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12

February


There are many more poems written than are ever read. Wednesday February 12, 2014

I was asked a very interesting question recently: "what keeps you motivated during times of depression?" Resisting the urge to collapse into unseemly howls of hollow laughter, I took the time to think about it.

Motivated? Oh no, that's asking too much; far too much. But the question "what keeps you going?" is a valid one.

In the end it comes down to dogged determination, a refusal to give up, a stubborn resistance to just lying down and waiting for death, even when that is what you want, more than anything, or as much as you can want anything in that state.

I realised that one of the things that does really help in those times, is poetry; the poems particularly of people who have gone through this before me. Gerard Manley Hopkins is best known for his poems The Windhover and Pied Beauty, but his Desolation Sonnets, as they are known, speak powerfully of just hanging on. A Modern poet, Shane Koyczan, speaks straight to our heart with his Instructions for a Bad Day. Psalm 139 is an important one to me. Not quite poetry, the lyrical prose blog (with great illustrations) of Hyperbole and a Half tells of her journey through depression with the slightly bitter humour many of us can relate to.

And what of all my poems written in the torment of wakeful nights - in purple ink using a quill pen, because yes, it seemed appropriate at the time - that were (mostly) binned with the break of day - or at least, in the late afternoon when some kind of literary sanity and good taste prevailed?

Art, in its widest sense, can be one of the resources that keep us going. For me, putting words on paper helps. It doesn't even have to be published. It doesn't matter if nobody else reads it. Somehow it creates a drainage channel and some of that grey blankness flows out and onto the paper. Other people paint, or sew, or plant flowers; build brick walls all round their garden (hint – it's usually best to keep these walls less than four feet high, otherwise they increase your isolation and the therapy becomes toxic).

The flip side of depression is often creativity. If the chains of inertia are not binding you fast at present, consider which form your creativity takes and if you can use it usefully in the bad times. If your world has turned grey, can you paint fifty shades of it? Just as an academic exercise of course.

You choose whether to go public with your art: it's therapy, not exhibitionism. But it just might be a gift and a lifeline to someone else.

Links:
Gerard Manley Hopkins: (Carrion Comfort) http://bit.do/hKmo
No Worst, There is None http://bit.do/hKmr
I Wake and Feel the Fell of Dark http://bit.do/hKmu
Shane Koyczan: Instructions for a Bad Day http://bit.do/hKmz
Hyperbole and a Half: http://bit.do/hKmD

Mary
A Moodscope user.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

http://moodscope.blogspot.com/2014/02/there-are-many-more-poems-written-than.html


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Comments

Anonymous Wed, Feb 12th 2014 @ 4:44pm

This is inspiring, (a note: I didn't get the moodscope newsletter today which is why there may be no other comments thus far... I sought the blog out after doing my test). I met with a Human Givens counselor a few years ago whom on discovering that I paint urged me to paint when I was feeling shaky, anxious and blue and it really has changed my life amongst other things (-_-) And I now have a number of paintings which I loved creating and which I love to look at and at some point I hope to go public with them and share the output.

Anonymous Wed, Feb 12th 2014 @ 7:15pm

"What keeps you motivated during times of depression"? During a clinical depression nothing can motivate me. I feel fearful,agitated,aggressive,cannot concentrate,think I´m on the wrong planet etc. It´s hard to describe and all so many know the feeling when this is using so much strength to fight this disease every day.Some have additional diagnoses like posttraumatic disorder-ocd-bipolor. God I do hope some day we´ll get an answer to all this experience and why it was necessary.Until now I can´t see the point with so little life quality in this world.Keep
trying!

Anonymous Wed, Feb 12th 2014 @ 11:29pm

OpSuicide watch for nearly a year but always that tiny inner voice that stopped me taking that final last step. Your third paragraph describes exactly how I felt. You write so well Mary. I always enjoy your blogs. With a diagnosis of bi-polar and agreeing to take Lithium and other medication I'm able to function and feel life is worth living again. Courage to everyone and thank you Mary.

Anonymous Thu, Feb 13th 2014 @ 11:20am

Good suggestions, thank you Mary. I didn't know about any of these. Having a hard time right now, and in times like this I always turn to Bob Dylan's Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0OdNY8Aybw - Simon.

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