Creativity and depression… do they bother you?

Here comes a personal post, so click away if you want a down to business sewing tutorial. There are certainly plenty of those around here. 🙂

I recently read an article on that discussed the connection between creativity and depression. The link between creatives and depression and other mental illness is nothing new.

According to that article, Vincent van Gogh once wrote a letter to his brother saying, “I am unable to describe exactly what is the matter with me. Now and then there are horrible fits of anxiety, apparently without cause, or otherwise a feeling of emptiness and fatigue in the head… at times I have attacks of melancholy and of atrocious remorse.”

I can relate. Can you?

A few years ago I was listening to my favorite Christian songwriter at a women’s event and he described the depression that he struggled with and how it affected his music. I was saddened to learn that someone whose music I often turned to for comfort and uplift had to fight the inner demon of depression that I also experience.

Now, don’t go getting worried about me. I don’t struggle with depression on a daily basis, it’s kind of like a fog that rolls in every few weeks and threatens to make me completely unproductive. When it’s here, I don’t want to get out of bed and my day-to-day duties of children, dishes, laundry, and cheerfully writing on a blog seem insurmountable.

On those days I sometimes cope by grabbing a big floppy hat and sitting on the beach doing nothing. My kids can play there for hours whether it’s winter or summer and I’ve also read that sunshine helps with serotonin levels in the body.

I have tried medication for depression and it made me feel so out of sorts and distracted that I gave up on it and decided to keep those ‘blues’ away with exercise and healthy foods (which work to some extent – for me). Please don’t let me keep you from a doctor if you struggle with depression or another mental illness.

One thing that really upsets me is the stigma that often surrounds mental illness and how many people pass it off as an imaginary plight or simply the desire for attention. I know it is real and would certainly take medication if I felt that was the best course for myself and my family. 

For the present, though, I have made a mid-year resolution to put myself back on the healthy wagon with regular walking/jogging (couch to 5k app, anyone?) and wholesome foods. I have found that these things really do help me keep the fog from rolling in.

But what about you? As a creative person do you feel like you struggle with depression or ‘the blues’ more often than others? Does it run in your family?


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P.S. Here’s more on this topic, including when and why I decided to seek professional help.

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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  1. Tone Vegsund says:

    Thank You for sharing! You know, this is a very important subject, but still it is almost like we are not supposed to talk about it…
    I think I can say that I dont struggle whit depression. At least, I think so. All though the last few years I worry about getting a depression. You see, it runs in my family. I grew up whit a mother with anxiety, depression and serious sosial anxiety. Though I never fully understood it until a few years ago. Now it all seems so much clearer! I sometimes want to cry for her, undestanding how alone she must have felt…. When I was 9, we were blessed whit a baby brother. When he was around two years, my mother started seeing that there was something not "normal" whit him. He was diagnosed whit Asberger Syndrom at age 6. No he is 21, and has allso struggled alot whit sosil anxiety. My little sister allso har struggled whit depression, sosial anxiety and ADHD since she was very young. And still am. These depressions go all the way back to my late grandmother, who allso struggled whit anxiety and depression. So it is defenitely something that runs it the family…

    And then there is me. No sosial anxiety, no depression (thats worth mentioning at least..) or any other psychological disorders. You would think that I am lucky… but amagening groving up in this madness! ( I apologize if my choice of word, but thats how it felt!).
    But today that I have two children, I worry about these diagnoses beeing passed on to them.
    My daughter has an incredible sense of creativity! She amazes me all the time! And I know for a fact that she turnes to her crafts when she is sad (she is 7).

    1. Hi Tone… my heart goes out to you. Mental illness affects family members too. And I also worry about my children. I see signs of extreme creativity in one of them as well as bouts of anxiety and wonder how much anxiety is normal, and when is the right time to see a professional. Thank you for reaching out!

  2. I am so sorry to hear of your struggles and applaud you for opening discussion about it. There is too much stigma associated with brain diseases and it is simply not talked about. I recently read that suicide rates have not changed, yet homicide rates have been greatly reduced. There is so much we don’t know about it – largely because it is taboo to talk about it. I have experienced the loss of two people in my community to suicide this past year and it is heartbreaking. Depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses run in both sides of my family. It can take years to discern/understand/diagnose/treat. Although I do not have struggles, I am a support person. It requires a lot of understanding and patience. I do think that we need to discuss symptoms and treatment much more openly – especially among family members, as I think it could help any who might be experiencing similar symptoms. I have seen medicines help my family members, but therapy has helped as well. I think eating well and exercising are key. Planning to get out regularly may help, too.

    I’ve read a lot of books in an effort to understand and help support. Recently, "My Age of Anxiety" by Scott Stossel. He gives a good peek into the anxious mind, with a bit of humor, as well as a history. Other interesting reads: "Out of the Shadows" by E. Fuller Torrey, "A Beautiful Mind", "His Bright Light" by Danielle Steele (about her son), "Coming of Age on Zoloft", "The Soloist". On a tangent, you may want to read "Gift From the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh while sitting down at the beach.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I believe it helps to know we are not alone.

