In the second week of November, I hit a slump. Not just any slump but a deep-dark-depressive spiral slump that left me feeling numb and empty. I had no energy or motivation, and just felt miserable! I even found myself questioning, can you lose your creativity?
The Creative Slump
Throughout the holidays, I just shuffled through, but I did manage to enjoy the time I had with our kids, but I just was not myself. My husband JJ can tell you that all I wanted to do was lie around, watch Christmas movies, and play a match-3 game on my phone.
This was very out of character for me because I am usually pushing myself until I basically collapse into bed each night. This isn’t the first time it has happened during the holiday season, but this year I could not find a definite reason to be feeling the way I did.
I had a very successful year in business, we moved into a new place, my family was safe, but I wasn’t “feeling it.”
The more I vegged out, the angrier I got at myself.
Finally, a week or two before Christmas, I decided to go back and see a counselor. I cried once or twice, which is very rare for me, but that was about it. My therapist told me that the reason I was in the doldrums with my creativity was that I was exhausted.
Me! Exhausted! There is no such thing!
I’m rolling my eyes right now because that was precisely the issue, and it sounded just like something my Dad would say. You would think I would know better having seen him push himself to the brink of sanity and health by never stopping to rest.
Alas, I am my father’s daughter.
A Year of Figurative Torment
I have a stupid superstition that I know is not true, but sometimes I believe it any way that any year that ends in an odd number is going to be awful. I know you can laugh, and I do at myself, but I have held this false belief for around 10 years now.
I’m not going to go into details about everything that went wrong or caused a lot of stress in 2019, but here is a short list:
- February: Mom had open heart and lung surgery at Duke University.
- March-April: My business exploded, and I could barely keep up.
- May: I fell and fractured my heel bone at a wedding (I still shot the wedding before I went to the ER). The next day someone killed my cocker spaniel Snickers.
- June: My husband decided it was time we moved due to the incident of someone killing my dog, and other factors I won’t get into. (In the middle of wedding season mind you.)
- July: We barely got settled into our new place, and my Dad was nearly killed in a boating accident, read that story here. Gracie (5) had surgery the same week. (I still shot a wedding that same weekend, lol.)
- August-October: Back to back weddings.
Are you sensing a pattern here? I’m honestly laughing at this point because looking back, I don’t know how I kept my sanity. However, I had to go to a counselor to realize I was exhausted!
Can you lose your creativity?
So, let’s get back to where we started, can you lose your creativity? No, I don’t believe you can, but external factors can definitely influence the amount you have at a given time.
If everything in your world feels like a water globe that is continually being shaken up, you are going to be distracted. And it is also OK to veg out until all the glitter settles back down into the bottom.
Sadly, I couldn’t even see that I was utterly drained, and I was angry with myself for not feeling like I thought I should. All I could think about was what I was NOT doing instead, such as blogging regularly, painting every day, practicing sketching, etc.
Seriously? What was wrong with me? I had a terrible case of the “shoulds and should nots.” And when you place too many of the “should” thoughts into your daily thinking pattern, it equates to the doldrums and depression.
Portrait Painting Again
Yesterday I finally sat down and revisited some recorded classes I had taken with a private painting instructor, and I painted. When I looked at the date of those courses, I cringed because they were almost to the day a year ago, and I had practiced so little after them.
Immediately my mind started its ritual song and dance of guilt, but I chose to ignore it. I am happy I did because after hours upon hours of work, I completed this piece. I felt free!
A lesson I learned throughout this entire experience is that it is ok to be tired and need to rest. Another is that if art is your “happy” place, don’t neglect it for too long if you are going through a rough patch. Because if you do, you may build up so much anxiety that you find it hard to get back into it.
Nevertheless, you never lose your creativity; sometimes, it merely needs to hibernate for a spell.