creativity · Writing

Depression? Melancholy?

“There is a fine line between what I’m calling melancholia and what society calls depression. In my mind, what separates the two is degree of activity. Both forms are more or less chronic sadness that leads to ongoing unease with how things are — persistent feelings that the world as it is is not quite right, that it is a place of suffering, stupidity, and evil. Depression (as I see it, at least) causes apathy in the face of this unease, lethargy approaching total paralysis, an inability to feel much of anything one way or another. In contrast, melancholia (in my eyes) generates a deep feeling in regard to this same anxiety, a turbulence of heart that results in an active questioning of the status quo, a perpetual longing to create new ways of being and seeing.

Our culture seems to confuse these two and thus treat melancholia as an aberrant state, a vile threat to our pervasive notions of happiness — happiness as immediate gratification, happiness as superficial comfort, happiness as static contentment”Eric G. Wilson

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I suffer from depression. I will in fact say melancholia is a personality trait of mine. Then there are times in my life where I fall into depression. melancholia is not an aberrant state… it is me. It is simply who I am. Reflective, introspective and cynical. I am creative and a lot of that creativity comes out of this mood I am in.

Maybe suffering is good for our art? ““One feels as if one were lying bound hand and foot at the bottom of a deep dark well, utterly helpless,” Van Gogh wrote in one of his many letters expounding his mental anguish. And yet the very melancholy that afflicted him was also the impetus for the creative restlessness that sparked his legendary art. In his diary, the Danish philosopher and poet Søren Kierkegaard — one of the most influential thinkers of the past millennium — wrote that he often “felt bliss in melancholy and sadness” and thought he was “used by the hand of a higher Power through [his] melancholy.” Nietzsche, too, believed that a certain amount of suffering is essential to the soul.”Brain pickings

The thing I worry about with depression is the treatment. Medications always rather than other approaches. And I have to wonder if those medications will interfere with who I am and with my creativity. Will they change the melancholia that is such a feature of who I am and has always been the case? Messing around with brain chemistry and who knows what comes out. Sometimes those meds made me actively suicidal so I can’t say I particularly like them.

But depression is a different beast and it sometimes needs to be treated. I understand that. I live it. It makes me not want to exist at times. Makes me numb. Makes me passively suicidal. So it is not as though I cannot do something about that. But I worry about the changes. What do they want from it as a result? No glimmer of melancholy left? Or just stability?

No one wants medications that would in fact dull their minds, but they can. No one wants that they can take a way that which was giving you your inspiration. Give you brain fog instead.


2 thoughts on “Depression? Melancholy?

  1. If only depression could be located and bandaged as a result. But no. You start from confusion and just go from there and take depressants if they help. Sigh.

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