Depression Community
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370801 tn?1264405018

Artists Living WIth Depressive Episodes & Medications

It's been a year or two since I last wrote on here. These boards are great and I recommend them to a lot of people who are going through issues and questions about their medications, whether to start or stop.. Too often doctors don't seem to really give us the time and attention we all deserve when it comes to mental health medicine or else they are just not that knowledgeable about the effects of medication. I find this site has taught me a lot, all of you with all of your experiences .. You're the real thing, and your experiences help others with this thing many of us deal with.

This morning, as I'm waking up, I'm laying in bed faced with yet again another crossroads in my life when it comes to depression.

I've been on Lamictal and Wellbutrin 150mg of each per day for the past year and a half. Wellbutrin a year or so before that but it was making me a bit hypomanic and emotional so they added Lamictal to the mix.. and bam, instant calm, feeling balanced, strong, happy for a whole year and a half for the first time ever. Only my memory, focus, concentration, awareness and mostly importantly my creative spark and ability to write are also gone.

I won't fool myself wiithout medication, when I was younger, the depression was bad when it hit. All the usual feelings of unplaced guilt, low self esteem and low self worth, lack of belief in one's self and one's aspirations and dreams, paranoia, constant worrying, shyness, and times of crippling sadness... wanting to die.

But I got through it each time, with a sense of faith, spiritual or otherwise and with my creativity.. writing songs and transcending the situation that way felt good. Two and a half years ago some things happened that made it hard to take my mind off of.. I couldn't get better no matter how hard I tried. So I gave in and went on medication. After a lot of trial and error I found a combo that worked.

The lamictal has caused weight gain in me also.. I know people say it shouldn't but it did. I was really skinny before so it ain't a huge deal but I have less energy than I used to. I feel my body growing old on it.

I am in the middle of a crucial time in my life for my career and a lot of obligations I need to fill both physically and creatively. I have tried and tried time and time again. I cannot write or focus or concentrate enough to create something on Lamictal since I started it. My brain power feels like mush.

It's a shame. I can't live like this though.
If I don't write, if I don't get back my sharpness of mind, my life is pretty much over anyways.

So my question is, are there any other artists out there who know what I'm talking about?
What are your experiences?
I need help.

I went off the Wellbutrin cold turkey last week. I have some headaches, body aches, foggy mood and fatigue but nothing too horrible yet. I am beginning the weening off of the Lamictal now less 25mg every two weeks....

Hopefully no rash issues!

I know every doctor would disagree with my choice to get off the meds but I need my brain back. I need my spark.

A lot has changed in my life over the past two years and I am in a good place.. even though I don't always see it that way and I still worry a ton and get down... but I feel a lot stronger and more care free. I am afraid of losing that without the meds. But what can I do...

I'm also just starting weekly CBT therapy - so hopefully that will be a good cushion while I ween off the meds.

Any advice or experiences would help..

Have any other artists learned to live without meds?
Or learned how to create amazing work on them?

Is big memory loss, lack of concentration and no creativity a sign that I should probably stop taking something?

10 Responses
585414 tn?1288941302
Medication helps stabilize people. I know when I was manic I could not even begin to think of any creative work as I couldn't focus to begin with. Cognitive blunting and weight gain are side effects of some medications but you could speak to your psychiatrist about which medications would have less of that potential. This is a complete list of mood stabilizers:
Many artists have actually been able to stabilize and recover with treatment and continue to create creative works but before that it was a "crash and burn" situation for them. I did a list of musicians with disabilities as one of my journal entries. There should be a similar list for artists as well online. I do collage work and medication has only improved my ability to focus concentrate and create. As  well I've known artists who were successful who had talent and potential and were only able to sustain it with treatment. Whatever the medication was treating will start to return as it is discontinued and then it will emerge again full blown as happened to me years ago before my current recovery. Best to find out more about available options. An informed consumer gets the best response.
1042487 tn?1275279899
Hello there,

I am a musician, composer and producer. Since I am on medication I am less productive but when I need to be creative I am... Deadlines are something that will put me to work and usually the work gets done.

I think the problem with me is not the creativeness issue but the lack of motivation.

Anyway if you want to hear my work here's my website http://jmiousse.webs.com/playlist.htm - It's mainly orchestral movie music you'll hear there.

All the work here was done without medication. If you want to hear work I did on medication and compare just contact me.

