The dark place, sad dreams, antidepressants and creativity…

Looking back over my blog stats for 2014, I discovered the three posts that got by far the most views were:

  1. Do antidepressants help or hinder creativity?
  2. The dark place where talent leads
  3. How can a really sad dream be a really good thing?

This surprised me at first, but when I thought about it, it seemed less surprising. The people who call by the House of Dreams are almost all dreamers and writers, and dreamers and writers are acquainted with their own inner darkness, and know how powerful it can be.

When you first engage with the darkness, it can be terrifying, and you may look for reassurance that you will not come to harm.

As you explore further, you find the darkness is full of meaning, and then you may look for other explorers who will understand your experience.

Carl Jung said that he stopped trying to cure people of depression when he realised that the way to make your darkness less dark was to accept it and inhabit it.

When creative people and depressives, and dreamers like me, are called to the darkness, that is a gift of opportunity, even though it is a gift nobody wants.

The sick man has not to learn how to get rid of his neurosis, but how to bear it. For the illness is not a superfluous and senseless burden, it is himself.

CG Jung

The darkness holds the keys to the self, and more. On the other side of meaning, where both the dark and the light are dissolved, all is energy and possibility, and we can experience pure creative freedom.

I believe in this journey. It can be long, and bewildering; it can feel unbearable. But if we can learn to bear the darkness, there is treasure to be found.

I hesitate to write about depression because it may sound as if I don’t understand how terrible it can be. I do. I suffered from  depression for many years before I stopped fighting it and, paradoxically, began to win.

These three posts about the darkness brought a wealth of wisdom and experience in the comments, which I hope you will take the time to read.

Has depression or the creative journey ever brought healing and insights for you? 


4 thoughts on “The dark place, sad dreams, antidepressants and creativity…”

    1. Probably Volume 10 of his complete works, Vicky – I’d have to go through all my notes to find it. Here’s another one from that volume: ‘We should not try to get rid of a neurosis, but rather to experience what it means, what it has to teach, what its purpose is. We should even learn to be thankful for it, otherwise we pass it by and miss the opportunity of getting to know ourselves as we really are.’ I read the complete works about 25 years ago, and made shed loads of notes!

  1. I believe we creative / artistic types are more prone to bouts of depression for the same reason we’re prone to bouts of happiness: our minds aren’t one-track entities. We feel the full range of the human experience, and that includes the bad side of things. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to create works that convey various emotions and therefore, connect with other people. There’s just no way around it. Being sad all the time is no better than being happy all the time. In either case the individual is stuck in one emotional extreme and essentially delusional. We have to allow ourselves to feel the best and worst of humanity.

  2. I’m glad you mentioned happiness too, Alejandro, and the full range of emotions, and point to emotions as the way we connect with other people. Jung said we connect with the symbols of our inner life through ‘the bridge of the emotions’ too. I think that’s why for me, personally, numbing everything out with medication made me feel remote from myself.

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