The Dark Side of Creativity

Golder Goldstein Human Potential Coach

Can creativity exist without depression?

There is a side of me that I like to be seen — my creative side: capable, flowing, and confident. Oozing answers, inspiration and energy. I love to experience it myself and for it to be seen, acknowledged, and lauded by others.

And then…

​And then, there is another side of me: one I prefer to keep hidden. That I’m reticent to have witnessed by the world at-large and by my closest friends and family. That is the depressive, dark and brooding side of me. For years I have fought with it, wrestling with its presence, its persistence, and its sudden reappearances.

When I am stuck the Dark Cloud, I often fully forget about my creative side. I can’t feel its presence or even remember what it is like. All I see is the inside of that cloud: foggy, dark and obscure.

​The greatest pain of living with and in that Dark Cloud is not the sadness, gloom or ennui; it is throbbing torment of wondering, What is wrong with me? It is the searing roadrash-and-gravel sting and shame that comes with resisting my undesirable current state of reality.

For much of my adult life, I’ve ridden the incalculable pendulum between these points, viewing them as separate and opposed to one another. But — and how I wish I had known this decades ago — they are one and of the same thing.

Creativity and Depression as parts of the same whole

If Creativity and Depression are parts of my same whole, my questions shift.

​I can cease wondering: What is wrong with me?.
I can begin to heal from those emotional self-inflicted wounds of shame and self-loathing.
I can instead ponder queries such as:

What if this Dark Cloud is the manure from which Creativity grows?
How can I take care of myself while this passes?
How do I avoid creating additional suffering while this is happening?​

I have known that my Creativity is the best of what I have to offer to the world. And if Creativity includes Depression, then by extension, my depression too is the best of what I have to share and contribute. Knowing that my greater contribution is necessarily coupled with darkness brings greater context: Depression is the opportunity cost for what I have to offer.

If Creativity is the joyous expression of new ideas and perspectives being shared, perhaps Depression is the unpleasant and necessary gestation of those news ideas, a painful waiting as what’s-to-come takes form.

If I can recognize and accept the dark, heavy piece of my experience as a passing reality and as a crucial part of my creative process, I can stop beating myself up along the way. I can stop creating additional suffering out of my pain.

If I submit to the phases of my own internal stormy weather, I can replace self-denigration with acceptance. Instead of prodding myself to painfully try to produce the 10 pages that came so easily yesterday, I can love myself and the process enough to watch the storm roll by from the front porch swing with a book and a cup of tea, as I might do with external weather and seasons.

​If I stop fighting my depression, what creativity and contribution can I find inside it’s murky depths? Perhaps my willingness to share my experience may help lift others out of their own painful depths.

If my Depression and my Creativity are part of the same whole, then perhaps they are both due the same thanks, praise and celebration for what-comes.


I’d love to hear your story around Creativity and Depression or other sources of hard to swallow duality in your life!
Please leave a comment here or get in touch.

If you’re struggling to live into your creativity and all that comes with it, you don’t have to do it alone. Get in touch with me for a free coaching session to help you embrace the full width of life and uncover your greatest contribution.

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