Many months ago, when an existential crisis lead me to take a personality exam, the psychologist concluded that I am severely depressed. And I was. Depression, in that case, made sense. My family and dreams had been on a slow burn and I was responding appropriately: with despair, disappointment, and depression.
So I've tried to do things to break out of the depression loop. I've gone for runs; I participated in the pantomime and followed that with some local community theatre; I've tried to go for hikes when I can; I've spent lots of time with my children and tried to rebuild some friendships; I've tried to participate a little more readily in activities at my workplace; I've tried to start reading novels again; I've tried to get some control over my finances.
But. as summer approaches, the days are getting a little longer again and I'm still finding it very, very difficult to get myself motivated. I have found it very difficult to put on the shorts and go for a run; I've found it difficult to see that I have enough time to go for a short hike; I put down the novel after only a few pages; I shy away from opportunities that might be good for me; I overeat and underexercise; I find myself sitting in my classroom, trying to get work done, but not getting anything done at all. Clearly, the depression is still strong with this one.
Most importantly, I haven't been able to make any music. I feel like I'm battling some severe imposter syndrome symptoms whenever I pick up a guitar, try to sing a song, or open up n-track on my computer. And I keep feeling like there's some sort of technological answer: maybe I just need to break down and buy an acoustic guitar. Maybe I need to learn how to use a MIDI controller. Then the music will start flowing again. But that's just the sort of wishful thinking that depressed people deal with. And music doesn't flow from wishful thinking.
What matters is the disconnection I'm feeling within myself, the fatigue I feel in my arms when I try to write, play—when I try to create almost anything at all. The energy's just not there. I find it easier to listen to a podcast about creativity or read about getting out of a rut than I do to do the action myself. I feel like I'm battling the depression... but I'm not. I'm just pretending.
I'm starting to feel, however, that my constant input of information from podcasts and audiobooks just might be partly to blame for my severe lack of creativity. I'm trying to fill up the silences in my life with voices from interesting people and new information... at the expense of the silence needed in order to make creation really happen. I was most creative long before I owned a cellular phone; perhaps my reliance on it for entertainment and information is getting in the way of my ability to create.
Podcasts, in particular, have become a good virtual companion over the last five years. As I grew more insular and less social, podcasts often filled the void. I even have a regimen of podcasts that I regularly listen to. I check them first thing in the morning, to see if any new podcasts have been added to my feed.
But perhaps now it's time for me to take a break from this habit, to allow a little more silence in my life, or to choose to listen to some new music, at least, instead of filling my ears with—essentially—talk radio. And my reluctance to do so is telling; why woud I be so reluctant to give up a few podcasts if I wasn't treating them in a semi-addictive manner?
The psychologist who did the personality exam-thing, he said that my "values are all over the place," that I don't have a clear goal in my life right now, that I don't really stand for anything. And beyond trying to do what's best for my children, I guess he's right. But now that they no longer live with me, I'm being blown around like the wind, like a jellyfish in a current.
Perhaps I need to stop listening to people tell me the power of silence and start practising it.
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