    1. Hi Jane…Thank you for your insights and all of the reading suggestions. Being properly educated on depression and mental illness is crucial for those who feel the effects and for those who offer support. And you’re right, it does help to know we are not alone. 🙂


  3. crookedwhimsy says:

    I can totally relate and understand where you’re coming from. Despression runs in my family, so I’m always aware of my mental state a little more than the average person. Since having my first child, I have struggled to find a healthy life balance and assumed it was just my post-baby fog, but nearly 8 months later, I still have some really tough days.

    I’m sorry to hear you struggle too, but I think it is great to be aware and to take steps to care for yourself through exercise and other healthy habits. Being proactive and talking about it openly is imperative.

    Does being creative help to calm your anxiety? Having a baby means little to no free time, but I’ve been trying to squeeze in some late night "creative" sessions recently, and it has helped some. It seems to be the only "me" time I get nowadays…at 11 pm. But it is a necessity.

    Thanks for being so candid and take care!

    1. Congratulations on your new baby! Now that my youngest is 5 I am so grateful that now I can squeeze in more creative time for myself. That was not the case 5 years ago! Enjoy that little one and also the time you squeeze in to create. You deserve both. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Hugs! 🙂


  4. Cindy Molnar says:

    I thank you as well for opening up this dialogue and have appreicated your honestly as well as those who have commented. I too deal with bouts of depression and much anxiety and the funny part is I always depend upon my creativity to pull me out. I love to craft, sew, knit, take photography, romp with my children and grandchildren however these are not snapping me out as they used to. I know I need to focus more on health and exercise and when I do it makes such a huge difference in my outlook and my families however consistency lacks.

    I am sorrry that any suffer from these days, weeks or months and as I have just tried to pray through them and move forward these days are coming too frequently for my comfort – I feel like most days someone has sucked me out of my body and left nothing. My WIP’s are piling up and my smiles and jokes are turning to sitting in my hammock wondering what’s going on. Today is a good day and I will do my best to hold onto it and be productive and feel the joy God has given me.

    Depression and anxiety are real…….again thank you Caroline for offering an opportunity for us to not wail in our depression but to relate and help one another forge forward and create beautiful things!

    1. Thank you Cindy… I’m sorry you suffer too. I hope you can find some relief soon. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! These trials are real and there is no shame in accepting support from others. Hugs!


  5. Thanks for your post. I struggle with depression/anxiety at times as well. Like you, exercising and eating well help. I’ve also learned that being creative helps too. If I go for a week or so without some time to sew, or "make" something, I notice the symptoms are worse.

    I wonder if creatives are prone to depression, or depressed people are prone to be creative because it helps relieve symptoms?

    1. Hi Cindy… what an interesting point. Creativity definitely helps me feel better. So does a clean house if I can drag myself to clean it, lol. Hugs!


  6. I’ve been on meds for half a year now after a good amount of time being depressed. I always new I had anxiety but not until I started taking meds did I realice how much the anxiety affected my every day life in little ways.

    I would like to say creativity helps but, frankly, most of the time it just adds to my troubles. Seeing all those projects I want to make is overwhelming, watching all the fabric I’ve purchased and not used and so on and so forth.

    It’s sad because when I finally get myself to start sewing something, I really enjoy it and I try to remember that feeling instead of the other not so nice ones, but it’s hard.

    1. Hi Ana, I’m so glad that you have found help for your depression and anxiety. Guilt (over too much fabric, unfinished projects, a cluttered house) plagues me often too… if maybe that is what you are describing. Let’s put that aside and enjoy the creative juices when they come, okay? Hugs!


  7. I’ve been struggling with depression for years, decades actually. I certainly can relate to all you stated, it’s tough to say the least. I make myself do something each day regardless of how I feel. I make bags for local hospital in memory of sister who passed away last year from cancer. (Still dealing with that!) You are not alone and we greatly appreciate your brave face you put on bringing this all to light, it’s courageous! We who suffer with depression do feel alone when it rears its ugly head hard but know you are not. Hugs to you!

    1. Thank you Darlene. I’m sorry to hear about your long struggles. I agree that when I feel bad, any creative effort improves my spirits. Hugs to you too!


  8. This is a wonderful post – I certainly like the way you have brought this out into the open. I appreciate that you mention meds are not for you but they can be for someone else. I agree with your other ways of dealing with it, eating right, excercise, and being outdoors.

    1. Thank you Linda, yes meds are a wonderful help to some people and no one should be made to feel ashamed to get help. We all need help sometimes! xoxo

  9. Lizzie Charlton says:

    I’ve been ill with depression and anxiety for 10 years now on and off (mostly on sadly). Been in therapy (CBT followed by Group Psychotherapy), on meds (now on a combo of two), seeing my doc fortnightly for the last 3 years. I haven’t been able to work in some time because of the illness and the fact I couldn’t concentrate.

    In January last year I was gifted my first ever sewing machine and I can’t even begin to describe what a massive impact it has had on my life. When my mind is raging, I can turn to my sewing – pattern cutting, seam sewing, pattern drafting, whatever – and it calms me. At the end I mayn’t feel a huge amount better, but I usually feel less like I need to hide in my safe place and I’m better able to deal with the world. Not only that but I usually have something beautiful to show for it. It’s one of the reasons I love your website so much, by the way. There’s always something new to inspire me the next time I feel low and lost (thank you!).