1135275 tn?1586565652
i am an artist, to some degree. i write my own lyrics, music, and poetry. thats not to say i really do any of them well.....some people say i do, but i don't share any of it with people very often.

all i can say is that some of my darkest most artistic work has been while medicated. infact, not only medicated on anti-depressants, but also barbiturates. the problem is that the inspiration for my art is generally caused by severe emotional pain and self loathing or slight mania......so in that sense, perhaps the meds are not doing what they are intended to do in the first place. i do know i'm much better than i was before, so they must be doing something.

if edgar allen poe woke up one day suddenly happy and content with the world and spend the rest of his life a jovial outgoing person, what then would his art have looked like after this change? would he even have been capable of art? if given the choice, would he have actually chosen to become magically happy? well we all know he wasn't. he was 'tortured'.....just like many other artists. marilyn manson, fiona apple, janis joplin......these are just musicians. it doesn't matter if  you like them or not...the point is they are artists and  the fuel for their fire is pain. the question is, if they could get rid of that pain completely, would they? if so, could they still be an artist?

if i ever become 'normal'........which is what most of us spend so much time trying to be........then my artistry is gone, period. i think i'd prefer to be normal though. no one pays any attention to my art anyway....it wouldn't be a loss. i wouldn't be a loss. nothing about me would be a loss to the world. if i could be happy and normal, it wouldn't matter what the world thinks of me.....the only thing that would matter is that i would be living in it and i would be happy. thats what i would pick......i'd pick meds that work over not taking meds just to save me being an artist. the world doesn't care if i'm an artist...the only thing tha tmatters is how i view the world. unfortunately they haven't invented a pill that can change that for me yet.
Avatar universal
I paint, I make, I like to be creative with everything i do, I know what you are talking about. I had to take Xyprexa for a few months at my worst and while i wasn't actually drooling I wasn't far off it LOL (I know that isnt funny but hey )

Listen you cant do that, stop cold turkey, You need to speak to your Doc.

It might be a question of dosage, a slow reduction should tell you.  You could see how low you can go now that you feel more stable. and yes you might be able to give up completely, but time will tell.

As an Artist the whole creative thing is a bit ,,well I know it is important,, but is it over rated, just a little?  

Isnt work the Answer - I liked the previous suggestion of a Deadline, but could i suggest routine, and work practices, journal keeping etc.

Have you read ;the Artist way' I thought that was helpful.  There are other ways to find motivation perhaps ?
370801 tn?1264405018
I tried tapering off a little but have been hugely depressed and as those of us who have depression know. It's not just feeling sad or a bad mood. When it seeps into your psyche, sours the way you see the world and others. As well as yourself. Self loathing. Depression is scary only because when it's starting to feel chemical. As in, my brain chemicals are taking a nose dive and sucking me into a black hole a long with it. When you're depressed everything just seems darker, harder, more hopeless & I never feel good enough. My self esteem becomes nonexistent ...is that just the depression? because when im on meds most of the time things seem a lot better. am  i just not dealing with or looking at underlying  issues?
i journal a lot, i try to be concious .. im in therapy... what more can i do?
if it really is just brain chemistry... than i don't know.

the lamictal / wellbutrin combo i take isn't numbing...
just a bit spacey.

i guess its no worse than some of the drugs most of the great artists i admire take or took to be able to cope.

370801 tn?1264405018
I'm not sure if the lamictal is making me a bit dazed or if its the depression.
all i know is im getting so sick of all the confusion over it and stuff that this is when i want to come off of everything. i havent been diagnosed bipolar or anything.
i lived 26 years without meds just fine. i hit an awful depression a couple years ago i couldnt find my way out so they gave me meds. now i feel hooked. and im going thru another bout of depression now
370801 tn?1264405018
i just dont feel like myself.
and when youre an artist
its tough
Avatar universal
Yes it is tough,  one day at a time hey, maybe the next day will be easier.

Depression started for us all at sometime, for you it may have been 26.  I lived 42 years of my life without medication, though i think i had some severe small bouts in childhood, with hindsight.

Then i found myself became an adult, but it started at age 42.  What can we do ?

370801 tn?1264405018
Week two of tapering down. Quit wellbutrin cold turkey about a week and a half ago. Am I being naive in thinking I didn't really notice a huge difference?
Dropped 25 mg off my daily dose of 150mg of Lamictal.
Feeling achey and really, really spaced out and dizzy.
But mood is not horrible. I am sinking into a bit of a depression and wanting to isolate.
Starting to think maybe I should just stick with the meds and find a way.
But the memory loss and lack of creativity - inability to feel that nostalgic, rich, colorful sense of emotion and sadness is so flat.. and boring ... sure, life is easier and more enjoyable... but
it just feels like it's floating by when I am on meds.
I am productive in life and work.... but not with creating.
I am pretty confused right now. I need some sound advice from a working artist, a writer or poet who has been on this stuff for years.. someone older than me.. but I don't know anybody.
Are there great writers, poets and musicians living and creating on these medications?
Avatar universal
I found this article very helpful-- it eased my mind a lot about creativity and meds:


Good luck, from one artist to another. Hope things ended up going well for you, medication or not. xo
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