Mental Health Monday – Jennifer – The Benefits of a Creative Outlet for Depression

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Hi friends! It’s Monday again, and I know you know what that means. It’s Mental Health Monday! If you’re new, this means that the post today will be from a guest blogger who has experience with a particular angle of mental health. In the past we’ve talked about depression, alcoholism, anxiety, depersonalization, and much more!

I feel it’s incredibly important to talk about these things because this is a blog for twenty-somethings. And we’ve got a lot on our plate. We’re expected to build our entire futures in this time. And we’re expected to enjoy life, because this is the prime of it. Also, we’re expected to act like we’ve got it all together, all the time. That just isn’t realistic. And if we try to pretend it is, we’ll go absolutely bonkers. We’ve got to take care of ourselves, but often, that need to pretend we’ve got it all together gets in our way. We need others to give us hope that it’s possible, and that’s the point of this series.

Since I can’t relate to all of you individually, I’m not able to give you all hope the way I’d hope to. Yes, I’m in the mental health field, but hope doesn’t live in textbooks. Hope comes from reading a story about someone who has been through your situation and come out stronger because of it. And, y’know, lots of other places, but the one I said is the one I can actually offer you.

Today’s guest blogger is Jennifer, who runs a personal blog and contributes to several more. Her creative outlet has been instrumental to her recovery from depression, and she wants to talk to you about how that happened. Our hope is that you’ll be inspired to find a creative outlet that sustains you through your darkest times.

Today's guest blogger is Jennifer, who runs a personal blog and contributes to several more. Writing has been instrumental to her recovery from depression, and our hope is that you'll be inspired to find a creative outlet that sustains you through your darkest times. 


The Benefits of a Creative Outlet

“Greetings to you all. I’m grateful for this opportunity to be a guest blogger on Nicole’s site. Mental health is an important issue and one that needs as much coverage as possible. I use every opportunity that I’m given to use my creative outlet and write about it. In this post, I’d like to share my background with depression and how I use my experiences to write and advocate for those of us who battle this illness. Together I believe we can eradicate the stigma and bring hope and healing to this generation.

I don’t know when depression first entered my life, but I do know when it hit me full force. It almost killed me.

I have always been what people consider “moody.” I am temperamental. Even as a child, I would get angry easily. I thought it was just my personality.

In addition to being easily angered, I would also have bouts of sadness. I wouldn’t even be sure why I was sad. I would just feel this overwhelming sense of gloom. This got worse during my teen years. I began to feel that I didn’t really fit in anywhere. Sure, I had friends, but I always kept a protective shell around myself. I didn’t want anyone to get too close.

I would go through periods where I didn’t want to go to school. It wasn’t the typical thing where nobody likes to go to school. It was more like I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed. I had such a hard time making myself do anything. I didn’t even want to go out with friends. I’d fake it and go through the motions just so people would leave me alone.

I dealt with the same issues during college. The stress increased, and my battle with insomnia began. I believed that I was messed up, but I did my best to keep everything hidden. I had routines that I followed so that no one would know the real me. It was exhausting, but somehow I managed and gained both a degree and a husband.

None of my plotting prepared me for what was coming.

Years of caring for my child with severe special needs broke down every wall I had built. I ended up in the kitchen prepared to take enough pills to end my life. Miraculously, my husband arrived home from work early and stopped me. It was the first step in my long journey of healing.

Starting that night, I spent a week in the psychiatric section of a local hospital. I saw doctors and therapists and got put on anti-depressants. I now see a psychiatrist and a therapist regularly. I’m thankful that I got help, but I wish I’d known sooner that I didn’t have to suffer in silence.

One thing that I had always longed to do was write.

Prior to my near suicide attempt, I had always been too afraid to share my thoughts and the words I’d written with others; however, after nearly losing my life, I found the courage to finally open myself up to the world. I began to write poetry, blog posts, and articles. I discovered writing to be cathartic, and this creative outlet has become a form of therapy for me. It has also connected me to others who battle depression, and they have reached out to me to thank me for sharing my story. People who have never experienced depression themselves thank me for helping them to better understand what it is like. I am thankful to be opening doors and breaking down barriers so that conversations about mental health can start taking place.

I encourage others who are diagnosed with mental illness to find a creative outlet, whether it be writing, painting, sketching, singing, dancing, or whatever speaks to you. You don’t have to be a professional or be the most talented; it is not about trying to be perfect. You will probably find, however, that you will improve with time. You will most likely find the creative process to be healing and helpful on your journey. I certainly have.

Another thing that writing has done for me is to open up career opportunities.

In addition to my own personal blog at https://freeindeed-redkitchen.blogspot.com/, I am also an author at The Mighty (you can find my author page here: https://themighty.com/author/jennifer-smith-13/) and a contributor to How to be a Redhead (you can find my page here: https://howtobearedhead.com/category/author/jennifer-smith/.) I have also recently accepted the position as co-blogger of the Coping with Depression blog at https://www.healthyplace.com/. Look for my posts and videos to be posted soon. I am honored to be able to use my voice to advocate for mental health awareness and also to show a lighthearted side of myself as well.

Once again, I would like to say thank you for this opportunity to share my life with you. I hope that all of you will find a creative way to express your thoughts and feelings. I would love to hear from you, so please visit me at one or all of my sites. Remember: stay strong and keep fighting!

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