    I don’t know if it’s my mental illness that makes me creative or what, but I do know it has improved my quality of life dramatically.
    ~A reader from across the pond in the UK.

  10. Stephanie says:

    I think it’s really great that you’re sharing about your struggles – I agree that the stigma of mental health needs to be battled! Depression affects many in my family and I try to be vigilant about warning signs in myself & loved ones.

  11. Hi – I’ve been on Celexa more than a year for depression/anxiety. But according to a recent study (my daughter is in Alzheimer’s research) people on Celexa were much less likely to get Alzheimer’s.

  12. Deb Stambaugh says:

    I didn’t know depression ran in my family until I had a disabling bout of it which ended my career. I chose not to hide it because of this… had I known I might have recognized it and sought help sooner. I do have to say that I had I not gone through it I wouldn’t have believed it could be so disabling. I have low level depression (dysthmia) all the time but have learned to accept it and adapt my activities. I just have to be careful if I sink lower. I watch my kids closely and I know my DH watches me closely. I was on heavy meds for several years and was lucky to have an aggressive psych. who kept trying all kinds of combos. I also had a very good therapist who helped our family regroup and make life changes. My DH was the stay at home parent and now I am.

    Working with my hands helps me to maintain as does reading. I think both activities stop that cycle of me, me, me that can drag you down. I also am more forgiving towards myself. No more Type A! Great post and I hope you stay well.

  13. Although I do not suffer from depression or mental illness, I have a child and many friends who struggle. My heart goes out to those who do. I’d like to suggest a book that someone recommended to my daughter helped us both, (I have since passed my copy along to a co-worker whose son was totally disabled by the illness): Undoing Depression, by Richard O’Connor. He gives great insights into how the illness affected him and strategies he used to overcome it. It really helped me to be more understanding and compassionate, and I believe it helped my daughter to get through her own struggles, so I hope it may help someone else. God bless!

  14. Michelle Chitty says:

    Thank you for being honest here and telling of your struggles. I myself don’t suffer from depression. But…. at times as wives, mother’s, or care givers of others we get overwhelmed with just…life in general. Not to minimise those who do truly have depression. All I can say is I’m glad you are finding the things that work for you. I will pray for you and your family that you can feel the Lords loving arms around you as you fight this fight. (((Hugs))) to you.

  15. Lori Michel says:

    Thank you Caroline for the insight into your like. I was injured over 30 years ago and learned to stand and walk again, in which it took 5 years to do. At that time there was no physical therapy to be used to help where I lived. I learned on my own and with help from my father who listened to what I needed and would figure a way to build or modify something for my needs….I still remember sliding out of the wheelchair onto the "ugly" carpet in the living room and using a ultitly knive cut it up in small pieces., for my little girls to "help" Mama clean the living room…It was hard to roll the wheels of 1st the wheelchair than the various walkers I used til I was able to stay standing upright and walk with my girls. But I did and on the 5th year my girls and I explored Yellowstone, on foot, and it a tent. We spent the summer backpacking. Many people did not know I was "handicapped" and today some of my friends cannot belive that while I struggled for so long that age and disease would catch up to me and I would again be dependent on help for not only walking but just to stand or even sit for a time. So creative outlets have always been my source of therapy.. The sewing of memory quilts for those who have lost a loved one. The figuring out to make a shirt, dress, skirt for my granddaughter. The use of color in my home, has helped me day in and day out. I enjoy your blog, your frank talk about your daughters hair, your ability to show others creative uses for fabic and to unite alot of sewers into a common theme. Your sew alongs have been fun and insightful, happily making friends over the internet and now letting us know that we can be here for you, at anytime of the day, or night, from one side of the world to the other. Take your days one by one, remember It was man that made the calendar and clock….

    1. Lori your story is so inspiring to me. Thank you for sharing. I think we all have our own mountains to face even though we often hide them from others. If we all knew the mountains that each other were facing we might not judge as quickly or harshly. I have enjoyed getting to know you a little bit and seeing your lovely creations. Thank you! xoxo

  16. Thank you for this post. I, too, deal with depression and anxiety. I’d never considered myself a creative person, but sewing has been a godsend for me. Sewing, in combination with medication, has been incredibly effective in alleviating depression and anxiety. It’s my therapy!

  17. Heidi Staples says:

    Caroline, I’m so glad I clicked on your blog today. I think a lot of us struggle with depression to some extent. I certainly have mild bouts of it from time to time. A book that was very helpful to me was Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. I can’t tell you what a balm that book was to my heart. I think we have to take these things one day — sometimes one hour — at a time. It reminds me of my favorite Oswald Chambers quote: “The life of faith is not a life of mounting up with wings, but a life of walking and not fainting.”

  18. Shelley Michel says:

    I definitely suffer from depression. I have been on medications but personally didn’t want to be on something for the rest of my life, so weaned off the Elavil I was on once I was over a rough patch. I often notice that for me it is sometimes related to a lack of time devoted to creating. Sometimes it’s like a listlessness where I simply do not want to do ANYTHING. Sometimes it manifests itself in the fact that I just want to sleep all day long and not face anyone/anything. I have often wonder about the connection between creativity and "melancholy." I will definitely check out the article you mentioned in your post.

    Thank you so much for opening up and sharing your journey with us.

