on being stuck, feeling fear, and not giving in to depression
we scout wednesday

thinking of you hand cut card
greeting card by storeyshop

Living a creative life has many struggles, mine has been one that many others share.

Since I was about 12, I have struggled with depression. It runs in my family – both sides. There were times when my depression manifested itself in anger, other times it takes the form of crippling sadness, still others complete lethargy.

Most often, my depression has been the result of feeling stuck and a dangerous cocktail of feminine hormones.

I was often depressed in high school, a place you could not pay me enough money to return to. I was rarely intellectually or creatively stimulated and was certainly on the outside looking in of the social scene. In college, my depression returned only once: during my senior year when I felt stuck approaching the inevitable collide with “real life.” In the years after college, I suffered while working in a dead end job with no local friends and again, after I became pregnant and felt the “stuckness” of not knowing how I was going to care for myself let alone another human being.

There have been times when being stuck felt final. That there was nothing else and I was without hope of being unstuck. Needless to say, these have been times when I was full of fear, even if I couldn’t feel many other emotions. Many times, I was very self aware of these times: standing in the stock room knowing I couldn’t make another Christmas in retail, being at the grocery store when I was 12 weeks pregnant knowing I had to eat but just not having the will to make myself eat. Other times I have suffered in a cloud.

But I have always bounced back.

I have taken medication, met people, found creative outlets. Getting unstuck, I’ve stretched & expressed myself back into life even when the odds were against me returning home from work safely. Somehow I end up harnessing the awareness of my depression to get unstuck & reclaim my own creativity.

I’m sure this is no great revelation to many of you. So many ambitious, intelligent, creative people experience debilitating bouts of depression.

Somehow, this pain informs & inspires the very thing that seems to cause us to suffer: creativity. We channel our experience into art, writing, social action, craft, music. We latch onto the one thing that brings life – true life – back into focus. Even as our creative self beats us down for being stuck, our creativity makes us see the world more clearly, hold our heads up high, and smile. It’s a story that is not new to history and certainly will not be erased in the future. I know that I am a far more passionate writer, mother, designer, and business owner because of the deep down stuckness I have felt and the desperation to continue to nurture my creativity, leaving “stuck” in the past.

Living a creative life is not without struggle. We are not always happy people covered with tacky glue & acrylic paint & threads of a newly sewn dress. For this We Scout Wednesday, I challenge you to share a struggle from your creative life – whether it’s about the pressure to create, your talent, lack of time, meager education, etc…

What do you fear holds you back from living the creative life you aspire to? What do you struggle with in living creatively?

Share your struggle on your blog, Flickr stream, Facebook page, Twitter stream, you name it, and enter a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Kindly link back to Scoutie Girl in your post so that others can find more on the topic.

for further reading on “being stuck” and getting unstuck, check out kelly diels’ post series on the topic starting here with How to Get Unstuck: There is No Stuck.

36 thoughts on “on being stuck, feeling fear, and not giving in to depression
we scout wednesday

  1. I just wrote something about this the other day, I’m linking to it here:
    Depression affects lots of people and for me it was and is my mother, but she is a symbol of hope and strength – yes strength! It takes great strength to overcome the great tides of depression that wash over you and feel like they are pulling you down….and my mother has survived and helps others to survive as well.
    Love this post. I want to write more about this but it may be too much….
    You are amazing tho Tara, love your blog, your ambition, your finds, you are a wonder!

  2. Tara when you posed the question the other day about what holds you back I put feeling stuck, I also have depression for years and I never would have LINKED it your post really made a difference in my life today because I get so mad at myself even after all these years of dealing with it:)
    THANKS for sharing you post! Its awesome

  3. Tara, you are amazing:
    1) For being able to write about such sensitive topic – in your personal life.
    2) For writing about the not-so-shiny part of being a one-person creative business person, which is not always a piece of cake.

    I dont think I am going to post about this topic now, because it is too personal at this moment: I am in the middle of my fight with myself :-) …..again.
    I have had huge fights – and my blog was full of its stages for 3 years (available only in Hungarian :-) )

    One thing I have learnt through these fights: one has to do those things that he/she is really-really afraid of. When one is in a situation, and asking him/herself “why am I doing this? I should go home and stay in my comfortable life, what I am doing here?” – and these kinds of thoughts….that is the way one _has to_go, otherwise that person will not learn how to tackle and overcome basic inner fears.

