Living a Curiously Creative Life With Depression

This is a guest post by Sarah Leonard. If you’d like to write a guest post for The Pillow Fort, get in touch

emotions as gifts

I don’t know about you, but I can find myself (and my emotions) being hijacked by what I refer to as the “black dog of depression” and his friend the “chattering monkey of anxiety”. They always seem to blind side me, sneaking into my life little by little before I notice their presence and am able to do anything about it.

Often, I’ll only notice what is happening once the situation has gotten quite bad. My thoughts will be black as night and my irrational worry will have run away with me before I realise what is happening and can actually get myself some help back onto the straight and narrow.

My most recent bout was relatively short lived (thankfully) as I managed to spot the signs pretty quickly and was able to reach out for the help I know that I need. For me, that means getting medical help via my doctor and reaching out for counselling sessions. Everyone deals with these things differently – some people are passionately opposed to medication in particular, and that’s OK. We are all very different. For me, I tend to reach out for all of the support I can get as I know from past experience just how bad these illnesses can get. I feel no shame or worry in doing so at all, and I would encourage anyone else to feel the same way.

All the while, whilst this was happening, I was busily working on my creative business and planning ways to transition out of my soul sucking day job into working independently as my own boss.

So, how do I manage to balance both aspects of my life? What warning signs am I mindful of in my day to day life in order to deal with my own mental well being? Let’s see if I can give you some ideas you could use in your own life.

Achieving Balance

This could also be known as letting go. The first thing to realise (and this could sound contrary) is that balance isn’t always possible or indeed desirable.

When the notion of balance becomes another stick to beat ourselves with, then it is not something that serves us well.

I aim for balance in my day to day life – of course I do. I try to give myself time to do nice things for nice things sake. Reading a book, watching a favourite TV show, meditating, playing with my kitties. These things all keep me happy and balanced and allow me to switch off from my creative business.

Sometimes though, these aren’t all possible. When I am busy launching a new Ebook or Ecourse, or spending time updating The CGS site, sometimes everything else falls by the wayside and my focus is 100% on that goal in front of me. And that is OK. It never lasts for too long – I certainly wouldn’t expect myself to work full speed like that on a long term basis – but for those few days my life is consumed by it. It is something I am passionate about, and that I enjoy immensely, so ultimately I am happy to make that sacrifice.

During those times I will not allow myself to get hung up on the lack of balance and will just keep going, because I know that balance will be restored once more in a very short space of time.

Signs To Watch Out For

Some signs that you may have kept up your high speed pace for too long and you need to give yourself a break could include:

  • Feeling the need to sleep as an escape – sometimes I find myself sleeping in order to hide away from the day. I know this to be a bad sign that something is wrong and the depression may be on it’s way.
  • Not being able to read before bed – this is a small, easily missed sign (for me, anyway) but that has become my early early warning sign that things might not be right. If I can’t read a chapter of a story and keep the characters in my head I know my mind is too busy. It’s time to slow down.
  • Sudden increases/decreases in appetite – these can tell us about how we feel. Either not eating because we don’t feel like it, or eating too much as a comfort – neither is quite right. I also find that if I develop habits of eating exactly the same foods day in, day out this can be a bad sign too. It usually signals low energy levels.

The reason this sign spotting can be so useful and important to us is because the sooner we can seek help for approaching depression/anxiety the easier it is to treat it. I aim for as quick a turnaround time with these bouts as I can, as I don’t necessarily want my feelings to dwell there any longer than they have to.

In this way, I am more able to get back to my creative life as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

I also use my creative talents to help with my symptoms, journalling my feelings and using these to help heal my soul and bring me back to a more level mindset.

I hope these little tips, ideas and insights will help you in your day to day life. If you’d like to know more about my journey with depression then please feel free to check out my Shine A Light series, where I go into much more detail in a series of posts about my coping strategies.

curiously sarah
Sarah Leonard is a curious soul, who lives a magical creative life with her kitties and her husband. She runs an Etsy store full to the brim with artistic curiousities, and writes regularly on her blog A Cat-Like Curiosity. She is also the founder of The Curiously Gorgeous Sisterhood, a gorgeous community full of light, life and inspiration.