    1. Yes, Shelley I know exactly how you feel. Hope you find some comfort and lots of time to create. Don’t be afraid to seek support when you need it! xoxo

  19. Melanie Keen says:

    My journey only started last year when I "burnt out" at work and had to take time off for stress. I still haven’t returned other than a very brief stint in February which set me back big time. I was managing fairly well till then but without management support I fell in a big heap and have been trying to find some medication that will help (on my 5th different one). For me anxiety is the biggie – my mood is low but my Dr’s think if the anxiety can be eased the mood will lift. Sleep is also a big issue; can’t remember when I last slept for more than 4 hours (I now take 2 medications and they’re starting to help). I have no interest in anything at the moment but I do try and put at least one stitch into something or "feel" fabric everyday. I know I will get there – when I went off work I didn’t envisage it would take this long or be so difficult but for me the blogging world have been amazing. I write about my journey on my blog and the support around the world has just been beyond anything I could imagine. Your right there is still huge stigma with anxiety and depression even in my field of work (health care) but I think by talking about it and sharing it helps people to understand and to see that it can and does happen to anyone and it’s nothing to be scared of. Thank you for sharing some of your story xx

  20. I don’t know if my low or depressed states have anything to do with being a creative person or not but I do know that sometimes it is my lack of creativity that makes me feel bad about myself. I beat myself up for not creating (in my case that’s sewing, baking or writing). I wouldn’t say I get properly depressed, but I tend more to an underlying anxiety and fear of the future and unexplained ‘down-ness’. Getting outside and walking the dogs or running definitely helps me 100% – I feel good because nature is wonderful and lifts the spirits, I feel good because I have done some exercise, even if it’s only a teeny weeny run and fast walk and I feel good because my hounds are happy.

  21. Thank you for this post. Depression can leave you feeling like you are on an island, all alone. Sometimes knowing you aren’t the only one helps. I have struggled with depression, anxiety and PTSD for most of my adult life. On and off meds because I honestly never found any that really helped enough to make the side effects worth it. Some days are worse than others. I started crafting to help keep me busy and fell in love with it. 🙂 So much so that I just started a business related to my crafting. The depression rears its ugly head though a lot and doubt and fear are things I have to consciously work on daily. I work full time outside the house too and there are days where I am so overwhelmed (from anxiety) that by the time I get home, I am ready to shut down. Really happy to be able to find a group that understands that feeling. 🙂 Thank you again for this post.

  22. Thank you for this post. Depression can leave you feeling like you are on an island, all alone. Sometimes knowing you aren’t the only one helps. I have struggled with depression, anxiety and PTSD for most of my adult life. On and off meds because I honestly never found any that really helped enough to make the side effects worth it. Some days are worse than others. I started crafting to help keep me busy and fell in love with it. 🙂 So much so that I just started a business related to my crafting. The depression rears its ugly head though a lot and doubt and fear are things I have to consciously work on daily. I work full time outside the house too and there are days where I am so overwhelmed (from anxiety) that by the time I get home, I am ready to shut down. Really happy to be able to find a group that understands that feeling. 🙂 Thank you again for this post.

  23. Lorna McMahon says:

    You have just written the post that explains exactly what I have often wondered myself. I do think depression/mental illness and creativity are linked in that, for me, creativity is a way of coping with those issues. Thank you for sharing this post. Really could not have come at a more appropriate time for me, Caroline. Thank you.

  24. Oh My,

    The things I could tell you about creativity and depression. I struggle with "the blues" and have most of my life. We don’t have a beach here (Seattle area) where I can just sit and I miss that. We lived in San Diego for several years and sometimes that was just a great place to be. They do go together-creativity and depression. I’m not comfortable saying much more here but sometimes it is hard to get off the couch, and walking the dogs is the best therapy for that!
    Healthy food, healthy living, and acknowledging the simple things every day and being thankful seems to be good therapy for me.
    Lyn, aka WhoMom

  25. Ramona Putnam says:

    I’m so glad I found your post. I’ve never thought about the connection to creativity and depression. I have that fog VanGogh talks about. There is no reason to be sad, or blue, but I get there and seem to stay there for weeks at a time. Luckily, I know that I am blessed in my God, in my family, in my work, and just in life in general. I know it’s a phase I get into. For me, I don’t consider it a mental illness. There are people who truly struggle and I know I’m not there.

    I know I need to exercise and I haven’t had an exercise regimine for the last 10 years! I also know I need to take time to unplug and recharge.

    Best of luck to you and thanks for sharing this post.

  26. Suzanne Townsend Glapion says:

    I joined because of your post of depression and creativity. I, too, suffer from bouts of the blues and have days of being a couch potato with little interest in anything at all. I had some success going on a wheat free diet for about 8 months and felt much better, physically and mentally. It is a hard diet to stay on (aren’t most diets?) especially with a family which loves their breads and pastas! I do find that getting out in the sunshine helps to some extent, so I am making a concerted effort to do so daily, if just for a few minutes. I guess I am fortunate that these periods of depression do not last for a long time and they are usually followed by long periods of creative endeavors. Does this happen to any of you?

