Finding my way back to creativity and silencing those mood monkeys
In the first in a series of blogs about my struggles with depression and the menopause, I talk about getting things done and the joy of discovering my creative side again.
TODAY’S a good day. My aptly renamed Get Done list (as opposed to ‘To Do’) has been tackled successfully with a newfound zest for working life. And it’s been easy. So easy I’ve got a great big stupid grin as I write this. That’s not said from an ego-y place but from a place of relief and acknowledgement.
When my mood’s out of that gloomy place and flying high EVERYTHING is so much easier and ANYTHING is possible. Yes, really. Even slight technical teething problems when uploading my first Medium article was painless. This feeling of calm and self-achievement may come across as a bit OTT to those who experience this 90 per cent of the time, but to others going through mental health challenges like I have been, it really is a red letter day. A mark in the diary to celebrate and proclaim ‘I got this!’.
Such a contrast to those grey days when even the storm clouds wanted to run for cover as the mood monkeys took charge. Chaos, rage, frustration, sadness, confusion — they were all brought to the ‘party’ kicking and screaming, with often a few extra guests in tow too.
One of the hardest, most devastating things for me in all of this ‘madness’ that accompanied the onset of depression and then menopause has been the dumbing down of my creativity — the one space that has always been a safe haven for me.
Finding that creative space (that resides within all of us) has always got me through. Whether it’s acknowledging my first love in a padlocked secret diary, ‘mourning’ the departure of my newly wed sis from our family home, celebrating the birth of a new family member, the death of a much loved parent or being blessed with the opportunity to tell someone’s inspiring story, it’s been my best friend, my life jacket.
Mood monkeys taking over
But then things changed. When depression came creativity started going into hiding. And who can blame her? Those mood monkeys had been chatting for some time, spreading malicious rumours that I couldn’t write, couldn’t even string a sentence together, and telling me that NOBODY would be interested in what I had to say. Trouble is I believed them. All of them. Silly really given I’d spent nearly 30 years in various media roles within newspapers and magazines and been the deputy ed of what was the world’s first digital magazine for Twitter. I couldn’t/didn’t want to hear the success stories and the monkeys’ negative talk was winning. From my experience, when logic goes out the door it’s almost always the point where confidence and self-worth follow on behind.
Those monkeys were clapping their paws even more when menopause came along. Now they had another partner in crime to play with. With this ‘dynamic’ duo of depression and menopause in action they could really pump up the volume, drowning the creative me out with negative self-talk tracks until in the end a huge part of me gave up banging on the walls and asking them to turn the noise down. After all, what was the point? They’d just wait ’til I’d stop complaining and then start up again.
You see the little girl in me, who had already discovered the joy of reading by the time she reached primary school, who had the complete set of Mr Men Books and who loved the story of Robin Hood among all others, didn’t want to play any more. She’d had enough. She wanted to go read in a quiet corner, safe from prying eyes and challenging questions.
My creativity was dying and at this stage I didn’t even know it.
Asha Clearwater is an NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) qualified journalist who’s been a news reporter, features editor and arts editor, as well as editor of several national business magazines.
Today, through her business Turquoise Tiger, she coaches SMEs on the art of great storytelling to promote their products and services.
Asha occasionally freelances as a writer for national magazines and is even behind some of the information boards you’ll find strolling through Woodland Trust Forests.