Surviving Depression


I personally believe being happily engaged in writing and art making is better than not; and secondly, living without depression, pain and anger is better than living with them. If you’re doing something artful, and smiling, look out, you’re probably having fun.

Every word written is a victory against depression and the dysfunction that comes along it. Writing and making art put me in touch with my inner artist who was choking to create a new me, a happy, self-achieving me. I’ve been slowly and quietly growing and changing into the person I’ve always wanted to be, a writer, a poet and an authority on surviving depression with Art Therapy. It is my hope my web, and my books which can be read for free, will help others as much as working on them have helped me. I’m Joyce White, I’m Winged for Art Therapy.

My first book was Sculpting the Heart: Surviving Depression with Art Therapy, with CHAPTERS: Living in the Moment; Journaling My Heart; Creative Journaling; Spontaneous Imaging; Forgetting and Forgiving; Assembling Found Objects; Living and Loving.

The American Art Therapy Association advise Therapy is an established mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve, conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.”

There is nothing like using e-books and webs via the internet to acquire new ideas much like a painter uses his canvas. Creative expression is about growth, change and enlightenment. It reinforces the power of life and how special we all can be. It is my hope, for one brief, breathless moment, you will wake up to your own divine gifts while reading about how I awoke to mine.

If we’re going to be spending time together, you may want to know a little more about me. I come from a family that is prettily packaged and talented but somewhat dysfunctional for many reasons. We grow addictions like weeds and dream when we are awake. We have sensitive ears, noisy fingers and loud mouths. We all suffer from the disease of depression but don’t let it stop us from living creative lives. In the best of times, we are eager to live up to our own expectations. In the worst of times, we are lost in self-pity.

As for myself, I define myself as a struggling Christian, especially on Sunday, just a vessel doing God’s work. I am a mother, grandmother, a clay artist and a photographer on other days. I always start my morning with a 30-minute jog around the bedroom. Sometimes I have to stop and think, and forget to start again. I am not a scientist-type who insists everything can be mathematically examined, related and accounted for. As a matter of fact, I am more like a curious child playing in the garden between the two houses of God and Science. Picking flowers from both makes me happy.

I can remember as a child, planning on living forever and so far so good! I didn’t know what I do now that when we get older, we wrinkle, shrink and don’t have many good hair days left. We pamper what hair we have left that isn’t gray. The grays we torture by tugging, plugging and/or dyeing. We spend a lot of time looking for our keys and glasses hiding from us. Sometimes our nerves make our limbs begin jumping and jiving when there is no music. We also keep repeating, repeating, repeating, what we know. We all have to contend with gravity.

It is the idea that I am a writer that keeps me pounding my computer keys for our mutual wellness. I am not a teacher or doctor. I am just an ordinary woman living in an extraordinary imperfect word. I am always trying to find a balance between joy and sadness in my life. I don’t think of myself as an expert about what is right for everyone. We’re all teachers for one another. Martin Luther King once said, “Not everyone can be famous. But everyone can be great.” I, myself, have learned with good intentions and some hard work, all of us can be great by staying true to our values, integrity and our own Creator. My own beginning journey with clay, photography and writing brought me more than joy. Expressing myself creatively has been good medicine for me. The ancient Greeks knew this when they appointed Apollo as the god of both poetry and medicine. Even Jesus reminds us what you bring forth will save you. What you do not bring forth from within will destroy you. Some of us even think headaches are really poems waiting to be written.

So get rid of that nagging pain of tension in your head, and start writing a poem about writing:
The Pen…I can be quite quaint or curious, Smear the best or run quite dry, Many ride me in their pocket, Or sit me on their ear, I could make them cry, I could make them laugh, I can be black and blue, and/or Clear and Read, Pride and Passion honor me.

Words are healers whether we are writing them or reading them. Of course, a loving friend can be a healer. A song can be a healer. A celebratory greeting card can be a healer. An image that empowers you can be a healer, much like a photograph, a sculpture, painting or a simply-glazed clay pot. Sometimes I feel like I’m way out there in Never-Never Land, a strange observer from a strange land. But in truth, creative souls like poets and artists are very much of this world. We just make everything a game. We play connect-the-dots with words and feelings, paying close attention to the sound and flower of our memories, as well as their arrangement on the page. I play connect-the-dots with sentences, images and/or word pictures. I always have a copy of a poem book in front of me when I write. I look for ideas, metaphors or topics that interest me. I’m always looking for an initial thought burst, a memory or a feeling I can blow out of proportion and use in a grand over-indulgent way. “You may discover your best poems while writing your worst prose.” says Joyce Carol Oates. “As soon as you connect with your true subject, you will write.”

If I had to describe my inner poet, I’d say he looked at the world a little eschewed. He lives patiently in me, giving me fragrant hope where there was once none. He inspired me to write although it never occurred to me I could write anything of value. Surprisingly, the more I wrote, the more I had to say. I’ve read an author must be like God, present everywhere but visible nowhere. Somerset Maugham says, “If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.” Samuel Johnson says, “The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, and familiar things new.” When the right words come to me, they are as beautiful and unsought as country wild flowers.

  1. Avatar of Andrew J. Sacks
    Andrew J. Sacks says

    Beautiful and inspiring thoughts, feelings, and words!

  2. Avatar of Minnie
    Minnie says

    I read articles like this one. It is so called ‘pop-culture’ philosophy… ‘having fun, being happy, creative, open’ … what a load of empty phrases. Depression is something which goes a way beyond those vacant, superficial and ‘optimistic’ words… ‘be positive, write your journal, live in the moment….’ c’mon people, do you really want to say that you do understand real causes of depression and its subtle manifestations? Do you know who was Kranz Kafka? Did you read about his depression, his ways of coping with the monster, did you read his work? You did, so, giving compliments for such a cheap article and its philosophy is ridiculous… or does it serve just to give compliments – from the average to the average? Please, do smarten up, clever readers should know what a good article is, or what is a deep profound thought. Thanks and ‘don’t take it too personally’ as for yet another pop-culture optimistic phrase. Minnie Barlow.

    1. Avatar of Joyce White
      Joyce White says

      Hi Minnie, sounds like you are in the hands of depression yourself. Why are you so angry? My brother after getting back from Viet Nam killed himself from depression. My son has been hospitalized since he was a teenager from depression. He has been out and doing good living with me. He don’t do art work but he is surviving. I’ve been suffering from chronic depression and fibrositis since I was a teenager. I live in pain daily but I write these cheap articles because they cheer me up myself to try and cheer others up. Consider them entertainment if you! I’m not a doctor, I take Cymbalta, Buspar, and it is true this last year I haven’t been able to write because of depression. Thankfully, I got back on the horse and I’m feeling better. I will pray for you. Joyce

  3. Avatar of Joyce White
    Joyce White says

    My husband died on December 30th. My writing has stopped momentarily but I like to post past articles that may help others. For the last five months, I’ve had to take some time and replenish my beliefs. I guess my Depression has got me by the tail. But to others like Minnie, I want to say do something that gives you joy. It doesn’t matter what it is, cook, sing, listen to music, keep your minds busy. Happy Mother’s Day to all!

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