  27. Lindsey Rhodes says:

    I do find that those in my personal circle who I know suffer from bouts of depression are also creatives, including myself. Thank you for an open arena to discuss it and allow support!
    I think that creatives are especially hard on themselves in relation to their craft, whatever the medium. The digital age has been both an encourager and an aggravation for my low times. It feels wonderful to have your art validated and it can light a fire to share your works online and have others give you a virtual high-five of encouragement. But then on the days when you share and no one responds, it can have the opposite effect. Am I good enough? Do I have any talent? Look at what so and so is doing, I will never be that good.

    I think those of us that suffer from bouts of the blues have to be careful. I’ve learned to pay attention to my triggers. I can’t get on a creative high and stay up until 3am for a week and expect to feel my best afterwards. Taking care of myself and moderation are super important to my well-being.

    xo to all of those who struggle. You are not alone!

  28. Vivianne Wride says:

    Yes, yes, yes. Thanks for making me not feel so alone. There is strength in unity.

  29. Tiff Owens Winchester says:

    I completely understand….I was diagnosed bipolar and major depressive disorder over 20 years ago. I know there are days where I feel I have to drag myself out of bed and I feel so overwhelmed by life in general, and days where I use my disorder to create beautiful things and I’m up at all hours letting the urge to create overtake me. My quilting has helped ease all the yucky stuff that goes with these disorders. I believe that most of us that are creative in many ways have mental problems (I hate those words), it’s wonderful to see all the wonderful comments that support each other.

  30. Teresa Berry says:

    I struggle with depression and anxiety, and have done so for years. I also have horrible insomnia, where I cannot sleep, sometimes for days. Also PTSD from some experiences that I will not discuss. I do take medication as I find myself suicidal without it.

  31. Janet Crossman says:

    I was glad to read this as I have suffered from depression, at times, sometimes severe, sometimes nothing. I have been on meds for nearly 40 years and still have very off days. To relate it to creavitity is kind of a relief, although it means my fellow creative people also suffer this awful disease. I was many, many years and wouldn’t tell anyone but now it is more politically correct. No one can truly understand the feeling of depression unless they have been through those rough times.

  32. Sandie Major says:

    I have been creative all my life, and started having panic attacks when I was around 10. (I have chemical depression all the time). I hid my depression and anxiety for many years, by napping when my kids napped and avoiding stressful situations. I have also had 2-3 "nervous breakdowns." I find comfort in my creativity, and am drawn to bright colors, as they make me feel better. I have been on medication for the past 21 years, and my quality of life has improved greatly. Despite the meds, I still deal with some depression & anxiety from time to time.

  33. Karen Dutil Cudney says:

    Depression is an illness that has been long misunderstood. Creativity is something that has often gone hand in hand with it. I don’t know why, but it seems to either lift us out or give us expression of something we have no way to explain. Drugs can help and do for so many of us, but they aren’t the only answer. If we can keep our minds active and our lives full we can keep one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. Creating brings that to us all and blogs like yours let us share that. Thank you!

  34. DeeDee Johnson says:

    Thank you.. I needed this today… you don’t even know how much you have lightened my load…well maybe you do.. anyways thanks for letting me know I am no alone.

  35. Diane Freitag says:

    Wow, very powerful…and so real in my world. What a relief to know that it’s not just me. I truly appreciate that you shared this.

  36. I suffer exactly the same… It all rolls in every few weeks and can take a month to clear… Im on meds and they are ok… I’ve got a rash, but this is the first time I’ve tried them and ive suffered for at least 20 yrs now, sad thing is its
    been that long its now part of me… Horrible, and of course my sewing gets abandoned for that duration :-/

  37. I have suffered from depression and anxiety since my youngest daughter went to kindergarten. That was almost 24 years ago. I have to be on medicine in order to keep myself free from the anxiety and panic. I still get depressed especially if it is foggy or I don’t have a chance to do something creative every day. I need to have something to look forward to every day. Quilting has been something to lift my spirit and I truly feel that it helps just walking into the room where I quilt and seeing the beautiful fabrics that I have. Also the books and magazines.

  38. I’m right there with all of you. My kids are older and my husband travels a lot! Luckily, I own a quilt shop so it gives me somewhere to go and be around other people. I have stayed home to sew all day one day and couldn’t wait to get back to the shop. I also take medication and will forever (low dose and I don’t make serotonin). I really enjoy the sewing and creating new things with pretty fabrics.

  39. Susan Sharp says:

    I suffer from severe depression and high anxiety, my dad suffers from depression. I also have severe insomnia, I go days with very little slerp. I bake and sew it seems to help getting lost in creativity for awhile. I do try to make myself work on something but I have days I don’t function much. Thanks for your post.

  40. Блуберибел says:

    tnx for this. Good to know that I’m not alone.

  41. I have always created the best stuff during periods where I was doing less good… Creating is like an outlet, and is probably what has kept me sane during difficult periods

  42. Thanks for sharing this with us. I am going through breast cancer ,and I try to be so strong, but I found this is not good to have 2 faces. Brave & Upset.

  43. Absolutely. It runs in the family as well. When I am completely occupied by a desirable task I can go months and even years without struggling. But when a creative outlet isn’t a daily or realistic option for me I really, really struggle.

  44. Maggiemae says:

    Hi, I definitely suffer with it for years and need meds. I have found that so many crafty people suffer from this. Does this go hand in hand? Thanks for sharing it is only another part of our body that is not well but it is blown out of proportion when someone mentions mental health. I think it is getting better because more people are talking and sharing.

