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Creatives Deal with Depression, Too: How We Can Heal

Emelda De Coteau


“Healing comes from letting there be room for all of "this" to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
- Pema Chodron


I smile and laugh often, creating, networking and collaborating come naturally. I run an inspirational and faith blog, Live In Color. And yet there are days when simply climbing out of bed feels epic, even posting on Instagram, my favorite social media space, becomes overwhelming. I run head first towards the familiar comfort of busyness though. Anything at all to avoid the full weight of encroaching sadness.  I cannot crumble. Too many folks depend on me, I whisper to myself, so keep going, girl. 

When I first heard Solange sing Cranes in the Sky, I nearly cried. Her words lingered with me for days: " I tried to drink it away. I tried to put one in the air. I tried to dance it away. I tried to change it with my hair... I tried to work it away, but that just made me even sadder..."

Someone is singing my struggle, I thought, the struggle of so many of us, burying our feelings in careers, martinis, and endless consumption. During my mid-twenties, a therapist diagnosed me with mild depression. I shrugged it off, if it's mild, it doesn't impact me much. I kept partying, working, and running. 

But God has a way of slowing us down, bringing light to our deepest wounds. Today life is different, I work for myself and home school our little one. There are no daily commutes or office dynamics to distract me. I am coming to understand denying this pain is not liberating but suffocating. I must allow myself to feel fully. Gradually, I am learning to practice radical self-care, like being unavailable to folks at times. Saying no. Simply being still. 

We usually think of creativity as a panacea for depression so if we just write, paint, sing, draw enough, it will dissipate. Nope. Sometimes, loves, actually, often, you and I have to sit in this messiness, listen to it, begin to understand our own psyches. You cannot heal what you deny. Day by day, moment by moment, this becomes clearer. 

Now instead of pushing these feelings aside, I mediate. I pray. I allow my mind, body and spirit those periods of rest. I embrace grace. I stop myself from chasing perfection and celebrate progresses, both the grand and small. Faith feeds me in ways I could not have imagined several years ago. I find it gives me courage to surrender to uncertainty and transcend doubt. 

You and I have a right to our feelings. They are valid and authentic. Naming our struggles does not mean they overtake us, but rather become a source of empowerment, particularly as we overcome.  I am my sista, my sista is me. When you are well so am I. No more shame and denial, loves, just the freedom of self acceptance. 

I want to leave you all with lyrics from another song, Breathing Underwater, by Emeli Sandé which poetically speaks to the beauty of vulnerability and perseverance. May it illuminate your path:

"I believe in miracles
'Cause it's a miracle I'm here
Guess you could call me spiritual
'Cause physical is fear
And it's safe to say the storms gone away
And I’m dancing on the morning after
Yes I'd love to stay, but my home's the other way
And I miss the love and laughter

Something like flying
Hard to describe it
My God, I'm breathing underwater
Something like freedom, freedom
My God, I'm breathing underwater..."

Emelda De Coteau is a loving wife, mama, creative, and believer seeking God anew in each moment.  She is the founder of the inspirational and faith blog, Live In Color. Emelda is a columnist for Beautifully Said Magazine, contributing writer at Our Words Collaborative, Founder of #WomenCreativesChat , and founding member of Black Womyn Rising, a radical organizing collective for Black womyn and girls.