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Post-Project Depression

Monday, 17. July 2017 1:49

Perhaps you’ve experienced it. You finish a big project and maybe allow yourself an evening of celebration or a time of project evaluation, and then it hits—a full-blown depression. It’s a phenomenon that you experience over and over—and the depth of the depression seems directly proportional to the size and difficulty of the project. And even if you have experienced it multiple times, it often takes you off-guard.

This just happened to me. Having just finished a major project in the last 24 hours, I was a both surprised and not surprised to wake up the next morning having fallen into a larger-than-average depression. The fact that I have experienced these episodes before and know them for what they are does not make them feel any better.

It’s an occurrence that is familiar to John le Carré. “Completing a book, it’s a little like having a baby,” he told the Telegraph in 2010. “There’s a feeling of relief and satisfaction when you get to the end. A feeling that you have brought your family, your characters, home. Then a sort of post-natal depression and then, very quickly, the horizon of a new book. The consolation that next time I will do it better.” Whether it’s a novelist or a poet or a painter or a film director or a stage choreographer or a sculptor or a photographer, a great number of artists share le Carré’s experiences.

It seems to come with the territory. According to Tammy Worth, artists, entertainers, writers are among the 10 careers with high rates of depression. In fact “creative people may also have higher rates of mood disorders; about 9% reported an episode of major depression in the previous year. In men, it’s the job category most likely to be associated with an episode of major depression (nearly 7% in full-time workers.” Worth goes on to quote Deborah Legge, PhD, licensed mental health counselor in Buffalo NY who says, “Depression is not uncommon to those who are drawn to work in the arts, and then the lifestyle contributes to it.” Indeed Jordan Zakarin quotes dancer/blogger Taylor Gordon who says that she thinks depression, along with overwork are bigger issues for ballet dancers than eating disorders.

For some artists, along with the depression comes manic mood swings as well. Legge says, “One thing I see a lot in entertainers and artists is bipolar illness.” Painter/blogger/photographer Hazel Dooney’s battle with bipolarity, for example, is well-documented.

Whether complete mood swings or just depression, it must still be dealt with or it becomes a disease that can completely debilitate the artist. The simplest response is to follow le Carré’s suggestion: begin a new project. It does not have to be a significant project. In fact, one of those “fun” projects, no matter how silly, may do the trick. The object is to get going again.

The obstacle will be, of course, overcoming the inertia that accompanies depression.  The tendency is to want to do nothing, except perhaps sleep. This leads nowhere, and is another reason to perhaps select some sort of “fun” project to use as aid to crawl out of the hole: it’s likely to be short, simple, easy—exactly what is needed at the moment.

So the answer is to do something, preferably something creative. You have to push yourself to jump immediately into a new project, even one that is frivolous. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary.

Category:Creativity, Productivity | Comment (0) | Autor:

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