  45. Thank you for being so open and honest about depression. I too suffer from depression. I do take medication and will for the rest of my life, as I don’t make enough serotonin. I have experienced some personal tragedies, which made the depression show it’s ugly head. I have found that sewing and knitting helps me with anxiety. I am a creative person and feel like I have to do something creative everyday. Again thank you for sharing your story. I think one important thing is that we don’t judge others or get down on ourselves!

  46. I suffer from depression and am crafty too!
    Reading the comments below is amazing. Suffering from this sometimes makes you feel that you’re the only one, but the comments below have given me goosebumps! There are so many people who still keep it hidden because of a long standing stigma. You are all so brave!
    I know when things are bad when my heart isn’t into crafting, but when the fog does lift slightly, creating something beautiful from scratch does help

    I’m on a very low dose of anti depressants and feel very lucky that the dose is so low. Thanks to amazing GP, I’m still here.

    I was always told "it takes one to know one"……it’s absolutely true. If I see a friend or a colleague and can see the light has gone out, am always there with a hug, a coffee, a choccie biccie and an ear xx

  47. Christianne says:

    Yes, very much so. So much that I don’t want to work on my projects. I’ve had it for over 30 years.

  48. Yes and it can be quite debilitating. Like you i do not take meds however it is because of an intolerance to them.
    Oddly though sometimes i can craft through it and other times not but i can see the difference in the things i create.
    Depression and anxiety have figured in my life in varying degrees all my life but has been more marked following a couple of doses of breast cancer and trying to be everything to everyone. There is a family link on my fathers side but hushed and never spoken of, and despite what people say there is still a huge stigma attached.

  49. This is so so true. Thanks for the article I never of it that way. I do wonder why that is though?, maybe our minds are so busy with all our creative ideas that we tire ourselves out and become depressed as we want to do so much but it is humanely impossible.

  50. I spent many years depressed, medicated and riddled with anxiety. I still deal with the fog now but on level I know how to handle. I began studying textiles and craft, it takes my blues away and having something creative on the go makes me able to stay focused on what I really want

  51. Yes! I have had depression in one form or another for over 40 years, and have only had to take meds for part of that time. The connection between creativity and depression for me goes like this: I feel great, start ten projects at once, get overwhelmed, stop working, procrastinate and depression sets in. I have to give myself lots of space to take care of me physically and mentally or I won’t go back to my craft for weeks. It’s very frustrating and I am helpless to stop. It feels like I will never get off the merry-go-round.

  52. Thank you. I needed this this morning. I have already bookmarked Richard O’Connor’s website. I’ve suffered with depression and anxiety pretty much my whole life and until recently refused to admit it feeling that to do so made me weak. A few months ago I realized that the opposite was true. It was rather a freeing moment. Most days I have to push myself to go to work, to leave the house, to even get dressed. The anxiety came be so overwhelming. I can’t take medications because of a rare heart condition. The 2 that I could take I had severe allergic reactions to. So I muddle through good days, so so days, and days where I feel I want to crawl into a hole and stay there. For the last few months I haven’t created anything. I recently bought a house in Maine and it’s taken me 2 months to get my sewing room in order. Yesterday I finally tackled it. It has gone from piles of boxes and clutter to being ready for creation. I still have some organizing to do, but my room is ready. I often get the urge to create so intensely I feel like I will explode if I don’t make something. Other times I want to so badly but I sit and stare at fabric and thread feeling empty and afraid. I have to remind myself that it’s better to have tried and have it turn out not so well then to not try at all. Reading your post and the comments, having my sewing room ready, has given me new hope. I’m starting over in a new home, a new state, still missing the one I will always cherish. It’s time to put the past behind me. Time to start creating again instead of just thinking about it. It’s hard to shut off the anxiety. It’s hard to get past the depression like smooth walls so hard to climb. Your post has given me hand holds. Thank you.

  53. Thank you so much for sharing! I too suffer from (un medicated) depression and I often find myself not motivated to start a project from my long "to do" list. It helps just to know I am not alone. …. And now to find an answer.

  54. Yes. I feel that creative people have a greater need for stimulation, spontaneity, and human interaction. The "daily grind" is toxic to creative people. Build fun into your life! Its not all about work and being perfect!

  55. zone5painter says:

    Caroline, thank you so much for writing this post. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my adult life, and have been on many meds with varying degrees of success. It’s so easy these days, while following folks on Instagram, reading blogs, and looking thru Pinterest, to imagine everyone but me leads a shiny happy life. I really appreciate when someone posts an Instagram pic with the hashtag #honestcraftroom or #honestsewingroom. You have done the equivalent with this post, and from the numerous comments below I know I’m not alone in feeling grateful for your admission, or in being a creative who deals with depression. Thank you for making me feel a little less alone today!

    I truly appreciate all who commented about their own experiences too. I too feel a desperate drive to create but get overwhelmed by the possibilities and then stall out and feel defeated and depressed about it. It helps me to STOP brainstorming incredible project ideas and narrow in on Just One. Also, when I make things for others, I seem to keep my momentum going more smoothly. Anyone else experience that?

    Thanks again, Caroline. Peace.

