearly, write anyway. I did that and it was interesting what came out of my pen--I suppose now it might come out of my computer keyboard. There was a lot of honesty, a lot of exposing feelings that I had not allowed myself in the past to be aware of.

Some of our most creative times can come when we are depressed. I wouldn't wish depression on anyone. I sure don't want to return to those dark days myself. But I do encourage anyone to write, if they can, when they are depressed. Sometimes something good can come out of it, both in terms of content that is produced and what the process can do positively for us and our depression.