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4 Tips for When Anxiety and Depression Have Snuffed Out Your Creativity

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November was National Novel Writing Month.

I didn’t type a single word.

After this year’s election, the loss of a loved one and a myriad of horrible circumstances to befall me in the last month, I couldn’t even come up with a character or a story arc. I almost couldn’t even write this.

Being a writer is part of what makes me who I am. Journaling can be a great comfort to those of us who have mental illness. Unfortunately, anxiety and depression have even snuffed that part of my life out, and I didn’t know where to begin.

So I decided to start here, telling you to pick up the pen, place your fingers on the keyboard and just write something. Yes, even the word “something.” That just might inspire something in you.

1. Be like Bart and repeat yourself.

At one point, when I felt the world hated me. I could only write one phrase, “People are imperfect. People are imperfect. People are imperfect.” I didn’t write it quite as many times as Bart does in every opening of “The Simpsons,” but the idea is the same. When your mind is crowding out even the simplest thoughts, write down a phrase or sentence enough times to where you can recall it.

2. Find other ways to express your creativity or make you feel good about yourself.

Lately, I haven’t even had the urge to read anything. Sometimes, listening to my favorite music helped. Other times, it was playing a video game. Other times, watching mindless television helped me. The important thing is to keep your mind occupied. Treasure the fact that even during your down times, you can still take down a bad guy in a video game or you can remember the lyrics to a favorite song. Remind yourself your brain is still working in ways that it should.

3. Think about someone else.

You already know the horrible cycle. Your mind is consumed with thoughts of how you aren’t good enough, while simultaneously berating yourself for both thinking poorly of yourself and not thinking of how to help others.

In my case, I really hope writing this blog will motivate someone else. I want my words to echo in your head. I want for you not to judge yourself, but to remind you that this struggle is legitimate and there are others experiencing this pain right at this very moment.

4. Be OK with not writing.

That part was difficult for me to type. I had to stop and slowly exhale to get those last words out. Right now, I’m not there yet. I’m angry at myself for a lot of things, namely not being able to at least express my grief and pain in ways that seem “good enough” for me.

Sometimes, you can’t write. Sometimes, all you can do is take a nap, brush your teeth or snuggle with a pet or a loved one. Even if you’ve been writing all of your life, there are times where your circumstances will keep you from lifting a finger to wipe away a tear, let alone pick up a pen.

That time of creativity will return. If you’re reading this, then maybe that time is right now.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: December 21, 2016
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