  56. Chrissieann says:

    You have hit the button right on the head! How grateful I am to read this and the other people who have commented. I know now I am not stupid or lazy or senile, there are people like me out there.
    Thank you again.

  57. Mary Yoder says:

    Carolilne, I think the way you worded this was fantastic. You really put yourself out there. I think exercise and wholesome food is so very important for our lives and health but some people do need medication. We all don’t live perfectly happy lives all time. I kinda think we have to have the other feelings so that we can appreciate things and feel happiness and not always take it for granted. Hugs!!!

  58. Another with lifelong depression and anxiety here. My sewing and craft projects sometimes feel like the only thing that keeps me going. I’ve tried several antidepressants and got little benefit from them; what helps me is exercising every day (outside if I can) and just pushing myself to do what I can, even if it doesn’t seem like much.

  59. Krisztina says:

    it is that time of the year…
    I also struggle with anxiety and depression, and yes, medication does not always work, but I’m thankful for options,
    workout excersize can help too, food choices are important as well,
    we are just more sensitive to everything, so being careful is very important,
    I would put one more factor there, that is maybe the least considered and slipped over, SLEEP  and REST, but in my opinion one if the most important, going to bed on time and have enough sleep, set aside rest time/down times is important and very helpful for me, we are living in a society of overstimulation and overdriven,
    prayer time is overlooked as well, God can help us with everything, why depression should be different, but we are really so focused on ourselves, that we can do everything on our own, that we often forget about God in our troubles, I definetly have a lot to learn on this topic as well, giving up troubles to Him, and have faith the He will take care of me

  60. My dear, I used to suffer depressions every autumn to spring. I got the chance to change my daily life. I start every day with 30 minutes exercise, I am in better condition than 20 years ago. Being outside helps me a lot and during the dark season all kinds of crafting. Now at the age of 53 I am happy as never before in my life.

  61. Patty Hall says:

    thank you for writing this! It hits home for me because I’m at that point where I’m considering going back on my med. But it reminded me that when I was eating healthier last yr, I was in a better state of mind. I do believe that nutrition, vitamin/mineral deficiencies have an affect on how we feel both mentally and physically.

  62. So glad to see this post today. I believe there is a strong link – I don’t think you can survive at a creative high (or it is rare) and as a result there will logically be some valleys of recovery or funk. Some of the most beautifly creative people I know have swings up and down.

    What helps one will not always help another. I’m sure I don’t fully understand what others go thru as it is different than what I experience, but I’m learning to step away from judgement and offer compassion at those times. Life is hard, no need to add to the burden.

  63. Oh my goodness! You described my symptoms perfectly! I do take antidepressants but still get depressed and cannot function. I am quite creative in many different areas….jewelry making, sewing, furniture refinishing and on and on.

  64. I picked up sewing last summer and it has done a great deal to help out with my overwhelming depression and anxiety. I find I can spend hours just planning and sewing away with nary an anxious or depressed thought.

  65. I FEEL like i atruggle with it more often than others, but I am sure thats not the case as everyone has there own issues. Mine is not only hereditary but I also am disabled because of Lupus and a host of other autoimmune diseases and then issues and diseases that are caused by THOSE diseases. I suffer from severe chronic fatigue as it is as well as debilitating pain every single day and I sew and quilt ti try to keep my mind off of it all, not to mention its what i love doing since i can not work in the OR as a surgery nurse anymore with my heart surgeons. Some days though, more often than i like which is pretty often, i just cant move off the sofa, and thats if i make it out of the bed. Its usually from "the blues" hut sometimes i am really sick. Its frustrating for sure but i figure i am doing the best i can and i know it will pass and a better day is right around the corner. I get A TON done as soon as i feel better though, which is awesome 🙂 I can quilt all day.

  66. Angela Huggins says:

    Depression. What can really make it annoying is that it can come like an attack. You go to bed happy and full of life. And wake up dead. It doesn’t care when how why or where you are when it attacks you. It’s like an IV bag but instead of the dripping giving you life, life is leaving you. And just when you get to the last few cc’s you feel better again. It goes just like it comes.

  67. I often get over whelmed and loose interest in the crafts that once I had a passion for. People always tell me how creative and good my work is and that I should be selling. The truth of that matter is I just don’t want to be tied down and loose the joy I do get when I am in the mood to craft. My blues or depression has been a part of my life since my pre- teen years. I have not taken medications for it. I do exercise 4 days a week and try to eat healthy. I have weight issues,osteoarthritis,asthma and have gone through an early menopause. I do better on days that are nice and bright. Sunshine is my friend and I have found that light therapy lamps help.I have one in my studio and often it is on even on sunny days.

  68. I have suffered from depression for many years and I thought if I filled my days with everything i could think off, my reasoning is unexplained……I think that if I kept myself busy this feeling would disappear. There was no joy in what I did and it was detrimental to me. I had to learn a new way of
    leading my life.
    I do take medication, but I decided not to take it all as my family life was suffering. I’m still suffer from depression but I know when I am in for a bad time.
    I loved knitting, crochet and most things arty. Never tried quilting before until I joined a few groups, I love to see what others make and I can look at a quilt and know how to break down the pattern. What I lack is the confidence to do my own
    quilting, that is the one thing depression has robbed me off,
    but I’m working on it.


