About 9 months ago I wrote a post about how much I like making stuff, about loving creativity and creative processes.
I said how not making can seem like a really hurtful place.
Shortly afterwards, I went through some very long months of not making anything, not wanting to make stuff, there being an actual absence.
Outwardly that is, outwardly I wasn’t making anything.
Internally I was going through a very deep and very personal creative process, I think I was allowing my self to be created, or to find expression internally.
For quite a few months I felt really worried about not making stuff. I’d spent the winter painting, very emotionally connected to the pieces I was making, in some ways making the work had been keeping me alive.
What would happen now I wasn’t making work? Would I be able to stay alive? Would my mental health deteriorate? Would I ever make work again? Why did it feel important to make work? Who was I without it? Maybe I’d never make work again and maybe I’d be the happiest person!! Maybe making stuff was actually making making me unhappy!? Maybe I’d mistaken creativity for a weapon to keep me separate from the world. Maybe I was deluded about the personal usefulness of making stuff, maybe it was actually completely pointless…
It wasn’t that I wanted to make stuff and was unable to, I had no desire to make stuff and that felt very new and, for a while, very worrying.
I talked to my counsellor about it, I talked to my various medical professionals, I talked to my friends….
Was it depression? It didn’t quite feel like depression, or at least not the versions of depression I know all too well, but ….perhaps it was a new version and I should be extra vigilant!!! Extra careful!!! Extra worried!!!!
I think it was the absence of feeling made me wonder if it was depression.. but actually I was starting to feel more like I wanted to be alive than I ever remembered feeling before, so after a while, I stopped worrying about it and… I started doing things I actually wanted to do..
…I started being, what felt like, more selfish that I’ve ever allowed my self to be. Selfish is a really loaded word though and actually what I was doing was becoming smarter and drawing better boundaries for my self; I was beginning to allow my self not to get drawn into other peoples drama’s where before I had thought it was my responsibility to get in there and save them. I was allowing my self to say “No.” I was allowing my self the space to do things for my self first, then to think whether I had resource to do anything to anyone else, and if I actually wanted to. I was also allowing my friends to get even closer to me if they wanted to, by being more my self, by being more honest and hiding less.
It was actually a really special time all in all, and I feel really grateful to have gone through it. A couple of months ago I even started making stuff again, but it feels less like the moral of the story and more like an aside, a pencil note in the margin; it’s something I’m very happy with but is making me less sure of my self and my identity as an artist or a maker of stuff!