Author of The Van Gogh Blues: The Creative Person’s Path Through Depression, Eric Maisel, posits that creative people suffer from existential depression because they are separated from the meaning of life and work. Notably, Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy while awash in a successful life and enjoying good health, wealth and literary fame asked, “Why should I live? Why should I wish for anything? Is this all there is?” (Peggy Lee came much later.) And Vincent Van Gogh certainly fit the description of a tortured artist suffering from existential depression. (He is said, however, to have cut off his ear during an excruciating bout of tinnitus rather than as a result of depression.)  Then there’s the legendary Charlie Brown who keeps doing the same thing over and over again.  And getting the same depressing result.  (You know, the football story).  Poor Charlie Brown who laments that lunchtime is the worst part of his day except for mornings  – “waking up wondering if anybody would really miss me if I didn’t get out of bed” – followed by after-school and evenings. Funny in a sad kind of way and makes you wonder – is Charlie stuck?  Or is he depressed? And, how much like him am I?  Many of us find ourselves for seemingly no reason undergoing a quest for something more.  Something that can be described as our ‘purpose.’ When we are unable to find this sort of meaning, we, too are subject to bouts of the blues.  Or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. General Malaise. Or, existential depression.  Whatever we finally label these painful times, we must find a way to journey out of whatever miserable territory we’ve walked ourselves into. The big question is “HOW?”  It would appear that the remedy lies in asking and answering the question – “why am I here?” If we are willing to accept our own intrinsic value and acknowledge that we serve many a good purpose (not necessarily a big, famous one!) and that we are an important – if tiny – part of this world, we can live more positively and treat ourselves more kindly, more respectfully, more lovingly. These results alone help to beat back the sorrows of the days or weeks that might drag us into depression.  They also serve to lead us into a more belonging state of mind where service to others and compassion for the human condition can emerge and reframe our feelings of uselessness and isolation.  We can then move forward into a more peaceful, self-supportive, productive frame of mind.    

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