  69. Hi Caroline,
    I just came crossed your site, and I love it. I live in the Northeast and struggle with depression in the winter. I bought a sewing machine, and am looking forward to trying to learn a new skill. Perhaps this will help during those long dark months. I so appreciate your honesty regarding mental illness, no one wants to talk about it. But it is very real. Believe me, I know.

  70. Thank you for this article. I always feel so lonely with my weird feelings. Each time I read people feeling the same and fighting the same issues, it gives me a lot of hope … thanks again for sharing.

  71. Thank you, for this. For many years, I hid my anxiety and depression so well, that when I finally got real, and told my friends/ family how bad it was for me, they were shocked. I have been plodding through since before I was 10, so over 45 years. I’ve tried meds, counselling, all kinds of therapies, and while they all help for a while, to a degree, inevitably I always slide back to the dark place. My artistic creativity suffers, except for writing–in the darkness, my words flow.
    I have learned to just let myself float through those times. Remind myself that it does indeed pass.

  72. ‘Funny’ that I found this today. I journal to God most every morning & ‘we’ were discussing this very thing. Depression can be a feisty little devil. It can descend in a moments notice & w/o me even realizing it. Thanks for this article. I’ve recently discovered that I love to create but I’d hidden it away for years for various silly reasons/excuses. Creating is almost impossible for me when I get into a funk, so I’m glad to know I’m not the only one & I’m really not as weird as I feel at times. Thank you.

  73. Oh!! my dear Caroline,I sure enjoyed these beautiful things,I lost the end and now to find the place and to see if I can find it again. I can’t download.I did it all right. I too have bouts of sadness but it’s normal being a new widow.We were married 50 years..Lets talk about something young and pretty like those round pillows in the gypsy wagons.and the owls..I could make them all day. thanks a bunch.Shirley Caldwell

  74. I am dealing with a bout of depression or melancholy right now. Its like the creative juices are not flowing and I find myself just sitting and staring; it comes every so often then when it goes away I create so much stuff as well as have to write stuff down cause the ideas just keep coming. So I usually just pray myself through it, knowing that this too shall pass. Hugs to you, thanks for sharing; thought it was JUST me!

  75. I am so glad it is called a fog. For years I have tried to explain this fog. It hangs over my brain and prevents me from doing anything creative. I want to be alone. I am on anti depressants and feel much better. Still the off days, but it is working for me.
    I realized once when my brother told me it is better to get up early and do something, that he is also depressed. The way he feels when he gets up later in the morning. Again the fog!
    So many people are suffering. And once you start thinking back when you were young. You realize the many aunts,uncles,friends, cousins who suffered from this. And they did not realize what was wrong with them.
    Today we can speak about it.
    South Africa

  76. I too struggle with depression. Thank you for your honesty. I find comfort in quilting. I usually only do bright colors as working with color and fabric really helps. After trying 9 different antidepressants from 1996 to 2004 I finally landed In a trial for cymbala. It worked I have been on it ever since. If I don’t take it I cry everyday. If I do I feel kind of neutral. But at least I am not crying. My kids are grown and there are days I have a hard time getting out of bed. But I go out in nature or for s boat ride or I work on a quilt and it helps

  77. I’ve been in a fog since January. Nothing unusual for me though. Back in December 2008 after my last college final I packed up my car and moved back home to help take care of my mom who’s health was going down hill. January and February I was a complete zombie, march was her birthday month, April was mine and that was a horrible month for her and she passed away May 1st 2009. For a few years after that Jan and feb were rough months. Past couple of years they have been good productive months until this year. My boyfriend’s mom pasesed away due to compliacations with her cancer surgery. My creativity ambition is just not here right now and I am ok with that. I know it will come back eventually.

  78. Laura DLC says:

    Thank you ever so much for sharing this really honest and sincere look into your struggles and how your creative process is effected by it. Thank you! I really appreciated reading it!
    Best regards,

  79. Thank you for your posting! Truly touched me and helps to know there are others in this creativity boat! I keep a project nearby as I sit and quietly and lovingly push myself to take a few stitches to ease me back into the creative side. I love that you head to the beach or out into the sunshine. Definitely helps!

  80. Sewing is my passion and has been for over 30 years, but with it, for quite a while, came anxiety and depression. I consulted with a cognitive psychologist who was head of a university family health program, and a dear friend. She had me read a book by Rollo May called “The Courage To Create”. It changed my life, so obviously recommend it highly. First, you have to give yourself permission to be imperfect. I expected perfection every time I started a project, and of course that’s just setting yourself up for both anxiety and depression. They feed off each other. As an RN, I knew that a psychologist who uses the cognitive type of therapy is the most pragmatic, giving people mental exercises to practice at home. It literally reprograms the brain to not go to those dark places by replacing unwanted thoughts and feelings with positive ones. Above all, we must all give ourselves permission to fail and not feel bad about it. Just like any pursuit, it takes lots of practice to become proficient at playing a musical instrument, or sewing or any other skilled activity. I said proficient, not PERFECT. Also, too much of a good thing can be just too much, and that causes anxiety. Simplify – your home, your activities, your schedule. Learn to say no and be your own cheerleader. Praise yourself generously, but to yourself, not others.

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