    But it is not easy. If someone is afraid of – as I am – (financial and other types of ) instability, it is not easy to jump in it. But – speaking of myself – I know I have to do it, otherwise I will never know how to deal with it.

  4. THANK YOU Tara for writing this post! I wouldn’t have thought you suffered this way as well. I have suffered from depression since around the same age as you. It has been exactly as you stated, i have felt like I am alone, I am stuck and very frustrated. Becoming a stay at home mom was an experience I never planned for, but if it wasn’t for my daughter, I never would have explored my creative side or started my own business. Still there are many days where I don’t want to do anything but sleep, even though this doesn’t happen. I become very overwhelmed with anger sometimes and wonder why after 3 years do I still struggle with my business while I see others succeding in much less time. I certainly am a very passionate person and it’s nice to know that in this area, I am not alone. You have inspired me since the day I became acquainted with you. Here’s to bouncing back and moving on!


  5. My struggle is overcoming the consumption this work sometimes brings on. I get so wrapped up in it that I ignore very important people in my life: my husband, my son, good friends. It brings on an isolation and breeds resentment as I’m not “taking care of business” of the home. I need to find a balance. I have to walk away from this and close the door and greet the people who live here, my family, and connect with them. I forget that quite often. I get a little obsessive with this work, I have to back off and realize that the world won’t end if I’m not doing it 16 hours a day. I love them terribly and they have given me the space to pursue this. They bring me back to reality, I love my family and I love that they need me too.

    Thank you for sharing your struggles.

  6. tara, i would just like to say thank you for encouraging me to share my story regarding my car accident. i was afraid to share it before because of all the fear surrounding this time in my life. but it has been so freeing being able to share my story. it hasn’t been easy. i have had to tackle the hurdles of fear and insecurity, but i know that i will reach so many more people with my art because of telling my story. thank you!

  7. Thank you for sharing this! I am always reading these blogs of amazing creative woman and I’m like “I want to do what they are doing!”. I am struggling now trying to figure out a way out of my corporate job and into supporting myself with my creativity. My fear is of failure and it is holding me back so much I can’t even start. I just look into the world around me and see all the amazing things others are doing and I feel like “my stuff is not that good” “I will never be able to do this – just be happy you have a job now” But deep inside I want to burst- I want to doing something artistic, expressive, anything that will share what is inside. I forget that others who have succeeded faced their own fears and struggles to get where they are. We all have to go through it – but you have to start somewhere.

  8. Tara, Thank you for having the courage to share such a personal subject. I don’t have time to participate in the link exchange today, but I just wanted to say that, yet again, your post hit home for me. I have really been feeling “stuck” lately and I am searching for the tools to “unstick” myself.

  9. My Etsy shop and creative work definitely help me through my depression. But I do have a hard time sometimes with getting too immersed in it and letting it distract me from the more important parts of my life, my children. Thanks so much for the post and letting us know that we are not alone with our depression! I linked to this great post on my Facebook fan page:


  10. Thanks so much for this very honest post! My struggle right now is whether I’m wasting my time trying to find a way to build up my Etsy shop and get it going as a side hustle (and maybe, eventually, support myself fully with my shop).

    Since I started my shop I’ve had this feeling, finally, that I’m on the right track and life is headed in the right direction. But I struggle a lot with the fact that I have many large financial obligations, and my inner critic starts whispering, “you’ll never succeed at this — if you’ve got free time, go get a regular part-time job to bring in some reliable cash instead of wasting your time and money making sparkly things that make you smile. You’ve got a mortgage and people who depend on you, ffs!”

    I can’t tell you how much it helps to read that others, who are more well-known and successful than I, go through the same types of struggles.

  11. Thank you so much for this article. Like you I’ve struggled with depression since high school and it’s always an uphill climb. I’ve written my thoughts in my blog and linked back.

  12. Thank you so much for this post, I had a really enlightening time coming up with my own blog post about what I struggle with. Not just a struggle with crafting but with existence really. Really helpful springboard you provided us all with and thanks so much for sharing your own experiences. Very inspiring experience!

