It is not a coincidence that so many creative types suffer from depression. It seems elemental to the process of creativity that one must suffer internally to give life to art completely unique and beautiful. According to a 2008 CDC study, it's estimated that one in ten people suffer from some form of depression; however, the connection is thought to be stronger in those of us that create for a living. Evidence suggests that creative types are more susceptible to the life-flattening effects of depression. One photographer wants you to know you are not alone in your struggles.
Creatives Aga;nst Depression is fast on a mission to erase the stigma behind depression and suicidal thoughts. Spearheaded by Photographer Jose Rosado, CAD has created a community of individuals who suffer from the debilitating effects of depression in their everyday lives. "Creatives, by and large, are hit by depression harder than most," explains Rosado. "With a lot of our self worth attached to our art, it's not surprising that the harsh ups and downs of being self-employed affect us so much." The life of a freelance artist is riddled with feast and famine. The relationship between success and suffering can be too difficult to distinguish at times; the swings alone are enough to drive anyone insane. Many of us are unable to separate our business from our personal lives. We are consumed by our profession, vacantly nodding through a conversation with a loved one while we internally agonize over a project we're working on.
I used to beat myself up over failed relationships: "you're selfish, your work is more important than this relationship" would be common accusations. In turn, these distinctions would drive me deeper into my head, creating more negative energy — a downward spiral gaining momentum. Many suffer from self doubt associated directly with their work. Some of the most talented people I know will never understand their own abilities because of the effects of depression. So much of what we do relies on the approval of the public. In today's digital age, we post our work immediately in front of the masses on Instagram, Facebook, and blogs. We grovel at the public's feet with our latest creations. A sheepish offering: "what do you think of me now, world?" — the all too familiar dance with self-loathing and dark thoughts wrought with over thinking and negativity, another downward spiral.
As both creatives and business owners, we all want to put our best foot forward for our potential clients. We fear the risk of rejection for our brand. Creatives Aga;nst Depression understands what you're going through in your business. Their first hand knowledge allows room for understanding and space for a refreshing candor. So many suffer from ranging levels of depression, hiding our struggles merely sweeps the issue under the rug. CAD strives to shed light on the issue with the hopes that suffering together will be easier than suffering alone. Creatives Aga;nst Depression encourages depression victims to share and communicate with others as the backbone of how to overcome their ailment. "Just think of how many musicians, actors, artists, and creatives take their lives every year due to illness and depression;" questions Rosado. "There’s millions more who suffer in silence and darkness. Let’s help them realize that it’s OK to talk about it and it’s OK to ask for help." CAD seeks to bridge the gap in communication, encouraging people who suffer to reach out and talk about their depression before it is too late.
Creatives Aga;nst Depression is a wealth of information and support. Their blog is a great resource for publications and testimonials that can serve as a lifeline from the throws of self-hatred. Part anecdotal encouragement and part scientific evidence, the literature on CAD's blog provides healthy support for beating depression. Beyond just optimistic copywriting, CAD offers a third party support line for those who might need immediate help. The hotline is intended to be a continuation of support that CAD offers, an outside lifeline for those deep in the aguish of negative thoughts.
The most important thing to remember is that many people, particularly in our field, deal with depression. To be a gifted creative is to naturally think more and then think more about those thoughts. We travel deeper into our heads, making connections in all the small details and emerging with something inspired, true, and unique. The process of entering deep within ourselves is dangerous; it is here we enter into depression. The pain and suffering is immense, though sometimes short-lived. To some of us, the pain is played on a loop as we continue to think and rethink and overthink our feelings — an inescapable mental cycle. As creatives, we naturally rethink events to better understand them; it is important that we eliminate the negativity and continue the creative process.
According to Shelly Carson, there is a positive correlation between depression and the creative process. Carson debates that true creativity emerges from escape from depression. The very act of lifting out of a depressive state lends way to some of the more positively inspired work. Taking this theory in conjunction with the support network of CAD means you have a formula for harnessing the creative abilities within. CAD is "just one photographer doing what he can to make a small dent in a huge issue," describes Founder Jose Rosado. With the hopes of continued growth and impact on a global issue, CAD seeks an increased understanding of the relationship between depression and creativity. As individuals and creatives, it is important to reflect on how you work and what will allow you to produce better work. Understanding the pitfalls and the land mines of depression that can consume you in an instant is paramount to furthering success. Equally, respecting the natural flow of your mind and how your brain and body operate will allow you to live a more whole and healthy life.