I have two friends I like to call “creative depression” and “numb depression”. They visit me every once in a while. They are quite different. One is generally characterized by excessive and intense emotions while the other is more concerned with the lack of feeling altogether. One brings with it loneliness, doubt, and fear while the other brings nothing yet sucks the life out of everything. Sometimes one of them leads me to the other, but neither are very enjoyable to be around. They aren’t the healthiest of friends.
I have often found that I create my best art, poetry, or writing when I’m with creative depression. Maybe it’s the sad music, or the sitting in my room staring at a wall, or the tendency to wallow in my feelings even more than usual - the intense emotions sometimes just beg to be laid out on paper.
But now, I can’t seem to write because my two friends have decided to leave me alone. Or maybe it’s best to drop the metaphor and say I’m actively trying to make better friends. Actually no, oops, that didn’t drop the metaphor... For multiple reasons, namely the grace of God, I am in a better head space now. But after so many mountains and valleys, I became accustomed to writing out of pain or loneliness that it’s difficult to write in celebration and appreciation. I want to change that.
Disclaimer: I am not claiming to be free of all mental health struggles or pain or loneliness. Mental health and temptation are daily struggles; I still dwell on my loneliness and loss more than I should, but my response to these things is an indicator to me of my mental health. I don’t want to say any of this as if I’m rubbing it in the face of anyone who struggles with mental health - we all do to different degrees. I’m sharing a strategy I’m trying to use in my own battle that I hope can help you, the reader, in yours.
So, as an exercise for myself, I’m trying to take notice of the small indicators of mental healthiness in my life. I never recognize how many small joys and peaceful moments I miss when I’m stuck in my head.
Dancing alone in my room to the most random of songs
Being alone without feeling lonely
The unique joy of discovering a great new song
Remembering good times without hating where I am now
Worshiping with freedom from judgement and doubt
The weightless feeling in my heart when I’ve realized I don’t have to worry
Missing a friend without fearing that I've lost them
Did I mention dancing all alone? (it’s quite therapeutic)
This is a growing list in my mind. Sometimes it is as simple as looking up from the ground as I’m walking outside, just to appreciate how brilliantly blue the sky is or how beautiful an open field looks. Learning to capture and savor these moments reminds me of how blessed I am and points me to the One who makes them all possible.