  13. I suffer from severe depression too, so I know how difficult this post is to write (I’ve writtena few myself). And I’ve found that it’s the creative things that help me out of it – gardening, photography, writing, blogging. In fact, if you read enough blogs, you’ll find that many bloggers have suffered from it at one time or other. I truly appreciate your post and thank you for writing it.

    xo Erin

  14. Another great post, Tara – raw and thought provoking. I wrote up struggle and art, but could have just as easily written about fear and struggle. My own fears that hold me back are nearly always self-induced: questioning myself, is this good enough, what am I thinking, time to go get a job, I’ll never have another great idea. :) I don’t have answers – I only know that I have to immerse myself in and embrace my fear in order to come out through the other side. I’m in the process of emergence (is that a word?) right now, as a matter of fact, after one of the most intense periods of struggle in recent years (resulting in some fear) in my life (thanks to major health issues).

    I really appreciate the hard questions you’re asking, while taking the first step with your own story. Thank you!

  15. Thank you for sharing this, Tara. It is so comforting to know that there are others out there who understand. I’m bipolar and just when I think that I won’t be depressed anymore…bang, it hits me. I think you are right, though, that this pain does channel into creativity. And it’s the creativity that pulls us through it, too. (Once we can get out of bed…)

    Fear of failure and rejection usually is what stands in my way; however, over time I have found that this gets easier. There are some nasty people out there, but there sure are a lot more nice people.

  16. Your post hit the nail on the head for me. But there is so much else that goes on. There is the all-consuming nature of creativity that you love but also love to hate, the anxiety ( am I good enough, can I be better?) and the resentment (if you have kids) that there just isn’t enough time to do what you want to do and the GUILT that comes along with it. I found as I got older and I became responsible for 2 little people my depression worsened and was heightening post-partum. I had to actually get medication after the birth of my 2nd child it was so bad. There is so much for creatives to live for – but with everything that goes through a creative mind in a day it’s no wonder some of us just crack under the pressure. Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. Wow, it’s amazing that another person, a person you don’t know, can feel what you do. My struggle sounds very familiar to yours Liz. I only have one little girl though, but the anxiety, guilt, resentment, guilt, and depression has been difficult. We are thinking about having another, because I do love being a mom more than anything, but part of me is so scared. It’s a daily struggle to balance it all.

      Today I about took off the head of a telemarketer who knocked on my door, which is clearly marked no soliciting, causing my dog to bark and my baby to wake. I was so upset to loose that 30 minutes of time to continue creating. Looking back it’s strange I was so upset over something so small, but that seems a constant these days :( My desire to create is not a want but a need. I truly feel that.

      Thanks Tara, Liz, and all you other wonderful ladies, for being brave and sharing your stories and comments. It helps me to know I’m not alone, to know other wonderful and successful woman have battled this and won!

      I wrote about something similarly recently, basically moms and society. I referenced to an amazing documentary that I connected with on a deep level. It’s about moms who are artists, not choosing but doing both. Check it out if you’re interested…


  17. if i was a superstitious person, i’d think it was meaningful that my post is #13. my favorite number and birthdate….but i’ll be rational today. Great post tara. way to make us think!

  18. Very, very timely. I started riding the depression wave again just a couple hours before I saw this. Stopped everything I was procrastinating on and wrote a post (#16). Can’t wait to read everyone else’s. Thank you!

  19. *Sigh* I think perhaps you were writing about me. How did you get into my head so clearly? I too suffer bouts of depression and wonder if I will ever “get out” and into a better mind set. Creating art has been my means of survival.
    I’m hoping that if I stop my birth control that all those extra female hormones will stop clouding my vision and I will see the light at the end of the tunnel. Fingers crossed.
    Thanks for another great post.

  20. I have loved reading this post and all the comments. I love how so many people use creativity to help overcome fear, depression, inertia etc. My creativity is my photography. Whenever I’m out with my camera it always makes me feel fulfilled. It’s the one thing guaranteed to get me into ‘the zone’, into flow and it never fails to brighten my mood. It’s the thing I feel I need to do.

    I write about and am fascinated by, what I call, ‘creative divine’, which is all about connecting to your source, experiencing flow or who you truly are, often by using creativity. It’s not anything new – a lot of people such as Wayne Dyer write about source and how powerful it can be to access that part of ourselves. (Wayne Dyer has a great DVD out as well called ‘The Shift’ which you may like).

    My theory is that whenever we are out of alignment in some way it can manifest as being stuck. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few months and I wrote a post a few days ago (http://wholeselfblog.blogspot.com/2010/05/aligning-with-whole-self.html) about not being centred or being out of kilter. I recently resigned from my job to pursue my creative life. I’m learning a lot about being patient! How being fearful or positive impacts the degree of ‘stuckness’. And how being authentic is the only way to go despite how scary that can sometimes feel.

  21. This is something that I struggle with constantly. I get stuck in unrewarding jobs & I create to feel better & give share something with the world. I’d love to be able to create full time, but I don’t make enough. When business is slow, I wonder if it’s because I am unworthy & then I feel depressed & don’t want to do anything. It’s a horrible circle. I once had a friend say that he thought I wasn’t afraid of anything. I responded that I was afraid of everything. I was surprised that he thought I was unafraid & I think he was surprised that I said I was afraid of everything. There are many things I do, even though I am afraid, trying to get unstuck, especially when I hear someone say they don’t think I can accomplish the task, maybe that’s where he got the idea. I’m always afraid, though.
    Thanks for sharing that we are not alone in our depression or being stuck.

    My first Handmade Spark article was about this http://www.handmadespark.com/blog/head-towards-growth/
    It’s not Wednesday anymore, so I’ll just post the link here

  22. Here’s an awesome 20 min video to add to the discussion! http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html Writer Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the pressure and weight put on creative pursuits and what it’s like for the artist when great success comes and passes. She talks about the need to bring back the ancient idea that the creative genius comes from an outside/paranormal/god entity and states that we humans should be applauded for having the “sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.”

    It’s very inspirational and is a perfect compliment to our discussion.

  23. Thank you for sharing. I work in a non-creative industry (medicine) where depression is very prevalent and we still don’t talk about it much even though we all know better. Thanks for being brave and open enough to share your story and feelings.

  24. WOW!!! I didn’t read every reply to this post but between the post itself and the replies I did read every word spoke to me. I have been up and down like many of you, never knowing when the downs would end so I could look forward to being up again. It is a constant struggle. Everyday the biggest reason I get out of bed is to get my son. Some days its the only reason. I lost my job 2 years ago and have been on a rollercoaster ever since. I took the holidays off to recharge and Valentines day I got pregnant. We had been wanting to start our family, we’d been married 4 years and figured it might be time. Our son is now 11 months old today and the light of our lives. But it has also been a struggle having him. Since he was born my husband has been laid off twice and I have been home with the baby. It just seems like the past couple of months has been one bad thing happening after another. But like many pointed out, this too shall pass. I really really hate being in the midst of my depression (as if anyone actually enjoys it). I feel so deeply lost, overwhelmed, and fatigued. I feel as if I am drowning. But reading your post, Tara, and the replies of all the other strong women here has helped give me a glimmer of hope and confidence that I too can have my cake and eat it too, with my business and family. Thanks again, to everyone!!!

  25. I grew up with a mother who was often depressed. She was a complete extrovert, the opposite of me. She didn’t have many friends, though. And on top of her loneliness, she felt guilty because my older brother was born with a congenital heart defect. She blamed herself for his condition, because she fell down a flight of stairs at her apartment building one day when she was newly pregnant.

    I didn’t understand her when I was a child. I could spend hours alone in my room, drawing or sewing and listening to the radio. I didn’t need to be around people, and I was actually quite shy. As I got older, I went through bouts of depression myself. Suddenly, I started to understand my mother.

    I’ve worked for the same company for 12 years. I’m in retail, and every year I tell myself I’m getting out. Sometimes complacency is as harmful as depression.

    However, it can also fuel one to try other things. I know I have a steady part time job. I have medical coverage and vacation time. Its difficult for me to be fired, because I work for a union. So I have taken the lemons I have been given in this life and tried to make lemonade. It isn’t always easy. Customers are demanding and treat me like dirt. But I remind myself of that 10 year old girl, sewing her Barbie clothes on the bedroom floor. That is who I really am. That is what makes my life a creative one.

  26. I’m so happy to see another design blogger covering the topic of depression! I struggled with depression and it wasn’t until I learned to talk to myself in a positive + soothing manner that I started to feel positive about myself..and positive about being alive + my existence. Thank You.

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